Production engineering is an important branch of civil engineering that often shares many common ideas and concepts with disciplines like mechanical, electrical, chemical, and mechanical engineering. It deals primarily with production aspects of production. This includes manufacturing as it relates to the design and manufacture of physical products and components. While these broad classifications may seem overly broad, there are numerous ways in which the branches overlap and can be useful for students who are studying various topics within the broad field of production engineering.
The most obvious way in which production engineering disciplines relate to other disciplines is in the focus on manufacturing as a whole. Just as the physical sciences often develop out of research directed toward understanding how the human body functions, so too does engineering coursework tend to develop out of broader research into all facets of manufacturing and the resultant product. This includes such areas as food products, water treatment, energy, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and the automotive industry.
Manufacturing engineers also indirectly affect other aspects of manufacturing, perhaps most directly in the quality control realm. Quality control, while not strictly speaking a part of the manufacturing process per se, is nevertheless critical to ensuring that manufacturing standards are consistently maintained throughout the production process. For example, processes such as quality control check the elements of production equipment such as machines and other components that together create a manufactured object. Such standards built up over time, as each new component added to the mix adds to the overall quality of the output.
Students looking to focus their studies in production engineering should have a strong background in mathematics and in computer science. A bachelor's degree in computer science and a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering are generally required in order to pursue graduate work in either discipline. At the graduate level, a master's degree is usually desired in order to pursue a position in a manufacturing related industry such as industrial vacuum insulation manufacturers.
Computer science courses are necessary for manufacturing engineers, especially those that will be involved in the manufacture of electrical and optical devices. In addition to traditional courses in computer science, many manufacturing engineers elect to take classes that focus on mechanical design. This class may require additional lab time, but many graduates find it to be very helpful in understanding how different components connect to one another. Industrial vacuum coating and other processes can be extremely complicated and understanding the basic principles of how these processes work is crucial to being successful in this field. A strong mathematical background is always a plus, as is a solid understanding of how electrical and optical technology works.
The typical work schedule for manufacturing engineering graduates is to work for a company for approximately two years and then begin employment in an area of their choosing. Graduates may continue on to become senior engineers, which involves taking over . . . . . . the duties of a senior engineer or simply become a supervisor. A number of engineering firms specialize in only a certain type of product, so it is helpful to become highly familiar with the firms you are applying to. Most firms want graduates to have significant experience in the field, so it helps to have a broad understanding of all the aspects of the industry. While this job typically requires a lot of hands-on work, the opportunities for advancement are vast and very rewarding.