ID Grad Schools with Emphasis on Function

Hey all. I realize it’s probably not kosher to start right off in a new thread of inquiry, but time is of the essence in my situation, as I wish to enroll in grad school this coming fall/winter. Please forgive my breach of etiquette.

I have only recently (<6 mo.) been introduced to the concept of industrial design, mainly through several texts and websites that describe its ideal of a perfect blend of form and function, which is amazingly appealing to me. Excited at the prospect of augmenting my degree in mechanical engineering with a master’s in ID, I began to apply to certain schools, some of which were eager to invite me to their campus for a look around.

However, after watching a TED lecture given by Ross Lovegrove on his “industrial designs,” (Ross Lovegrove: Organic design, inspired by nature | TED Talk), I encountered a frightening aspect of ID, visible in much of the media surrounding it, that has made me reticent to plunge into a program simply due to its reputation as “a good one.” Much of what I see when I hear people talking about ID isn’t really so much the difficult blending of useful, beautiful, and intuitively functional, but rather an extremely artistic approach to the creation of products. (The lecture given by Lovegrove is purely on interesting shapes.)

Now, this approach is an important one, but as an engineer, I feel as though my contribution in the “artsy” side of ID would not be as significant as my contribution in the “functionality” side would be.

My question is: Are there any ID graduate programs the Core77 forumites might suggest that have more of an emphasis on the “make it work intuitively and functionally” than the “make it pretty?” California would be nice, but I’m willing to go outta state (or country, for that matter) to learn how best to do this.

Many thanks in advance!

-Josh

welcome to core, your’e in a large boat of people who’ve never heard of ID till after they get out into the work world.
read up on all of the threads here abaout choosing a school/degree and do a search for the other engineers who are working on the same transition.

“Making it work intuitively” involves doing proper research and design with regard to the “human factors” aspects. You’ll want to look for a program that excels in this area. In my limited research it seems IIT is relatively stronger in than other programs, but I’m sure others on here will have some other suggestions that may be more informed.

Good luck in your search!

Check out Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech (if you’re willing to go out of CA). Both are price friendly for out of staters and as engineering schools their is a much bigger focus on functionality and innovation rather than form and styling (which is probably the main downside). As a VT grad I can say that theres a lot of room for cross pollenation of an ME with ID skills. If you want to ask me any specific questions about that feel free to shoot me a PM.

I second that about Georgia Tech. I visited their department in October and their MID program is cross disciplinary, requiring students to choose one of six tracks: technology, ability, manufacturing, transportation, information and innovation. The ID program is within the school of architecture.

Intuitive use and functionality is key! Ralph Caplan wrote extensively about this. Check out his books “By Design” and “Cracking the Whip” if you’re interested in this sort of thing. For example there is no doubt about what a hammer does–you can tell just by looking at it what it’s function is…hammering! Caplan mentions a period in design history when things tend toward common shapes, and it becomes hard to tell what a product does just by looking at it. Product designers became “box designers,” or housing designers. I sat in on a first-year MID studio (for non-ID background grad students) at Tech and from a first impression, I think that there is more inclination to function and problem-solving than aesthetic form.

Will do. (Let’s see if the memberlist lets me search for “engineer” in all fields.)

“Making it work intuitively” involves doing proper research and design with regard to the “human factors” aspects. You’ll want to look for a program that excels in this area. In my limited research it seems IIT is relatively stronger in than other programs, but I’m sure others on here will have some other suggestions that may be more informed.

I’ve ordered several texts on human factors. Hopefully I can find such a program! If anyone has any other suggestions for schools that also excel in this area, please lemme know!

Check out Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech

Done and done. I really like how clean GATech’s website is. :slight_smile:

Check out his books “By Design” and “Cracking the Whip” if you’re interested in this sort of thing.

Bought. I’ve heard about “By Design” too often in my studies for me to not own it/read it.

Thanks again for all the input! If anyone else has something to chime in with, please, I’m all ears…eyes…whatever.

-Josh

You might take a look at San Jose State - they have an excellent Human Factors program. Additionally, consider Interaction Design as a career. Your engineering experience will go far. Check out http://www.howardesign.com/exp/ixd/index.php -

-Dan

Another quick question: If I actually want to be creative and produce things, should I go for another major or a master’s in ID?

-Josh

If you want to really get the full design workthrough then the bachelors would be more valuable than a masters - if for no other reason than you’ll have 2 more years of curriculum to add to your portfolio.

Thanks to all for all the fantastic input!

After talking to some people at UC Davis about ID, I think the best course of action is to grab a job in a company doing M.E. in a manner that allows me to work in design as well, and begin composing a large body of impressive work for my portfolio. At the same time, I will begin taking figure drawing classes and sketching classes at a local community college to learn how to draw “like the dickens.” After gaining some supplemental cash and the necessary skills to continue on in ID, I’ll get going on a bachelor’s or master’s in ID at a college that has a lot of emphasis on reusability or ergonomics, and then bash my way into the design world with trumpets sounding and a shower of golden sparks.

Pretty nifty plan, eh? :slight_smile:

-Josh

excellent.

avoid the temptation of jumping into an ‘industrial design engineer’ job along the way. these are cad jockeys who do part design having appearance surfaces.

Hey everyone! My first day joining C77.

I’m also just found out about ID after years in the working world, and looking to pursue the career in ID. The difference between me and Josh is that I don’t have any educational or work experience related to ID; I have BS in business and computer science, and I’m now a consultant in the retirement benefits industry.

So far I came up with the similar plan: build up my knowledge of the industry, and more importantly, compose a large portfolio, then head to school. But in terms of getting work experience prior to school, I’ll probably have to take anything I can get in design firm, such as an internship, a receptionist, or an office janitor.

Questions:
If I am going for another undergraduate degree, do I really need the work experience and the large portfolio?

Some other members mentioned that colleges and universities might waive the general study courses (e.g. writing 101, physocilogy 101…ect) if you alreagy have a BS, do you have any information on this?

I just might have to start yet another thread, but I will spend another 5 hours reading all the old posts to gain more information first =).

-Mike

Hey Mike,

I used my undergrad credits but it only helped out a small bit. It will help out even less if you have not already taken a considerable amount of art classes. Most schools will require you to take foundation art classes. This is where the benefit of the undergrad program will come into play though. You will get a much deeper education in the design/art aspects than the grad students who start out in semester one of ID in an accelerated program, where the undergrad student will have 2 semesters of intensive pre-ID design training… A sure advantage. I think the undergrad ID degree seems more “filled out.” You will probably get more out of it.

Good luck to both of you,
Josh

Hey guys, sorry to resurrect a topic from the dead, but I thought I’d contribute something I’ve found in my search for schools that teach what I want to learn:

Stanford’s d.school

These guys know what they’re doing.

-Josh