an engineer looking for insight

So, I’m a mechanical engineer with a passion for design, currently working in the aerospace industry. I work in a manufacturing R&D group with a focus in automation and assembly. This is my since completing my undergrad, and I’ve been here about 3 years. To say the least, I’m not very satisfied with the environment I work in or the culture of the company I work for. Without going into too much detail, the experience of working here feels very industrial and outdated.

I’ve considered going back to school for ID and looked into some multidisciplinary design programs as well(Stanford d.school, UPENN IPD, Carnegie Mellon Product Development). I’m planning on applying to those programs, but I’m unsure if I really want to go back to school or make the financial commitment. At this point, I think I’d rather just find a job working for a more progressive company that’s more focused in consumer products. The challenge, it seems, is trying to apply the skills I have (mostly dealing with prototypes or low production items) to the requirements of the positions I’m interested in (knowledge of mass production, injection molding…). I know that I have some relevant skills, but I’m worried that I lack some of the core knowledge that is essential to being an engineer for the companies who’s vision and culture appeal to me.

Do I need go back to school or get training in the areas I’m lacking? Maybe I just haven’t come across the right position yet. Any insight from engineers (or those who work with them) in ID or product design would be much appreciated.

Show us your stuff. Sketching is simply a matter of practise and a good design engineer can think very much as a designer. So you might simply have to spruce up some sketches and tweak your portfolio…or on the other hand you might have to learn from scratch. All school allows you is the time and space to practise with others similarly motivated. One of my ID managers is a former engineer without formal ID training who sketches like a fiend. I find that old school engineers who trained on drafting boards tend to think a little better than those trained to think in CAD. It all depends…so post some of your representative work and you can get much better feedback.