pursuing a Mechanical Engineering degree first? or ID?

I have wanted to be a Product/Industrial Designer for years. Just recently, my family gave me advice to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering before I enter design school, but the conflict is my abilities in math… its not my best subject and I know that engineering is solely based off of a good foundation in calculus.

So now my question is, should I or do I really need to get a degree in ME? and what background would I need to get a good job out of college? Yes, I can draw, sketch, and render. Design is my passion and I love thinking of new ways and looks for products. Could ANYONE steer me in the right direction?


How open is your family to a design degree? If you search around, there are some recent threads that should be informative. To be a product designer, an ID degree is the best thing and IMO you should go for that if this is your goal.

This is a good discussion:

Thanks for the input Robbie!

Well my parents are very open to a career in design. They know that I will do my best in a career that requires tons of work and pressure if I love it and I have said from early childhood that I want to design cars, and now I want to design all sorts of things.

Another question is how much would a background in Mechanical Engineering help in design if at all? I’m seeing quite a few threads with people graduating as MEs not being satisfied with their decision and I definitely do not want to waste time and money doing something like that.

Having just graduates with an ME degree and wanting to ultimately become a product designer (didn’t figure that our till my last year…), I would say stick with the ID degree. It’s what you love, and if you aren’t strong at math, engineering will be pretty tough (not that ID isn’t, but at least you will be passionate about it).

Actually, what I would suggest is going ID, but take some ME electives like manufacturing, or something that can compliment your ID degree. Maybe even a minor?..

I have a ME bachelor and ID master (I didn’t find out about ID until the middle of my bachelor). I definitely DON’T think you need a ME! I would say go directly for what you know you want to do and don’t waste time/money. I don’t think ME is that beneficial to becoming an ID, in all honesty, and in some ways is detrimental – the way of working as an engineer is more in solving a problem using known methods, trying to narrow down and eliminate unknowns, and finding one correct solution, whereas working as an id is more about exploration and trying to keep as open mind as possible, and finding more and more diverse solutions.

The only overlap I would say between ME and ID is in knowing how to use CAD programs, and knowledge of production methods. And production methods knowledge comes with working experience, not really with school. It sounds like you want to work more in the creative end as opposed to the production end of product design as well, and ID will help more than ME in that case.

I’m wondering how qualified the advice from your family is in saying that having a ME will help you become an ID?.. (do they work in the design field?) None of what I studied as an ME has helped me in ID (except 1 CAD course, but in ProEngineer, which I don’t think many ID firms use. And a short workshop orientation/project course. But you will study these in ID anyway!).

Many people think having an engineering degree is a good “fall back” and safety net in case you don’t find a job in the competitive field of product design… Sure it’s hard to find a job, but won’t you regret it if you don’t at least try your best to go after what you really want?

Some of the younger generations of my family come from an engineering background and no one but me in my family excels in the arts as well as I do, so they probably don’t believe that I will make a good living opposed to what MEs get for their salary. correct me if I’m wrong, but I know that ID is in demand now and that I can get to the top by experience and make a very good living out of it.

The problem is that I don’t think my family knows the difference between a product designer and a product design engineer.

Go to design school.

If your final destination is ID, then don’t walk through ME.
Instead of taking two courses, give your 200% at ID.

  • Outlander
    I wasn’t aware of ID till I was in the 3rd year of Eng.
    Great! It was a master course. :wink: