Engineering Student needs help and advice?

Hello, this is my first post. I am currently a Mech. Engineering Student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and have 3 semesters left I have my A.S. in engineering as well, but I have been questioning if this is the right path for me. I have always just gotten by in my engineering classes and was never really interested in the material unless it was a CAD class or something non engineering. I have always been interested in products and the idea of designing them to make something better and easier. I also never heard of ID untill a year ago and always thought engineers designed the look of products. I feel engineering doesnt have the artistic creativity that I would like in a career. I have always been creative playing music, photography, and video doing wedding videography on the side. I have always thought of how to make thinks look and work. I have worked 3 summers doing tool design and some manufacturing at smith & wesson. I am really confused if i should just continue engineering or apply for a program in ID. I visted University of bridgeport in CT and was interested in the material they learn. If anybody could give me an input or advice it would be greatly appreciated. Also I am would like to know usual yearly salaries for ID careers, and info on job security and longevity.

Hi Ryin,

I say follow your heart and do what you love. Chances are if you love it you will be good at it. ID takles a lot of dedication and hard work and it is very competitive. THer aren’t a whole lot of jobs when compared to other professions but ID folks end up in a variety of “related” industries because of the diverse skill sets we have to have from researching, the sketching, to CAD, to modelmaking, etc. It’s almost like trying to be Leonardo Da Vinci. Besides working in consulting firms and manufacturing companies, ID people work in special effects, set design, exhibit design, etc…I like the profession because you get to learn about so many things in the process. If you work for a diverse consultancy you may work on a toy, and computer, a medical device, sproting goods, etc. It never gets boring. Some go the corporate route and end up working on something they are passionate about like shoes or laptops. I say finish up your engineering degree and then get into ID. It’s a huge advantage to have a foot in both as it makes you very versatile. ID jobs traditionally don’t pay as well as others and frankly I think that is something the industry needs to change collectively. Heck if you are creative and have the drive you don’t need a job forever and can invent your own gizmos after getting some experience. =) Best of luck!

I’m in the same boat here. I am an Electrical Engineer, and I feel like what I really liked about it is hard to find in the field (I have been working for almost 4 years in the Aerospace industry). My advice is you go straight to a Masters in Industrial Design. North Carolina State University has a master in ID for students with undergraduate degrees in different fields, in other words, no portfolio is required, but you would have to take some remedial classes.

Another school that have an open enrollment in their Masters is Pratt. Pratt is highly regarded in the ID field but it is expensive.

Is easier if you do it now, and since you are a Mechanical Engineer you probably have some skills that are needed in order to be succesful in ID (CAD, Pro E, etc…). Good luck!