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At Work: Applications Engineer

Name: Adam Brown
Company: Schaefer Systems International
Location: Charlotte, NC
Years On Job: 3

As an Applications Engineer at Schaefer Systems International I have a couple of major responsibilities. First and foremost, I support our sales efforts globally. I serve as a backup to the sales person and deliver presentations, ideas and workshops to our customers to meet their needs. I also act in a support capacity for our sales staff. When they come to me with an opportunity, our team of applications engineers determines if the idea has merit and then develops a customer-specific solution. One part of my job that I love is providing individual solutions for our customers. Every day is a problem-solving event.

1.    Prior Experience
I have been working in the material handling industry since I graduated college. My first job was creating test stands and test equipment for a remanufacturing transmission company for automobile transmissions. I also spent eleven years working with Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs). I have done everything from field technician work, system and vehicle design, programming, and application sales.  I have even worked as a service manager.

2.    Communication
Many engineers are introverted by nature. I am not.  I think it is one of the reasons that I have been so successful in my unique role as an Applications Engineer for Schaefer Systems. I think of an engineer as an educator. It’s up to me to educate the customer on what we’re doing and why we’re doing it that way.  I also have to do it in a way that isn’t too long-winded or dumbed down which can come across as insulting and a waste of time. If you don’t develop trust with potential customers when you’re discussing systems solutions, then they will not have the confidence in you and your company to get the project off the ground.

3.    Sales Role
One part of my job that I really enjoy is the sales aspect. Some people cringe when they see an engineer walk in the room because they assume that the engineer only knows numbers and technology. That’s the great thing about being an Applications Engineer. My blended role allows me the ability to not only offer a solution but also educate the customers about other possible solutions that we have implemented for other customers that might also work for them. But I also love engineering. My role allows me to experience both sides. I have about a 50/50 split between sales and engineering.

4.    Tools
This job comes down to successful communication. I use Power Point a lot, because it is a phenomenal tool for conveying ideas in both pictorial and written form. I also use different plug-ins for AutoCAD that allow me to make a 3D rendering of a solution and then make videos so you can experience being in the solution. I can actually make a video of a person walking through their facility with the solution in place. Those types of tools really bring the solution to life and help the customer understand, “This is exactly what I’m buying.” It gives them a holistic approach to their system.
One part of my job that I really enjoy is the sales aspect. Some people cringe when they see an engineer walk in the room because they assume that the engineer only knows numbers and technology. That’s the great thing about being an Applications Engineer. My blended role allows me the ability to not only offer a solution but also educate the customers about other possible solutions that we have implemented for other customers that might also work for them. But I also love engineering. My role allows me to experience both sides. I have about a 50/50 split between sales and engineering.