Engineers and Portfolios

Helloo all! Je suis new on Core77 and have a little query…

I’m thinking about applying to the MA in IDE course at the Royal College of Art. As a materials engineering student at Imperial College my technical background is solid although my design portfolio at this stage is severely lacking. Though I have a couple of projects down on ProEngineer I am completely new to portfolios and so would appreciate any info people could provide re:

-websites/books that provide a good foundation in self-teaching basic manual and/or CAD based design.

-inclusion of photography in a design portfolio?

-the level of emphasis IDE Admissions generally place on the portfolio and its components.

-Solidworks, ProENG or AutoCAD? I know ProENG but solidworks seems to be in favour lately…

K, thanks…

One of the major aspects of any design portfolio is showing the thought process by which you solve the design problem at hand. This means not jumping into CAD right away.

You should have atleast one project that is completed start to finish, meaning identifying the true problem (up-front research), exploring solutions (concept sketching), validating and selecting the most appropriate approach (consumer/user polling or interviewing), design development (CAD and material recommendations), and the money-shot awesome rendering of the final design. To expand you could also use SW or Pro to perform the design analysis (mold flow, FEA, etc.)

The main thing is to demonstrate that you can think through a design problem, interpret the research data, and create an attractive cost effective, and functional product. For the most part this means showing the ability to sketch accurately and rapidly to communicate your ideas and intentions to the client, or in this case the entrance review board. Check out some of the portfolios here on core. I would select atleast 3-5 years experience for the best examples.

Good Luck.

agree w/ Designer. maybe one comment. on concept sketching, you could/should mix in simple mock-ups. maybe foam core models. something you can hold.

Thank you…I simply forgot to mention that step. Before moving into CAD it helps to show multiple form study models. Such as in foam, clay, wood, plaster, whatever works.

YKH can you think of any books to help illustrate the entire process. Only ones I can think of that I thought were worth the money are:
ROI by Bill Dresselhaus, available at
Proffessional Modelmaking by Norman Trudeau.
Design Secrets: Products: 50 Real-Life Product Design Projects
by Industrial Designers Society of America

Check the net for more books on topics of maker rendering, photoshop rendering, perspective sketching, and concept ideation.

Websites would be:


got so sick of mapping process at last corporate job never want to see a flow chart again.

Many thanks for the clarification, I can see that I have a tough job ahead of me and can forget about the software for now. The websites are great and I’ll def be looking into the books but for the moment it seems that some drawing and modelmaking lessons are in order…

Professional Modelmaking seems spot on and as a total beginner in design sketching I’ve singled out Design Drawing by F.D.K. Ching to lead me in the right direction. Any comments regarding this or other self-teaching drawing books would be appreciated. In addition, I’m wondering about ID course admissions’ attitudes towards the inclusion of photography in portfolios. If it is generally a good idea to include photography, are they looking for spatial and geometrical ideas? A good grasp of aesthetic purpose? Or just a bunch of good lookin shots?

My oppinion on photography is if you know what you are doing with a camera, it will help you in photographing your portfolio samples. But i would have to say do not include photographs as individual peices. A design protfolio should demonstrate that you have a strong understanding of form development, aesthetics value, and problem solving kills. And that you have the talent to comunicate these effecivly through a variaty of mediums. I have always been told that good portfolios tell the story of the product. From recognizing the problem through development of the solution.

Simply the portfolio should illistrate your knowlege of all phases of the design process, while emphasising your stengths and skills.