Need some input on Majors between ME and ID

Hey Im new, Im currently in my sophmore year of college In Mechanical Engineering Tech. Ive been finding my self liking math and physics less and less maybe im burnt out already. Ive always wanted to design cars, weather it be straight up designing them or designing and building. Im thinking of transfering to a school with Industrial design and switching to that. Although I cant decide if thats the right choice. Ive been looking for some input and my advisor knows little about ID.

Also what are some of the Differences engineers have with ID when designing cars

I am in the same exact position as you >_<
If anyone could give any advice I would greatly appreciate it!

To start I know where you are at, I put in 3 years of Eng. then transfered to ID once I found out about it. I have never looked back. I graduated last May and now work in the transportation industry, not cars specifically though. With cars specifically keep in mind that many car companies focus in students with Transportation Design degrees not just ID. Not to say that you can’t get in with ID but I know from other very talented students from my class they really wanted them to have transportation degrees. This limits your school choices to a few schools.
Anyway, when I was in your position I was looking for guidance and I was able to get a meeting with the head of design at a company I was interested in working at. When I left there, I was ready to transfer. At first it was hard to consider transferring because it meant at least 3 more years of school. I wouldn’t worry about your time in school, it will be worth it to find something you really have a passion for. So a few things I would suggest: Which you are already trying to do by posting you questions here.

Visit an ID or Transportation Design School near you to see what the students are learning and what you will be doing there. Would you be interested?

Pick a few companies you think you would be interested in and try contacting someone in the design department just to talk with you. (this will be hard in many cases) Take a look at the student mentor list and try contacting a few of them. See if you can meet with a designer face to face to show you around a company and tell you what they do. I think designers and engineers at a Design Consultancy would be helpful to you as well as they work together most of the time and can really tell you what they do, even though they aren’t necessarily car related.

Check out if you haven’t already

Where are you guys located? Someone on here might know someone you can talk with.

Good luck with your decision.


After two years of being an ME, I decided that I wanted to do ID. After taking dynamics, solids, and thermo, I was a little burnt out too. So I just combined the two in a dual-degree program. It’s gonna take me an extra year to graduate, but I feel that it’s worth it. I have a strong interest in engineering, so I decided to keep it. From what I’ve read, engineering knowledge is a plus to being a designer and makes you more versatile. Give it some thought, and good luck with whatever you choose to do.

hey guys i knows this is an old topic, but i just got accepted to Georgia Tech for industrial design. Let the change from Mechanical engineering technology to ID begin. Ive been reading some of the topics on here saying that ID and Engineers clash heads when it comes down to the nitty gritty. i am still interested in the automotive industry. Does anyone know how the market is for ID in some of the larger car companies or do the prefer more of the engineer design types? Ive got 2 years of school under my belt now and once I transfer because of the studios its another 4 years with room for electives should I use those and take some more engineer classes?

More so I am still trying to figure out exactly what an mechanical engineer/electrical engineer or technologists actually do in the automotive industry and where the ID comes in

There is definately a huge clash between engineers and designers, especially in the auto industry.

I sat in a GM board room for a student based project and watched 2 ID guys walk out of the room after presenting the project brief, only to have the engineers IMMEDIATELY tell us to disregard what they just told us. It was truly a scary and mindblowing reality into how oversized and poorly run many car companies (Especially American) are.

Engineers have their concerns, and theres a reason concept cars always have goregous interiors and the production cars have cheap bits of plastic, because with the vast majority of vehicles cost savings > design.

Designers are the ones who are designing the body aesthetics, and the interior. While designing cars can be great fun, the reality of it is much of the design work that goes in will either be put into concepts that never see the light of day, vehicles that are just crap, or designing minivan cupholders that can be injection molded for as cheap as possible.

I’ll say that my personal opinion is biased based on my experience. I loved car design and it was my original focus when going into ID. After seeing things first hand I realized I’d much rather design cars for fun and work in a different ID field than actually work at an auto company. The competition is fierce, you constantly have teams of engineers who will strike down EVERY ounce of creativity you have for cost/production reasons, and the chances of working on a really great project probably will only come to the top echelon of car designers.

Most of the time people with general ID degrees can get hired, but typically for interior work. Only the best of the transportation design grads will be working on exteriors.

Since your at Georgia Tech you’ll get a much more engineer-friendly design education than you would at a school like art center. I’d just sit back and see where your education takes you. If you’re anything like me you might find that after a few years you much prefer another aspect of design (CAD work, product design, packaging, exhibits, etc) than you did for cars.

But if you’re passionate about it then go for it. Don’t let the views of one jaded designer sway you. :slight_smile:

thanks man that really helps, anyone know also just cause im still curious what a mechanical engineer will actually do for a car is it the entire car design or individual parts cause im thinking now of going down the road with ID but with a minor of some sort in engineering as much as i hate the math and science now

Engineers are all broken up into smaller teams that handle very specific tasks. An engineer will more than likely focus on specific parts for their career, IE chassis, drivetrain, suspension, engine, HVAC, crash testing, etc. It’s only so much fun getting to do computer simulations for how long it takes to defrost a windshield.

It never hurts to have a double major, especially in product design where design engineering is fairly valuable.

yea im almost thinking of adding some more engineering courses in. At my old school i was doing mechanical engineering technology and from what i know they dont do much with the cars but rather assist the engineer or work on the machines that make the cars unless i were to get my full engineering licence

well all ga tech has for engineering minors is aerospace and material science/engineering. will those do?
and also i looked more into Mechanical Engin. Tech. it looks like it is more to do with the machines that make the machines

I’ll be honest with you, in terms of hiring (and having seen people do double majors) I truthfully think you’ll be much better off being able to say you have 2 years of ME and 4 years of ID than getting the double degree.

Reason being, the extra hours your spending trying to pass engineering classes are hours that could be spent doing design work, and as anyone will tell you, the more time you put in, the better your work will be.

In the long run, having a really outstanding portfolio, along with some engineering common sense will be much more valuable than having 2 degrees and an average portfolio.

Aerospace is probably useless, and material science could have some benefits, but only if you enter a field thats dealing with more complex materials than your average plastics and metals.

thanks, well according to the georgia tech material science site they deal with things like fuel cells which may be kind of cool. i mean also the more i think about it the degree from tech will look better anyways as opposed to MET at my old school

I think a minor in Material Science wouldn’t be all that applicable to ID. It is more involved in the technical aspects where an IDer only needs to know the materials properties in how it relates to their design and for manufacturability. An understanding of design for manufacturing could be useful though.

hey one more question. For those who made the switch from engineering to ID was it hard going from tons of math/science courses to Art courses? Cause I know for one I am going to have to take Art History either this year or next year.


I’m going to call a bit of ‘bull’ on the egineering/design war. If each has respect for the other, it’s an amazingly powerful alliance.

If one doesn’t respect the other, and what value each can bring, then it is an uphill struggle from both perspectives.

Nothing frustrates an engineer more than a designer who doesn’t understand mechincal concepts, fabrication techniques, design and detailing, etc. If you (as a designer) don’t appreciate their world, and learn their language and understand what keeps them up at night (or late at work) and try to offer solutions that can improve their work, then yes - it’s a struggle. It comes down to respect, understanding and appreciation for the value of the other disciplines.

Including the other unholy discipline - marketing.

It all comes down to listening, learning and understanding. The more you can do as a designer to understand the issues, learn from engineers and work with them, the happier you are going to be, the further you will go, and the cooler the stuff you create together has a chance at being.


thats partly why I chose GA Tech for ID mainly because it is an engineering school and there ID department realizes that engineers and ID need to get along.

hey one week till school starts. For those engineers that switched to ID was the art process in the studios hard for you all? That is really the only thing I am worried about is these first year studios as I have hardly any art background

In my first drawing class, I sucked pretty bad. I was more or less the worst one in the class, but I did improve. Looking back on it, a lot of my issues were in time management. I had no previous drawing experience either, so I was behind the curve from that aspect also. My second drawing class, however, went exponentially better than the first. I improved a great deal my first year, and while I’m not on the level I need to be, I’m ten times ahead of where I was. Just keep working at it and be sure to draw everyday for as long as possible. If you haven’t checked out any of Scott Robertson’s DVD’s, I highly suggest the first one. Taught me tons. Have fun.

thanks, yea thats the only thing i am worried about going into the class and everyone having way more experience than me. I have the creativity in my head its just putting it on paper thats the problem

ok i cud’nt resist but reply to this post. I have seen my share of “struggle” between the two. I have done my undergraduation in mechanical engineering and now am pursuing Masters in ID.

I opted for an Art and design school instead of a technical oriented school like georgia tech. I personally wanted to get rid of creative blocks that engineering puts down on us. I ahev faced a fair bit of opposition from students and in some cases professors too on thinking too much like an engineer.

I guess my point is engineering and design form the complete picture…nebody who is a master of these two …is the master of design. Being an engineer dosen’t mean sticking to the rules…infact, to me it means understanding real world rules…and if one is a good designer…then being creative enuf to bend them. eg a nut dosen’t have to look like a nut if u know what governs the forces…if u know the rules…and if u r creative…u’ll find a way to bend them!!

Neway that is my truth and that is what i constantly am trying to achieve…even if it lands me in the wrong book as far as both designers and engineers are concerned!!

You have to find your own design philosophy. And don’t make the mistake of labelling urself as a designer or an engineer(same mistake ppl make when it comes to religion or nationlist…or what ever u wanna call it)
…instead think what you want to do as an individual…and how u want to express urself…or where to u want to take design!!
good luck!