design programs

Hi everyone,

I’ve been researching programs for the past couple weeks, and although I’ve covered a lot, I thought I’d put a tentacle out here to see if anyone has done a similar search.

I’m one year into college and I’ve started in the direction of mechanical engineering. I recently decided, however, that I’d like to transfer into a design program where I can study design processes, theory, and related areas, either instead of or in addition to engineering courses. So far, I’ve been looking for programs in industrial design and product design as well as engineering programs that have a heavy design component. The problem is, most “design” programs are part of art schools or art departments. It’s not that I’m opposed to taking art courses (in fact, I’d love to take art courses), but I have neither the portfolio I’d need to get into an art school, nor the interest or ability to survive in an art program.

One program I know I’m applying to is the Design, Innovation, and Society program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. It’s the ideal program (and my first choice), but I’m looking for some other backups. I’m aiming for the northeast U.S., if possible.

I’m wondering if anyone else has tried to approach a design field, such as product design, from a FIRST-ish background but without much artistic experience. Can you recommend any programs that really integrate the artistic and engineering aspects of design? Do any schools come to mind?

Thank you!

RIT is another school with a great industrial design program that compliments their engineering focus. In 2008 US News ranked it the #8 ID program in the country.

Plus they are located in a FIRST-rich area and host their own regional, what else could you ask for :smiley:

The University of Michigan has a joint degree program in Mechanical Engineering and Design, although that might not be exactly what you’re looking for. If you are looking for something more toward mechanical design (i.e. mechanism design), the program at the University of Michigan was one of the mostly highly regarded programs around when I was a student there. The program was constantly being audited by guest departments from other universities.

The only big issue is that the University of Michigan is very expensive - especially for a public school. However, you get what you pay for, and U-M Mechanical Engineering department is currently ranked #2/#5 for undergrad/grad studies by US News and World Report.

As for extra activities, many of the students mentor local FIRST teams, and then there are tons of other design/engineering activities to get involved with such as Solar Car, Formula SAE, Human Powered Submarine, etc. The Solar Car Team has won 5 of the last 10 North American Solar Challenge races.

Thanks for the suggestions!

I actually did look into the ID program at RIT–it looks like a great program, but they require a drawing/art portfolio for entrance.

And I’ll definitely look into Michigan.