Photo by Bonnie Moreland

Transitioning From Mechanical Engineering to UX Design

Making a move from the field of mechanical engineering to user experience design is not for many an obvious transition. While both fields might fit under the STEM umbrella, mechanical engineering has a history dating back before Issac Newton and is rooted in math, physics, and materials science. While it could be argued that the user experience has existed since man first created tools, the field as we know it today really came about with the invention of the personal computer less than 40 years ago. It focuses on psychology, understanding human behavior and design.

I chose to pursue my bachelors in mechanical engineering at the University of Washington because I love the science the study is based upon. For me it seemed like a no brainer. I knew I had the ability in math and the work ethic to learn the material and be a successful student, and I knew it was a practical choice of career. Being a student was for me incredibly rewarding, and it wasn’t until I got closer to graduating and was on the hunt for employment that I realized the actual field of engineering was maybe not right for me. I realized as I began to explore my career options that it inspired no passion for me.

Mechanical engineers do very important and meaningful work, including advancements in medical devices and green technology that reduces harm to the environment. But the realization I came to slowly over time was that I wanted to work in a field that focused more on creativity, people and using an understanding of human behavior to improve lives.

With this realization I began to explore the career possibilities and when I learned more about the field of user experience design it felt like something clicked inside my mind. After some time of careful consideration I decided to sign up for a 12 week user experience design immersive bootcamp with General Assembly, and I can say with confidence now more than halfway through the course that it was one of the best decisions of my life.

The pacing of the course is intense and sometimes it can make me feel like I am on a rollercoaster. But what I have learned has been invaluable, not only for my future career but also for my personal growth. And it has allowed me to deeply tap into my empathy and understanding of people, and use it to create experiences that will simplify their lives and delight them.

With this change in direction I am so excited and optimistic for the future. To finish this course, to secure a job in this field and to use that position to help people with work I am passionate about.

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Megan Hewitt

I am a User Experience researcher and designer, currently looking for my next job opportunity.