Fellow Mechanical PE's That Took Machine Design & Materials, What Is Your Occupational Industry

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New member
May 29, 2018
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I studied for and passed the Machine Design and Materials PE exam a couple of years ago. I took the exam voluntarily, as it had been a long-term goal of mine. I am a senior mechanical design engineer for a robotic vehicle company. I don't use my PE for anything, and looking at available positions that would require a mechanical PE, I'm honestly struggling to find any that aren't HVAC (thermal fluids exam) oriented, or strictly structural. I'm actively looking for new jobs, and it just got me thinking that I should try and utilize my PE certification if possible, but I'm not sure where I fit in.

So to those of you with a Mechanical PE that focused on machine design and materials, what are you doing as an engineer that utilizes your PE certification outside of HVAC? I'm just curious to hear what people are doing with their PE if anything? Does anyone feel like they are in a similar situation to me, trying to find a niche that utilizes your certification?

Unintended Max P.E.

Max Collins of Unintended Consequences
Sep 21, 2015
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Eastern Washington
I don't use mine, but here's the thing, it goes a long ways on a resume to stave off competency questions for jobs in the manufacturing industries. Best of luck in your search.

Lumber Jim

Aug 21, 2012
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Outside the Box
I recently started an engineering services business with mine. We mostly help manufacturing companies with product development and engineering work related to operations like tooling design, manufacturing processes, procedures, policy, maintenance, QC, FEA, improving communications through improved engineering systems and documentation, etc.

We also help owners of medium sized businesses and private individuals take a great idea on a napkin sketch and get them to Patent Pending with production drawings in hand after confirming commercial viability of their idea.

There are many more areas as well if you are a creative type and want to apply your competencies from the work experience that allowed you to achieve your P.E. in order to help people.

Your and my P.E. license typically apply to areas that are exempt from the signature requirements if you work for an employer in an exempt industry but if you offer your services to the general public, at least in my state, you need to have a licensed P.E. overseeing the area of competency that you are offering.

So with that said...

I turn away a fair amount of work because what some potential clients actually need for their project is an architect or structural engineer to sign calcs and drawings for their building project per their local jurisdictional requirements, standards, and codes. There are some grey areas that architects and structural engineers should turn toward us, especially in manufacturing, but we typically ask those customers to come back to us when they decide to or are ready to put something in side the building that does work. But not if it's HVAC... in that case, go to a HVAC firm.... :)
They should also use us to help them layout their new operations based on how they need to manufacture their products while they work with an architect or structural firm since we can save them revisions to the building later... and provide constraints to the architect or structural engineer to work around for the building rather than the other way around...

Didn't mean to turn the above into a commercial but, at a high level, there are many areas that you can apply your Mechanical Systems and Materials Professional Engineering License toward...

Best of Luck!


Jun 3, 2010
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I took/passed machine design, and at the time I was an engineer for a fabrication contractor who specialized in unique government equipment designs. I was in the same boat as you @rcl5011 when I decided to branch out and get on with an A&E firm. Earlier in my career, I had close to seven years of experience with a mechanical contractor on some very high profile design/build projects (Yahoo, Facebook, etc). So I did come with some hefty on-site HVAC and piping experience, which helped translate to a firm that only does that work. I'm a unique hybrid of sorts with seismic, thermal, HVAC, piping, machine design, and seem to get the one-off gadget projects the other HVAC enginerds don't want to tackle. A majority of the work I oversee is commercial HVAC and piping though. I will say this, every company has their preferred methods for calculations (be it a specific set of tools or software, processes, standards, forms... etc.) and it still took me a little while to get comfortable and confident, but I am surrounded by talent in my group so there are a lot of backchecks on what goes out the door. Also, nowhere on my resume do I list which test depth module I took, nor has it been a topic of scrutiny.


FEA Wizard
May 13, 2019
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To echo what I think @pbrme is saying. Just because you passed the MD&M exam does not mean you couldn't do HVAC or TFS. You're allowed to practice in any area that you are competent in, but make sure you can justify that competence somehow.

My experience. Sounds like we're in a similar situation. I have 17 years of experience in various manufacturing environments, both government contractors and commercial companies. None of the companies that I've worked for needed PEs to stamp anything. It all falls under the industrial exemption. I just always wanted my PE license as a personal accomplishment, so I got it. Honestly though, I don't really care if I never use it. I'm not interested in changing industries.

Industries where I live:
  • Manufacturing: Like I said, this is where most of my experience is. Nothing in manufacturing requires a PE license.
  • Oil & Gas/Refining/Chemical Plants: O&G is big here too. If you're working directly for the main companies you're covered by the industrial exemption and don't need a PE license. But there are tons of consulting companies that support this industry. They use a lot of MD&M PE's for structural/strength analysis of lots of different stuff (oil platform and oil rig structures, piping and pressure vessels structural analysis, crane lift work, rotating equipment like compressor design & analysis, etc)
  • Construction: This industry employs lots of PEs, but like you said, Mechanicals are all TFS and HVAC.
  • Government: Local government "public works" agencies employ lots of PEs. Honestly I'm not sure what types but I think all kinds. I'm not super familiar with local government stuff.
I don't know about other industries, but of the ones I'm familiar with, your best bet to actually use your MD&M PE would be to work for an O&G/Chemical consulting firm.

Another option: I had a professor with a PE license and the only thing he did with it was expert witness testimony in court. So when something would break and someone would sue, he'd get hired to do some very basic forensic engineering and testify in court.
That's another option, forensic engineering... I'm not sure if that's big enough to to call it an industry. It's definitely seems more niche, but forensic engineering firms definitely need MD&M PE's.

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