Job description designer

This blog post is translated form German with DeepL.

EFZ design engineer – a versatile, modern and interesting technical apprenticeship. But what kind of profession is a design engineer? What exactly does a design engineer do day in, day out? How does this apprenticeship work? What are the requirements? These questions will be answered in this article.

You’ve probably already noticed: in this article, we’re only referring to our profession in the female form for once. The reason: we think there are still too few young women who “dare” to enter a technical profession. That’s why, for once, we’re doing it the other way around and, for the sake of clarity, we’re only referring to the female form. Of course, this always refers to both genders, i.e. male and female designers.


Design engineer, what is that?

In the past, the profession was called machine draftswoman. So a design engineer primarily makes drawings? Also – but not only: when the job title was changed at the end of the 1990s, the range of tasks was also expanded. Nowadays, a design engineer does not “only” make drawings and models (as we call the 3D drawings), but implements ideas together with engineers and develops individual parts and assemblies for products, devices or entire production plants. These can also be various everyday products and equipment that you use every day at home or buy in the supermarket. In addition, the preparation of technical documents such as specifications and operating instructions is part of the job. 


Field of activity

The fields of activity can be very different. Whether in the agricultural, industrial or service sector, whether mechanical, electrical or electronic devices, machines or plants – design engineers are needed everywhere. And everywhere in this case really means everywhere: whether it’s packaging for food or machines, whether it’s technical devices or the simplest products such as ballpoint pens and housings for USB sticks, there’s bound to have been a female designer “involved”.
The days of hand drawings, drawing boards and purely mechanical production are long gone: even in apprenticeship, drawing is primarily done on the computer and, for example, 3D printers or other modern aids are often used for prototypes.


During her apprenticeship, a design engineer trains, among other things, spatial imagination. This is one of the basic requirements for this profession. Before the apprenticeship, this is usually tested by the respective company through a taster day and/or an in-house skills test. Basic mathematical knowledge, mainly algebra and geometry, is also an important requirement. And last but not least, a prospective design engineer must have a flair and fascination for technology. So if your daughter likes to take everything apart and wants to know how it actually works, she may be a born design engineer.

Vocational apprenticeship

The EFZ design engineer apprenticeship lasts four years. At the beginning, spatial awareness and the basics of design are trained by means of exercises. This takes place partly in the company, but also partly in the inter-company courses, together with apprentices from other companies. Soon, CAD (Computer Aided Design) is used – a PC program for creating models and drawings. CAD programs will accompany the designer throughout her life as her most important work tool.

The six-month workshop internship also takes place in the first or second year of the apprenticeship. After all, if you want to design something sensibly, you also need to know how it is made and have a hand in it yourself. At the end of the second apprenticeship year, the actual basic training is completed with the partial examination. After two more years of applying and deepening the basic training in productive projects, the design engineer is tested in the company with the IPA (Individual Practical Work) and the professional knowledge test at school.
During the first two years, the design engineer attends vocational school two days a week and one day during the third and fourth year of training.

The world is open after the apprenticeship

With a degree as a design engineer EFZ, the world is literally open to the design engineer!
On the one hand, there are always new, ingenious challenges and new areas of activity at home and abroad in the many different industries and companies in which the design engineer can build up and expand her experience. On the other hand, there is of course also the possibility of further training or study.

An often chosen path is the further education to become an engineer, today called “Bachelor of Science BSc” in various fields such as mechanical engineering, microtechnology and many more. In addition, there is also the training as a technician HF, as well as various specialized further education and study courses.
As a preparation and transition for such studies, the technical vocational baccalaureate school BM offers itself. Just as with the subsequent studies, there are also two paths for the BM: one year full-time after the apprenticeship or part-time during the apprenticeship one day per week (in this case, the general education part is omitted in the normal trade school).
So, whether you want to work as a design engineer on interesting projects or tackle further training – the path is open in many ways with an apprenticeship as a design engineer EFZ. Design engineers are needed and help shape our future.

Apprenticeship as design engineer at Gimelli Engineering AG

We at Gimelli Engineering AG also train design engineers on a two-year cycle. In the vocational school and the inter-company courses, much of the training is geared towards general mechanical engineering. The training at Gimelli Engineering AG also includes general mechanical engineering to a certain extent. Since we specialize in plastic products, this also gives the apprentices a correspondingly broader knowledge in the field of plastics.

Not just a male domain: a few examples
  • Sarah Guppy
    1770 – 1852
    Invented a better anchorage for suspension bridges, which she patented in 1811.
  • Margarethe C. Eichler
    c. 1809 – 1843 (murdered)
    Inventor of the first usable modern hand prosthesis; she patented her invention of a prosthetic leg with knee joint in Prussia in 1832.
  • Hertha Marks Ayrton    
    1854 – 1923    
    English mathematician and electrical engineer, invented a recording device for the pulse beat and a mechanical device for dividing a line into parts of equal length, which found application in the field of civil engineering.
    Lillian Evelyn Gilbreth
    1878 – 1972
    BA, MA, PhD, was a US author and one of the first women working as an engineer to earn a PhD.
    Cécile Butticaz        
    1884 – 1966    
    Swiss woman and the first European female electrical engineer.
    Elisa Leonida Zamfirescu
    1887 – 1973     
    Romanian chemical engineer who received the first mechanical engineering degree from the TU Berlin in 1912 and explored Romania’s mineral resources.
    Caroline Haslett
    1895 – 1957     
    English electrical engineer and founder of the British Women’s Engineering Society (WES).
    Ilse Essers
    1898 – 1994    
    Aircraft designer, autobiographer and biographer; engineering diploma in 1926 at the Institute of Mechanics and Aerodynamics at the Royal Rhenish-Westphalian Polytechnic School in Aachen under Theodore von Kármán, doctorate in 1929 at the TH Berlin – the first doctorate to go to a woman in the field of mechanical engineering.
    Hedy Lamarr (actually Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler)
    1914 – 2000
    Austrian-American Hollywood star of the 1940s. In addition, together with the composer George Antheil, she invented frequency hopping, which still plays an important role in mobile radio technology today.
    Maria-Christine Gabriele Antonie Irmgard Princess of Urach
    1933 – 1990
    German mechanical engineer, one of the first female engineers and female managers at Daimler-Benz.
    Jutta Saatweber
    German electrical engineer, Quality Function Deployment. Committed to promoting women and girls in engineering professions and for many years held leading positions in the VDI working group Women in Engineering (FIB).
    Marion Weissenberger-Eibl
    * 1966
    German engineer, director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI).
    Stephanie Wilson
    * 1966
    U.S. aerospace engineer (including Galileo at the Jet Propulsion Lab) and NASA astronaut.

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