Made-up TV show pitch

I had this idea over lunch thinking about the “engineer/design” debate. I thought I’d bounce it off the wall here.

I remember seeing a reality TV show where these families had to live on the American prairie using only the tools, housing and traditions of the mid-1800’s pioneer family. At the end of three months, history experts rated the family on their preparedness for winter in terms of food stocks, wood for fire, etc. My idea was to take a group of IDers and a group of engineers and toss them into this situation, but tell them, “You can develop whatever tools you want to help you, but you have to use the materials and tools of that time.”

I can just imagine the designers completely failing because they are unhappy with the inconsistent filets the tools create. Meanwhile, the engineers finish the challenge with 5000 blueprints, but absolutely nothing built. hehe!

I don’t think the outcome would be like that. I think you’d get equally good results from both actually.

Designers would work with the tools at hand, similar to desktop modeling and quickie ergo prototyping. I know myself, often I’ve kludged together a proof of concept for a design with a bit of foamboard, tape, or whatever is lying around given I don’t have access to a model shop or any RP, or CAD. I think you’d actually get quite inventive solutions as designers tend to be good at applying one solution to another totally different situation.

The engineers might also be similarly good at kludging solutions together, but maybe have a bit of difficulty overcoming their normal working process. I could see them getting stuck in process as they don’t have a caliper, or whatever they normally use.

In result, I’d actually think the solutions from both groups would be amazingly similar. Given the solution isn’t necessarily one about aesthetics and user focused design, I think that essentially designers become functional engineers in this way. Like I was saying in the other (now waay OT and useless) thread, “do designers engineer?”, which was asked more jokingly and nobody replied, but I think the answer is obvious, yes designers engineer, maybe to just a different level.


That’s comedy gold right there!

Richard: Thanks for taking the idea so seriously!

I think that both camps would either succeed or fail spectacularly. The problem they had on the show that I reference is that everyone was cutting wood all day and the expert still said they didn’t have even 1/2 of what they would need for a winter. I kinda wonder if one of the groups wouldn’t say, “we can’t do better than what those people had” and just went for bare with the tools at hand.

The best thing to see would probably be how the approach differs. The approach of the designers I imagine would be more “out of the box thinking” than the engineers so I’d imagine that would actually get them farther ahead. A designer might look at the problem of chopping wood for a stove and say “hey, why don’t we re-examine the need for wood and a stove” and come up with something like a dirt fueled heating device (made that up, BTW), while the engineers might go after the problem head on, and try to chop as much wood as possible with some crazy device. That I think is one of the main differences between designers and engineers. Designers tend to look at a problem more in terms of the end goal and approach it obliquely to achieve that goal, whereas sometimes (not always) engineers look at the goal and approach the problem in a straightforward (as it has been done before) manner.


PS. following this thread and the others, perhaps core77 can get a design vs. engineering 1HDC showdown… create a problem/need and partner with ASME or some other engineering site/body to have both types work to create a solution. Now that would be fun to see! Even more interesting would be to see how different facets of engineering (ie. mechanical, structural, etc.) would approach it vs. the more cohesive (though still existing different specialities such as UX, etc.) design group.

anyone know of anything like core in the engineering world? I’d even be happy to spearhead such a project!

While it would be entertaining, it’s too easy. A better show would be to see how designers and engineers work together to make what could never happen as individual disciplines… this happens pretty much everyday where I work.

Designers and engineers could be paired up at random. Those that fail to work well with the other discipline on average get barred from product development for life and get handed a McDonalds application. High stakes on my TV show!

by far most of the engineers I know grew up taking things apart, and building them, designers on the other hand had notebooks full of doodles. I give you 5-1 odds against the designers even making fire, much less building a shelter.

why does everyone want to work against each other?

you sound pretty jaded …


Maybe the designers I know are rare but every one of them has spent plenty of time taking things apart and also has a good deal of engineering knowledge. They also know when they need to consult with and engineer that knows even more about some things than they do. Conversely the engineers can also sketch form ideas but know when they could benefit from a designers input. I think it is pretty typical…but Zippy’s world sounds like it would make a better TV.

This thread got real lame, real quick. Heaven forbid we take a moment to laugh at ourselves. I liked your original post 914 but with too many people taking themselves a little too serious the odds were against it from the time you hit submit.

Labrats: thanks for the support.

Yo!: Maybe have three teams. Engineers only, designers only and a mixed team. That might make it even more interesting.

Zippy: I spent as much time taking things apart as drawing. I think that’s obvious when looking at my portfolio!

3 decades of experience leads to that.

and you’ve just helped it how exactly?

I helped it by trying to point out that every thread doesn’t have to be over analyzed and sometimes we should be able to joke around a bit and laugh at ourselves from time to time which is how I took 914’s original post. I don’t think I should be criticized for that at all. Not to hijack this thread but do you think that maybe the problem with this board is that it gets a little too stuffy in here? Lord forbid I throw my 2 cents into the mix and let 914 know I think his idea of the outcome is funny to me or that I call it out later when everyone gets a little too serious or insulting. Where were you when R told zippy he sounded jaded? What did that add to the thread that my comment didn’t? I guess you just took what I said personally so you want to single me out, but other people get a pass.

So with that being said I’ll add something serious.

My cousin is an engineer and I know that individually we would both do well as we both love camping and have been in either cadets or scouts. However, together we would excel not just from our combined and complimentary skills but also because we get along so well. The true comedy would only ensue if they supplied us with a few beers every night allowing us to test our wits against each other.

Labrats: I try.

You have to give people the benefit of the doubt. Comedy does not always translate into text. I know that I’ve got offended on these same boards through misunderstanding.

On a lighter note: Who would we want to cast in this series? Gordon Murray v. Karim Rachid? Jimmy Carter v. Phillipe Starck?

You and I are the odd ducks 914, dream it, draw it, build it, test it…if you cant do all 4 your still a “puppy”. :laughing:

how about a medium that channels Kelly Johnson (skunkworks founder) up against rashid…oh that would be priceless as Kelly had one hell of a temper. Carrol Shelby (with a young side kick to do the labor) would be good too.

Haha, Meet the Rashids!

Karim vs Hani. Nothing like a little brotherly rivalry, ID vs Architecture.