Surrounded by a team of technicians, R&D engineers do research and development work in a department considered the company’s temple of innovation. True “inventors,” they are in charge of designing new products, developing new technologies and improving existing processes. It is an increasingly strategic function as international competition heats up.
R&D engineers work closely with most of a company’s departments (e.g. marketing, methods, production, quality). In a large company, they specialize in a product line or a specific technology. In a small- to medium-sized business, they are more versatile and may take care of both production and project management.
- Identify technical solutions to a given problem
- Develop prototypes
- Control the performance of innovations through trials
- Respect pre-determined specifications and budgets
- Conduct applied research, studies and analyses
- Improve production processes
- Ensure a technology watch on tools
- Have an engineering degree
- Be registered with their province’s professional engineering association for the right to practise as an engineer (P.Eng. or ing. in Quebec)
- Possess solid scientific and technical knowledge related to the company’s area of activity (e.g. automobile, aerospace, telephone services)
- Be able to execute a project from A to Z while respecting previously set constraints (e.g. cost, materials, functionalities)
- Know how to use computer-assisted design (CAD) tools
- Master basic English
- Tolerates stress
WHAT THE PROS SAY
UGO MAYAUD, DESIGN AND TESTING ENGINEER FOR AREVA T&D
Ugo Mayaud has been working since last year in Areva T&D’s research and development department. The company, specializing in the transport and distribution of energy, is located close to Montreal. Ugo does everything from designing isolating switches to testing them in the lab—a truly multidisciplinary job.
UGO, CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT WHAT YOU DO FOR AREVA T&D ?
I work on electrical equipment to protect high-voltage transformers—as well as the people who work on them—by shielding them from electrostatic charges. These parts are called “isolating switches.” I design them, with the help of my team of CAD technicians. I build their specifications, handle their design and determine the maximum constraints they can handle. The ultimate goal is for the product to meet increasingly severe standards, while being as inexpensive as possible.
WHAT TESTS DO YOU PUT THESE ISOLATING SWITCHES THROUGH?
The most simple tests are done right here in the lab at Areva T&D. We do “ice tests,” for example, which involve submitting our products to conditions of extreme cold in order to check their resistance and proper functioning. For more specialized tests like earthquakes, large short circuits or lightning, we go to specialized labs in the U.S., France or Japan. In the whole world, there are not that many labs equipped with vibration tables big enough to simulate a quake on an isolating switch up to 10 metres high!
WHAT DO YOU LIKE THE MOST ABOUT THIS JOB?
My job is very diversified. It covers a wide range of disciplines: structural mechanics, electromagnetism, electricity, vibrations, etc. I also like taking care of projects from A to Z and interacting with the various professionals. Here, I have contacts with technicians, assemblers, buyers and production managers. I get to learn something new every day. That’s what’s great about R&D.