The importance of mechanical accuracy of portfolio projects?

This is for those designers/design directors who hire or ID grads who have first hand experience with this issue:

As someone who is tweaking past projects, there are some projects that I believe are successful and I am pretty sure they would “work” in real-life and function as I well as I have described in my presentations, but how important is accuracy as to nailing it with engineering mechanical precision?

During an interview with a new ID grad, would you pay a lot of attention to those details; if a design is not accurate or way off mechanically, or is the concept/material knowledge/manufacturability/ergonomics and knowledge about available technologies more important if that is presented very well?

For ex: I have a project for an LED desk lamp with a rechargeable battery pack that I want to include in my portfolio but the way I have it configured, I am not sure if that is the most accurate way the LED lights and battery power would be “put together”. I know we are not expected to be engineers, but how important are details like those when hiring a newbie designer? Thanks!

I would never expect a student to be a mechanical engineer. Typically there are projects students do with exploded views, screw bosses, ribs, and all that kind of stuff - but in reality if you’re being hired to design, then I don’t care about seeing the internals.

I do care about a conscious understanding of materials. The best example of this was when a classmate of mine designed a wheelbarrow for horse sh*t out of carbon fiber. When the professor asked why they chose Carbon fiber over other materials, they said “because it was light”. When it was pointed out that a $3000 bucket for moving manure wasn’t an appropriate use of materials they were completely confused. That is a blatant example of “not getting it” coming through in a portfolio piece.

If you can at least show that you thought about “this is how big a battery pack is, and this is how big the LED’s are, and they fit into what I designed” then I wouldn’t see any issues with where they are laid out.

Wow, that would have been some expensive wheelbarrow!

I understand, Cyberdemon. Being able to present convincingly my understanding of materials/manufacturability I assumed would be more important than my understanding of electronic parts, mechanisms, circuit boards, etc, but I just wanted to make sure. So thanks Cyberdemon. I don’t feel so inadequate now as a newbie. :slight_smile: I am sure in time, I will learn all those terms, such as ribs and screw bosses! Have a nice day!

It is always good to frame your assumptions. Many student projects are very blue sky, which imply certain technologies maturing to exist. The most common one for example is the flexible display. Every student at some point has probably design the computer that rolls up in your pocket. It helps in your portfolio to frame up a project by just showing those technologies and explaining how you implemented those decisions. Depending on the type of work you’re doing you may not want to go insane with those assumptions “All of the battery is stored on this nano particle!” because it may frame up a conversation that’s too far out.

It also helps if you can use teardowns (many available online) of existing products to show that you have some understanding of components and how things go together. That includes throwing in some parting lines and some understanding of how things would go together.

If you look at a car for example, you can clearly see that the parting lines between the bumpers are required for tooling reasons, but they are very carefully considered on how they incorporate into the design.