Highschool student Mechanical Engineering or design or both?

I am a junior in highschool. I want to know if i should go to college for ID or for Mechanical engineering or go for both? I will be applying to schools very soon.
Since i was little, i have always been interested in how things work, and i would take things apart to find out. As i got older i loved building things like a gokart and chopper bicycle.
I am fairly strong in both math and sciences(primarly physics). I havent taken many art classes. I am not great at drawing, sketchng, and rendering. But i have been practicing, and feel in time i can develop my skills. I plan to go to CCS Summer exploratory in Automotive design focus area this summer.
In career finding searchengines i always get industrial design and then Mechanical engineering. I feel like Industrial design is right for me, but I also like mechanical engineering. I like the creativeness of coming up with ideas for solutions to problems that are mine. But i feel from what i have read that in engineering all i would do would be taking there designs and making them manufacturable, which loses the creativness side of me. I have read that people switch from ME to ID and the other way around. I see that ME get paid more than ID do (from careercrusing.com).
I dont want to waste time and money, unless it would be better to say get a Bach. degree in ME and then either take a minor in ID, Get a grad. deg. in ID, or just double major. Please advise if you have faced a similiar desicion. I am running out of time and i am getting very stressed out over this desision.
Whats a better route?


I decided to do both, I have two years left in school. The program I’m doing is a B.S. in ME and a B.A. in ID. I started out as purely a mechanical engineer, I really didn’t think much about ID until I was a sophomore and decided that I wanted to be on the more “creative” side of things. I didn’t even know that my school offered an ID program until that year, and I subsequently picked it up as a second degree. If you like both, there is nothing wrong with doing ID and ME. It is a tough road, but if you plan your courses out well(which I didn’t), you can make it through. Art and Engineering is a nightmare timewise, and It’s hard to do much else besides school related stuff, but you can do it if you really want to. I plan to go to gradschool for bioengineering and possibly product design in the future, as I plan to get into Medical Device design, among other things. Keep in mind that the competition for ID jobs is keen, and having an engineering background will be a definite asset and make you more marketable in the process. There aren’t a whole lot of us “tweeners” out there. If you have any further questions, feel free to shoot me an e-mail/message or whatever. Good luck with the decision.

anyone else a “tweener” ?
Does anyone think that having a ME degree and then going into ID would be a bad decision?
I feel stronger in ME area, but more intersted in ID b/c of being the “idea starter.” why cant the ME’s be the “inventors” and then designers just come make it look good. I think it should be this way.??

I remember when I was choosing what to study at University; I had much the same dilemma as you do. I went to a school where ‘design’ as a career was never really talked about, it was always engineering that got the focus. I became aware of Design courses when I started looking into universities. To help make my decision I got a couple of weeks work experience in a Design studio. The design placement was a real eye opener. Not only was there massive emphasis on the aesthetics, there was consideration of pretty much every factor; how a product would operate/communicate with the user (interaction design) for example. I just got the feeling from design that I would be able to be creative and innovative in new product development. I’ve always felt that the ME side of product design could be learnt.

I studied Industrial Design at University and now work in the field; I do not regret any of this. I would strongly advise you to try to visit and talk to a professional from each discipline; get a feel for their work; their work environment; show them your work, get some feedback. It is important to have a reasonable sketching ability that can be developed.

Also, I don’t know what it’s like in the States, but in the UK you can always re-train or do a further degree or masters. For example you may do a degree in ME and then study Design for a masters. This may be a good option for you as you have a strong aptitude for math and Physics coupled with a strong interest in Design. Good luck in whatever you decide.

It really a personal choice as to what you really want o do. If you want to design…then design. Engineering is NOT design, and although engineers are an intrical part of the design process, they generally aren’t the ones who do the creative problem solving. You should really research more as to what ID is. Go to a school and check it out or go to an ID firm and ask questions, see what its all about. Thats really the only way to see.

thankyou for the responses
Coledf- are you saying just take one route and go with it or what? in my area, i dont think there are any firms. The only place by me is a agricultural tractor corporation where designers are, so i have talked to them, they said they were the only place in central illinois that do ID.
Do you know of a way to find firms in a certain area. I live in central illinois.
what do you think of getting a ME Bach. degree and then Masters in ID. is that possible in the US? is it an advantage?

also from what i have read there are designers that make things look nice and and there are designers who come up with new things (like an inventor). Which of these two is ID most related to? Cause im getting the feeling that it is alot more like making things look good, i think this mainly b/c ID schools are based more towards art, and not science and math stuff which is were you learn alot of problem solving thinking.

It is possible to get a Masters in ID after doing ME, and a number of people have chosen that route. Opinions are mixed about the value of doing a grad degree in ID, especially without any undergrad training as its hard to go back and pick up on those sketching/modeling/graphic/computer/foundation skills in that small of a time window. There are a number of programs that cater to those without an ID undergrad degree. Some even recommend picking up a second bachelor’s later on after your first undergrad degree. Keep in mind that a lot of grad programs are more about the theory/research aspect and less about the sketching/modeling/computer skills that you need to have as an ID’er. Work/internship experience is also necessary, and it might be harder to get as a Masters student.

Im getting a little confused over grad, undergrad, bachelors, masters. Arent grad and masters the exact same? Also isnt bachelors and undergrad the exact same?

What about a minor in Id while getting a bach in ME? then after that a Master in ID?

what exactly is a minor?

Also do any of the good schools for ID have ME as well?

Grad = Masters or anything after the bachelor’s degree.
Undergrad = Bachelors

I think you should research some schools for both their ME/ID. Stanford has a great program in Product Design, where you graduate with a B.S. in ME with a concentration in Product Design. I don’t know about Minors, you would have to see which schools offer it. I suggest you do an online search for ID/ME Programs, pick the schools with both, then visit their respective sites to get an idea of their respective curricula. Off the top of my head, the engineering schools with ID programs are Georgia Tech, Stanford, Purdue, Carnegie Mellon, Virginia Tech, Illinois, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Arizona State(I Think). I know there are a ton that I probably forgot. Try the following sites for your initial program searches:

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/college/rankings/rankindex_brief.php (you might have to pay to get full access).
www.idsa.org (For ID Programs)
www.allengineeringschools.com (For ME Programs)

you might check out western washington university’s BS in ID and programs like it - The ID program there is part of their engineering thechnology (ETECH) school.