could a mechanical egineer get in to Product Design ?

Could I a mechanical engineer get into Product design or ID … Do I have have a Portfolio or what? DO I need to get a qualification in it what would happen if I managed to get some experince in a similar field/?

Comments please … thinking of trying to do college in the states … what is the process of legally working in the US could I just get some work experience over there legally on my travels as I intend to go globe trooting starting in the US??

wellllllllllllll… considering most people study straight product design for four years before even being considered in such a cut-throught industry, i’d say the best option would be to look at colleges. If you are prepared to do the four years most colleges will have an international student body that will be able to help you out.

yes without a doubt

have a look at the IDE program at the RCA, they seem to want mech engineers and then they teach them design

Teach an engineer design? Heck no. Design is not something you just pick up. It’s about being sensitive to shape, color, texture, ergonomics, and being able to quickly convey your ideas. An engineer is educated to almost be the antithesis of that!

Teaching an engineer is like telling a cat to be a dog. I think designers can learn a lot of what an engineer knows though. It’s not a two-way street, especially since being a good industrial designer requires a certain bit of innate, artistic talent.

James Dyson is quoted as saying “I could easier teach an engineer to be a designer than a designer to be an engineer”

Mechanical Engineer and Industrial Designer are two different professions with the potential for a lot of overlap in job activities. I’m a mechanical engineer working as a product designer and although my job will never require me to do 100% Industrial Design, I will be required to do a certain amount of ID tasks during the course of some of my projects. The same is true for my ID co-workers when it comes to ME work. I think the crossover makes for better designers all around.

Working in the U.S. is easy as a student because you can easily obtain a student visa. Non-student visas are a bit harder, but can be had if you find a company that will sponsor you.

Heck no? What about me?

some engineers, myself included, studied engineering in order to compliment a natural artistic ability. While that leaves any artistic ability I have under-developed it allows me to design differently then my engineering compatriots. Becuase my degree says mech E does not mean that i have no sense of shape, texture, ergonomics, or lack the ability to convey ideas.

I have to agree with that explanation but there are always exceptions to the rule. Design to me, is pretty much like art. ALL artists and designers I have known in my life, including myself, have been “artistic” and always sketching and drawing on paper for as long as they can remember and it IS in us. In fact, no design or art student really goes to school to learn how to design or make art. When I was in graphic design school, they didn’t teach me "how’ to design. They just have us projects and we did them and they would tell us how well we did and we had to improve on. No one can teach anyone how to design or make art because these are completely subjective things. So if a mechanical engineer or electrician gets bored with his 9to5 job, I’d say find another one that isn’t “artistic”. However, if you feel like you really have it in you but you have never really explored it, then go for it, but if you’re just picking design as a new career becuase you think it looks fun versus the one you had, trust me, it’s not gonna happen.

I have to agree with that explanation but there are always exceptions to the rule. Design to me, is pretty much like art. ALL artists and designers I have known in my life, including myself, have been “artistic” and always sketching and drawing on paper for as long as they can remember and it IS in us. In fact, no design or art student really goes to school to learn how to design or make art. When I was in graphic design school, they didn’t teach me "how’ to design. They just have us projects and we did them and they would tell us how well we did and we had to improve on. No one can teach anyone how to design or make art because these are completely subjective things. So if a mechanical engineer or electrician gets bored with his 9to5 job, I’d say find another one that isn’t “artistic”. However, if you feel like you really have it in you but you have never really explored it, then go for it, but if you’re just picking design as a new career becuase you think it looks fun versus the one you had, trust me, it’s not gonna happen.

I meant to quote 6ix, sorry for the confustion. In fact I disagree with James Dyson, I think the reverse of what he says is correct.

Engineers in product design, horrors!!

Seeing as how I am one of those accursed engineers in “creative” product design I tend to agree with Mr. Dyson. I also tend to think that engineering is not something you “just pick up” either. There is definitely a talent involved.

That said, it is also very hard to teach design or at least its art portion. People go to art school to focus and refine their talents, not to learn them, per say. There is definitely a nature ability associated with art. However, there is also a natural ability associated with engineering. Personally, I think the best designers are people who can live in the art and the engineering world. Its been far too long that the designers and the engineers quietly (or in some cases, not so quietly) resent each other.

In my mind, if you are a designer and you don’t understand engineering, you are limiting yourself and if you are an engineer and you don’t understand art, you are limiting yourself. Basically, one dimensionality is going to bit you in the ass in this industry. Its only a matter of time…

So I say take that engineering degree, focus your artist talents and design some amazing things. By the way, it definitely helps to have a portfolio. If you are just starting out, just try your hand at it. Design some products by hand, with CAD, with a rendering package, anything you can get your hands on. As a person who interviews designers and engineers, I always think highly of people that at least think to bring in some of their work. If nothing else, it differentiates you from the competition.

…interesting idea about the portfolio…i’ve never seen or ever heard of an engineer with a portfolio and i am wonder why that is so?..seems like a legit thing for a prospective employer to request of an engineering candidate…mmm…then again, after 33 years as a designer, i’m wondering why i still have to tote one around.

That quote…it’s laughable.

Yes, the best designers are those that have the talents in both realms. The worst designers, and engineers for that matter are the ones that THINK they do, don’t ever back down, check themselves, and realize that they’re inhibiting progress and should step aside. I’ve seen tons of great ideas shot down on either side of an engineering/design debate because of this kind of ego crap.

Last year, during my search for the job I currently have, I developed a portfolio of work I had done at my former companies. While a lot of it was confidential, I put together some of the ID and ergonomic design I had done as well as some of the harder design engineering (tolerancing, design for manufacture, etc). As I shopped myself around to various companies, some were surprised at the portfolio but all were pleased and excited to look at it. I think it showed them that I had a sense of pride and value in my work and that I wasn’t just another guy punching a calculator and typing TPS reports. I know for a fact that it set me apart from other candidates and was one of the reasons I landed my current job.

For design engineers, I would definitely recommend a portfolio or maybe even some props, old SLA models or scrap parts that you could show prospective employers. I thought it worked out well for me…

Here in Asia its pretty common for engineers in product design to have copies and print out of their work. Its not as flashy as an ID portfolio, buts its a portfolio nevertheless.

Also i agree the best designers are sensititive to engineering constraints as well. Infact many designers including karim rashid are inspired by the engineering or manufacturing process.

I don’t think he would have to go to school for 4 years, I’d do a masters somewhere - for 2 years, and try to crank out as many sweet sketches as possible -

On a side note to the original poster, I would give you one piece of advice -

there has been a glut of ID graduates lately, in my experience if you were born with the ability to sketch you can and will land a job, if you were not born with the ability to sketch sweetly, then personally, I wouln’t bother (you can make it like me, but there is a “glass ceiling” and pay is not great - employers will always pick the guy/gal who can sketch but lack as a designer over the great designers who can’t sketch.

now you can punch yourself in the head.

Just telling it like it is - Jerk