Fundamental Mechanical Engineering Factors

Why do I need more than an industrial designer?

Mechanical engineering and industrial design are very similar, but they differ in function. Industrial designers develop aesthetically pleasing designs that can be useful. Mechanical engineers take those designs and make them mechanically sound.


VPI's Mechanical engineers take several factors into consideration when designing a product including:

Thermal analysis of a mechanical system designed by VPI.
The device above is a mini-dvd designed to survive a Mars environment for 500 years.
  • Environment - The conditions the design will be subjected to because of its surroundings (Heat, cold, dust, water, sand, radiation).
  • Application/Use - This factor takes into account how the design will be used. For example, a hammer would need to be designed differently than a feather duster.
  • Thermal Effects - Thermal effects can include temperatures created by the design's environment, but also can be produced by the design itself. Some products require thermal analysis to ensure that the heat is managed appropriately.
  • Human Factors - When engineers consider human factors they must account for intended and unintended effects that the product may have on the end user. Great products are easy to use, ergonomic, intuitive, and safe.
  • EMI/EMC - Mechanical engineers create designs that account for electromagnetic interference (EMI) and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). Designs that do not account for this can produce harmful electromagnetic noise or experience problems caused by noise from other electronic devices. Electronic designs must comply with Federal Communications Commision (FCC), conformité européenne CE, Industry Canada, and/or other regulations that dictate the amount of noise they can produce and how resistant they must be to other electromagnetic noise. This is called electromagnetic conformity (EMC).  Mechanical engineers design measures that help designs conform to regulations. VPI also has certification and testing capabilities for EMI and EMC. To learn more visit

Engineering Capabilities > Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering