Hi, I’m a third year mechanical engineering student and I have a love for product design. I’ve been reading this blog and forum for a while and found a bit of a grudge from IDers towards engineers so please bear with me.
So I’d like to orient my work towards product design but as a person with creative input rather than number cruncher or a CAD monkey. I can already see I have aptitudes for it in my class compared to my engineering peers, I’m one of the few who actually wants to make things as simple as possible, think of the user’s experience and actually make something that looks pretty decent.
I can see I’m kind of rambling so I’ll get to the point. What can I do and learn in order to get that position ?
I’m using solidworks as a CAD, I’m actually looking to hone my skills with it this summer. Any suggestions for rendering ? I’m using what’s included with solidworks and it seems to lack when I’m trying to do some more advanced stuff.
I don’t have the best drawing skills, I can draw fast gribbles to explain ideas. But that’s about it, I’m quite far from what I see on coroflot. How important important are drawing skills ?
I’m starting up a blog this summer to put stuff I’ll be making. I have a few DIY projects I want to build a few are more design oriented but mostly revolving about mechanical stuff and microcontrolers. Can those skills be valuable to an IDer ?
Sorry for being a bit vague, also my English may not be the best, French is my mother tongue. Bottom line, I’d like some input from pro designers on my situation.
Keep doing what you’re doing. Any side projects that you take on to exhibit how you solve problems and your design approach will help build a nice portfolio. Document your process with photos, mock-ups, and sketches (even if they aren’t that great). Employers rarely see that stuff from engineers, and that could help set you apart when its time to start searching for a full time position.
As for the sketching skills, practice is all you need. If you are bright enough to get through an engineering curriculum, you most certainly have the ability to learn to communicate visually. I would even suggest taking a few fine arts electives like an introductory life drawing or figure drawing class. Learning basic drawing skills in those courses would help you improve quite a bit. The “fast gribbles” you mentioned are just as important as the fancy renderings you find on Coroflot. Solidworks is a great program to learn. A rendering program like Hypershot (or whatever they call it these days) will create high quality images, but the Photoworks plug-in isn’t bad either.
A lot of products have some form of embedded intelligence, so the microcontroller stuff will be quite valuable. A lot of ME’s don’t like messing around with code but it is a useful skill to have. You should definitely apply to internships at various design firms that use ME’s. I wish I had done this, as a lack of experience can be a hard thing to overcome. Best of luck to you.
I hold a Mechatronics engineering diploma from Singapore.
After I had just graduated with my diploma I was lucky to secure a job with a materials company that deals with innovative luxury metals. I was initially tasked to set up their production line but soon moved toproduct development. During my time there I found that the engineering knowledge I had really helped with my work especially with the fancy drawings from those top tier swiss watch manufacturers.
I think it is totally possible for an engineer to get involved in the creative process of course if one has to take art classes to be more effective with the visual communication part (which I totally suck at)
Now torn between my love for engineering and design, I have failed to secure a place for ID @UC but was offered MET instead. I’m also waiting for a reply from Brunel university for an ID slot.