BFA ID + BA Engn = Yes?
November 26, 2010 6:19 PM   Subscribe

Working on a BFA in Industrial Design and considering getting an Engineering degree as well. Is a Bachelor of Arts in Engineering worthwhile?

I transferred from Brown into RISD's Industrial Design with a heavy math and science background. Now it appears that having some engineering coursework under my belt would be immensely useful. Not to let that go to waste, I could acquire a BA in Engineering from Brown with slightly more than a semester of work. Logistics of entering the dual-degree program post-matriculation aside (the FAQ says no, but I imagine I have a fighting chance), how worthwhile is that degree?
posted by vaguelyweird to Education (6 answers total)
Completely depends on your interests. The question is: do you want the kind of career that would need an engineering degree?

For example, if your dream job would have you working on the design AND the mechanics underneath the design than yes: getting both degrees might help. However, if your dream job is mostly in design, don't worry about it.

From my point of view it's a toss up: in this economy, being better qualified (ie having more degrees is related areas) is certainly a bonus. However on the other hand, if you're devoting so much time towards your second degree that you can't develop a real fighting design portfolio then you're in a dangerous position. Design is ruthless. There are too many people out there that want those jobs.

Let your interests dictate the answer. If you wanna do engineering then go for it. However, if you switched for a particular reason, consider sticking with that reason (even if an extra semester would secure the second degree: if the jeans don't fit, it doesn't matter if they're on sale).
posted by Murray M at 7:05 PM on November 26, 2010

I did work at both Brown & RISD as well, though ended up with just a Brown degree. Though it's been a while, I suspect it will be *much* easier for you to do the work at Brown pre-matriculation rather than post-matriculation, even if that means delaying your RISD degree by a semester or two. Having the Brown degree will give you significantly more flexibility in your career choices, both from the perspective of the Engineering curriculum and the strength of Brown's reputation. Feel free to me-mail me if I might offer additional perspective/advice.
posted by judith at 8:12 PM on November 26, 2010

Probably, yes. My dad's an industrial designer, and he does a lot of engineering work and has said numerous times that if he had to change careers, he'd go into engineering. He also says that knowing something about engineering is really useful in his career because he understands where the engineers are coming from and can speak to them on the same level, rather than just trying to throw a bunch of "design-speak" at them.
posted by infinitywaltz at 8:32 PM on November 26, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks! My concern is mainly the value of a BA as opposed to a BS: it would essentially be a minor; does that carry much weight?
Judith, fortunately or unfortunately this will be post-matriculation for BOTH schools. Murray, I think the jeans fit and are on sale, but I'll probably encounter a lot of red tape to get them, and they may have faulty stitching.
posted by vaguelyweird at 7:31 AM on November 27, 2010

To be honest, I've never even heard of a BA in Engineering. It's entirely possible that potential future employers will be the same way, and overlook this fact.

If it really isn't going to be much extra work, I'd have a tough time coming up with a good reason not to do it.
posted by schmod at 10:19 AM on November 27, 2010

My degree is an A.B (Artium Baccalaureus, or Bachelor of Arts) with a double major in Mathematics and Computer Science. From Berkeley. It just happened that it was an AB because of the way that the university was organized at the time. No one has ever questioned that it wasn't a BS (although at times it has been confused with an AA, which you get from two-year schools).

Just tell people that you have a Bachelor's in Engineering, and you'll be fine. No one cares about arts vs science.
posted by Daddio at 11:46 AM on November 27, 2010

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