A Guide To Industrial Design For Mechanical Engineers. Is The Transition Worth It? by@davayv

A Guide To Industrial Design For Mechanical Engineers. Is The Transition Worth It?

The best universities to study industrial design are RMIT University, University of Portsmouth, Arizona State University, and University of New South Wales, and others. Erudera: 53 programs in this area are taught around the world, and 43 educational institutions offer courses. Ergo, with an increased demand for experts, educational institutions opened industrial design programs. Dyson combines functionality from different manufacturers with the same functionality from Dyson devices. Mechanical engineering and industrial design have more in common than you think.
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Davit Ayvazyan

Mechanical design engineer. Interested in coding. Love python.


An exploded view of a Denon D7200 model. Image courtesy of Denon.

Industrial design’s popularity has skyrocketed lately. What is so attractive about it? Let's figure it out and try to understand what its captivation is and what its relevance consists of.

Industrial design is all around us. Therefore is of great importance to society. First, industrial design is the construction of many devices we interact daily. In a word, we feel top to bottom surrounded by gadgets and items. It is a cohort of various designers, including industrial ones, that have worked to make our lives more comfortable, aesthetic, and convenient. Industrial designers are the links to the synergy between artists and engineers.

Industrial design has experienced a boom caused by the rapid development of the service, trade, and business sectors. Ergo, with an increased demand for experts, educational institutions opened industrial design programs. We’ll oversee some of them below.

A Couple Of Places To Study Industrial Design With Per Year Costs Breakdown

Nowadays, according to Erudera, a lot of schools are open where the slightest nuances of industrial design can be learned: 53 programs in this area are taught around the world, and 43 educational institutions offer courses. Some countries can even be considered real progenitors of industrial design: these are the countries where the most popular and highly regarded industrial design programs have been taught for many years.

These region-mastodons traditionally are the UK, Canada, USA, New Zealand, and Australia. Speaking about the universities specifically, the best universities to study industrial design are RMIT University, University of Portsmouth, Arizona State University, University of New South Wales, and others.

What About The Education Costs?

RMIT University, Australia, offers a four-year bachelor's degree program. If you decide to enter this university, then you will have to pay 26,265 USD annually for your studies.

For this price, you will get the opportunity to comprehend the invaluable experience accumulated by the institution after almost 70 years of teaching this discipline.

Education at Massey University, New Zealand, costs a little less: for 20,605 USD, the university promises not only to provide theoretical and practical knowledge but also to introduce other areas of design with the help of additional courses.

Four years of study in Portsmouth, UK are estimated at 20,344 USD annually. The teaching staff of this respected university will make every effort to ensure that upon graduation you become a specialist in engineering, graphic, and other types of design and marketing. They guarantee that you will be good at translating your high-tech ideas into a real environment.

Please keep in mind the prices mentioned above are only valid by the time this article was published. For double-checking this information, please visit the Erudera portal.

What Is The Difference Between Educational Programs of Mechanical And Industrial Engineers?

I see mechanical engineering as a base for industrial engineering. Every mechanical engineer, like myself, has studied physics, material resistance, and mechanics itself. We used laboratories for experiments and solved many tricky tasks just to find out what’s the best form and material for a particular object from the mechanic’s POV.

Industrial engineers study all of the above plus the history of design, and the designer's way of thinking. They shift their focus from the mechanical optimization of an object to its usability, aesthetics, and beauty. They don’t focus much on stuff like the kinematic analysis. That’s what mechanical engineers are for.

Mechanical Engineering And Industrial Design Have More In Common Than You Think

Mechanical engineering and industrial design often seem like opposite universes: the tasks and principles of each industry are too peculiar. Logically mechanical design and engineering are based on exact sciences, originate in mathematics, and personify the physical expression of the subject - its utilitarian and progress purposes.

The aim of industrial design is completely diverse: it is a sort of bridge connecting the device and end users. The priority importance for industrial design is the interests of society, the needs of business, and the level of culture. Besides, industrial design, unlike mechanical engineering, symbolizes a creative approach. Thus, mechanical engineering and industrial often seem challenging to reconcile.

However, with proper leadership and proper division of responsibilities, these areas can perfectly coexist and complement each other, working for the company's benefit.

Dyson — A Company That Thrives On A Combo Of Mechanical And Industrial Design

Most of us use hair dryers and hand dryers in public restrooms. Some of us even have air purifiers in our homes. Dyson manufactures it all, and the price of their devices is skyrocketing compared to the devices of the same functionality from different manufacturers.

It happens because Dyson combines puts functionality in an unbeatable form and uses high-quality materials. People love the way it looks (cheers to Dyson’s industrial designers for that!) so much they are ready to pay triple the fair price for the device. And the high-quality mechanical execution only makes it better.

The combination of experience and knowledge in these industries provides a holistic view of product development, its design and promotion, and the details making it unbeatable in the field. People love beautiful high-end things, and so they are ready to buy them.

An awareness of mechanical engineering becomes a vital condition for the prosperous performance of an industrial designer's professional activity, and vice versa - a mechanical engineer must know industrial design as well. As a rule, the management’s job is to strengthen involvement in such joint work.

Is The Transition From Mechanical Engineering To Industrial Design Worth Your Consideration?

Indeed, it is!

Firstly, career consultants predict that the industrial design field will grow inevitably over the next ten years. According to HR assessment, this increase will be at least 5%, indicating a trend toward this industry's development and demand.

Secondly, the qualification of a mechanical engineer is optimal to become a first-rate, superb industrial designer. This is because the industrial design is based on technical aspects: design, the study of production methods, and exact sciences. The role and functions of the industrial designer are expanding beyond creativity skills. Besides, all designers must be able to analyze the outcome of the implementation of their solutions, which also requires thorough calculations.

Finally, more organizations are integrating industrial design into their development strategy.

Average salary (country)

Mechanical designer ($ per year)

Industrial designer ($ per year)

























Only in the US are mechanical engineers paid lower than industrial designers. This information comes from annual earnings data lists.

In Australia, industrial designers gain $74,101 a year – it is the maximum rate. In European countries, the work of industrial designers is much more paid than the work of mechanical engineers - on average. It is higher by 15-20 thousand dollars a year.

In Japan, industrial designers are paid almost twice as much as mechanical engineers. It sounds impressive to think about retraining, doesn’t it?

Henry Ford’s Story To Inspire A Future Industrial Designer

The transition to industrial designers is better considered for those for whom intangible aspects are of particular importance.

The proof of this is the story of Henry Ford, who is best known for popularizing the automobile as a means of transportation for all segments of the population.

Henry Ford improved the quality of life for the category of citizens who could not afford a good car with one design decision. This decision led to other positive changes in people's lives. In connection with the mass production of cars in cities, new roads began to be laid, and existing ones were repaired. The construction of automobile factories and the opening of car dealerships gave cities new jobs. The mobility of citizens gave impetus to the development of infrastructure in remote areas.

Transition To Industrial Design As A Cure From Burnout For Mechanical Engineers

New job - new emotions. Some engineers feel stagnation and the meaninglessness of their efforts after being in a field for a while.

Diving into the profession of an industrial designer can be an appropriate solution if you like learning and the process of getting new knowledge if you are fond of improving this world and caring about people’s comfort. Industrial design is more about the soul and the good. And if there is job satisfaction, a lower salary might suit you in an ideal way.

The Bottom Line

It should be noted that discussions of "first soul and altruism, then money" are relevant only in the US, where industrial designers are paid slightly less than mechanical engineers. In all other countries, industrial design represents an ideal balance of high technology, usefulness, demand for labor, and decent pay. So the transition from mechanical engineering to the industrial design field can become one of the best decisions of your whole life!

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