Automotive designers are responsible for imagining the classic cars of the future.
Many people have a keen appreciation for beautiful cars, but only some have the talent and skills needed to work as a professional automotive designer. Automotive designers combine artistic skills with an understanding of how automobiles work to produce concept designs that inspire engineers and customers, as well as finished designs that make an automaker’s vehicles stand out.
Because automotive designers need to understand what’s under a vehicle’s sheet metal to know design a suitable exterior, a bachelor’s degree in engineering is one option for entry into the field. Engineering students take courses to understand electricity, mechanics, optics and other subjects that are essential to the complex systems in a modern automobile and the ways they interrelate. Engineering graduates can enter automotive design directly or work in automotive engineering first, bringing an even greater knowledge of automobile mechanics with them to the design side in the future.
A bachelor’s degree in industrial design combines artistic and engineering principles, making it one of the most suitable degrees for a future auto designer. Industrial designers create practical items that are also attractive, including furniture, consumer electronics, appliances, tools and, of course, automobiles. Industrial designers learn the process that automotive designers go through, extending from basic concept sketches to finished design portfolios that show a client or supervisor a detailed design solution for a particular product.
Graphic design students study formal art concepts including the meaning of color and pattern, the manipulation of shapes and the use of forms in generating a desired response from a viewer. In the field of automotive design graphic design graduates bring an artistic sensibility that allows them to produce designs that incorporate historic vehicles or echo the design elements of other vehicles in an automaker’s current or past lineup. Graphic designers also have special skills that allow them to design insignias and text for vehicle badging, as well as paint schemes.
As is the case in many design and manufacturing industries, automotive design is changing to incorporate the latest computer technology. Designers routinely use both traditional media such as paper, ink and markers, as well as computer programs to create three-dimensional vehicle images and models or enhance their scanned artwork. Computer science students have the experience necessary to manipulate advanced imaging programs or create new features for other designers to use. As more and more automotive design work transitions to the computer, the importance of an education in computer science will only grow.