Automobile Designers and Automobile Engineers are very different job roles. It is like the difference between architects and civil engineers. An architect would design a building, an house, an office. He would take care of how people will use it, what are the needs of the inhabitants, etc. he would take care of the aesthetics of the built structure. In contrast a civil engineer is more concerned with building what the architect has designed. He is responsible for realizing what the architect has designed.
Design is an applied art whereby the aesthetics and usability of products is defined or improved. Design aspects specified by the designer include the overall shape of the object, the location of details with respect to one another, colors, textures, sounds, and aspects concerning the use of the product ergonomics. The approach is “outside-in”.
As opposed to designers, engineers take an ‘inside-out’ approach.
Design includes actively imagining and anticipating the future. It starts with identifying customer needs or a market opportunity or it could start with new scientific or technological knowledge and the opportunities such knowledge might be capable of creating.
It involves a complex system of decisions often made by different individuals with different mind-sets depending on their specialist knowledge and skills and the function within which they work. The process is neither smooth nor linear. It is dealing with the new, in a dynamic market and technological environment. It continually has to adapt and accommodate new information along its way.
It is also important to understand the role of Computer Aided Design (CAD) in the design process. Many feel that knowing CAD Software is as good as knowing design. CAD is a family of elegant software tools for creating geometrical forms. CAD is a tool. Knowing CAD Software is not equal to knowing “how to design”. Think of CAD as a tool, like a hammer. Everyone who picks up a hammer to pound a nail cannot be a carpenter, and after a while, if you carry a hammer around with you, all problems start to look like nails.