Project Engineering bridges the boundaries between engineering and project management, leading the technical workers who contribute to the building of structures or products. In some cases, the project engineer is the same as a project manager but in most cases these two professionals have joint responsibility for leading a project. Project management holds responsibility of every field of engineers.
The role of the project engineer can often be described as that of a liaison between the project manager and the technical disciplines involved in a project. The project engineer is also often the primary technical point of contact for the consumer.
A project engineer's responsibilities include schedule preparation, pre-planning and resource forecasting for engineering and other technical activities relating to the project. They may also be in charge of performance management of vendors. They assure the accuracy of financial forecasts, which tie-in to project schedules. They ensure projects are completed according to project plans. Project engineers manage project team resources and training and develop extensive project management experience and expertise.
When project teams are structured so that multiple specialty disciplines report to the project engineer, then two important responsibilities of the project engineer are inter-discipline coordination and overall quality control of the work.
Fields and topics
The various fields and topics that projects engineers are involved with include:
- Work breakdown structure: a deliverable-oriented breakdown of a project into smaller components
- Gantt chart: type of bar chart that illustrates a project schedule
- Critical Path Analysis: an algorithm for scheduling a set of project activities
- Program evaluation and review technique: a statistical tool which was designed to analyze and represent the tasks involved in completing a given project
- Graphical Evaluation and Review Technique: network analysis technique that allows probabilistic treatment both network logic and estimation of activity duration
- Petri Nets: one of several mathematical modeling languages for the description of distributed systems
Project engineers are often project managers with qualifications in engineering or construction management. Other titles include field engineer, construction engineer, or construction project engineer. In smaller projects, this person may also be responsible for contracts and will be called an assistant project manager. A similar role is undertaken by a client's engineer or owner's engineer, but by inference, these often act more in the interests of the commissioning company.
Project engineers do not necessarily do design work, but instead represent the contractor or client out in the field, help tradespeople interpret the job's designs, ensure the job is constructed according to the project plans, and assist project controls, including budgeting, scheduling, and planning. In some cases a project engineer is responsible for assisting the assigned project manager with regard to design and a project and with the execution of one or more simultaneous projects in accordance with a valid, executed contract, per company policies and procedures and work instructions for customized and standardized plants.
Typical responsibilities may include: daily operations of field work activities and organization of subcontractors; coordination of the implementation of a project, ensuring it is being built correctly; project schedules and forecasts; interpretation of drawings for tradesmen; review of engineering deliverables; redlining drawings; regular project status reports; budget monitoring and trend tracking; bill of materials creation and maintenance; effective communications between engineering, technical, construction, and project controls groups; and assistance to the project manager.
- Frederick B. Plummer Jr. (2011), Project Engineering, Butterworth-Heinemann
- Anastasia Pagnoni (2012), Project Engineering: Computer-Oriented Planning and Operational Decision Making, Springer
- "What is a PE?". National Society of Professional Engineers. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
- Herbst, Andrew; Hans Verwijs (Oct 19–22, 2011). "Project Engineering: Interdisciplinary Coordination and Overall Engineering Quality Control". Proc. of the Annual IAC conference of the American Society for Engineering Management. 1. pp. 15–21. ISBN 9781618393616.