The role of a Project Engineer is to ensure coordination across every function of the project lifecycle from requirements gathering until changes are delivered and serviced to the customer. They are the glue that connects all the pieces of the puzzle together. Chantal Boucher, manager of project and system engineering at Bell, was at Concordia University to discuss with a group of engineering students, professors, and professionals.
According to Ms. Boucher, project engineers must coordinate the activities of multiple different functions, inside and outside the engineering group. They are accountable to not only ensure the engineering is released and certified by the authorities, but also to make sure parts are supplied on time, planning instructions are available to shop floor employees, technical publications such as flight manual supplements and instructions for continued airworthiness are available to the customer, spares are ready for customer to order, etc. The most successful projects are not necessarily the ones with the best technical solutions; the best technical solution AND the best coordination across all the players involved are required to provide a positive customer experience in a profitable way.
The key elements for engineers to be successful when managing complex projects are a technical background mindset coupled with good negotiator skills, in Ms. Boucher’s opinion. Other key behaviors are also important such as being a good motivator for your team members, constantly thinking about how to mitigate risks that could materialize and having a structured and organized approach.
Ms. Boucher finished her inspiring talk by explaining how project engineering is a very challenging career path that mixes technical knowledge with a business approach and which helps to better understand the big picture.