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What is a Project Engineer?

May 5, 2010

   Are you new to being a Project Engineer at an Engineering firm?  Have you been one for some time, but think you have forgotten some aspects of your function?  Are you writing for a job posting for a Project Engineer, and don’t know where to start?  Here’s a list I compiled some years ago that may help you out:

  • Applies new technology to advanced designs, engineering, and manufacturing processes to promote development of a first-time quality product.
  • Coordinates with the appropriate functional organizations for the necessity toacquire planning, personnel, training, processes, and resources to meet the design objectives.
  • Design focal point for the team and is the representative to the Integrated Product Team (IPT) lead.
  • Discusses progress and technical issues of the design to the team, program management, and the customer with the help, and support, from the design team as deemed necessary.
  • Ensures all team members understand the product baseline, and are trained to identify risks, areas of improvement, and changes to the SOW, specifications, data requirements, test requirements, and other contract requirements.
  • Ensures the sub-design teams (within the team and outside the team) communicate and coordinate activities.
  • Exercises considerable latitude in determining technical objectives, and/or resolutions to problems, and issues.
  • Facilitates the decision-making design process, not the sole decision-maker.
  • Facilitates the design’s success of each team member to accomplish the team’s charter.
  • Frequently contacts the design team personnel internally and externally, as well as suppliers to the program, which will be required and expected.
  • Helps the team reach a design consensus through listening, coaching, and working to reconcile various team members’ needs and opinions into a position everyone on the team can support.
  • Investigates, and pursues courses of action necessary to obtain desired results.
  • Performs duties to support the team.
  • Performs highly specialized and original engineering tasks involving application of advanced theories and technical concepts.
  • Provides, and/or shares functional conceptual guidance, and expertise to the design team to complete it’s scheduled tasks.
  • Provides, or obtains, the necessary support from the team to improve each team member’s performance.
  • Provides team member performance inputs to the appropriate management for merit, performance review, and corrective purposes.
  • Researches problems, analyzes data, and provides design engineering solutions to fabrication, or assembly issues.
  • Seeks maximum appropriate involvement of all design team members.
  • Solicits behavior that facilitates performance.
  • Takes the leadership role in guiding the design team to understanding its charter, and in developing a plan to execute that charter.
  • Verifies accuracy of results by consultation, and agreement of other authorities in technical field, rather than by formal review by administrative supervisors.
  • Works independently to arrive at solutions to engineering issue, then must delegate, and/or off-load the conceptually sound design task to his support team for completion.
  • Works with the team to identify individual team members’ roles and responsibilities.

  • Assigns agendas for up-coming meetings, chairs team meetings, discusses ongoing issues, obtains resolutions, assigns outstanding action items, provides status, publishes the minutes, and tracks action items.
  • Attends, and contributes to team meetings.
  • Coordinates the overall operation of the team.
  • Creates engineering flat patterns, and provides variation assessment to supplier build definition for ease of manufacturing, and fabrication.
  • Creates the new design, and/or configuration as stated in the program requirements in accordance with the approved SOW.
  • Develops, coordinates, and maintains the task and schedule plans.
  • Develops team products or provides support to the team as agreed with the team and team leader.
  • Displays dedication by surpassing stated responsibilities in order to exceed customer expectations on a continual basis.
  • Exercises an expert level of proficiency to apply advanced knowledge, and/or management experience in a professional area to handle the most complex tasks where existing methods, and procedures may not apply.
  • Facilitates communication within the team, guiding discussions toward consensus on team decisions.
  • Identifies design, manufacturing, process, weight, cost, and quality improvements.
  • Identifies, reports risks, and develops plans to reduce, or eliminate the risk.
  • Informs the team of decisions concerning delegation of authority.
  • Is proactive in the planning, execution, and correction of the work assignments to achieve the desired results.
  • Maintains a “Can-Do” attitude.
  • Maintains communications with functional organizations, and maintains currency in his functional skill. Every idea is a good idea, until another one can be proven better.
  • Maintains good communications and working relationships with other team members. Problems should be resolved early.
  • Models a behavior that facilitates cooperation.
  • Participates in recommendations for implementations, modifications and releases of engineering media, and procedures that represent the as-tooled, as-built configurations.
  • Participates in the team’s activities, fosters open communication among the team members, and supports team decisions.
  • Provides input to the manufacturing plans, supplier selection, buy plans, tooling requirements, tool designs, testing and inspection requirements, and maintenance & repair practices of the program configuration.
  • Provides technical assistance to other team members.
  • Reports earned value on drawing creation, review, release, and revisions.
  • Requests, and utilizes technical expertise of other team members.
  • Shares leadership duties with the IPT lead.
  • Supports development of the team’s charter, goals, and objectives.
  • Surfaces suggestions to improve the team’s operation.
  • Takes ownership in the team’s products.
  • Utilizes available tools and processes to develop, optimize, and document the design to meet the program requirements as specified in the program execution plan, and other governing documents.
  • Validates 3-D solid models created from drawings to verify design intent was met.
  • Works towards consensus on team decisions by focusing on the product.

  • Acts as project leader in specialized instances.
  • Acts as a resource within the engineering and scientific communities to develop solutions; handles the most complex tasks for which existing methods and procedures may not apply.
  • Always clarifies and quantifies the customer’s expectations.
  • Assists in detail schedule development. Ensures that the schedule becomes a living document that all teammates support.
  • Coordinates the program’s requirements and objectives with off-site team members.
  • Coordinates with team leaders, and lead engineers on weight, cost, and technical issues.
  • Develops new principles, processes, methods, or concepts.
  • Ensures decision-making optimizes product metrics versus functional metrics.
  • Ensures documentation of team decisions, design decisions, and supporting data.
  • Ensures functional requirements, processes, and procedures are consistent across the program.
  • Ensures the team is compliant with current program directives, processes, and procedures.
  • Facilitates any modification(s) to the Statement of Work.
  • Identifies Flight Safety Part(s) and Critical Characteristics.
  • Implements Program Management Earned Value Best Practices:
  1. Closed Loop Corrective Action System
  2. Management Information System
  3. Risk Management
  4. Technical Parameter Monitoring
  5. Customer Communication Plan
  6. Help Needed
  7. Detailed Planning / Integrated Schedules
  8. Monitoring of Technical Program progress
  9. Independent Reviews
  • Investigates, and pursues courses of action necessary to obtain desired results.
  • Leads, manages, or directs teams to develop validated methodologies, advance design processes, and link business planning strategy to product definition and development.
  • Organized aptitude for details, and able to manage multiple projects with rigid deadlines.
  • Manages research, and development resources to meet contractual, and internal requirements.
  • Monitors, and prioritizes work assignments to ensure completion, and exchange of necessary data among team members.
  • Participates in resolving complex problems that require a high level of ingenuity, and innovation.
  • Prepares, plans for, and oversees development of processes, methods, and tools.
  • Provides weekly, monthly, and quarterly status reports to program and functional management, as required, or requested.
  • Resolves, or oversees the resolution of programmatic problems.
  • Resolves technical problems that would critically affect performance, cost, or schedule.
  • Responsible for the day-to-day program execution, and monitoring of its technical progress.
  • Supports assembly of component parts into assembly build-ups.
  • Translates contract requirements into work requirements, processes, and tasks.
  • Verifies accuracy of results through consultation with other authorities in the field, rather than by formal review.
  • Writes Engineering Test requests, as required, to support the design activity.

  • Adheres to established company procedures, and requires team members to do the same.
  • Document decisions made, with dates and names, and retain copies in the work packages for future reference.
  • Have fun.
  • If off-sight for more than a day, delegate your responsibilities, inform the department secretary, and the team lead.
  • Motivate and challenge your team. Think about what motivates each individual and how you are providing him or her with challenges and interesting tasks.
  • Organizes technical aspects of proposal development from bid decision to submittal of proposal to customer.
  • Provide a list of action items to the team weekly. State what has been accomplished, who is going to act on an issue, when it should be accomplished, and what is to occur in the near future.
  • Provides functional and technical guidance to all aspects of engineering project management.
  • Recognize people for their contributions and successes.
  • Returns all inquiries from customers and teammates within same day, or next day period.
  • Reviews work in progress to ensure that specifications, design criteria, and performance schedules are maintained.
  • Serves as a consultant to upper management regarding long-range planning in areas of CAD technology, or product advancement.
  • Walk around; stay in touch with your team. Be accessable. Specifically, spend some time every week with each of your teammates.
  • When a customer calls with a problem, the team should know about it. Problems are OK and expected. Not keeping the team informed is unacceptable.
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