Having a visceral understanding of mechanical engineering is key to effectively designing industrially manufactured products and systems. Without it, the products you create may bend and break. But many creative designers find it difficult to develop that foundational awareness due to the plodding math-centric method by which mechanical engineering is usually taught. Twenty year industrial design veteran Thomas Ask breaks free from that constrained approach by offering food to both sides of the brain in this holistic look at how to design wonderful things. Ask, a founder of the Society of Inventors and Mad Scientists, feeds the right brain first with a rich survey of the non-technical influences (cultural traditions, visual stereotypes, brand management, etc.) that propel or inhibit industrial design. Then it’s the left brain’s turn, with a deep chew into material mechanics, heat transfer, and fluid dynamics (the core disciplines of mechanical engineering), where Ask’s specially prepared found-in-nature examples helpfully flavor each topic.
Delve into aesthetics and grasp the difference between beauty and appeal
Learn to visualize physical forces using free body, stress strain, and stress-life diagrams
See the connection between an avalanche, the nature of force, and load transmission
Understand the relationship between shapes and their load-bearing abilities
See how impacts, fatigue, and stress cycles cause things to buckle or break
Use sailboats to understand three aspects of drag: friction, pressure, and wave making
Understand the heat transferring properties of conduction, convection, and radiation
Thomas Ask is professor of industrial design at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. He was a senior engineer at Ingersoll Rand, a principal of Ask and Associates, and a vice president of engineering at Odin Systems. He is a licensed Professional Engineer with a doctorate in industrial design.
Thomas Ask is a professor of industrial and human factors design at Pennsylvania College of Technology. Previously, he worked as an engineer for nearly 20 years, designing dozens of commercial products and systems. He is the founder and faculty advisor for the Society of Inventors and Mad Scientists as well as a licensed Professional Engineer with a doctorate in Industrial Design. He is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Society for Engineering Education.