I am personally having a hard time deciding if I should go into Product Design Engineering or Industrial Design. I took time off to save up money for school & was dead set on going to Massey College of Creative Arts in New Zealand, until I came across Glasgow College of Arts Product Design Engineering program to which up until 3 weeks ago I had no idea what the heck was Product Design Engineering. ( I still don’t understand what thier role would be career wise) I really like the idea of putting engineering & design together, yet in the end will having a engineer back ground help be a better Industrial Designer? I am completely confused on what would be best for me or which school since I have been reading up on Glasgow’s normal Product Design program also & that sounds just amazing as Massey Industrial Design program. I am just looking for some guidance from people who are in these career fields, studied at these schools, ect.
One thing that often helps me as I think about how to solve a confusing and ambiguous problem is I try to think of the end state, or ideal end of the process.
For example, if your goal is to be a footwear designer at Nike, then a mixed design/engineering degree would not be as helpful as a strict design degree (exceptions apply of course).
If your goal is to design medical devices, then a mixed degree could be very beneficial as often solutions can be highly mechanical (again, exceptions apply)
The first question to answer is what do you want to do after school. Once you have an idea of what that goal is, you can better answer the question of what type of program you want to learn from.
If you can already form an idea of what you want to do or what would fit you best after your school, and formulate it as a long-term goal in a personal development plan of some sort, that would be ideal.
Succinctly put you can see product designers as the people coming up with the ideas and concepts, and the product engineers as the people taking these ideas towards production. In my experience these two disciplines overlap as product engineers can come up with very interesting concepts as well, and need to be involved into the creative process. Concretely, a product engineer will put more time in drawing and designing mechanical features, working out the details in 3D, and communicating with suppliers. I advise to go for a school that, at least in the first years, does not emphasize one too much over the other, unless you already have a specific plan for yourself, but allows you space to develop in a lot of different areas of design while getting good personal coaching/tutoring.