What about an ID degree and pre-engineering background?


This is my first post here, and I was hoping I could get some advice from people with professional design experience. I’m currently in my second year at a local community college, working on a transfer degree. I’ve been trying to decide between a degree in ID or mechanical engineering, but kind of defaulted toward the engineering path because it was much more established, and in addition to general credits and an introductory design course I’ve been in the pre-engineering curriculum.

I’ve recently realized why I’ve had a hard time nailing down my major–because I’m interested in aspects of both careers. I’m a very visual person, can draw pretty well and like to make things look nice, and am interested in things like usability and interface, but I’m also mechanically inclined and good at math. I want to be involved in the workings of things and not just limited to exterior details, but I don’t want to be stuck doing abstract calculations all day and handing my work off to other people so they can draw it up for me.

If I were to transfer and pursue an ID degree after fully (or mostly) completing 2 years of basic engineering courses, would that help me to have some involvement in the technical, functional side of things as well as the more aesthetic, human side?

Any advice would really be appreciated, thanks.

I’d suggest do Mech Engg and do loads of Design Modules and try for your final project to be design based too.
Design Companies need both engineers and designers, landing a job at a design firm shouldn’t be that difficult.
If you are good at math and logic and analytical thinking, i’d suggest to go ahead with that.

Maybe also consider doing a Masters in Industrial Design later on?
Most importantly, you are in college now. The time you’re spending in college now is supposed to help you figure stuff out. Don’t get too stressed about it :slight_smile:

Hey jrl,

My job title is “mechanical designer” (some call it “design engineer”) and is pretty much what you described. Somewhere in between industrial design and engineering. I pursued the position for pretty much the same reasons you describe. My degree is in engineering, but that was only because I hadn’t heard about industrial design when I started my degree. By the time I found out, I was already half way through my program and wanted to finish it. I almost did a second degree in design, but was able to get hired without that by working my way into the industry during the last few years of my engineering degree - getting an internship at a design studio, as well as learning a lot from these forums.

I think the path you described is a pretty solid one for what you’re looking at. It really depends on what level of engineering knowledge you think you’ll need. A full ID degree will give you a much better head start. I use about 3 years of my engineering degree, the 4th was mostly projects which were valuable because I had the flexibility to make them design projects, and great for confidence and practice in my abilities, but not a lot of new knowledge relevant to design. I’m also the only technical person at our studio, so some more in-depth knowledge is vital. If you’re working in a larger group, 2 years will probably be fine.

Let me know if you have any more questions!