Certificate and associate's degree programs in design engineering provide foundational education in computer-aided design software, engineering methods, and drafting techniques. At the bachelor's level, curriculum focuses on product design technology, manufacturing and project management. Applicants may need to have completed specific prerequisite coursework or earned a related associate's degree.
Certificate in Engineering Design
Students in certificate programs study engineering, CAD software, and graphics. Current software programs and computer equipment are typically used for true-to-life experience in the field. The certificate programs consist of five to six classes in introductory concepts and methods used in the industry. Some schools require a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) in all classes, and graduates are awarded a certificate of completion. The classes in these programs focus on CAD, engineering, design, and drafting skills. Courses may include:
- Design fundamentals
- Introduction to engineering design
- Computerized engineering graphics
- CAD principles
Associate's Degree in Engineering Design
An associate's degree takes approximately two years of coursework to complete. In addition to certificate coursework, learners delve into subjects like advanced design and engineering principles. Mathematics, English, science, and communication skills are emphasized. Graduates are typically awarded an Associate of Applied Science in Engineering Design or Associate of Science in Engineering Design. Social sciences, advanced math, English, science, and design courses are included in the curriculum. Advanced courses in application of CAD and other software are also typical. Courses may include:
- Literature and composition
- Geometric dimensioning
- Machining, building and 3-D design
- Technical drafting and AutoCAD
- Architectural design technology
Bachelor's Degree in Product Design Engineering Technology
Product design engineering technology bachelor's degree programs emphasize math, science, and CAD skills like the engineering design programs, along with manufacturing products that are effective and ergonomic. Students learn how to use their personal creative and artistic skills in drawing, analyzing, creating, and developing products. Graduates are usually awarded a Bachelor of Science in Product Design Engineering Technology. Classes in manufacturing, project management, drawing, and product design are heavily emphasized. Common courses may include:
- Manufacturing and CAD
- Processes of manufacturing design
- Design philosophy
- Engineering sketching and drawing
- Statistics in engineering
A certificate in engineering design provides graduates the theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience to gain entry-level employment in the industry. Career examples include:
- Design graphics technician
- CAD specialist
- Architect assistant
An associate's degree provides advanced career opportunities in manufacturing firms, architecture, and engineering industries. Additional job titles available include:
- CAD systems specialist or manager
- 3-D Web designer
- Architectural designer
- Design drafter
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated, in May of 2018, the median annual wage for commercial and industrial designers was $66,590, with the highest levels of employment in specialized design services industry (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported employment in industrial design was expected to grow by about 3% from 2018-2028.
Graduate degree programs are available for design engineering students, and they are most readily offered in a Master of Science in Engineering (MSE). Specialties like design and innovation or integrated product design are available at the master's level. Graduate degree programs focus more on research and strategies used in the industry using real-life projects or hands-on experience.
Aspiring computer-aided design (CAD) engineers, drafters and architects often choose to pursue an education in engineering design. Programs are available at the certificate, associate's degree and bachelor's degree levels.