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Aesthetic Quality Control Engineer

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Many years ago when I was still a student engineer working for an instrumentation manufacturing subsidiary I had the opportunity to work in the quality department of our company.  The quality department was split into numerous different groups, each one responsible for various aspects of the product quality including functionality, production, materials and aesthetics.  In this particular job rotation I had the chance to work in the aesthetics department.

So what exactly did I do in the aesthetics group of the quality department?

On this particular assignment I was responsible for the final appearance of the product including product lighting and color perception.  Now this may seem like a relatively simple assignment but balancing the lighting in an instrumentation panel display is actually quite a challenging assignment not to mention that the color perception of each material used in the assembly of the instrumentation panel must be matched to the remaining interior materials within the entire vehicle.  These were the two main facets of the job while I worked in this particular assignment.

Day on the job with an Aesthetic Quality Control Engineer

There were two aspect to my job in this department.  First, I worked with the daily production activities and monitored the visual inspection quality issues that would spring up from time to time.  For example, the front covers of the instrumentation panel were delivered with a plastic adhesive to protect them from scratching but unknown to us they changed the supplier for the plastic adhesive which caused residue to stay behind after the plastic was removed.  In my job as the aesthetic quality control engineer I had to first put a control measure in place so that none of the defective parts would be shipped to customers, second, we put containment in place to quarantine all the suspect inventory and finally we instituted a corrective action which had two parts, one was cleaning off the residue of contaminated parts and second, returning to the previous plastic supplier to avoid the issue in the future.

The second aspect of my job in this position was to work with the color and lighting development teams to develop and design next generation products.  Lighting quality work involved looking at the evenness of the lighting within the instrumentation panel.  We used an interesting trick to easily identify lighting inconsistencies within the panel, which was ingenious in the 1980s before the accessibility of digital cameras.  We used a regular camera and the negative that was produced when we took a picture with film.  The negative would be show the spots that needed additional lighting and we would then using a plastic light pipe with cut angles to reflect additional light into the instrumentation panel.

Both of these tasks were included in my work as an Aesthetic Quality Control Engineer.

Becoming an Aesthetic Quality Control Engineer

There are multiple areas within this field that you can focus on when earning your degree.  First there is the option to do a basic engineering degree such as mechanical or electrical engineering which allows you to understand numerous different facets of this work.  Second, there are specialty degrees available in physics, optics and even quality engineering which will give you the skills you need to be successful.  Of course, each of those degree requires a strong foundation of math, science, physics and chemistry while you are in high school in order to be accepted into the engineering programs.

My rotations in the quality department opened my eyes to just how involved the design and fabrication of an automobile really is and aesthetics is just one small part of the big picture that comes with designing and producing an automobile.  I used to take for granted how brilliantly lit the instrumentation was in my vehicle but after seeing the frustration involved in these designs I have now come to better understand what is involved in putting a vehicle together and the engineers that do those jobs.

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