Question & Answers: Car Design or Transportation Design


I really like your column in the Friday weekly magazine.
My son is in grade 6th and studying in India with one of best English medium school. He is fond of cars and he wants to become car designer in future and he wants to go for automobile engineering after his 12th . Pls advise me is
the automobile engineering is matching with car designing. Pls advise on my email and on gulf news weekly magazine or pls inform me the date of publication your answer. Waiting for reply.


I admit Grade 6 seems rather early to decide on a career, but maybe not too early to learn more about a subject you are passionate about.

The specific subject to be pursued for a career in car design is Transportation Design ( also known as product design). There are lots of schools which offer Industrial Design but not more than a few dozen offer Transportation or Automotive Design.

It is an extremely competitive career with one requiring a good sense of aesthetics and design along with technical knowledge. At school, you would need to be proficient at art and design and also have the ability to work with numbers. Consequently, Maths and Physics become necessary subjects. Other aspects to focus on would be communication, writing skills and computer-aided design courses. In the current global environment, international borders should not become an impediment to making a career choice and it would be extremely advantageous to pursue a foreign language.

Even while it is possible your son could pursue a degree in automotive engineering or industrial design followed by a graduate program in car design it is not necessary that a good engineer is also a good car designer. Creativity required by designers and rational, analytical approach favoured by engineers may not always have a positive correlation. As an Engineer, there are other departments and careers in the car industry that could be pursued. Moreover, engineers have more flexibility and options as the usual ratio of engineers to designers in car companies is 20:1. Eventually, it all boils down to individual preferences and aptitudes.

Competition for places in the top schools for Transportation Design is fierce. You would need to support your application with a strong and impressive portfolio. It would advisable to find out if the school has any linkages with car companies as this would ensure students get hands-on experience. Some schools may have strong engineering facilities others may have better design studios or workshop facilities. If possible you should visit the school to assess their strengths.

In the US, some students also opt to do the 2-year associate degree at a community college with an 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. The course will provide hands-on experience that will help either in applying to competitive universities or preparing students for the job market.

Some of the schools that are well-known for the course are Mcgill University in Canada, University of Michigan and Michigan State University in the US, University of Leeds, Coventry University and RCA in the UK. In India, NID (National Institute of Design), Ahmedabad and IIT Mumbai are very popular for their design courses. Other private colleges in India that specialise in transportation design are DYP school and DSK centre in Pune. Both have built a formidable reputation for themselves.

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