"Hard science" and Designers?

How many designers/students out there have college-level physics, chemistry, or mathematics experience? Machine shop experience? Any other traditionally “engineering-caliber” experience or skills you feel confer a significant advantage in your practice of design?

I do. Having an aerospace degree probably puts my math and physics skills at a relatively high level compared to most. And I also have a bunch of post-grad engineering training in systems (like refrigeration, pumps, etc).

And I’m old school, so making real models instead of CG renders was all me and my classmates could do. Personally, I love making models. Wish I had my own Bridgeport! 3D is nice. Pays the bills sometimes. But nothing beats hands-on imo.

(and btw, I design okay too - Core portfolio - in case people want to start the “engineers can’t be designers” bull)

hippatodahoppa-

Why do you ask?

I suspect it has to do with this thread - The Power We Have

I didn’t expect that one would be so popular. Go figure.

I think that any experience can have a signifigant impact on design practice. So to nail it down to “hard science” experiences seems a little shortsighted. Are you saying that Design is of a lower caliber than Engineering?
My opinion is that while an understanding of Physics, Chemistry and College Mathematics is important, there are also the factors of Communication, Socioligy, Anthropology, Marketing… anything you learn can help you be a better designer. This of course also includes all the skills that designers typically have in addition…
Actually, that’s a good example to address your question.

The practice of design has such a diversity within just “design” skills. Look at these boards, no one can seem to agree to what skills are most important to a designer, sure there’s a common thread that runs through all of them, but there are so many programs to learn, so many styles to understand, there is no magic bullet. It all plays a part.

It’s not hard science really, but I have an engineering degree (automotive), and have done a fair bit of CNC programming (had my own desktop CNC machine until recently). I agree with JWK that just about anything you know makes you a better designer. Especially understanding how things are actually made. I’m always disheartened by the number of impossible to make renderings I see students post. That kind of stuff doesn’t get very far in the real world.

Absolutely agreed, hence the choice of “Hard Science”.

Are you saying that Design is of a lower caliber than Engineering?

No. I posed the question because designers and engineers both design things, yet there is a tendency to dichotomize the two practices.

My opinion is that while an understanding of Physics, Chemistry and College Mathematics is important, there are also the factors of Communication, Socioligy, Anthropology, Marketing… anything you learn can help you be a better designer.

Absolutely! Industrial design is an art. Yet unlike art for art’s sake, I expect as a consumer that my purchases can be wielded as tools.

This of course also includes all the skills that designers typically have in addition…

What skills not offered in a standard ID curriculum do you feel give you a unique advantage in a competitive world?

The practice of design has such a diversity within just “design” skills. Look at these boards, no one can seem to agree to what skills are most important to a designer, sure there’s a common thread that runs through all of them, but there are so many programs to learn, so many styles to understand, there is no magic bullet. It all plays a part.

Yet it is a stretch to call an architect a musician, or a graphic designer a choreographer. What makes an industrial designer?

I have a couple years of physics, some political science and film production, but I have to say my most practical skills come from years in manufacturing and hobby tinkering. As a result, I’ve designed very few things out of unobtainium.

:)ensen.

One more thing… if I were to use one word to describe the ideal IDer, it would be “renaissance.”

:)ensen.

Maybe that’s the beauty of this profession.
Outside of the core skills:

Anilitical thought
The ability to “see” (in the George Nelson “How to See” way)
Communication skills
Visualization

once these are established, you can sort of pull skills out of the mish-mash and create your own niche. I’m not saying that you can be a designer with just those four skills. Something is only as valuable as what you can get someone to buy it for. But in a profession, where people get paid (very well) solely as a color consultant, asking the question “what makes an industrial designer” seems impossible to answer.

I have no machine shop experience even today. I’ve taken classes in trig, geometry, algebra and calculus (strangely, I found calculus to be the easiest) but that was in high school. I only had to take algebra in Uni. I took a physics class in Uni. too.

I think that trig and geometry are needed in product design. I was talking to a designer who was working with plastics in the 1960s and he stressed to me the importance of math in design. At that time, it was the designers pushing the development of injection molding. The problem was that the designer had to have a very high level of knowledge in the technology, and be able to verify their designs as being viable (no “draft analysis” button).

Does anyone feel that competition in the ID marketplace will eventually make engineering familiarity a “prerequisite skill”, just as more jobs require college degrees today?

What influence do the engineering/machining worlds have on the aesthetics and practice of design?

Seems like I another school of thought could be:

Why not put some hard science into every product you design.

One of the best products I have seen can describe a function you might have to calculate in an analytical geometry course.

http://www.cordpro.com/

Best part is that the user needs no math to use it. The math is hidden the product. Think of the black plastic piece as a plane in space. then put an axis through the donut.

Your cord then becomes the trig function for points following a clockwise or CCW rotation about the axis.

I believe the creator of the product was a farmer in Kansas ( So neither designer nor engineer)

Physics, Chemistry and College Mathematics is important, there are also the factors of Communication, Socioligy, Anthropology, Marketing

amen brutha! my issue with the proliferation of pretty pictures is many of them never ever become reality because they simply cannot be in their published form yet it seems more and more people are more likely to accolade them rather than be critical. somehow, lately critical thought has been thrown out because it limits “innovation?” it has little to do with math and science and it has everything to do with a culture of design thought that says if you have certain key factors your work will be published. are you clever? do you tout a yet unknown recycling method? does green grass on your thing? do you wear white pants? are you ethereal? did you make a bent “plywood” cad model?

Is this the design equivalent to “publish or perish?”

Do you want to be the flavor of the month?
If you do, I’d grab some white pants.
Personally, I’d rather not have all the celebrity. It seems like a lot of work.

Sure part of our job is to recognise style trends and forecast, but doesn’t it sort of take away your ability to look at things objectivly if you become part of some new trend? Or worse, the figurehead of that trend.

I personally have no problem with trends but I do have a problem with ideas or concepts that are touted as trends when they are not…in this I am talking about design trends vs actual trends. Walmart and the people who shop at walmart keeps coming up over and over again on core. I have noticed that designers simply won’t recognize there are more “nascar” fans than designers and those fans shop at walmart and buy all manner of things that look aesthetically challenged.

I may be splitting the semantic hair but the issue I want to pose is one of designers being disconnected from everyday life/people and being to fully immersed in their own culture. That is different from math and science education.

The real issue with design and hard sciences is that : hard science has little direct relevance in the practice of design. What is more important is the intuitive understanding and appreciation of the technology issues. The problem with the current thinking in education is this is taught by teaching “a bit of hard science” . This is counter productive. I presented a paper at IDSA Educators conference on this issue:


http://www.idsa.org/webmodules/articles/articlefiles/NEC05-Sivam-Krish.pdf

On the contrary, I believe that a basic familiarity with formal analytic skills (basic physics seems particularly relevant here), in the service of design, ENHANCES intuitive understanding, by offering the ability to evaluate design efforts in concrete terms. I totally agree that “a bit of hard science” on its own offers little in the way of creative capability; this you learn by doing and making mistakes. But you refine your creation process by analysis of intuitive efforts, and this is where a good “whether you want to believe the truth of it or not” understanding can be invaluable. Speaking a little math or physics can open up an entire world of knowledge to be used in the intuitive process that is not accessible to someone who does not know how to understand it. Even scientific discovery is done on initial intuitive hunch, formalization of the post-analysis is where the real meat is. Consider hard science in the application of design to be a reference, rather than a guide.

So because of some vague internal understanding of engineering, and what we have learned while interacting on earth, we should have enough existing knowledge to be a designer, without needing any more training?

This seems dangerous and a misinterpretation. The understanding of manufacturing processes alone, not to mention materials, is critical to a designers skills. And last time I checked, there were some pretty complex mathematics involved in material classification.
But hey, there are engineers for that stuff, right?
Maybe our job is to just make some pretty pictures and surfaces, and leave it to someone else to work out how to make it.