Qualifications to become a composites design engineer?


I’m looking into studying for a Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering. I have an interest in composites design and was wondering if a degree in Mech Eng is enough to easily get into the composites industry, or is there an alternate qualification which he industry preferes.

I know some colleges and universities now offer Mech Eng with a specialty in composites engineering, can anyone tell me which colleges are held in high regard by employers in the compposites industry?


Cerritoes College in So. Calif.

On the same topic i noticed Gateway Community College in Phoenix Arizona offers a composites class.

Even here at the Center for Composite Materials (Center of Excellence!!!) at Uni. of Delaware, people seem to always be Mechanical Engineers, they just focus alot of their work and classes, and internships in the composite realm. Also, if you do your masters or doctorate in composites, you are obviously focusing on something specific. If you are in the middle of schooling, check out for industry, or school internships that deal with composites. Experience is ALWAYS a plus in a resume.
I think, depending on what you want to do (tech, design, managing, etc) depends on the job. Being a tech, I think most people just want the experience. Do design and manage, Iwould think they want a degree focused on that aspect of the job.
I have NO educational background, but being a tech for a few years, I know that I can do that in industry.

As for uni’s, check out University of Delaware, and Winona in Minnesota (I think?) Also, there are a few major schools in England and Ireland that are pounding out composite people. I can’t think of them off hand.

Here is a link to my alma mater. Mind you, when I was there, we had no such programs. But then, the industrywas still maturing.


Gotta give fair warning; at -20F it takes a bit of grit to get between classes in winter! At least the course info might be interesting. (BTW @ -40 F=C; and we had that at least 10x a winter)

Cheers - Jim

I think you will find a lot of the old school composites people come from an experience route I was lucky that I worked into the composites industry from being 14 years old (honestly)in an aircraft shop making kit planes Like the rutan ez but it was called europa aviation they make kit planes still etc From there i was lucky that the guy who worked on the F117 kind of took a shine to me and got me into a good programme…and from there it was bikes yachts fighter planes and race cars

a point of note though i can name a fair few highly regarded composites people IN F1 who have no real qualifications in composites directly but did mech eng

There are two very good schools in the UK (im not saying get on a plane though thats exactly what i did…jumbo jet to california:) ) one in plymouth and the other in manchester where composites people get churned out
however the frenchare also “on it” when it comes to turning out engineers (mainly due to the white elephant though)

Im not saying its easy any more but once you have that bit of paper and some experience you do stand a better chance now at least of someone saying lets take this guy and see where he can go…it wasn’t like that 20 years ago

Probably not easy to get into a good factory. I applied for Boeing and one other aerospace composite job with no response. I was thinking what the hell do they want for $20hr. This is why i dislike big businesses in Arizona. They want overqualified people who will work for pennies on the dollar. I’m not complaining about the opportunity to earn $20hr and learn while working. I’ve worked in aerospace overahaul businesses and I get bored easily so I ask the shop foreman to move me around and use me where he can. I always ended up working in 4 or 5 different mfg cells easily learning the job.

To me there is no reason for a composites lay up person to have an engineering background to be hired. Companies have engineers who sit at a desk and troubleshoot/oversee production… so why have overqualified employees who will continously be looking for the next better paying job. Once they hit the perverbial glass ceiling they will be out of there once they find the next job.

I pee on engineers cause i’m half envious haha. But i ain’t envious of their lowsy pay in Arizona.

I’d like to do a little hands on work to gain some practicle experience as it’s allways an important thing for a designer to understand what a fabricator can and cant do. The grand plan is to oversee projects and repares and do design work. I’d be more interested in the marine or motorports sector but for the learning phase anything would do. I’m Australian based and the industry here is nothing compared to the USA, allthough there are opportunities available if I’m prepeared to relocate.

In regard to studying at Universities or Colleges outside of Australia, I wouldn’t be able to do the whole degree due to cost. The Australian government subsidises a large portion of Univesity fees for Australian students studying in Australia, the subsidies do not apply outside of Australia. What would work best is to do my degree here and then go and do the composites classes at a college which runs a good composites course, I would be looking to relocate to the USA or UK and hopefully finding work in the industry while studying. An off campus study mode may be another alternative.

I joined the military… Air force and fortunately was given some of the best training there is to have in a composites an structural field. I did what planners and engineers do at 19 years old in a high pressure atmosphere with no margin for error! I designed aircraft repairs and determined material selections based on Ksi values and formulas… At 19 years old!

I am at where I am because of uncle sugar and the old school education I received!

I would highly recommend you follow your dream and take an apprentice ship with college. The military will pay for your school and you can usually pick your first base. Do so near a major university. Do sic years earn a degree and be the highest paid engineer in the industry of your choice.

Most commanders will also allow you to go to school during work hours as well!

This is the best way hands down. You will have experience, most likely a clearance, a degree in engineering, and a marketable resume when you hit the streets. Six figures would be very easy to make.

Trust me!