Undergraduate ID programs with a good eng/design balance?

I am a high school student looking into attending college to study industrial design. I know that this is what I want to do, but I’m having a hard time finding the right program for me. I’m very artistic and design oriented, but also incredibly strong in math. I want a program that will combine both a design and engineering curriculum.

The only program I’ve come across that seems to fit this description is the Product Design program at Stanford. However, it’s really difficult to get into, and I want to find some safety schools that offer a similar program. Is anyone here familiar with other programs that combine both a design and engineering education? Any input you have is greatly appreciated!

Also, the Stanford program graduates a lot of people who are neither good engineers nor good designers. The program should teach marketing because they seem best at PR. Both of these careers are challenging. Focus yourself first. If you still want to learn more, go back to school.

I think some schools - WWU for one - have the ID dept in the Engineering school, and do a lot of ME, machining, etc. so that might be a way to start.

Ditto on the Stanford D school comments, some of those portfolios make me scratch my head.

I’d consider some programs that have the “Tech” in their name. Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, RIT all come to my mind on the east coast. Programs that are within schools that have large engineering programs may not teach detailed engineering curriculum, but they will have close ties with engineers and your opportunities to work on engineering programs greatly increased. I had a chance to work on some automotive engineering and robotic engineering projects while in school, and while it wasn’t a great experience, the opportunity was there. You’ll realize quickly as a designer that many engineers are very difficult to work with, and that while still in school most students don’t have enough experience or knowledge to actually push designs as far as the designer would want them to with their limited knowledge base.

Honestly like Yo said, learning both in 4 years is impossible. Engineering requires so much math and science (yay thermodynamics!) that is mostly irrelevant for a practicing designer. I have seen students that have done double majors in ID and ME, but coming out I think they were so bogged down with school work that they weren’t able to excel in either field.

Plus in a tech school, if you decide after your first year that ID isn’t what you want you can switch into engineering or vice versa without changing colleges. But I’d make that distinction quickly since an extra year of college is quite expensive these days.

If you are leaning more towards engineering, look at Northwestern. We have a lot of design-related coursework offered through the Segal Design Institute (segal.northwestern.edu), esp. focused on human-centered design process. You will not gets the nuts and bolts of ID here, but rather deep engineering skills plus a broad understanding of how to approach design problems.

any of the Big 10 schools with ID will offer a strong engineering dept to tap into, Perdue, Ohio State etc.
but DAAP offers the opportunity of a year-long capstone collaboarative project with Biomedical engineering students.
Plus, it’s one of the best ID programs around.

Hi planes42,
Just thought I’d be an ambassador for my current program since most people don’t know about it. Yet!
Iowa State University has a very strong engineering and design background. With the introduction of Industrial Design last year, it has the capabilities to become something truly amazing. I personally have taken a couple engineering classes, and if I wished to have a concentration for graduation could do more. We currently have a fairly tight grip with some of the engineering instructors and have collaborated with engineering students last semester. Our director is all about branching out to other colleges and the bar is set high to reach these, and it’s panning out so far.
If you’d like to know more or get into contact with some of our faculty PM me and I can answer your questions forward you to someone that knows the answers :slight_smile:

I have a close friend whose son is a freshman in Stanford’s design program. Just starting his second semester he looking for another school…

any of the Big 10 schools with ID will offer a strong engineering dept to tap into, Perdue, Ohio State etc.

ahem… … that would be Purdue. Perdue packages chicken… . :wink:

Hopefully things have changed in W.Laffalot, when I attended there was not much interaction, in fact, none, between the “Engineering College”, and the “College of Humanities” (in which the ID program was located).

4th year mechanical engineering student here. I think you’re better off at a school that has a strong ID departement and supplement with classes from the eng. school rather than half-assing both. The parts of a mechanical engineering degree that would truly be useful to an industrial designer is a very small part of the mech eng curriculum. The mech eng curriculum will include

Statics/Dynamics and Strength of Material. Basically what’s the forces acting on something and how does that create a stress in a materials to check if they’ll fail.
Materials and Manufacturing. Going over the types of materials and their specificities. And going over manufacturing processes and how they might impact design.

Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer
Fluid Dynamics
Essentially a full year’s worth of math courses
And other courses in engineering and sciences as well as random other classes (law, administration…)

But really all you care about as an industrial designer would be knowing what materials to use, how could it possibly be built and get a rough idea if it would hold up. I’m guessing most ID curriculums have some courses on materials and manufacturing. All that’s left is to bring you up to speed on the basics of strength of materials.

You’ll need to take a statics and basic dynamics course where you’ll learn what forces are applied on a body. Once you have that you can already take an introductory strength of material course. At that point, you should be able to specify materials and dimensions for simple situations. Both those class shouldn’t have too complicated math. There are other classes that deal with strength of materials that are a bit more involved but the truth is most of the time a technique called finite element analysis needs to be used for complex geometric shapes. The bad news is it requires advanced knowledge of strength of materials as well as quite complex math. The good news is most CAD suites (computer modelling softwares) include some basic finite element analysis tools that should be able to give you a rough estimate and from your strength of materials class, you’ll be able to understand what it means.

Bottom line, what you might find useful from engineering that might not be covered in your ID curriculum is probably covered in two or three courses. If you go to a university with an engineering dept, you might be able to take those classes (check and send emails in advance to be sure you wouldn’t be missing a prerequisite or something). If the overall program is has more focus towards engineering, arts or marketing is a whole other story mind you.

As a graduate of Purdue University and a current ID masters student at Georgia Tech, I can speak to both as great technology schools. Purdue’s program is VERY small at this point (graduated 16 or so last year?) but have been winning awards and was recently featured in the Alumni Magazine. (Meaning the school is taking notice of the program) Georgia Tech has been implementing many new classes in Interaction and Human Factors and have been really pushing company partnerships on studio projects. They also have a studio option available that mixes engineering students and ID students so that both can learn from each other and learn a little about the others program.

Beyond that, I would ask the type of college experience you are looking for. Both are great engineering schools, but Purdue is much more social and more of a “college” experience. Ga Tech is in the middle of Atlanta, so GT students tend to be less tight knit and social than Purdue students.

Good luck in your decision!

I am currently a senior industrial design student at Philadelphia University Our school has a unique experience called the DEC program that all majors go through. DEC stands for Design Engineering and Commerce and the program combines some classes in the freshman and sophomore level to allow each major to gain a perspective on the others as well as work collaboratively on projects. We have had sponsored projects with the likes of Philips Healthcare, Avenues, SDI (iHome, Timex), Armstrong, Kinex, Federal-Mogul, and Knoll, to name a few. We use the collaborative projects especially our 3rd year and work on teams of engineers, designers, and marketing/ business and develop real world solutions that make an impact on the companies that sponsor them.

Our program is a Bachelors of Science because we learn human factors, materials and processes, material fabrications, and take physics and math classes. We take manufacturing, life cycle analysis, carbon footprint, and product costing into effect during the design process and produce a high quality of work that makes you prepared for life outside of school. Even though we are not on the top 10 list of schools in the US, we are a school on the rise that uses innovative teaching approaches and real life collaborations that replicate what you will experience at a design firm. I believe i have been given the tools i need to be strong asset to any design firm.

I generally agree with a lot of the sentiment here, that attending an ID school with a strong engineering department is the way to go, instead of trying for a dual degree. I personally had a very good experience at RIT (grad '06), where at the time the school of engineering technology was developing a minor for ID majors (and others), which I participated in (it was unaccredited at the time, they were sorting out whether they could put “engineering” in the title, don’t know the resolution of that) and the ID department was developing a minor for engineering types (and others). The engineering school also had senior design projects that encouraged colaboration with other majors. You could also join an engineering oriented club if you want, and the other majors are right there if you want to switch, as others have stated.

I ended up taking more engineering courses than were needed for the minor, and in my current job I spend a significant amount of time doing very engineery tasks, even ones that are very non-ID (like designing valves). Basic engineering know how can take you a long way, especially when surrounded by the right people.

Also, the Royal College of Art in London does a dual masters program in design and engeering (collab with another uni) that looks pretty cool if you’re so inclined after undergrad http://www.rca.ac.uk/Default.aspx?ContentID=160473&GroupID=160473&oldCat=36692&OldGroup=159950

I ended up taking more engineering courses than were needed for the minor, and in my current job I spend a significant amount of time doing very engineery tasks, even ones that are very non-ID (like designing valves). Basic engineering know how can take you a long way, especially when surrounded by the right people.

The old saying goes, “It is a poor craftsman that blames his tools”

I think it goes without saying that the more tools you have in your toolbox, the more work you’re going to be able to do, and the more work your employer is going to give you. Some may consider non-designerly work assignments as less than desirable, but in the “new” economy, it’s all good…

Well, as a general rule of thumb, you get paid to do what you can do well, not what you want to do. So you must be very careful to ensure that what can do well aligns with what you want to do.