Better to get ME degree during or after undergrad?

Hey guys, I am currently a third year design student at Georgia Tech. I recently found much interet in obtaining some sort of Mechanical Engineering degree. I just wanted to ask for opinions or advice on either obtaining this degree by double-majoring (so two undergraduate degrees) or going to grad school for ME. Thanks!

I do not mean to discourage you by any means but . . .

without a degree in engineering, math or physics you will be very hard pressed to be admitted to any graduate programs in any branch of engineering.

If you want to get a degree in mechanical engineering, you are going to need to complete an undergraduate program. You are looking at pretty much another 3 years unless your ID program contains:

  • 3 courses of calculus
  • differential equations
  • physics (likely 2-3 classes)
  • chemistry
  • statics
  • dynamics
  • materials science
  • strength of materials
  • thermodynamics (likely 2 courses)
  • heat and mass transfer
  • mechanical design
  • fluid mechanics
  • design of thermal systems
  • numerical methods
  • design of controls
  • experimental methods
  • manufacturing processes

best of luck

At this time, do you see yourself working as a designer or an engineer after you graduate?

I see myself working as a designer, but it’s all about “what makes me better than the guy interviewing next to me” right? I just want to create a competitive knowledge that makes me a prime candidate for future jobs in design firms or even corporate level. My dream job is to be a car designer, but I understand how competitive the field is and the only way to get hired is to graduate from a top car design school.

Quite frankly, I’m very nervous about life after college in terms of my future career… just looking for advice…

The thing that is going to make you better than the guy next to you is your portfolio. If you want to be a designer later in life, spend the time you would have going to engineering and work on your ID skills to no end.


This is an old, and long, thread, but it may serve you well to read it; If I Knew Then What I Know Now (Advice to students)

Better to be good at one thing that poor at two. I’d say to focus yourself. Both ID and ME paths require a great amount of time, energy, and focus to do well. Splitting the difference would be a disservice to both in my opinion. Think about who you want to be in 5-10 years and put yourself on the educational path to make that happen.

Thanks for the helpful input. It makes sense to invest my time and efforts into the ID skills, most firms have mechanical engineers anyway.


Get the mechanical engineering books and study them in any case. Good base knowledge to have for designers of real things.

If you were interested in a studying some ME books, or even perhaps in just having a reference around, I would suggest this book:

It covers all the basics and all the specifics. It is big, but it is pretty much all there.

As someone who tried to do this, I would recommend against trying to dual major.
Like some of the more experienced members have mentioned, it is better to spend your time on sharpening your ID skills and developing the best portfolio you can.

Sorry, but I cannot imagine that you would have time to properly study the two subjects (full time) at the same time as they are both quite difficult and time consuming.

If you want to develop engineering skills relevant to your design work, it might be best to study design guide type books instead of the technical theory you would learn in a degree program.

For simple plastics, I like:
Plastic Part Design for Injection Molding : An Introduction (SPE Books)

Usually suppliers will have design guides available for their products.
Acument has design guides for self treading screws for example.

Just my humble opinion,

Thanks for the book references, I will be sure to check them out and acquire at least a basic level of knowledge in terms.

Another quick question… I am currently building an online portfolio, are there any hints or tips as to what employers look for in a design intern or applicant for a job? Maybe more concept sketches or built prototypes? Storyboards? Thanks for the consistent great feedback guys!


I think the OP has the right idea of learning some ME to complement an ID education. One of my classmates landed into an ID job straight after graduation in Ireland, because he has done 3 years of ME and followed it up with 4 years of ID education. A lot of people are struggling to get jobs in that area even one year after graduation. Knowledge of engineering principles is vital to working in a manufacturing environment such as ID.

The reality of job market is that only very few entry-level ID jobs exist that require purely conceptual skills and little technical knowledge. These jobs are VERY competitive. You just can’t make a decision to follow either design or engineering. In the ideal world, that’s possible, but unfortunately not in today’s job market. You gotta combine the knowledge of engineering and design. Many other jobs are not really tailored towards graduates of a particular college course. People are hiring because they want someone to do something that they are not able to do. In this case, you need to demonstrate that you’ll be able to learn things that you don’t know about. As far as your portfolio is concerned, show what you’re good at, and show it in a very concise way. Also show how you’re able to acquire new types of knowledge and use it to create meaningful work.

I can’t answer the original OP’s question, but I would definitely advise to read some ME literature and familiarize on some major principles, such as statics, dynamics and forces. Also get some knowledge of processes such as welding, sheet metal forming and fabrication.

Finally, I’m absolutely sick of hearing advice such as “think of who you want to be in 5-10 years’ time”. It’s not possible because the world and various occupations are changing all the time. You have to find what you’re brilliant at and find how you can benefit people around you by doing what you like brilliantly.

I come at this question from the opposite perspective. I’m a mechanical engineer with an appreciation of design. I looked into getting an ID degree, but figured it not worth the years of effort where I’m already established as an ME. It is better to have the appreciation of the complimenting skill and work better with those that are dedicated to the profession. Contradicting myself, I would love to attend a school in Connecticut part-time for an ID degree anyways, but I don’t think there’s much around here.