Undergrad or Graduate School

Hi everyone,
I am making a change from being a computer programmer for the last 4+ years to wanting to be an industrial designer.
I was inspired by recent articles about Jonathan Ive and IDEO. What really gets me going is creative problem solving.

I was really good at art in High School and took 2 classes in College and wanted to get a Minor but couldn’t get all the classes.

I already told my boss I would be leaving soon.

I have been doing a ton of research and talking to a bunch of designers about how to get into the design sphere etc. I would love to go back to school and do art classes but at what level and where.

I am trying to decide Grad vs. Undergrad, the training/education I would receive, time, cost involved.

If I was going to do Grad, I would take a year of art classes probably in London to work on my portfolio and get the basics down.

If I do undergrad I guess I would have to start applying right now for next Fall.

Any advice is appreciated as I am dedicated to making this change but just need guidance.


I’m kinda in the same boat as you here, I’ve just finished a degree in electrical engineering but have found that industrial design and the creative process is much more interesting to me.

I’m actually hoping to work in some facet of the field or get an internship before going back to school. I think I really need to work in the field and be positive i want to stay in it before school… plus a little money would help.

I’ve been working on a portfolio and filling it out a bit by doing design contests (there are some fun ones on designboom.com). I’m hoping this will give me a little more chance at landing a job, but so far I haven’t had much luck.

Any luck in your search? Any tips you could give a fellow convert?

Also if you want to check out my portfolio: http://www.scottsykora.com

Good Luck,

Is your degree in EE?

yep, EE, UCDavis.

check out the “student and schools” section.

Creative problem solving happens in every proffesion not just ID, it’s just a matter of finding/creating that opportunity (- and conversly not all ID is about problem solving).

That said, if you want to go into ID ask yourself what exactly would you want to work on? How does your education mesh with that goal?

Grad or undergrad doesn’t matter, some grad programs are glorified undergrad (skill oriented) and some undergrad are heavy on theory and research…

I agree with what no_spec said. You need to know what exactly would you want to work on and get out of this?

In general, undergrad will walk you through what you need to be an ID person. It might be more comfortable for you to start from scratch if you don’t mind being with 18~19 yr. old classmates(mostly)

Grad school will give you more in-depth projects and research, but you need to have good foundation skills such as 2d/3d computer modeling/rendering programs, design research, good free hand sketching, hand-on modeling skills etc.

Finding a right school is another headache, some grad schools are extended undergrad (purdue univ which I wouldn’t recommend), so they will let you take undergrad classes for you to get adjust and learn necessary skills, but you may feel easily vulnerable.

I wouldn’t suggest you to pick a school that is heavy on research and theory unless what you want to be is a design research specialist or some sort of filed.

Visual communication might segue better with your pre-existing experience.