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  • Industrial vs Mechanical Design...

    Discussion in 'The main mechanical design forum' started by mpth222, Oct 24, 2013.

    1. mpth222

      mpth222 New Member

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      To follow up on other threads posted on the same subject, I am currently a junior in a Mechanical Engineering program planning to graduate with a BsME in Spring 2015. I am a good student but I am burning out with all the daily mathematical calculations. Therefore I am thinking about switching career goals and pursuing a field in design, as I’m interested in product design. I also have a strong Visual Art background that I acquired through middle and high school. Which field to pursue, Industrial or Mechanical?
      I have never had experience in Product Design through the Mechanical Engineering perspective but I am thinking that I might not enjoy its rigid aspects compared to the more artistic industrial Design nature of the job. Knowing all that, I am thinking about pursuing my education with a Master in Industrial Design or a Master in Mechanical Engineering with a focus in Product Design. A Masters in Industrial Design will take 3 years and will cost around $60K (if not more) and a Masters in Mechanical Engineering focusing in Product Design is 2 years (and therefore less money).

      Which of these two is more interesting to potential employers and for which is there a greater demand? Alternatively, do you think it’s possible to get hired into an engineering design firm with a BSME and no formal design experience and do both job as an Industrial designer and as a Mechanical designer?

      Also, is the day to day job of an industrial designer so different than one of a Mechanical one?

      Any comments will be appreciated. Thank you all in advance.
       
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    3. Dana

      Dana Well-Known Member

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      They're really two different fields. Which is "more interesting" to an employer depends on what they need. Where I work now, there are many ME's but no ID's. Other companies may be different. ME is a great background for ID, I've worked with too many designers who were clueless about the engineering requirements for the product they were trying to design (though to be fair, I've worked with more than a few ME's who were equally clueless.

      Certainly you can get hired with a BSME and no experience, you gotta start somewhere. Also (and this will, of course, vary depending on where you're working), the math that's burning you out now may be a small part of your work on the job. I'm a machine designer, but other than basic dimensional calculations or machine force or torque calculations, I do very little math. Calculus or diffy-Q, never... I don't even remember most of it. But if you're working as a structural analyst for an aircraft company, math is all you do.

      There is a lot of overlap between ME and ID, and some people wear both hats. OTOH, [for example], I was doing some consulting work for a marine hardware company, designing stoves for boats. The complaint from the sales guys was that it looked "too industrial." They hired a ID to look at it. He made some very subtle changes to just a couple of lines, and it made all the difference.
       
    4. mpth222

      mpth222 New Member

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      Thanks!

      Great, thank you so much for your answer. So if I understand you correctly, doing a Master in ID would not be so much of an investment since I might find a job that will maybe allow me to do both eventually (if I find the right job). There is not really a position in the field where someone might want to hire an ME that can also do ID. They will hire 2 different persons, or will be happy if they find someone that can do ME design and make it nice at the same time. Did I understand you correctly?
      Thanks again.
       
    5. Barneel

      Barneel Member

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      Hi mpth,

      Maybe I can give you some advice if you have any questions, and maybe you can advise me. I am currently a Product Design student in the UK. I can back Dana up on his point "too many designers who were clueless about the engineering requirement for the product they were trying to design". I've run in to this problem a few times myself - aiming for a solution to a problem that just isn't (reasonably) feasible.

      I'm currently in my 3rd year (placement year), working as a design engineer and am now, in fact, in the opposite position you are in! I am looking to switch to a degree in mechanical design/engineering! I personally think you're in a really great position here (one I would really like to be in). Having a background in mechanical can be huge bonus if you're a product designer. On my course in Product Design (BSc) we a taught the whole range of engineering techniques, from mechanical to electrical and everything in between - but only the basics (I am doing a BSc though - BAs may not be taught in the same way). This is probably why you get your clueless designers that Dana was referring to. Usually what happens in BSc in Product Design is you're taught a bit of everything throughout your 3 (or 4 if you do a placement year) years and then you do a postgraduate if you want to specialise in a particular area. But what you will be missing if you decide to skip any kind of design degree is, obviously, the design skills (idea generation, design development etc). I'm not sure if you use any kind of CAD in your course to a high level, but in Product design CAD is a big deal. Unless your company has a specialised CAD department!

      I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on moving from Industrial to Mechanical.

      Hope I've been some kind of helpful and what I've written isn't just jibberish.
       
    6. Dana

      Dana Well-Known Member

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      How far in debt do you want to go?

      You might consider getting your BSME, then going to work for awhile, then going back to school afterwards (full or part time) to study ID... if you still want to at that point. Even if you choose to pursue a career in ID at that point, the real world engineering experience will teach you far more about... well, real world engineering... than the time spent in school.

      Also consider this, which would you rather do: build a mechanism or arrange all the the hidden mechanical components in a product (ME)... or would you rather be the guy who sculpts the clay appearance model for a product (ID)? That's an oversimplification (and do they even use clay models any more?), but it's the general idea.
       
    7. Barneel

      Barneel Member

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      Clay models are only really used in Automotive design nowadays, although you will get the occasional person who still likes to work in clay because it's quite useful when testing the ergonomics of a product, but most people will use plasticine over clay... Depending on the company, a lot of ID companies will just rapid prototype their models as soon as they have a CAD model because its so cheap now. The even cheaper alternative people will go for is the blue foam. Some people love it, others hate it... I hate it... the dust gets everywhere and clings to anything.
       

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