Job Title: Manufacturing Engineer
Type of Company: My company sells a system that allows an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist to assess the level of consciousness of a patient who is undergoing anesthesia for a surgical procedure. The system consists of a sensor that is applied across the forehead and a monitor that processes the signal from the sensor and produces a reading. The system works by analyzing electrical activity in the brain.
Education: BS, Electrical Engineering, Washington University (St.Louis) MS, Electrical Engineering, Stanford University MBA, Northeastern University
Previous Experience: I worked at the Hewlett Packard medical products group in Andover, MA.
Job Tasks: My primary responsibility is to resolve technical issues that arise with the hardware (electronic) products that are currently being manufactured by my company. Our product is either a small stand-alone monitor or a module that is used with other company's monitors in the operating room in a hospital. Most of my work is focused on quality improvement, cost reduction, and working with suppliers to solve technical issues and reduce cost. I also work with the research and development group when new products are being designed, becoming more heavily involved as the products get closer to production.
On any given day, I may be contacted by personnel in the production area if there is a technical issue, personnel in the quality control area if there is a technical issue, or a myriad of other people in the company who need technical information to help solve a customer problem.
I also spend a lot of time working on technical issues related to the regulatory environment. Since we build medical products and ship them all over the world, we have a continually changing set of requirements that vary from very technical in nature to more mundane but very important issues concerning the level of hazardous substances that are in the products we build and how we plan to dispose of those items when the product reaches the end of its useful life.
Much of my work requires being familiar not only with electronics, but also mechanical issues, materials issues, and failure analysis.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: the best thing about my work is that it's varied and technically challenging.
Worst: Many of the problems that I investigate have relatively simple solutions, but we are not always able to implement those solutions due to resource constraints. That means that I have solved a problem but I never get to see the solution put in the hands of the customer to make a better product.
Job Tips: If you are going into engineering, remember that everything that you design will ultimately need to be built if it is to be of any use to people, so try to get as much practical experience prototyping and building your own designs as you can.
In engineering today, everything is connected, and it is impossible to design anything useful without using an integrated approach which involves multiple engineering disciplines (electrical, mechanical, biochemical, etc).
Try to get some experience at a summer job or a coop assignment working with a company that works in an area that interests you to see what it is really like and if that is really what you want to do.
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