• Sayali

From Engineering to Design.

Updated: Aug 28, 2018

Whats, Whys and Hows of this transition.


Engineering and designing are usually perceived as two different worlds. I studied mechanical engineering from College of Engineering Pune, India. While relating engineering and design, people usually make the connection between CS or IT and User Interface design, since these engineers are the implementors of UI design in mobile applications or websites. But mechanical engineering is a real long shot.

Growing up I wanted to be a lot of things. Dancer, Astronaut, Fashion designer, Animator and then ultimately I ended up studying Mechanical Engineering.

Was engineering what I really wanted?


Growing up I wanted to be a lot of things. Dancer, Astronaut, Fashion designer, Animator and then ultimately I ended up studying Mechanical Engineering. After the 3 years of engineering Diploma in my home town Amravati, it was during this period I realised my passion for Automobiles. So naturally, I decided to complete my engineering studies with a Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering.


During my Bachelor's I joined two clubs and was a dedicated member for both of them. One of these clubs was arts and crafts, this club was made of amateur artists (painters, sketchers, craftsmen etc). Twice in one academic year, we used to exhibit our work on our campus and every once in a year we used to select the best painting and organized a professional exhibition at Bal Gandharva Tilak exhibition hall in Pune.


The other club was Team Nemesis Racing. TNR is a team of 25 students, which participates in BAJA SAE events all over the world. The problem statement for this competition was to design and fabricate an ATV and take it to race at the final event (Pithampur, India; Pretoria, South Africa; Maryland, Kansas and Oregon, USA). I was part of this team for whole 3 years of my Bachelor's at COEP. We made the fastest ATV in India for those 3 years. Even now the ATV made by our junior batches stands unbeatable and is fastest vehicle on track for last 7 years. For pictures and overview of this project visit BAJA ATV project on my site.


During my Bachelor's we had a subject named Advanced Machine Design which introduced us to Product design and Product Design methodology. Reading more about it got me interested, I soon realised it was something which will help me integrate my engineering knowledge and the hobby of sketching and making things. I took various product design projects after that. I designed a futuristic public transportation system for I-design Awards with few designers, also worked on a project called HeWaWa. Working on these projects and reading about the ideal processes for projects like this, I discovered the whole new world of design thinking and service design. Being in today's world, no product is sold as just a product but comes with complete service system around it. Be it an App operating and measuring things for you or the lifecycle management system, there is always something more to it than just a physical piece in your hand. And this is how I started exploring my new adventure. Service Design.


Being in today's world, no product is sold as just a product but comes with complete service system around it.

How did I start with Service Design?


After my Bachelor's I worked at Kirloskar Pneumatics for two years as Business Development Manager. During my time at KPCL with my usual Business Development responsibilities, I worked on various projects related to brand identity and brand strategy for our division of Air Compressors. I was still working on my service design basics and how it is used in a manufacturing environment. I undertook a personal study project and analysed successful Indian services like Ola Cabs and Oyo Rooms.


I was always interested in knowing how design thinkers come up with actual user needs. How do they manage to do and extract something which even users didn't realise?

While doing so, I learned Adobe suite (Illustrator, Indesign, and Photoshop) and made my portfolio. You will never like the first one that you make. I read a lot about how it should be, things I should mention, way I should portray myself and my methodology and a lot more about graphics. I made another version of it and applied for a Master's degree in colleges where they teach service design and related courses. I had lost all my hopes of getting in the preferred University by March. And then one fine day I received confirmation from 4 universities, but the one I wanted the most (Aalto University) rejected my application which I took as a natural no from Politecnico as well. It was almost the start of May when I received my admit from Politecnico Di Milano PSSD and I was over the moon. That's how I ended up here. In the country rich with the history of art and design. Italy.

Politecnico di Milano, Leonardo Campus. This is where it officially started.

What's next?


These last 2 years have been enlightening for me. I have worked with very diverse teams on diverse projects and I now have my confidence to survive as a designer in the world out there. I am still learning though. And I always will.


I would love to work in the automobile industry as a service designer. I would love to start working for them, thus integrating my passion and the thing I love doing Automobiles and Service design. Its long run, but we can always hope. I have started taking baby steps toward my goal already.


I believe, one cannot learn to swim in a field for that you have to enter the waters yourself and give it a try. Until and unless you do so, you will never know what will happen and you will just keep on assuming. I want to start treading these new waters that I have started exploring.


Let's hope I find my island real soon.

Until then, I will keep designing, re-designing experiences, services, and lives.


What do you think, was this the right thing to do? Let me know in comments below.


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