I was just wondering if any of you out there are in the same position as myself, Im the only product/industrial designer in the company/ design team, I walked straight into a hardcore engineering environment,all the rest of the guys are project engineers mechanical engineers etc. Basicaly im designing consumer/ medical products mainly on my own from start to finish…its like im the product design department which can be v stressful at times but fun at the same time.
I want to know how other people find this situation what are you expected to do, do employers expect to much from Industrial design graduates in an engineering environment???
James, you’re actually very lucky to get such experience, stressful as it may at times be. Employers actually have high expectations of you as sole product designer in an analytical engineering department. Chances are also good your employer did their homework and previously consulted your current colleagues on integrating you within the team, as they did in my case. I’m hearing more and more of cases like this and it’s a sure sign product design is progressing in less common areas where it can make a difference, instead of remaining a marketing tool. Your employer likely understood the value of what you are adding to the team - and I don’t want to get into another eng-vs-design discussion here.
Designers added to strictly eng departments are expected to push the envelope (and then some!) but remain realistic about the firms’s goals, culture and capabilities in all respects. YOU should be challenging engineering really, not the other way around. Mechanical engineers are trained first and foremost to validate, you to create. You are expected to produce exploration avenues rich in number, quality and engineering feasibility, otherwise you’ll get quickly taken to task by the scientists there more concerned with the right-or-wrong approach then the free experimental one. Engineers find it impossible to suspend judgement while attempting to solve problems, a proven killer of original approaches.
This is where you come in, not to mention the product designer is the end user’s sole advocate in the development process. This is a high calling, you alone are batting for the sole person ultimately keeping your employer in business - the client. Engineering, production, sales, management and mfg each have their own personal agendas before the buyers’s immediate needs.
Keep at it, that type of professional experience and exposure is sure to guarantee you a much longer and more rewarding design career in any industry than is the case with designers in more traditional, more secure design work environments. Essentially you are making the case all by yourself for the value of professional design where it may not have been used before, and the implications will be tremendous if you succeed. These are tremendously good credentials for you later on.
Stay persistent, respect what you know and what you don’t know, it does work out.
What you say makes a lot of sense and it is a dream job and im extremely lucky to get it, although sometimes another designer on the team would be so good to bounce ideas off! This is my first job so it is difficult to get my head around everything but im getting there and it is very satisfing when a client and more importantly the boss is happy with the final product!
Again thanks for your advice.