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I WANT TO BE­COME A CAR DE­SIGNER

Q I’m do­ing my A lev­els and my dream is to be­come a car de­signer. Should I do an engi­neer­ing course at univer­sity or will trans­port de­sign/in­dus­trial de­sign ben­e­fit me fur­ther? What should I in­clude in my port­fo­lio?

AYou can pur­sue ei­ther in­dus­trial de­sign, me­chan­i­cal engi­neer­ing, au­to­mo­bile engi­neer­ing or trans­port de­sign. You can study trans­porta­tion (au­to­mo­tive) de­sign or in­dus­trial de­sign in col­lege, but bear in mind that whilst hun­dreds of in­sti­tutes of­fer in­dus­trial de­sign, there are not more than 20 that of­fer trans­porta­tion de­sign. This makes it an ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive pro­gramme with ex­act­ing en­try re­quire­ments.

It may be best to com­pare the four-year core pro­gramme re­quire­ments of each course and then take a call on what suits you best. It is ben­e­fi­cial to se­lect one that of­fers a place­ment year dur­ing your un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree. In­dus­trial de­sign pro­grammes re­quire can­di­dates to sub­mit a port­fo­lio with their ap­pli­ca­tion but this is not so with other engi­neer­ing cour­ses.

In each of th­ese pro­grammes you have to make the right choice with the elec­tives such as 3D de­sign and mod­el­ling, de­sign the­ory and ve­hi­cle sys­tems to en­sure you de­velop skills re­quired to be an au­to­mo­bile de­signer. In choos­ing the place to study, en­sure the col­lege has strong links with de­sign and car com­pa­nies where de­sign­ers can be in­volved as in­terns, work with pro­fes­sion­als and gain real-life ex­pe­ri­ence. Some col­leges may have strong engi­neer­ing bias oth­ers may have state-of-the-art stu­dios. Try to visit the schools be­fore mak­ing a fi­nal se­lec­tion.

A car de­signer is re­quired to blend de­sign and styling skills with engi­neer­ing er­gonomics and mar­ket­ing. Stu­dents study form and func­tion and need to cre­ate con­cepts that of­fer style with en­hanced func­tions.

Creative and artis­tic tal­ent is es­sen­tial for ad­mis­sion to trans­port de­sign. So is flu­ency with num­bers and flair for engi­neer­ing. While you should be com­fort­able and fa­mil­iar with com­puter-aided soft­ware it is your nat­u­ral tal­ent to make 2D draw­ings that will be crit­i­cal to your ad­mis­sion. If you’re not com­fort­able with maths or engi­neer­ing then car de­sign­ing may not be the right ca­reer choice.

De­sign­ers need to work within the frame­work of the reg­u­la­tions but still cre­ate a prod­uct which is safe, aes­thetic, com­fort­able and functional.

Hav­ing said that, it is a mis­con­cep­tion that you need to be an en­gi­neer to be able to de­sign cars. The skills sets re­quired for each job are quite dif­fer­ent – de­sign­ers need to be creative while en­gi­neers tend to be ra­tio­nal and an­a­lyt­i­cal. Bear in mind that in most car com­pa­nies the ra­tio of en­gi­neers to de­sign­ers is 20:1 so there are higher chances of be­ing hired as an en­gi­neer. Com­pa­nies look for peo­ple with creative skills and me­chan­i­cal knowl­edge as they will be well-rounded de­sign­ers.

Good com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills along with the abil­ity to ex­press your thoughts in writ­ing is a pre­req­ui­site as re­search re­ports or dis­ser­ta­tions of­ten form a key el­e­ment of fi­nal year stud­ies. With the best de­sign schools and car com­pa­nies be­ing lo­cated world­wide, learn­ing a for­eign lan­guage will be a ma­jor as­set.

In cre­at­ing your port­fo­lio as a de­signer, you need to de­mon­strate your creativ­ity and in­no­va­tion within a theme laid down by the big car man­u­fac­tur­ers. Ford for ex­am­ple, uses a theme called Ki­netic De­sign. The de­sign cen­tres on the idea of a mo­tion­less ob­ject ap­pear­ing as though it is mov­ing. This theme in­flu­ences the de­sign of ev­ery Ford car, from sportier mod­els like the Fo­cus ST to fam­ily fo­cused mod­els like the 4x4.

In the US, some stu­dents also opt to do the two-year as­so­ci­ate de­gree at a com­mu­nity col­lege with em­pha­sis on in­dus­trial de­sign. This will help them ac­quire the ba­sic train­ing re­quired to en­ter the field of de­sign ei­ther as de­sign as­sis­tants or model mak­ers. On com­ple­tion they can ei­ther ap­ply to univer­sity or en­ter the job mar­ket.

The Univer­sity of Michi­gan, Coven­try Univer­sity, Pforzheim School of De­sign, IED, Col­lege for Creative Stud­ies (Detroit), SPD, Umeå school of De­sign, and Royal Col­lege of Art (UK) are some of the lead­ing schools that of­fer trans­port or au­to­mo­tive de­sign cour­ses. SAN­JEEV VERMA

is an in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion coun­sel­lor

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