International Journal of Engineering Education
Engineers and industrial designers have different approaches to problem solving. Both place heavy emphasis on identification of customer needs, manufacturing methods, and prototyping. Industrial designers focus on aesthetics, ergonomics, ease of use, manufacturing methods, and the user’s experience. They tend to be more visual and more concerned with the interaction between users and products. Engineers focus on functionality, performance requirements, analytical modeling, and design verification and validation. They tend to be more analytical and more concerned with the design of internal components and product performance. Engineers and industrial designers often work together on project teams in industry. Collaboration between the two groups on senior capstone design projects can teach each to respect and value the unique contributions each brings to the project team, result in improved design solutions, and help prepare students for future collaboration in industry. Student feedback and lessons learned by faculty and students from a ten-year collaboration between engineering and industrial design students from Marquette University and the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, respectively, are presented. Students learned to communicate with people in other disciplines, appreciate the complementary skills of each discipline, and value different approaches to problem solving.