Well, qualified manufacturing engineers essentially turn design into reality, ensuring products retain their functionality amidst the glamour of impressive design. Manufacturing engineers oversee how products are manufactured to exact specifications in the most time and cost efficient way possible, so that products can reach businesses and consumers worldwide.
Your next question might be, is a manufacturing engineer degree worth pursuing? How does it fit into the workplace? This answer is fun.
Manufacturing affects everything we do and shapes how we experience the world as we know it. It is the discipline of using tools, labour, machines and chemical/biological processing to transform raw materials into new products. These goods are either used by other manufacturing companies to producer larger end line products such as aircraft or cars, or sold on to the consumer as they are.
A degree in manufacturing will do the following:
- It will give you in-depth insight into the manufacturing process.
- It will enable you to gain detailed knowledge of manufacturing technologies.
- It will teach you vital business organization tactics, technology management and human resource management skills.
- It will allow you to learn how to collaborate with electronic engineers, materials scientists, mechanical engineers, product designers and the consumer.
Most importantly, studying manufacturing at university will teach you things about yourself and the world that you never thought possible. You’ll slowly equip yourself with the practical knowledge, theoretical skills and industry know-how to enter your niche with confidence and know-how.
These skills and knowledge will set yourself apart from the competition.
Pursuing a Manufacturing Engineer Degree
The 2019 QS World University Rankings compared 1,000 universities worldwide. These rankings took the following factors into consideration:
- Academic reputation
- Employer reputation after students leave university
- Staff to student ratio
- The amount of international staff and students
The rankings revealed that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States takes the top prize for manufacturing studies. Now, not everyone can attend MIT. As a result, here are a handful of the top universities to consider. I selected the following universities because they offer entire degrees or courses dedicated to manufacturing.
1) Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – United States
Since its founding in 1861, MIT has evolved into an educational behemoth, with over 1,000 faculty members and more than 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Alumni have gone on to launch more than 30,000 active companies, creating 4.6 million jobs and generating roughly $1.9 trillion in annual revenue. In fact, a nation of MIT graduates would be equivalent to the 10th-largest economy in the world.
Pretty impressive, right?
The Master of Engineering in Manufacturing (MengM) degree involves a highly integrated and largely project-oriented engineering curriculum combined with a significant group project done on-site in industry. It blends the fundamental principals of engineering with practical experience in process, systems, design, and business principles.
By adding a single year to your four-year undergraduate degree, you are exposed to the full range of topics necessary for manufacturing excellence. Within 12 months you will complete eight predetermined graduate-level engineering courses and write a thesis based on your work at the industry project site. This accelerated program comprehensively prepares you for technical leadership roles in dynamic manufacturing industries.
2) University of Cambridge – United Kingdom
Located in the center of the ancient city of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, the University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research institution that serves more than 18,000 students from across the world. The university is divided into 31 autonomous colleges, so bear in mind that applications are made directly to the individual colleges, rather than to the university overall.
Founded in 1209, the university’s 800-year history makes it the fourth-oldest university in the world and the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world. On the academic side, the university is home to over 100 libraries, which hold more than 15 million books in total.
You’ll have the academic world of manufacturing at your fingertips.
The university’s manufacturing program combines a comprehensive grounding in engineering, management and economic principles with practical application in industry. MET (Manufacturing Engineering Tripos) is an option for the final two years of the Cambridge Engineering degree that develops and applies engineering knowledge in a business context. It provides a thorough grounding in management and manufacturing technologies, together with an understanding of the full range of industrial activities, including:
- Product design
- Component manufacture
- Industrial engineering
- Factory and business management
- How companies thrive in the modern economy
A core message throughout the program is looking to the future, to understand how firms can grow sustainably.
MET is accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Institution of Mechanical Engineering (ImechE). Typical career paths include starting your own company, designing new and innovative products, management consultancy and pursuing academic research.
Then there’s the MPhil in Industrial Systems, Manufacture and Management (ISMM) - a one-year postgraduate programme designed to equip numerate graduates, primarily from science, technology, engineering or maths backgrounds, with the skills, personal development and industrial experience to be immediately equipped for their early careers in industry.
3) University of Michigan
Founded in 1817, the University of Michigan is a public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It is considered one of the foremost research universities in the United States with annual research expenditures approaching $1.5 billion As of October 2018, fifty MacArthur Fellows, twenty-five Nobel Prize winners and six Turing Award winners have been affiliated with establishment.
A Master of Engineering in Manufacturing degree at the University of Michigan will give you the knowledge to help improve the quality and efficiency of industry manufacturing systems. You will develop advanced skills in management, engineering disciplines and an understanding of the complete product development and manufacturing process. The course includes modules from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business (70% engineering and 30% business) and can be earned in one calendar year, including a four-month team project in industry.
For those looking for flexibility, the program is available on campus and online. In fact, many students complete the entire degree online. The program is for students who have already earned a B.S.E. degree in any field of engineering (e.g., aerospace, mechanical, electrical, civil, industrial, naval, chemical, materials science), and who have relevant industrial experience.
Modern manufacturing is at the frontier of new technologies, innovative products and novel ways of working. It involves everything from understanding global markets, designing diverse products and navigating complex processes, to managing intricate supply chains, balancing distribution networks and incorporating related services.
What’s more, manufacturing is recognized as being vital to a strong and successful economy, since it creates wealth, sustains employment and is central to our intentional economic success.
Now, more than ever, the need for leaders who are innovators in technology is critical. If you are ready to push boundaries, work towards a more sustainable future and have the knowledge to streamline manufacturing processes in the future, then a manufacturing degree may be the path for you.
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About the author: (Jessamy Baldwin)
Jessamy was born and raised in the Channel Islands where she fostered a passion for writing at a young age. An insatiable explorer, she has lived in Guernsey, Malawi, the UK and New Zealand – fulfilling a variety of editorial and content creation roles. After completing several coveted internships in the UK, Jessamy hit the ground running as a news reporter for a top national daily newspaper. She was then offered a job in government communications in New Zealand. Her entrepreneurial spirit encouraged her to start her own content business aged just 26, meaning she now collaborates with numerous international clients. In any role, her favourite job is working with interesting people to tell great stories to as large an audience as possible. She holds a BA in English Literature (University of Warwick) and an MA in International Journalism (Brunel University). In her spare time, you’ll find her travelling the world, hiking with her dog, listening to country music or sipping on cosmopolitans.
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