Not sure about Industrial Designing anymore...

Hi guys.

Up until 2 months ago, I was planning to pursue a ‘Masters in Industrial Design’ for fall 2016. I’ve wanted to become a Product Designer since I was in 10th grade. I got my Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering with every possible optional design module included, to make my product mechanism foundation stronger. I have been working earlier as a Product designer at a Lighting Design Studio for 2 years which went quite well. I am right now not able to choose whether to go for a Masters in Design or not.

Upon reflecting and thinking a great amount, I have realized that the products the I really, really want to work on are all technology based. Eg, biomedical prosthetics, wearable technology, devices connected to the internet etc. All these are products that are innovative in regards to the software side of it, instead of the physical exterior.

Should I then, instead of doing Masters in Industrial Design, go for a Masters in Computer Science instead, seeing that all these products are more software based? I have tried looking into interaction design and UI/UX, but just working on the visual interface seems a tad bit bland to me. I have done programming in college earlier and didn’t really mind it much too. Thus, I could work on the functions and tasks that these products perform.

My biggest strength at my previous design job was a keen logical approach to problem solving. I think this would translate quite well into computer science.

Would this shift in Masters be advisable? Am I perhaps overthinking this? :confused:


I’m a big proponent of real world learning and less a fan of lots of diplomas so take my opinion with a grain of salt. If I read your post correctly you have a BSME and your next step was going to be an MID but now you’re wondering wither it will provide the skill set to land you where you want to be.

Your interests ARE the bulk of your skill set, because without interest and passion to pursue something your skills aren’t going to be useful to an employer. With that approach, you might benefit from finding a job where the core competency of the company involves the things you want to do by using your existing degree to get in the door and let your passion to learn the software side be the upside for the company’s benefit. In my experience, there’s nothing better than hearing a job candidate tell me about their passions regarding topics that relate to my business objectives.

Plus, if you land at the right kind of company you can experience real world learning and also pursue your additional degrees partially on their dime.

You can decide where your interests lie and go from there.

Calling UI/UX just the “Visual interface” ends up being a bit short sighted. UX has to do with how the entire system functions, and applies to many Internet of Things type products which have no screen whatsoever. Many UX or HCI (Human Computer Interaction) degrees incorporate everything from electronics design, programming, human factors and UI design - so it is a much broader and wider set of skills.

A computer science degree is going to focus deeply on the programming aspects of it, but less so on the human side of it. You’d be learning about networking, databases, security, operating systems, computer graphics, AI, all kinds of other stuff.

You would have to decide if you wanted to take a focused CS degree and try to branch out into the other aspects of design, or if you would want to have a broader exposure with something like an HCI degree and then try to learn more about the computer side of things.

You also have to decide what you’d want to be doing as a career. If you really enjoy writing code then go for it. There are a lot of free “learn to code” classes that you can take online to see if it’s something that really excites you. If you want more broad exposure to how systems are going to work and be designed the UX aspects may be worth exploring more.

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Thanks for replying.
Yes that is what I’m currently deciding. Currently I’m leaning towards getting a Computer Science degree and then branching out, like you said, and specializing into the product/ai technology side of it. I’m just worried perhaps that in doing so, my career might not end up being so design oriented as I am hoping for it to be.

Thanks for replying.
My main strength and interest most definitely is problem solving within product development. It definitely interests me, and that skill has been appreciated by others at my job quite a lot. :sunglasses: It was pointed out that due to to my engineering background, I can travel through a problem more easily than some of my colleagues that were from a more design centric background.

Also, I agree that a job where I can use my knowledge background and work on such products would be a good idea. If I end up applying for Masters in CS and don’t get into my preferred top choices, I may just get a year of work experience instead.

You need to consider what job description you’d like to fill when you get out of school.

If you are going for the role of someone with design in the title, you will have a harder time with a ME/CS background. Keep in mind a good chunk of design related programs is about building a portfolio for presentation when you want to start work. If you do not have a portfolio of relevant design experience then it will be an issue.

If you want to become a software developer, then also keep in mind while there are still jobs for full-stack developers, many software teams prefer specialists who are experts in specific areas of development vs generalists. And that in many design centric companies, the interaction is going to be dictated by a user experience/interaction designer and your role as a developer is to develop their specifications into functioning code, rather than heavily defining how things will work yourself.

Obviously nothing is an absolute, but those are things to consider. I personally considered going back for a masters in CS (with an ID background) to strengthen my UX work but I found that real world experience and self teaching can go a long way. Having a background understanding of code makes it much easier to build real world designs, and having a design background makes it much easier to understand the user aspects of it vs. just the implementation.

Design students who are contemplating their futures today in 2015 need to decide whether they want to pursue their careers primarily in the digital world, or the physical world.

A decision to pursue a MCS degree would result in a career solving problems primarily in the digital world. A decision to pursue a MID degree will result in a career solving problems moreso in the physical world.

Good luck…

Sounds like you want to study ID but are more interested in the science/engineering behind the products.
Look up companies that specialize in"biomedical prosthetics, wearable technology, devices connected to the internet" and see what education they look for. Maybe try to reach out to professionals in those areas so you can better understand what it’s like.
Oversimplifying things a bit…ID would be focused on how the product looks and interfaces with the user…Engineering or CS would focus on how and what makes it work.
Good luck.