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Come at me bro.

Postby gilchristjames » April 12th, 2016, 5:04 am

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Hi everyone,

I finally have my portfolio website up and running! I would love some feedback on how I can improve it and where better to do so than the core77 forum.

http://www.jameslgilchrist.com

I'm looking for work in the UK as a Design Engineer in the consumer products industry- hopefully for a design consultancy.

Please don't hold back on your feedback - The more criticism you give, the better I can make my portfolio and that makes everyone happy. So like I say, come at me :)

Really appreciate your time.

James

Re: Come at me bro.

Postby pjbowers » April 12th, 2016, 7:30 am

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James,

This is somewhat challenging because it appears that you have a much stronger background in engineering than design. Not exactly sure how you want to be critiqued as I would guess an aerospace engineer would have a far different portfolio from an Industrial Designer. Being and Industrial Designer myself, I'll critique on that.

My first issue was visual hierarchy on your homepage. I was attracted to the center of the page immediately, and tried to click on the "4 projects completed icon" ...about 3-4 times before I realized there are small tabs in the top corners. Feed me your projects, don't make me search.

Secondly, what projects have you done that could relate to what a design consultancy will do? The engineering behind an airplane wing is impressive...but I don't see a lot of projects correlating. I was excited to click in about the jars....only to find out it is incomplete. :( Maybe you can do some personal projects?

Thirdly, but probably most importantly, sketching. This needs a lot of work man. Check out videos and tutorials/books by other ID sketchers like Spencer Nugent, Jeff Smith, or Reid Schlegel. Improvements here are a must.

...unless of course you are looking for a purely engineering role?

Hope it helps,
Patrick

Re: Come at me bro.

Postby gilchristjames » April 12th, 2016, 9:39 am

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Hi Patrick,

Firstly thanks for taking the time to digest and give me some feedback- I really value it. Let me address point by point:

0- The working I'm looking for is sort of a blend between engineering and ID- So its useful having it critiqued in either fashion.

1- Absolutely- great point. Just made the change.

2- Yes totally agree I should include some more work that relates to a design consultancy. I'm working on a few projects at the moment so I will endeavor to get them finished and uploaded.

3- Yep at the start of the year I realised how important design sketching really is and essentially started for zero. Trying to work on it every day- love the stuff from spencer nugent- not heard of Jeff Smith or Reid Schlegel so I will research them. Plus been using the stuff from this forum as well- lots of great threads of sketching tips from the community that are really helping.

Thanks again Patrick.

Re: Come at me bro.

Postby pjbowers » April 12th, 2016, 11:21 am

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Absolutely! Already so much better. :)

Let me know if I can be of any help!
-Patrick

Re: Come at me bro.

Postby yo » April 12th, 2016, 5:16 pm

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Welcome James, fellow are a few unvarnished first opinions.

1) change the profile pic. It is a barrier.
2) The brief description says you are an innovator, but that is not what I came away with. The word I would use to describe you is a hybrid. Not a bad thing at all. A lot of places need hybrids. Someone who can do a little bit of everything. And you would be well placed in a stat up for example.

Re: Come at me bro.

Postby louis leblanc » April 12th, 2016, 9:33 pm

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Fellow recent grad mechanical engineer who loves design and works as a mechanical design engineer here.

For the homepage, as Michael mentioned, use a picture that serves you. I'm not 100% sure the rolling qualifiers helps you. As someone who's in between two worlds I just think it reinforces the ambiguity of what you can bring. The blog aspect of it makes me feel like I'm the landing page of some weekend warrior maker rather than an engineer prospect.

I'd switch out skill to resumé/cv, it wasn't obvious to me where to go to see it. For the CV it self, I'd consider putting the education section before the work. Ultimately the impressive part of your CV is that you have a masters in Aerospace Engineering. If it was a research masters, having a link to your thesis/articles would be neat. I'd consider breaking apart the Bachelors from the Masters other than if it's a 5 year consolidated programme. I'd personally get rid of secondary school. I'm not a fan of an arbitrary point system associated with different skills. I'd also consider some of the softer skills as superfluous.

The UAV project could use some punch in the presentation. A lot of the images are of text and tables. I think finding a way to present that graphically would give a much better idea of your implication and the scope of the project at a glance. Maybe spend some time redesigning the body of the craft to something more sexy and have some neat renders. It could also show off some solid CAD surfacing.

I think it's hard to show engineering problems in a portfolio. The process is tedious and not inherently visually appealing. You'll need to go the extra mile to make a visually appealing story. I don't really want to see free body diagrams when scanning your portfolio. Though I'd like to see refinement of your solution. Show me that you can solve problems and have your shit together.

I'd also look at the order of your projects in your portfolio, and possibly removing some more minor ones.


---
And a last note from my personal experience down this path. There is a lot more need for badass mechanical design engineers that will play nice in a new product design team then there is for so-so industrial designers who happen to have a degree in engineering. Job openings that will interest you will usually be for a mechanical design engineer or industrial designers. The reality of it is that it will be very hard for you to go up against dedicated industrial designers. On the flip side, design engineering requires quite a bit of experience before you can be truly useful and autonomous.

As Yo mentioned, there can be a need for a true hybrid in a startup environment, though you probably lack the experience to wrangle the full mechanical aspect of a new product by yourself. Especially the manufacturing. I'd also look for design engineering jobs in smaller companies that you know are doing design work. There you'll be able to gain valuable experience and responsibilities and hopefully your voice can be heard to a certain extent in designery matters not to mention learn from experienced designers as well.

TL;DR make sure you don't get stuck at the bottom of the food chain as an engineer with no experience and an industrial designer who lacks foundation skills.

Re: Come at me bro.

Postby gilchristjames » April 13th, 2016, 5:25 am

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Thank you Louis and Yo, having your insight is really helpful!

1. The photo- You guys are probably right- no point having it if it could be a barrier- I've updated to photo (it's a rather sappy one from graduation but I guess it does the trick)

2. Skills/CV page- I agree, I've changed skills to CV and I've also moved the education section and work experience around, definitely worth putting the best bit first. I decided to leave my school grads in, I'm proud of them and don't think they can hinder. I think you're right about the skills sliders- maybe I should just use them to show my experience with certain software. Will ponder on that one.

3. UAV project- Yeah I think some of the detail does get in the way of the story. I will revisit that item and give it some more punch!

4. Visuals- Yeah it is very tough! I'll have a think about how I can shift the focus on to solving problems.

5. Order of portfolio- I'm thinking about removing photography- not sure it really adds anything.

6. Design Engineer/ID- I've been struggling of late on what direction to pursue. My true drive is building things that solves users problems. I think thats what initially drove me towards ID. Thinking about what you guys said though, maybe the most effective way at solving user problems and to add value to a company is by staying on the design engineer path. Being a design engineer that 'plays nice' in a product design team would probably suit me well.

Cheers your input, tapping into your experience is really invaluable, so thank you for taking the time to do so.

Re: Come at me bro.

Postby ralphzoontjens » May 26th, 2016, 4:21 am

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Hi James,

You have the portfolio of an aeronautical engineer, you call yourself a product design engineer and want to move into consumer products. Lots of work to be done!

I suggest to invest in learning Solidworks or CATIA that can suit both product design and mobility design (A-class surfacing).
Your best project is the UAV design, on the engineering side I am missing involvement of experts which is crucial in such projects. On the design side I am missing, well, a detailed design of the hull. This could be a great exercise to gear your portfolio more towards design engineering.

If you want to move into consumer products then it will suit you to start developing more awareness of the field and create lots of ideas and sketches. See if you can already work for clients through either freelance platforms or local companies.
http://www.designsoul.nl
Designsoul - Product Design & Visualisation

Re: Come at me bro.

Postby gilchristjames » May 27th, 2016, 2:16 am

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Hey Ralph,

Yes indeed there is! Thanks for taking a look and passing on your feedback.

When you say missing the involvement of experts- what do you mean? You're right though, I do need to put up some better CAD work of that project- watch this space!

I'm trying to get as much exposure to consumer products at the moment through freelance work. But I think you're right, it would be nice to have a section dedicated to ideas and sketches- and a good way to help me keep putting miles into my pencil.

Re: Come at me bro.

Postby enjey_w » May 31st, 2016, 12:38 am


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A quick way to improve the quality of your portfolio:

Get someone to proof-read your writing and fix 'dem typos!

For example:

- "Design Sketching
A few examples sketches"

- "Plys" should be spelt "Plies"

It sounds pedantic, but having a bunch of glaring spelling mistakes screams "lack of attention to detail", which is NOT what one looks for in an engineer :P

Re: Come at me bro.

Postby ralphzoontjens » May 31st, 2016, 1:53 am

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gilchristjames wrote:When you say missing the involvement of experts- what do you mean?


In my experience experts with years (15+) experience in relevant industries are the driving factors in such projects.
There is a complex balance of requirements, constraints and regulations and experts have a clear overall picture of how to approach these projects.
They will be able to tell you 'put the motor a few inches back here' and it may tip the entire scale for the value of the entire system.
So if you include in your documentation what role you as students played, and what came from experts/professors, this is a big plus to me in presenting the design process.

Working on design competitions is also a nice way to gain skills, knowledge, experience in the field and exposure, they give you a deadline and you have to come up with something concrete and workable.
http://www.designsoul.nl
Designsoul - Product Design & Visualisation

Re: Come at me bro.

Postby gilchristjames » May 31st, 2016, 9:32 am

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enjey_w wrote:Get someone to proof-read your writing and fix 'dem typos!


Thanks for looking through enjey_w. My eyes just read what they think they see... I will definitely enlist some help with proof-reading!

Re: Come at me bro.

Postby gilchristjames » May 31st, 2016, 9:37 am

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ralphzoontjens wrote:So if you include in your documentation what role you as students played, and what came from experts/professors, this is a big plus to me in presenting the design process.


Hi Ralph, thanks for getting back to me! I think I understand what you mean. With my student projects, the only real involvement from my professors was providing a sanity check through the process. Maybe it could be worth including examples of that.

Cheers,
James

Re: Come at me bro.

Postby yo » May 31st, 2016, 10:35 am

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While we are at it, I'd change your avatar image... makes giving you serious feedback difficult. If I was hiring and going a google search on you (which I would do before an interview) and I found that it would be a serious barrier.

Re: Come at me bro.

Postby gilchristjames » May 31st, 2016, 1:12 pm

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yo wrote:While we are at it, I'd change your avatar image...


Done! Something not quite as sappy as my website avatar.

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