What is a Manufacturing Engineer?

Manufacturing Engineer(Photo: Kevin Fitsimons, WOSU)

Meet Scot McLemore, Manufacturing Engineer

What exactly do you do?
I coordinate the Honda of America Mfg. Engineering Development program. This is a 2-year program in which engineers are hired into the company and rotate through three Honda manufacturing departments working on specific engineering assignments as well as understanding the day to day operations of that particular team.

Describe a typical day.
I review technical assignment opportunities with the manufacturing department technical leaders. I assign an engineer to the department based on the skills required and the project timing. I also work with our staffing department to identify potential candidates for full-time hire and recruit at local universities. Some of my day is spent mentoring new engineers and providing advice on current project activity.

What’s the coolest part of your job?
The coolest part of my job is working with new engineers and all of the Honda manufacturing departments. These engineers are working on new technology in the automotive industry. I am able to be a part of their success as well as the success of the individual projects. It is all a team effort.

How do people react when they learn what you do?
They are surprised that Honda has manufacturing plants that offer all types of automotive engineering opportunities. We are involved with stamping body panels, welding component parts, molding plastic parts, painting the body, assembling interior parts, and inspecting the units prior to shipping. All of this involves engineering.

How did you become a Manufacturing Engineer?
I have always been interested in understanding how things work. I became interested in a manufacturing engineering technology curriculum at Purdue University. This program encompassed mechanical, electrical and industrial engineering concepts to develop a well-rounded manufacturing engineer. Over time, I developed business and human relations skills to become an assistant manager of the Engineering Development program.

What disappoints you about your job?
I meet many capable engineering students through co-op assignments at Honda. One disappointment is our inability to provide all of those capable students engineering opportunities here at Honda.

How has your job changed over time?
During my first seven years at Honda, I worked as a manufacturing engineer in the Weld department. My main responsibilities were to provide quality analysis on the welded steel bodies for both new model introduction as well as mass production units.

I also was responsible for maintaining the Coordinate Measurement Machine analysis equipment. This analysis involved using 3D Cad software to determine the key X, Y, and Z coordinates of the steel body that influence part fit. Once the key coordinates were determined, I created computer programs that told the automated measurement equipment how and where to measure on the body. I took the measurement results and compared them to the standard coordinates. If necessary, adjustments were made to the equipment to improve part fit.

How will your job be different ten years from now?
The process of body measurement will involve less time manually programming the measurement robots. Most if not all of the programming will come from a computer simulation generating the programming for the robot. The Cad system may even allow a user to generate the program automatically from the part data itself.

What are some of the most important skills and abilities needed for this job?
It is important to have a good fundamental understanding of geometry as well as good computer skills including basic CAD (Computer Aided Design). It is also important to be able to think logically and understand how to determine the root cause of a problem. Quality problems related to the fit of auto body parts are not usually obvious.

What advice do you have for people who want to enter this field?
My advice for people wanting to enter this field is to focus on their math and communication skills, both writing and speaking. Obtain as much experience in a manufacturing environment as you can, whether that is summer jobs in high school or co-op/internship opportunities in college.

What do you wish someone had told you before you left high school that would’ve helped you with your career?
Be confident in your skills and speak up when you have good ideas. Be aggressive and focused on what you want to achieve.