Grad School for ID with interesting work experience

Hi Core77 community,

In the past year, I have become increasingly interested in product design, and have even started to work some ideas out. I have my BA in Studio Art with a concentration in drawing and sculpture, so my sketching and modeling is very strong. I am extremely thankful for my undergrad education, but really have had a falling out with art, especially as I observe craft becoming less and less valued, and concept carrying artwork more than ever. I do not have much experience with Adobe products, was a B/B- student, and don’t really have any money- but I am dead set on pursuing ID or IPD.

What I do have going for me is work experience. I have an encyclopedic knowledge of bicycles and am extremely in tune with the industry. I have worked as a mechanic since I was 15 and have essentially devoted most of my free time to bicycle maintenance, racing, and cycling culture. I was invited to serve as a race mechanic for a US Pro XC racer, but decided to go to college instead. I currently work for a frame builder specializing in titanium race bicycles, and have decent machine time on a number of lathes, mills, and a CNC. I am getting more familiar with Fusion360 and can debug CAM and G-code pretty adequately at this point.

I want to hone my CAD, product conceptualization, and presentation skills, and I feel like grad school is a good option for me since I don’t have an ID bachelor’s. Many of my peers and mentors have encouraged me to take charge on my ideas, and also to go to engineering school. I am weary of engineering, because I definitely don’t have the prereq’s and would be in school for the rest of my life, but also because I have been spectacularly underwhelmed by the mechanical inclinations and problem solving capabilities of engineers I have met (no offense to anyone on this forum, I haven’t met you yet!) UPenn’s IPD program seems pretty cool to me, and as a Philadelphian, I am hopeful that there is someway I can get aid from them. I am also looking to take courses in CAD at a local community college just to brush up on my skills, and hopefully will be able to score some kind of apprenticeship or internship to further prove my worth as a designer before applying.

My questions for you folks are simple: Am I approaching this properly? Where else should I be looking for more mechanical/engineering product design schools? Can a B/B- student with interesting work experience and a strong portfolio, but loose prereq’s get into programs like UPenn? What other moves would you recommend I make before applying?

Any guidance would be appreciated, I am totally alone going into this! Please feel free to chime in with your own experience and the problems/solutions you found along the way, even if you come from a different place, the experience of others’ has proven to be very useful to me.