What is a Manufacturing Engineering Degree?

Manufacturing engineers design, implement, monitor, and improve manufacturing processes to increase productivity.

Students of manufacturing engineering learn how to:

  • design manufacturing equipment and systems
  • purchase equipment
  • manage equipment / systems maintenance schedules
  • diagnose equipment / systems defects
  • manage breakdowns and production problems
  • optimize operations efficiency
  • supervise staff
  • collaborate with other engineers
  • manage budgets
  • liaise with suppliers and customers
  • keep records

Program Options

Bachelor’s Degree in Manufacturing Engineering – Four Year Duration
At the bachelor’s level, manufacturing engineering students gain a strong foundation in materials, mechanical and industrial engineering, and design to support their understanding of the mechanics of processes. Programs integrate classroom and laboratory learning with field trips to manufacturing centers. Support courses in the curriculum include physics, chemistry, and calculus. Graduates with a manufacturing engineering bachelor’s often find employment as engineering technicians or process engineers.

Here is an overview of the program’s core courses:

  • Introduction to Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering – introduction of major topics in industrial and manufacturing engineering, including data analysis, process improvement, operations research, product design, and supply chain management
  • Manufacturing Processes: Net Shape – metal casting as a net shape process in manufacturing (the final or as near as possible to final shape of a product is the net shape); properties of molding materials and methods of casting; introduction to rapid prototyping; pattern and casting design principles
  • Manufacturing Processes: Materials Joining – theory and application of metal cutting and welding processes; includes shielded metal arc, flux cored arc, submerged arc, gas metal arc, gas tungsten arc, brazing, resistance, and oxy-acetylene processes; bonding theory, joint design, codes, and testing; introduction to adhesive bonding
  • Introduction to Design and Manufacturing – review of visualization, sketching, and drafting fundamentals; computer-aided solid modeling of parts and assemblies; introduction to conventional machining processes on lathes and mills, computer numerical control (CNC), quality control, production methods, and design for manufacturing
  • Basic Electronics Manufacturing – practical electronics manufacturing knowledge expanded through concepts such as computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), Design for Manufacture (DFM), documentation requirements, prototyping, and production planning; techniques for project planning, soldering, automation, hand tool usage, and production
  • Process Improvement Fundamentals – principles of work simplification and motion analysis; recording of work flow and methods; process improvement through work measurement and standards, time study, synthetic data (data generated by applying a sampling technique to real-world data or by creating simulations / models), predetermined time systems and work sampling; allowances and performance rating, productivity measures; introduction to lean manufacturing principles
  • Intermediate Design and Manufacturing – advanced computer-aided part design with geometric dimensioning and tolerancing, assemblies, and prototyping techniques for metal, polymer, and composite components; communication of design information to manufacturing; hands-on experience with non-traditional manufacturing processes
  • Engineering Economics – economic analysis of engineering decisions; determining rates of return on investments; effects of inflation, depreciation, and income taxes; sensitivity, uncertainty, and risk analysis; application of basic principles and tools of analysis using case studies
  • Test Design and Analysis in Manufacturing Engineering – sampling and descriptive statistics; central limit theorem; hypothesis testing for means and variances; analysis of variance (ANOVA) and factorial design; applications in engineering design, reliability manufacturing, and inspection; design projects
  • Computer-Aided Manufacturing – use of the computer to communicate design information to manufacturing; computer numerical control (CNC) programming; use of CAD / CAM software; overview of manufacturing systems in an automated environment, including cellular manufacturing and computer-aided process planning
  • Manufacturing Systems Integration – analysis and design tools for production planning and control of manufacturing systems, including mathematical modeling of operations and computer tools for simulation; decision-making models for manufacturing systems; material requirements planning, inventory models, and analysis; facilities design
  • Manufacturing Automation – computers in the factory automation environment; basic control theory including feedback; programming and use of programmable logic controllers (PLC), human-machine interface (HMI), and industrial control systems; interfacing of electro-mechanical systems; analog and digital inputs, output; programmable controllers; computer process control
  • Supply Chain and Logistics Management – overview of logistics and supply chain management concepts; models and solution methods for the design, control, operation, and management of supply chains; techniques used to analyze supply chains
  • Product-Process Design – new product design and creative development process; design for manufacturability; study of constraints for prototyping, designing, testing, processing, quality, and customer satisfaction; life-cycle analysis; examination of relevant environmental and ethical issues; design projects using real world problems
  • Quality Engineering – history and philosophies of quality engineering; cost of quality; quality control charts for variables and attributes; process capability; measurement system analysis; acceptance sampling; reliability and life testing methods; quality improvement tools; quality function deployment; failure modes and effects analysis; the Six Sigma set of techniques and tools for process improvement; quality standards and systems
  • Manufacturing Process and Tool Engineering – engineering design of fixtures and tools for manufacturing processes; interpretation of engineering design specifications; analysis of cost, quality, productivity, and safety in tool design; mechanical analysis of tool design; detailed process design for net shape production and component design for manufacture
  • Senior Design Projects – individual or group projects involving system design, modeling, analysis, and testing; problem definition, planning, scheduling, literature review, conceptual and alternative designs; developing a business case for communication and formal reports documenting project methodology; professional ethics

Master’s Degree in Manufacturing Engineering – Two Year Duration
Many holders of a Master’s Degree in Manufacturing Engineering go on to work in production systems design. The focus of this program is research for a master’s thesis. Core classes at this level may include:

  • Decision analysis
  • Management of supply chains
  • Product and process development
  • Manufacturing communication networks
  • Adaptive control in manufacturing – automated controls used to regulate manufacturing processes

Doctoral Degree in Manufacturing Engineering – Four to Six Year Duration
Doctoral programs in manufacturing engineering prepare students for work as engineering professors, researchers, senior industry consultants, and policy advisors. Candidates must take a qualifying examination and conduct original research in preparation of their doctoral dissertation.

Among the advanced topics addressed at the doctoral level are:

  • Human behavior and manufacturing
  • Quality control
  • International manufacturing
  • Metrology – application of measurement to manufacturing and quality control
  • Risk analysis

Degrees Similar to Manufacturing Engineering

Industrial Engineering
Industrial engineering majors learn how to improve the way that industries and organizations, such as hospitals and factories, operate. They draw on their knowledge in math, science, business, and psychology to consider factors like materials, equipment, and people.

Mechanical Engineering
Students of mechanical engineering learn how to research, design, develop, and test mechanical and thermal devices, including tools, sensors, engines, and machines. These devices serve many industries, including the aerospace, medical, energy, and manufacturing sectors. In addition to coursework in engineering and design, degree programs in the field include classes in mathematics, life sciences, and physical sciences.

Operations Research
While operations management is concerned with efficiently creating and delivering products and services, operations research is focused on analyzing systems to improve them and solve problems.

Robotics Engineering
Robotics engineering is focused on designing robots and robotic systems than can perform duties that humans are either unable or prefer not to perform.

Supply Chain Management
Supply chain management (SCM) is the management of the lifecycle of materials and products through a business, from manufacturing to distribution and returns. It is a balancing act. It is about balancing inventory, service delivery, profit margins, and customer loyalty. It is about both operational and financial efficiency. What this means is that the supply chain manager is a multitasker and degree programs in the field teach students how to perform every task that the job entails.

Systems Engineering
This degree program is concerned with how to use math and science to develop innovative technologies that help run businesses. Students of systems engineering take courses in operations management, computer-based simulation systems, and statistical applications in business.

Skills You’ll Learn

Graduates of a manufacturing engineering program come away from their studies with several transferable skills:

  • Analysis, critical thinking, and problem-solving
  • Attention to detail
  • Capacity to work to deadlines
  • Computer-aided design (CAD)
  • Creativity
  • Health and safety awareness
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Math and science skills
  • Organization and project planning, implementation, and management
  • Stress management
  • Teamwork
  • Understanding of risk and reward
  • Understanding of sourcing, manufacturing, transportation, warehousing, and inventory logistics

What Can You Do with a Manufacturing Engineering Degree?

Because manufacturing processes and systems are part of multiple industries that produce a product, employment opportunities for manufacturing engineers exist in several fields:

  • Automotive
  • Aerospace
  • Chemical
  • Cosmetics and toiletries
  • Electronics
  • Fashion
  • Food and beverages
  • Furniture and fixtures
  • Industrial equipment
  • Paper
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Sporting goods
  • Toys
  • Transportation
  • Household goods

In each of the above sectors, the work of manufacturing engineers includes factory design and management and production improvement. Their specific roles / titles for may include:

  • Manufacturing Engineer
  • Design Engineer
  • Engineering Manager
  • Engineering Technician
  • Industrial Engineer
  • Logistics Engineer
  • Occupational Safety Officer
  • Operations Analyst
  • Process Engineer
  • Production Engineer
  • Quality Control Manager

Colleges and universities and research and development firms also hire manufacturing engineers.


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