Engineering to ID, how do I do it?

I’m graduating with a bachelor’s in engineering and I’m just wondering what is the quickest, most effective way of getting into the ID field? I’d like to get some qualifications through courses and then get out into the world.

So, there have been at least a dozen similar topics to this in the last few months and it has me thinking of a few questions:

What do you think is driving all of these engineering students to design?

Why do they think they can transition to a different field with little or no additional training?

Why would a corporation or consulting group hire an engineer who wants to be a designer when they can hire a designer? As a hiring manager, I would be hard pressed to hire someone without a design education. I want this person to be well versed in art/architectural/and design history, design thinking/philosophies, 2d/3d/color theory, in addition to the more obvious skill sets of 2d rapid visualization and 3d CAD.

I believe, as one of those people, that the profession of engineering wasn’t fully explained and isn’t fully understood when most people decide to go to college. I wanted to be an engineer because I wanted to build the future with my ideas, i wanted to imagine something and then have the skills to make that idea a reality. After almost 4 years of engineering and 3 different internships, each within a different aspect of my field (civil), I have come to realize, or at least I’m pretty much convinced, that engineers really don’t create anything new or even push the boundaries of what already has been created. Most engineers simply take a design that has already been created, and most of the time already engineered, and simply reanalyze that design for a different situation. At the companies I worked at all we did was take what we needed from a similar set of plans and change the sizes, tolerences, and dates on those plans. Tell me if I’m wrong, but architects and industrial designers are the ones who come up with the concepts and ideas for most of the revolutionary new buildings and products of the future, engineers simply evaluate whether or not these ideas can become a reality. I have no doubt that the process and skill needed for designers takes years and years of education and work, I just wish someone had told me before I spent 4 years swimming in numbers.

You’re wrong. Dead wrong. Period. End of story. It is absolutely true that there are engineering jobs out there that are somewhat mundane, and don’t offer much in the way of “design.” The truth is that engineers are vitally important to our society, and every project they undertake isn’t as earth-shattering or glamorous at first glance. However, we wouldn’t be anywhere near as advanced a society without their contributions. Are you telling me that the folks who invented airplanes, spacecraft, transistors, microchips, LED’s, refrigeration, IC engines, fuel cells, and countless others weren’t creative? Or that engineers aren’t a vital(from the start) part of creating new products and technologies? Nonsense. Your assertions would be comical if you weren’t actually serious.

I consider engineering to be every bit as creative as design. Just because the engineer is innovating using the laws of physics and the other natural sciences, doesn’t make them any less of a creative than the ID. One approach isn’t any more or less valid than the other. My perspective is a bit different, as I am both an ID and an ME. I’m sorry that your experiences haven’t been what you hoped for. But before you post such ridiculous comments, take the time to do a little research - it might have even saved you from “swimming in all those numbers.”

Engineering is definitely important, and they are usually well rewarded for it… but they are also usually working on less glamourous things than the exteriors or space travel or car engines. I can understand the appeal from an engineer to want to be the one making the more visible exterior or the big idea of a concept, rather than making sure a much smaller portion of it is manufactured well or works without a problem.

I agree with Yo here - engineers cannot just take a certification class and design products, it’s a very different skillset and mindset, and takes years to shape a good design mind. If your serious about your interest in design, visit a local design school and you will see immediately the difference in the curriculum… a formal program would be a good way to get there

This is a helpful post and was a response that i thought really captured what I was feeling about engineering and design differences. The one above it, however, wasn’t. Thanks Travismo and yo.

Thanks for bringing this up, Yo, I think that this is a discussion that needs to be had.

At least in my case, you misunderstand the question of “Engineering to ID”. Personally, I fully intend on pursuing full training in ID, just as I would except someone from ID to obtain a ME degree if they were transitioning the other way. I recognize that we risk devaluing both fields if designers and engineers confuse themselves with one another. The hurdle for those in my (and thissedb’s) position, then, is reorienting the “critical thinking” skills we’ve built through our 4 years in engineering towards a creative field without abandoning them as a waste of time. I identify with both thissedb’s frustration and kwilson7’s points. I understand that engineering is vital in our society, that is not the question, but I pursued engineering under false pretense. This was partly due to how engineering schools throw around the word “design” at every chance they get, and partly because of my limited exposure to ID in high school. Engineering is what everyone recommended and talked about then, and it seemed like a good fit. I just didn’t know what was available and I ended up in a degree that took me in a direction that wasn’t exactly the one I had envisioned.

Now, the challenge is to start from square one, along with those fresh out of art-centric high schools, and go after formal ID training. I can’t speak for everyone in this position, but I don’t have a well-developed art portfolio, and I hope that I can leverage my ME degree in some way. Whether it be for transfer credit for elective courses, using engineering projects as slightly unconventional portfolio pieces, or simply as wisdom and refined clarity, I know that my 4 years has to be worth something.

So, as for Yo’s question number 1, I believe that was driven to design before I became an engineering student. This may not be true for all, and I am beginning to notice a few adjustments to the curriculum within my faculty that are attempting to take on “design”. These changes seem to be driven by people who think that they are revolutionizing what it means to be an engineer, but I think that they are doing the opposite. They’re trying to introduce economics, communication, and “design” courses, with the belief that the students need a well-rounded experience. These aren’t completely bad ideas, but their implementation is making some students think that they, as an engineer, are qualified for much more than they actually are. We may be prepared and well-equipped to pursue further qualification, but are qualified in these “enrichment” fields out of the gate. Its sometimes frustrating to see that those adjusting the curriculum are not embracing the unique jobs that engineers have, and they’re not working to narrow the focus of the program to yield specialized graduates. For someone like me, who intends on using this degree as a stepping-stone, this approach is great, in a way. However, it is what lead to me enrolling in confusion and the problem Yo brought up in question 2.

Anyway, I’m getting a little long-winded, but I find this to be an interesting question. I usually find myself discussing it only with myself, in my mix of frustration and excitement to get going with this whole ID thing.

From my personal perspective, I think it has to do with a lack of knowledge. I think engineering is promoted as the discipline to go with if you want to create things for people to use. Many don’t know that there is this other facet of the creation of products (industrial design). Industrial design feels like my kind of thing more so than engineering, but I didn’t find out about it until I was nearly finished with my engineering degree.

I think it also has to do with the fact that “design” is becoming somewhat trendy.

I would say just ignorance. I think I had similar thoughts when I first started learning about industrial design, but I realize that is faulty thinking.

Another thing is probably because there is a lot of talk about being interdisciplinary and how being relatively skilled in more than one area is a good thing. I realize that there is the other side that it is better to be proficient at one thing and not have a “watered-down” skill set. I don’t particularly side with one or the other.

Again, I think this thought goes back to the thought that being interdisciplinary is a strong asset.

To be an Engineer you need to be intelligent but to become an designer you have to be creative, since ID or product design is about shape, form, concepts and asthetics first then comes the intelligence of making it. Once you discover your creativity no matter when after engineering or during engineering or at any age , etc. Try to work on it because having concept in mind is one thing and putting it on sheet, software, etc is another which can be achieved through practice. Those are fools who categorize creativity according to education, age and so on. Try to get inspire from whatever you see, hear, eat,etc whatever that will help to become a ID.

“You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you . There is no other teacher but your own soul.”
Swami Vivekanand.

I couldn’t disagree with that statement more. Intelligence and creativity are not tools of a particular trade. No matter what your job is, both are critical for creating anything of importance.

In most cases engineers enhance what already exist. Designers start of from a clean slate.

Or that is just my opinion after several years in the business. Engineers often solve problems by altering details of a design, therefore probably creating another problem. I don’t know why that is but they do. They try to alter as little as possible, since they know what allready works. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke. Off course not all engineer think like this. There’s also many designers who just restyle products but add no new functionality or other innovation. I think it’s all personal. I’m actually a certified engineer in my country. But I don’t think like one (and by that I mean the archetype that I described).

I’d rather work with a good engineer than a bad designer (merely styling stuff).



just wanted to chime in to thank yo and others for making this one of the more robust discussions about this somewhat common topic that i’ve seen :smiley:

Definitely some good conversation going on here.

A young engineer started at the company. On this young engineer’s first day they gave him a tour of the product creation facility, the first stop of which was at the design studio. The young engineer naively asked where he would sit in the studio, at which point the engineer leading the tour laughed and had to be the one to tell him he wouldn’t be designing cars, he would be engineering them. After 4 years in an ME program, this unfortunate 'fella really thought he would design the cars. He went back to school for design, and now designs cars.

The friend of mine who told me this story happened to be a designer in the studio when this guy was getting his tour. He himself had done 2 years in an ME program before “discovering” design, transferring to a 5 year design program and having to do 4 years in that.

The skill sets are very different. We do work together to get things done, but we come from different start points and have different priority sets.

Jeesh, some people are just… plain naive.

What’s wrong with being an engineer? You come into your office, you do your work before the deadline because you have awesome math and analytical thinking skills, and you have the rest of the day to yourself! And best of all, your salary doesn’t go down if you do your project quicker, because you are paid for the value of a project rather than on an hourly basis. You don’t have to think how other people are going to perceive your work, you don’t have to go out and ask people how they feel about your slight change of button position… and the list goes on and on.

Some people need to get a tighter grip on reality. Especially the younger ones who have romantic views about ID.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with engineering, in fact as you pointed out, there is a lot right with it. ID and engineering go hand in hand. We are partners. For me, having an awesome engineer to collaborate with makes all the difference. I’ve been working a lot with the team at Burkebuilt Motorsports on projects like the icon, and it is fantastic to be working with such creative engineers. Not just problem solvers, solution finders.