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Medical Devices: Product Development vs Quality Engineer

Medical Devices: Product Development vs Quality Engineer

Medical Devices: Product Development vs Quality Engineer

I graduated college in 2013 with a B.S in Biomedical Engineering. Since then I have worked as a Quality Engineer for a large medical device company dealing with orthopedic devices (think: artificial knee, hip etc).

I am getting to the point when I feel like I should start thinking of my next role (within the same company).
I am having a hard time figuring out if I want to stay in Quality Engineering or if I should look into becoming a Product Development engineer.
I am aware that I would probably have a more difficult time getting a Product Development job since my training in hardcore mechanical engineering is minimal (I had a BME degree not an ME degree, so I have little drafting experience for example).

I want to get your opinions on what the future holds for each role, how required skills differ between the two and the type of "personality" each role is better suited for (specifically for medical devices).

In other words, any tips you may have to help me decide on what I want as my next role would be very much appreciated.

Thank you all for your time.

RE: Medical Devices: Product Development vs Quality Engineer

Simple question: do you LOVE to design?

RE: Medical Devices: Product Development vs Quality Engineer

Quote (bonita255)

(I had a BME degree not an ME degree, so I have little drafting experience for example).

I wouldn't let that one hold you back, mose ME grads don't seem to have much drafting experience either. If you can get access to whatever CAD system your company uses and go through the tutorials it probably has, maybe even look up some online tutorials that many of the more popular packages have on Utube etc. then you'll have similar level of CAD skills as most new grads.

Neither of you will have real drafting skills. You could try to familiarize yourself with teh relevant drawing specs but at this point we may be putting the cart ahead of the horse.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Medical Devices: Product Development vs Quality Engineer

PTC offers a free version of Creo Design software, which you can at least go through the tutorials and get a basic feel for what CAD software looks and feels like. It's a steep learning curve, though. A bigger impediment might be your actual ME related stress analysis, materials, and math background. The products you've specifically listed are sensitive to material strength and bio-compatibility.

I would modify Tick's question to be, "What do you LOVE to do?" Obvious passion and drive can often overcome other people's reservations about qualifications, because they know that you'll go the extra mile to learn things related to your passions.

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RE: Medical Devices: Product Development vs Quality Engineer

Thank you all for your thoughts.
In terms of what do I love to do....I am one of those people that truly learns to love whatever they have to do, which is making this decision hard.

I love the IDEA of designing something new... all we were ever taught in school was the design process (though not for orthopedics but more for soft tissue/drug delivery devices). But I would say my thinking process is more methodical and structured as opposed to creative and "outside the box", which I feel like is required for design.

FYI I am a 25 year old female, engaged to be married, so I guess I also have to think about how this plays out in the long-term for when we decide to start a family.
I have heard that it is easier for females in Quality...and from what I see in my company in Product Development the ratio of males to females is about 90:10.

RE: Medical Devices: Product Development vs Quality Engineer

"Outside the box" is horribly overrated and overused. You can't work outside the box until you fully comprehend the box.

When you get a box, the first thing you need to do is measure it (after you learn what room the box is in). Then see what's in it. 99% of the time, the tools are there but nobody looked. Methodical thinkers know this.

If you're prone to letting others tell you what you are and what you are not, stay in quality.

RE: Medical Devices: Product Development vs Quality Engineer

Does your company offer any temporary assignments to other groups that you could take advantage of? We have had MEs, EEs, QEs, Test, PMs, and bus dev guys all switch around at one time or another. The assignments have typically been anywhere from 3 months to a year and are meant to allow the employee and the company to each assess the fit at the new position without any long term commitments. I would say about a 50:50 split on staying at the new position vs returning to the old one.

RE: Medical Devices: Product Development vs Quality Engineer

Talk to some of the PD people to understand the whole process, work environment, tools, travel, hours per week, special projects, deadlines, etc. Don't be shy about it. You're young and learning so hopefully your managers will support your efforts.

Don't worry about how your mind works or doesn't work. You can learn new material and skills, which you've demonstrated throughout your academic career and your employment. Your mind is not static and never has been. Get that static thinking out of your head! Your mind and brain are dynamic!

It's good to get information from others to help make a decision. But don't get bogged down in responses and become indecisive. Most of all, remember that there are no wrong choices. There are simply choices with different lessons to learn.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC

RE: Medical Devices: Product Development vs Quality Engineer

Here is what I have seen:

Quality Engineers work within the system and have limited ability to change the process or truly prevent problems that pop up, so the same problem reoccurs. They usually need the buy in from multiple groups all with their own agendas. So if you like reading/writing and trying to get consensus then stay with Quality.

Product Development provides a chance to improve and/or extend a technology and perhaps earn a patent in the process. I say chance because Product Development will be tasked with supporting Quality, Process and Manufacturing activities. Thus this position can prevent or solve, permanently, problems. Also I have been in the position of simply re-sizing and/or putting existing technology into another similar application (which gets boring after you have done it a couple of times). I have had CAD support for this position so having experience with CAD packages is helpful but not required. You get to be creative but it may not be as much or extensive as you envision.

My 2 cents worth.
Good luck.

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