The industrial applications appealed to Dr. Philipp Rostalski: after the doctorate and post-doc phase, the electrical engineer desperately wanted to do something practical. "I worked on fascinating theoretical projects at the universities, but always missed the step towards implementing this theory," the 34-year-old tells. In 2011, he joined Lübeck-based Dräger as a development engineer. The company manufactures medical and safety technology products. Philipp Rostalski works in the basic development department. His role is to keep sight of scientific innovations and review whether these ideas could be of interest and their realisation feasible for his employer. This involves keeping in touch with universities and regularly attending conferences. If the company is impressed with an idea, the next step is to consider the feasibility of its realisation.
For Rostalski it is a particularly fascinating aspect of the job having the opportunity to influence new technologies. He sees one major challenge in the growing complexity of the systems and in being well networked. "Nowadays, you no longer do anything alone, but rather must be able to work with many different people," Rostalski explains. He also considers the ability to rapidly familiarise oneself with new problems crucial for his job.
Development engineers in demand on the job market
Thomas Hegger, a personnel consultant from Berlin and member of the "Profession, Society & Technology" committee of the Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies (VDE), confirms this: "In Germany the pace of development is extremely high," he says. "Engineers must be able to keep up." Good development engineers are also creative, have an eye for detail, and go to the limits of what is technically possible. Moreover, they must be good communicators and able to work in a group. "The days of Gyro Gearloose, the inventor who tinkers away at machines in his garage, are over," Hegger stresses.
The personnel consultant rates the career prospects for development engineers as very good. They will find work in almost all sectors, and are particularly in demand in the automotive, mechanical and plant engineering, and electronics industries. The subject of study also barely plays a role. Mechanical and electrical engineering are the classic subjects. A closer look at the job advertisements will confirm that professional experience is rarely required though. "Development engineers gain the fundamental basis for the work in the respective field during their studies. They then acquire the specialist knowledge within the company itself," Hegger explains. Over the course of their careers, they can mostly then choose between a career as a specialist (e.g. a project manager or expert) or in management.