Advice for a self-designed education?

Hi everyone,
I’m sure you’ve heard enough of this kind of thing but I’m a mechanical engineering student interested in industrial design and I’d like some advice for how I should go about continuing my education.
So I’m a sophomore engineering major at Smith College. My mind is very oriented towards creative thinking and larger conceptualizing which I feel isn’t satisfied by just studying engineering. I recently became aware of the existence of industrial design and product design and I am extremely interested in pursuing those fields while retaining my engineering education.

So now I need to go about educating myself so I can get a job doing what I want eventually.
I’d really like to end up in a career where I can design things/products where my mechanical engineering degree would be useful. I’ve looked into design firms so I can get a summer job/some experience and I’d really like to know if there is a place for someone who works both as a mechanical engineer and an industrial designer (as opposed to these being hired separately)?

Beyond my eventual career path my current issue is how I can get from where I am to where I want to be. I’d like to eventually be a competitive applicant for a design firm but my current education options are rather limited. There are a few design classes at Smith and in the Five College system but most of them are more for sculpture and architecture. I’m currently taking as many courses as possible that address the design process of conceptualizing, modeling, fabricating etc so I can get an art minor and pursue design formally. I’ve also thought about applying to the Stanford masters program for product design after some relevant work experience. So my real question is; is it possible for me to apply to a design firm without much formal education in ID but a lot of projects? Should I transfer schools or try to work it out where I am/take a masters program for ID?



don’t feel strange! The cris-crossing between mechanical engineering and industrial design ist quiet common
amongst students, as (open minded) students in both camps tend to realise, that successful products have mechanical and aesthetical functions, that are to be considered. You might find professors and peers at your school who could guide and teach you regarding the crossing of that “border”.

Nowadays in real life those two professions are not necessarily in separated camps anymore.

At my alma mater they are always running some projects that make the students of both schools collaborate.
A BS in engineering with a MA in Design makes absolute sense. The opposite won’t work. So you could stay in
your course, but give it a new orientation with the projects you choose. (If you can work on self assigned projects.)
If you can’t this school might be not the best starting point.


P.S.: Myself being trained as an industrial designer and product manager I am in deep collaboration with our engineers on every case. Sometimes it’s a chore for both sides, so “translators” who find the value in both disciplines are in high regard.

I might suggest getting 3-4 co-ops or internships in ID consultancies starting as an engineer.
On the job training is the best of all.