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Insights 3 useful tools that every design engineer needs to use

Design engineers imagine the possible design solutions of everything from electric shavers and toothbrushes to bridges and railways. It’s a varied career path, and should you choose to work in sectors such as transportation or cities and development, you have the opportunity to help create a sustainable future. Take, for example, the fact that every building must be net zero by 2050 in order to pump the brakes on climate change.

No matter what sector you choose to take your design engineer career to, there are a few must-have tools. If you can get familiar with these three tools, you’ll have just what you need to prove yourself a successful design engineer.

image of hands altering designs


Design engineering is not only a case of turning creative ideas into real-life structures, but the ideas need to be thought-provoking and work in harmony with the surrounding area. For this, a suite of tools is needed. In the realm of design, there are so many software packages on the market, making it difficult for ambitious design engineers to know for sure which will propel their career forward.

Revit, created by Autodesk, is a building information modelling (BIM) software that has pushed the boundaries of design technology. Using 3D modelling, the software enables design engineers to capture their intent and bring these ideas to life via realistic visualisations.

Revit was built and released in the 21st century, which may not make it sound like the most up-to-date tool, but it is when you compare it to AutoCAD, which was developed around 40 years ago. This makes Revit easier to learn than other software. That said, getting to grips with the BIM software requires strong mathematical understanding, particularly in regards to data.

While you can learn the basics within a few weeks, it can take years of working on major projects to know the tool inside out. To accelerate your understanding of the software, you can access project-based tutorials that mirror real-world examples. Once mastered, you’ll be able to create a streamlined design process, working together with architects, planners, construction workers and other design team members to turn your 3D models into construction documentation.

Civil 3D

The positive impact of good design cannot be overstated. Design engineers work alongside architects, planners and professionals from other engineering fields - such as drainage engineers - delivering outstanding spaces that will meet the changing needs of our planet. How do they do this? They put creativity at the heart of everything they do. But turning their visions from a concept to a completed structure requires visualisation. This is where Civil 3D comes into play.

As with Revit, Civil 3D is a BIM software and was developed by Autodesk also. First launched in 2005, the tool has gone through years of refining and perfecting. If you were to look at Civil 3D alongside AutoCAD, you’d find the interfaces look very similar, and that’s because the former was built upon the latter. As a result, Civil 3D can still deliver 2D submittal documents on top of a host of additional features that elevate design engineering to another dimension.

One notable feature is real-time adjustments. Say you’re working alongside highway engineers to design a new stretch of road and you need to change an alignment, Civil 3D will automatically make the necessary modifications across the following stages. Not only can this save time, and therefore costs, but it also allows you to explore more creative concepts and experiment until you have the design that works best for the project.


Developed by the same software corporation as Revit and Civil 3D, InfraWorks is used in the preliminary stages of design, where teams begin modelling and analysing plans. Similar to Navisworks, InfraWorks does not generate construction documents but is considered more user-friendly than other design tools. At this conceptualise stage, you can sketch roads, bridges, storm systems and other structures in the built environment.

A recent McKinsey report, The next normal in construction, states that BIM ensures that “companies can improve efficiency and integrate the design phase with the rest of the value chain”. While InfraWorks isn’t a BIM software in its own right, it can integrate with BIM and, therefore, is necessary for creating rich 3D plans.

So beyond improving decision making and speeding up the approval process within projects, what are the applications of InfraWorks? Not only are building design teams up against changing legislation around inclusion, but they’re also facing the changing demands of an ageing population and ever-increasingly diverse communities. Using InfraWorks, design engineers can create environments that facilitate social inclusion.

Kickstart your design engineer career with Atkins

We’re passionate about helping our clients create imaginative, elegant and practical solutions. To continue delivering work that we’re proud of, we need more forward-thinking people to join the Atkins team within the AtkinsRéalis Group.

A career with us will open you up to a world of possibilities, where you’ll be encouraged to embrace automated delivery and given all the tools and training needed to develop a collaborative way of thinking.

Browse our latest design engineer jobs in APAC and kickstart your career.