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Summary Report for:
17-2141.01 - Fuel Cell Engineers

Design, evaluate, modify, or construct fuel cell components or systems for transportation, stationary, or portable applications.

Sample of reported job titles: Director, Hydrogen Storage Engineering; Division Director; Engineering Professor; Professor of Chemical Engineering; Research Engineer; Scientist/Engineer; Senior Engineer; Senior Research Engineer; Senior Scientist; Senior Stack Engineer

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Tasks  |  Tools & Technology  |  Knowledge  |  Skills  |  Abilities  |  Work Activities  |  Detailed Work Activities  |  Work Context  |  Job Zone  |  Education  |  Credentials  |  Interests  |  Work Styles  |  Work Values  |  Wages & Employment  |  Job Openings  |  Additional Information

Tasks

  • Conduct fuel cell testing projects, using fuel cell test stations, analytical instruments, or electrochemical diagnostics, such as cyclic voltammetry or impedance spectroscopy. Green Task Statement
  • Design or implement fuel cell testing or development programs. Green Task Statement
  • Write technical reports or proposals related to engineering projects. Green Task Statement
  • Plan or implement fuel cell cost reduction or product improvement projects in collaboration with other engineers, suppliers, support personnel, or customers. Green Task Statement
  • Validate design of fuel cells, fuel cell components, or fuel cell systems. Green Task Statement
  • Define specifications for fuel cell materials. Green Task Statement
  • Plan or conduct experiments to validate new materials, optimize startup protocols, reduce conditioning time, or examine contaminant tolerance. Green Task Statement
  • Calculate the efficiency or power output of a fuel cell system or process. Green Task Statement
  • Conduct post-service or failure analyses, using electromechanical diagnostic principles or procedures. Green Task Statement
  • Read current literature, attend meetings or conferences, or talk with colleagues to stay abreast of new technology or competitive products. Green Task Statement
  • Prepare test stations, instrumentation, or data acquisition systems for use in specific tests of fuel cell components or systems. Green Task Statement
  • Develop fuel cell materials or fuel cell test equipment. Green Task Statement
  • Simulate or model fuel cell, motor, or other system information, using simulation software programs. Green Task Statement
  • Characterize component or fuel cell performances by generating operating maps, defining operating conditions, identifying design refinements, or executing durability assessments. Green Task Statement
  • Fabricate prototypes of fuel cell components, assemblies, stacks, or systems. Green Task Statement
  • Analyze fuel cell or related test data, using statistical software. Green Task Statement
  • Design fuel cell systems, subsystems, stacks, assemblies, or components, such as electric traction motors or power electronics. Green Task Statement
  • Recommend or implement changes to fuel cell system designs. Green Task Statement
  • Provide technical consultation or direction related to the development or production of fuel cell systems. Green Task Statement
  • Develop or evaluate systems or methods of hydrogen storage for fuel cell applications. Green Task Statement
  • Evaluate the power output, system cost, or environmental impact of new hydrogen or non-hydrogen fuel cell system designs. Green Task Statement
  • Authorize release of fuel cell parts, components, or subsystems for production. Green Task Statement
  • Coordinate fuel cell engineering or test schedules with departments outside engineering, such as manufacturing. Green Task Statement
  • Identify or define vehicle and system integration challenges for fuel cell vehicles. Green Task Statement

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Tools & Technology

Tools used in this occupation:

  • Calorimeters — Differential scanning calorimeters
  • Chemical absorption gas analyzers — Surface area analyzers
  • Chemiluminescence or bioluminescence analyzers — Fluorescence detectors
  • Crucible furnaces — Induction furnaces
  • Desktop computers
  • Engine or component test stands — Fuel cell test stands
  • Flame ionization analyzers — Flame ionization detectors FID
  • Forming machine — Molding presses
  • Frequency analyzers — Frequency response analyzers
  • Gas chromatographs — Gas chromatography equipment
  • High pressure liquid chromatograph chromatography — High pressure liquid chromatographs HPLC
  • Homogenizers — Digital sonifiers; Ultrasonic blenders
  • Infrared spectrometers — Fourier transfer infrared FTIR spectrometers; Infrared IR spectrophotometers
  • Isolation glove boxes — Laboratory glove boxes
  • Laboratory balances — Microbalances
  • Laboratory mechanical convection ovens — Gravity convection ovens
  • Laboratory mills — Laboratory ball mills
  • Mass spectrometers
  • Microcontrollers — Programmable logic controllers PLC
  • Multi gas monitors — Portable emissions analyzers
  • Notebook computers — Laptop computers
  • Personal computers
  • Power meters — Load boxes; Power analyzers
  • Reactors or fermenters or digesters — Flow reactors
  • Scanning electron microscopes — Scanning electron microscopes SEM
  • Spectrofluorimeters or fluorimeters — X ray fluorescence XRF spectrometers
  • Spectrometers — X ray photoelectric spectroscopes
  • Spectrophotometers — Scanning spectrophotometers
  • Thermal differential analyzers — Thermovolumetric analyzers TVA
  • Thermo gravimetry analyzers — Thermal gravimetric analyzers
  • Transmission electron microscopes — Transmission electron microscopes TEM
  • Tube furnaces — High temperature tube furnaces
  • Vacuum ovens — Laboratory vacuum ovens
  • Volumeters — Dilatometers
  • X ray diffraction equipment — X ray crystallography equipment

Technology used in this occupation:

  • Analytical or scientific software — FactSage; Gaussian GaussView; GE Energy GateCycle; Minitab Hot technology (see all 13 examples)
  • Computer aided design CAD software Hot technology — Autodesk AutoCAD Hot technology
  • Development environment software — C Hot technology ; National Instruments LabVIEW Hot technology ; Wind River Systems C/C++ Compiler Suite
  • Industrial control software — Supervisory control and data acquisition SCADA software
  • Object or component oriented development software — C++ Hot technology
  • Office suite software — Microsoft Office
  • Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint Hot technology
  • Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel Hot technology
  • Word processing software — Microsoft Word

Hot technology Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.

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Knowledge

  • Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
  • Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Chemistry — Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

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Skills

  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
  • Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  • Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
  • Operation Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Quality Control Analysis — Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.

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Abilities

  • Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
  • Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
  • Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
  • Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  • Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
  • Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
  • Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.

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Work Activities

  • Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
  • Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
  • Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
  • Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
  • Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
  • Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
  • Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
  • Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
  • Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
  • Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
  • Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Provide Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.

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Detailed Work Activities

  • Test green technologies or processes.
  • Devise research or testing protocols.
  • Confer with technical personnel to prepare designs or operational plans.
  • Implement design or process improvements.
  • Prepare detailed work plans.
  • Prepare proposal documents.
  • Prepare technical reports for internal use.
  • Maintain inventories of materials, equipment, or products.
  • Conduct validation tests of equipment or processes.
  • Analyze costs and benefits of proposed designs or projects.
  • Determine design criteria or specifications.
  • Research energy production, use, or conservation.
  • Conduct quantitative failure analyses of operational data.
  • Update technical knowledge.
  • Design materials for industrial or commercial applications.
  • Operate industrial equipment.
  • Create models of engineering designs or methods.
  • Design alternative energy systems.
  • Create physical models or prototypes.
  • Analyze test or validation data.
  • Provide technical guidance to other personnel.
  • Recommend technical design or process changes to improve efficiency, quality, or performance.
  • Develop technical methods or processes.
  • Evaluate the characteristics of green technologies.
  • Coordinate activities with suppliers, contractors, clients, or other departments.
  • Investigate the environmental impact of projects.
  • Analyze green technology design requirements.
  • Design energy-efficient vehicles or vehicle components.

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Work Context

  • Electronic Mail — 79% responded “Every day.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions — 50% responded “Every day.”
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 58% responded “Every day.”
  • Telephone — 52% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team — 46% responded “Very important.”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 50% responded “Every day.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work — 46% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week — 48% responded “More than 40 hours.”
  • Contact With Others — 42% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 54% responded “Very important.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions — 58% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Level of Competition — 54% responded “Highly competitive.”
  • Spend Time Sitting — 58% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 33% responded “High responsibility.”
  • Time Pressure — 42% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 54% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
  • Letters and Memos — 50% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 50% responded “Moderate results.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others — 46% responded “Important.”

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Job Zone

Title Job Zone Five: Extensive Preparation Needed
Education Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).
Related Experience Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.
Job Training Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.
Job Zone Examples These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Examples include librarians, lawyers, astronomers, biologists, clergy, surgeons, and veterinarians.
SVP Range (8.0 and above)

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Education


Percentage of Respondents
Education Level Required
38   Bachelor's degree
33   Master's degree
25   Doctoral degree

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Credentials

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Interests

Interest code: RI

  • Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

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Work Styles

  • Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.

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Work Values

  • Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
  • Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
  • Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.

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Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages data collected from Mechanical Engineers.
Employment data collected from Mechanical Engineers.
Industry data collected from Mechanical Engineers.

Median wages (2015) $40.19 hourly, $83,590 annual
State wages Local Salary Info
 
Employment (2014) 278,000 employees
Projected growth (2014-2024) Average (5% to 8%) Average (5% to 8%)
Projected job openings (2014-2024) 102,500
State trends Employment Trends
 
Top industries (2014)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 wage data external site and 2014-2024 employment projections external site. "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

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Sources of Additional Information

Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.

  • Mechanical engineers external site. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition.

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