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What does a Project Engineer do?

By K'Lee Banks
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A project engineer combines project management with filling a key role in the designing, developing, and engineering of various types of structures and products. These structures vary from different kinds of buildings, to bridges and highways, to other structures, such as dams and oil rigs. Products vary widely, within fields such as computers, electricity, and mechanics. While a project engineer typically can expect to carry over two dozen key responsibilities, his or her primary tasks revolve around filling the role of the job or project lead who must oversee a project from start to finish. This usually includes coordinating the collection and distribution of project-related technical information in meetings, as well as communicating with the company’s clients.

The specific tasks required of a project engineer depend on the specialized engineering field. Although there are nearly two dozen engineering specialties, several are among the most popular and growing steadily in career opportunities and job openings. For instance, civil engineer positions remain constant, as bridges, roadways, and dams undergo inspections and require ongoing maintenance and restructuring to meet crucial safety specifications. Similarly, architectural or structural engineer positions are popular and require an aptitude for designing and ensuring structural integrity of buildings.

Electrical engineer positions are vital to maintaining and improving the safety and efficiency of this "plugged-in" modern world. Closely related is the computer engineer field, which will likely provide a high degree of job security, as technology continues to advance. Computer engineers delve into projects that involve computer hardware and software.

The mechanical engineer field is one of the more complex areas of engineering, but it offers a wide variety of specializations. Some of these include aerospace, alternative energy, heating-ventilation-air conditioning (HVAC), nanotechnology, and nuclear engineering. Overall, mechanical engineering focuses on the design and development of power-generating and power-using machines.

Those who wish to become project engineers must meet certain minimal qualifications. For instance, among the most important requirements for a project engineer are a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering or Industrial Engineering (BSME or BSIE), and a working knowledge of engineering theory, methods, and best practices. Other skill sets include the ability to understand technical writing; the ability to read and interpret prints or specifications; and proficient computer skills in computer-aided engineering (CAE) and computer-aided design (CAD) software and equipment. Project management and customer/supplier interaction experience are likewise essential skills for a project engineer.

Regardless of the particular field of project engineering, the ultimate job of a project engineer is to oversee projects relevant to that field. He or she plays a key role from the initial planning and designing stages, oversees various phases of projects, and assists in their on-time completion. A project engineer, therefore, requires both creative and supervisory skills.

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