Jump to content


- - - - -

Design Versus Engineering - How Different Really?


  • Please log in to reply
13 replies to this topic

#1 Guest_Hazdaz_*

Guest_Hazdaz_*
  • Guests

Posted 13 December 2009 - 08:41 PM

How different do you guys consider an Engineering degree versus an Industrial Design degree?

The reason I ask is because of this awful job market, I am contemplating going back to school and getting the degree that I never got. So even though I have been in the job market for many years working in the Mechanical CAD and then later in the Design fields, I think getting a degree is going to be more and more important going forward. My problem though, is that I have always been both on the creative/artsy/design part of the business, but also on the technical/mechanical/engineering side as well. I like the creativity of design, but I also like the exactness of engineering.

While I think there are definitely differences, I also think there is a lot of over-lap within the two fields.

Right now, I am leaning toward going after a Mechanical Engineering degree mostly because it seems that there are a lot more ME positions out there - it seems to be the "jack of all trades" engineering degree. Also there are a lot more schools locally that offer an ME curriculum. However should I assume that an ME would lock me out of most Industrial Design jobs?


Does anyone have comments or insight? I would be interested in hearing what some of you guys have to say about the differences and similarities.

#2 KQD

KQD

    Top Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 448 posts
  • Status:Professional

Posted 14 December 2009 - 10:26 AM

I've got a mechanical engineering degree. I worked for a year then did a masters in industrial design engineering (which was essentially industrial design, but a masters for engineering graduates - it was a 2 year course and after 6 months there was no difference in skill sets between the two groups - graduate industrial designers and graduate engineers).

As you have worked in industry you might be able to join a course mid way through. Certainly my ME course this was the case, with people of all ages and nationalities joining up to the mid way point.

I think there are now first degree level courses in industrial design engineering - maybe that would be a better fit for you?

At the end of the day it comes down to the individual what they get out of it. My ME course was pretty general and it was only when I specialised in engineering design that I started to enjoy it - prior to that it was fairly heavy going! The IDE course was completely different and I enjoyed that more, but these days things are very different! I am talking over 20 years ago now.

#3 Guest_MrPumpernickel_*

Guest_MrPumpernickel_*
  • Guests

Posted 15 December 2009 - 09:37 AM

Industrial design and engineering with focus on industrial design are two rather different things.

If I look at the people here at university who are studying engineering with focus on industrial design they focus much much harder on production values, on how it can be made, materials, durabilities, electronics & mechanics and so forth. Us industrial design students focus mainly on the user, more on ergonomics, more on experience of the product or system, more on user testing, semantics, sustainability and environmental consequences.

In my experience engineers often try to work alone without industrial designers and the results are in the vast majority of cases far from as good as they probably could've been if they worked together in a team since they focus on different things.

One thing though, engineers are a dime a dozen, industrial designers are still not all that common, in the greater perspective. Out of a job point of view we who get a BA in Industrial Design at my university are 95% predicted to get a job within 6 months of graduation, the engineering students are closer to 70%. I think that speaks for itself.

#4 KQD

KQD

    Top Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 448 posts
  • Status:Professional

Posted 15 December 2009 - 02:19 PM

Sorry I don't agree. This kind of argument just fuels the fires. Are you seriously trying to tell me that an industrial design graduate is superior to an engineering graduate who has also done industrial design (Industrial design engineering)? Are engineers really "a dime a dozen"? In the same way that you derive knowledge from your experience, I derive it from mine.

All you are doing is deriding the skills of engineers and product designers who might want to study the more technical side - you know - the bit that is kind of important in that it holds all that glossy arty exterior user centric stuff together.

On the job side, statistics mean nothing without context. How many graduates are you talking about? What jobs - working in design or not? And in the current climate there is a big difference between projected and actual....like running a business and your cashflow!!

#5 Guest_Dugan_*

Guest_Dugan_*
  • Guests

Posted 16 December 2009 - 01:49 AM

How different do you guys consider an Engineering degree versus an Industrial Design degree?


Completely.

One is a technical degree and the other is an art degree. For the people who wind up in the murky middle ground of product development the lines clearly blur, and a new set of degrees are sprouting up that acknowledge this. If I were you I'd look into these cross functional programs. That's what I am doing. :)

Still, as standard undergraduate and masters degrees go, they are very different.

#6 Guest_Mansy_*

Guest_Mansy_*
  • Guests

Posted 21 December 2009 - 04:17 PM

Design consists of the specification of requirements (functional, etc.) needed to satisfy the customer and other relevant external parties (the law, etc.) The job of a designer is to gather such requirements from various sources - asking customers directly, market research, academic research into relevant fields, DomainKnowledge, study of the law and of relevant standards and practices, and a bit of intuition/foresight, and produce a specification of some sort.

Engineering consists of the translation of these requirements into a technical specification describing a system which conforms to these requirements (which could be then implemented by persons knowledgeable in the craft). Again, the exact form of the technical specification is not important here. In many traditional engineering disciplines, the role of engineer is generally not concerned with things such as aesthetics or fitness-for-purpose; instead the engineer is concerned with coming up with a system (or specification) which is correct, safe, and cost-effective.

#7 Guest_nicanor_*

Guest_nicanor_*
  • Guests

Posted 23 December 2009 - 08:39 AM

I worked with a wood engineering student in a past project when doing my furniture project. Though this may be generalizing a group of people (which of course not everyone is the same), what I found is that the engineers look at things more of a structural point of view (stronger is more beautiful). Some couldn't get passed the notion that there's more than one way to make it stronger without compromising aesthetics (IE: you can hide the beam). One the other end there's things designers need to consider as well (IE: even if it's structural and not needed to be thicker, it may need to be thicker only for the sense of making it look more structural).

An ID professional talked with our class one day and mentioned that at a past project he found it great when he was working with an engineer who could also talk the design language. He sometimes (not often) gets plastic engineers who looks forward to working with his complex molds to figure out how to get it done since they get bored doing the same mundane things, instead of saying "it can't be done". We look at things from different points of view, often our fields interweave into the other side.

I say it can be similar, or at least parallel, but not the same. Making it "look pretty" isn't the only thing designers do, that's only a small part of the process.

#8 vander

vander

    Top Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 281 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Toronto
  • Status:Professional

Posted 24 December 2009 - 01:51 AM

I think if you were to get an engineering degree getting a job at a design firm or finding a job with a lot of creative freedom could be tough. Your best bet would to first get a Industrial Design degree and then if you still want to specialize further then get an engineering degree afterwords.

The reality is that there are both engineers and industrial designers working in creative positions so it really comes down to what you think you will enjoy more starting off. Like i said though, you would likely find it easier to end up with a creative position if you were to go the industrial design route first though.

Really look into the jobs prospects in your area though. In a lot of places there are an abundance of designers and few design positions. Here in Canada there are virtually no industrial design jobs available and I know a lot of people who have had to take jobs in completely different fields because there are no positions available. Unfortunately I don't know what the market for engineers is like right now though.

P.S. I was going to take mechanical engineering and decided to take industrial design instead and I have had no regrets in doing so

#9 Guest_ChrisDuncan_*

Guest_ChrisDuncan_*
  • Guests

Posted 24 December 2009 - 07:36 AM

How different do you guys consider an Engineering degree versus an Industrial Design degree?


Does anyone have comments or insight? I would be interested in hearing what some of you guys have to say about the differences and similarities.


I recently made that choice, just for an online associates degree. Chose mechanical engineering, but that's just me, more interested in the product than the process.

I asked the same question on a couple of forums. Basically the gist of what I got was Mechanical is broader ranging and deals with the design of things. Industrial is more of a niche and deals with the process of manufacture of things.

On the particular associates degree I'm doing from Penn Foster, the curriculum is really similar between mech and industry up to the 3rd semester then it diverges a bit.

But I'm not totally sure we're talking about the same thing here. What I was looking at was industrial engineering, not industrial design.

Do a monster and craigslist search in your area or someplace you might like to move to check the job market. I did that and learned Solidworks is usually the most popular solids modeler. That might clue you to what has better prospects. Believe I've seen more stuff for "mech engineer" verses "industrial engineer" but it's mostly for "Sr." prospects.

Just one more heads up, online is really nice for school. All I wanted was an associates and it's totally online, it's fits around my schedule, not visa-versa. Penn Foster is the only mech eng/ indus/eng online associates deg. If you're doing 4 years you of course have to check if they will accept the P F credits wherever you go.

Here's the two that I chose from

http://www.pennfoste...ramOutline.html

http://www.pennfoste...ramOutline.html

#10 Guest_MrPumpernickel_*

Guest_MrPumpernickel_*
  • Guests

Posted 28 December 2009 - 07:48 AM

Sorry I don't agree. This kind of argument just fuels the fires. Are you seriously trying to tell me that an industrial design graduate is superior to an engineering graduate who has also done industrial design (Industrial design engineering)? Are engineers really "a dime a dozen"? In the same way that you derive knowledge from your experience, I derive it from mine.


No. Whenever did I say that an industrial design graduate is superior to an engineering graduate? The skill sets are different. Though, I've talked to several students who've studied for an engineering degree in industrial design who are now actually studying industrial design (on an art-foundation) and what they say speak their clear language. People who are artistic do not get stimulated while studying engineering and people who are complete analytical math-heads do not get their artistic side stimulated either. I pointed out the differences in my previous post, engineers and industrial designers have different skill sets, I'm not going to repeat myself further than that.

Then one could of course bring up why engineers are accepted on grades whereas industrial designers are accepted based on work samples/practical trials/portfolio. You have to admit that artistic ability and the ability to think on your feet is a greater pointer towards being a good designer than good grades are.

Engineers are a dime a dozen, there are by far more engineers who graduate each year than industrial designers. You don't have to like or dislike it, numbers are numbers. Again, not saying that engineers are either better or worse than anything else (actually, people like you who get upset over people pointing out differences is what fuels the fires).

Ideally though the two professions should cooperate, which is why when the actual designing is done the design is run by engineers. Engineers aren't really, again in my experience, a part of the design process until it nears the end and things like producibility, cost, materials and so forth has to be taken into account. The soft values, user values, are in the hands of the industrial designer. That's of course not to say that there are talented engineers who can do that as well, or talented industrial designers who can do the engineering side either, but they are more exceptions than a template for their respective group.

On the job side, statistics mean nothing without context. How many graduates are you talking about? What jobs - working in design or not? And in the current climate there is a big difference between projected and actual....like running a business and your cashflow!!


Apologies, I should have clarified. The statistics come from the university itself, from their studies, and applies to how many people get a job in their chosen field, you know, for what they were educated. It doesn't count working in McDonalds or taking a job as an accountant. Industrial designers have a sky high employability, engineers not so much. Again, this is not upto opinion, this is statistics (in Sweden, but as far as I've heard from our very international group of students the same situation exists out in Europe and the world as well).

In closing, I can only reiterate what Dugan said, "one is a technical degree and the other is an art degree", of course there are differences, and Mansy said it very well as well.

#11 Guest_Bowl of Soup_*

Guest_Bowl of Soup_*
  • Guests

Posted 28 December 2009 - 04:28 PM

Hmm, I thought that the further you went back, and for example in older European universities, ID was an engineering discipline. I though that it only recently (relatively), and in North America, branched towards fine arts.

Does anyone know of a good history published on this anywhere, ideally online? I am interested to see the evolution of this discipline over the last century.

My two cents on the original question:

There is no doubt in my mind that you will get a more technical, conservative training as an engineer. This conservatism will border on restricting your creativity and will focus on studying previous art (technologies). This is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact it is a very sound way of approaching design.

You will definitively get, in most universities, a more creative process orientated training in ID. This will focus on your artistic skills in tandem with some technical training, but will touch on other concepts (as architecture does) such as form, appeal, marketability, trends, etc. This is also a good thing.

I think you can learn the delta afterward either way, you may not have the same take on design though, and you may find that your previous (trade/college) background may frustrate and limit you within an ID program, because of the way you naturally ground your design in the realities of manufacturability and cost compromises.

Hope it helps, your region and the caliber of schools you have access to are the real keys to your decision, I suspect.



BoS

#12 Guest_Dugan_*

Guest_Dugan_*
  • Guests

Posted 28 December 2009 - 04:54 PM

Engineers are a dime a dozen


The issue is your use of this pejorative phrase which implies they are of little value.

The reason that so many more people go after engineering degrees is that there is much higher demand.

#13 Guest_PEDROBRAS_*

Guest_PEDROBRAS_*
  • Guests

Posted 29 January 2010 - 11:59 AM

I WISH I COULD DO BOTH, I'M ALREADY GARDUATED IN PRODUCT DESIGN, NOW I'LL START AN BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION GRADUATION AND AND MAYBE NEXT, I WOULD LIKE TO DO A MECHANICAL ENGINEERING GRADUATION.

HERE IN BRAZIL WE (DESIGNERS) ARE FACING A TOUGH PROBLEM, WE AREN'T RECOGNIZED IN THE MARKET...MOST COMPANY OWNERS DON'T HAVE A DESIGN SECTOR, AND KEEP COPYING EURO/AMERICAN PRODUCTS. AND NOT TO SAY THAT WE HAVE CHINA PUTTING TONS OF PRODUCTS IN OUR MARKET.

IF I COULD CHOSE AGAIN, I WOULD CHOOSE AN ENGINEERING DEGREE RATHER THAN THE DESIGN DEGREE,

A DESIGNER PAYCHECK IS ALWAYS WAY LOWER THAN THE ENGINEER'S (HERE IN BRAZIL).

HERE PEOPLE THINK A DESIGNER AS SOMEONE THAT DECORATES ROOMS OR DO GRAPHIC DESIGN AND WHEN I SAY I'M A DESIGNER PEOPLE SAY "WHAT?" or "OH!, SO YOU MUST DRAW VERY WELL RIGHT???" or even worse PEOPLE THINK YOU ARE GAY HAHAHAHA, JUST COZ YOU ARE A DESIGNER...

SO, WHAT I THINK:

EMOTIONAL DECISION: DESIGN DEGREE (I LOVE MY PROFESSION AGAINS ALL THO ODDS)

REASONABLE DECISION: ENGINEERING DEGREE (BETTER PAYCHACK, BETTER LIFE FOR YOU AND FAMILY)

IF POSSIBLE I WOULD DO BOTH, I THINK YOU'LL BE A PRETTY COMPLETE PROFESSIONAL WITH BOTH DEGREES...

GOOD LUCK!

#14 retrospec

retrospec

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 3 posts
  • Status:Professional

Posted 15 August 2012 - 05:18 PM

I have to disagree with the statement that Engineers are a dime a dozen, and I find it hard to believe Engineers will have a harder time to land a job within 6 months of graduation, even with the internship programs some Industrial design schools offer, there simply isn't as much a demand for Industrial designers vs Mechanical Engineers. My graduating class in ME is close to 100% in the field after graduation. I have respect for the field of industrial design but when industrial designers try explain that their job is as difficult or important as a mechanical engineer, that's when I get a little defensive.

It is the Engineers who program and design the parts and software that makes the smart phones work, make the planes fly and bridges stay up. Just because Engineers are technical professionals doesn't mean they cannot or should not focus on form for ergonomics, user experience and making things look attractive, Engineers do that everyday. There are more Engineers because no matter what there is a much much larger demand for Mechanical Engineers because they make products work. But Industrial design is super important too as is shown in the case of Apple. But Steves Jobs himself have said, Design is about how things work not how they look.

And this is my personal view, a professionally educated Mechanical Engineer with a good design sense is more valuable than an Industrial designer with a good mechanical sense because there is just much more involved in making a product work. I have run into mechanical Engineers who have no taste in design and simply enjoy crunching numbers which boggles my mind as an Engineer myself. I believe good taste in design is innate and not something that can be taught, while technical skills and laws of physics must be taught and studied,. Also, art is subjective and science is not. I recommend getting a degree in Mechanical Engineering degree and work on your own sense of design. Most product firms need Engineers who have good design sense, not Industrial designers telling Engineers what a product should look like.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

Sponsors: