A mechanical engineer in life science
Is the life science industry really a place for mechanical engineers? Read our consultant William Sonesson’s story about changing industries and discovering that the differences were not so many at all.
As a mechanical engineer, or at least at the university where I studied, we were told that the life science industry was not for us, that we should focus our eyes towards the heavy industries in Södertälje, Göteborg and Västerås. It seemed self-explanatory, we learned to produce products that require cutting and welding and as an unexperienced student I believed that the life science industry just needed chemical engineers and was no place for me.
Not such a big difference
Somehow, I still ended up in the life science industry and to be fair, it is not such a big difference from the heavy industries. Sure, the products do not require a yearly oil-change.
With a narrow field of sight, you’d think that life science is not for mechanical engineers too, but with a broader perspective on basically any product and look at how it’s made, you’ll find robots, fully automated filling stations, mixing tanks, pumps and the countless of processes governing it. Which as a mechanical engineer is something that gets the blood flowing.
Processes that need tweaking
No matter which product and what way of manufacturing used, there are always governing processes behind and it has the same foundation regardless of industry. In the life science industry, there are always processes that needs to be tweaked or new created while working closely with terms such as LEAN, 5s, six sigma and quality/environmental systems. Terms which to which a mechanical engineer as myself are all to familiar with.
Always a need for mechanical engineers
Sure, I don’t have the expertise to be working with product development on a microbial level but when it comes to the production and processes governing the production of said product – it is right up my alley which is why the knowledge is important in R&D projects too.
For example, my current assignment is at a large medicinal manufacturer as a PM/Production Engineer in a project to upgrade production areas to reach a higher compliance to cGMP. My work focuses to maximize a new production area for the type of material and personnel processes that is appointed to flow through it, and still make it compliant to cGMP and project budget. For that, I find great use of my background in mechanical engineering, especially with know how on how to manage production flow.
What you need to consider is not the kind of product they make or in what industry, but instead how they make it and I can without a doubt say that mechanical engineers will always be needed in the life science industry, and the competences that they have are highly sought after.
Title: PM/Production Engineer
Education: B.Sc in Mechanical engineering and .M.Sc in Industrial Management and Innovation
Worked at Semcon since: June 2018
I have most fun at work when…: A task that requires coordination, planning and control is completed. The satisfaction of completing it!