Promising careers in automotive & mobility design
Suppose you are a petrol head, a gas monkey, or any vehicle lover, and looking to work in the automotive industry, surrounded by prototypes, new technologies, and nice-looking cars, bikes, and vehicles. In that case, we might have some hints for you.
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Of course, your parents would tell you that engineering is THE safest way to enter the automotive or transportation field.
They were right, maybe a few years ago or one decade ago.
To create a vehicle, you require a wide variety of different skillsets and knowledge.
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A large team must create a car/vehicle that would match the RTO norms, the safety norms, and the expected performance and comfort level of today’s market.
Many of the EV startups associated with Strate School of Design Bangalore started with small teams to create their first proto and get the first round of funding. They quickly expanded their teams to tackle all the constraints of legally and successfully a car/ scooter/bike on the road.
Of course, these teams are all made of :
– Engineers would be specialized in either engine, transmissions, EV systems; electronics, structures, aerodynamics, sounds and vibrations management, manufacturing and production, safety systems, digital structural modeling, engines, suspensions, crash simulation. Each of them would handle a tiny bit of the car to ensure that this perimeter works well. Apart from project managers, most of these engineering resources, even if they are doing essential work, would not have a global influence on the globality of vehicles but only on their specific perimeter.
– Marketing team: to identify the needs of the targeted customers and be sure that the under-process vehicle is matching them.
– Finance dept. : creating a car is a heavy costing activity that needs to be kept in control.
– Prototyping team: a vehicle never goes out without having at least 2 or 3 rounds of prototypes. The industry is always looking for skilled prototype makers, as they are very active and critical in the step-by-step improvement of the vehicle during the development phases. Therefore, Strate is launching a course on Prototype building physically in the workshop and digitally on the 3D software tools.
All of the above teams are very specialized careers that can lead you to work in the automotive and transportation industry. For this, you would need to go into a specialized institution teaching you the mathematics, physics, and regulations to execute your work.
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But I believe one more team is the most fascinating and influential team creating a vehicle: the design team.
The design team.
According to my experience, I noticed that more than 70% of a vehicle project is decided in the first design phase by the design team.
So, let’s look at what is a transportation design team and what they are doing.
The design team is composed of many different departments
The Automotive Design team:
A vehicle project is generally divided into two phases for design advanced and industrial design.
So, there are generally two different design teams working both, one after the other, on the exact specific vehicle.
– the advanced design team: these designers are the ones that are at the very beginning of the project and set the tone of everything. They have full responsibility for envisioning the complete vehicle in every detail and are responsible for the prototype and concept cars. This team is generally divided into 2: the exterior and the interior designers. Most of the time, only a few technical constraints are taken care of in this first creative round. The designers part of this team is known to be some of the more creative. Their visuals representation skills are also at a very high level. I would say that this is the “ most wanted ” team for transportation designers.
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– The industrial / development team: they are taking over the validated concepts of interior and exterior from the advanced section. Their job is to transform this concept car into a vehicle that can be manufactured, assembled, used, and road legal and reliable. This design team works very closely with an army of engineers to solve every tiny little detail about every small part of the car. They are also divided into exterior and interior designers.
– The interaction Design team, also called the HMI team, is in charge of the car’s interface. It means all the screens, interactions, feedbacks, actions, updates, signals, and visuals that you will use while experiencing the vehicle. This type of team has been expanding quickly for few years. It used to be made by only a few designers ten years ago, but now they are as numerous as the exterior and interior designers.
Vehicles, cars, bikes, trucks, buses, all of them are today implementing more and more electronics and connectivity onboard. The TVS N-torq or the MG hector are even making it their central marketing claim – internet inside. Having good connectivity and interface for a vehicle has become a critical point that most customers are now placing at the same level as exterior or interior styling in the purchasing decision process. Moreover, with the development of the autonomous vehicle, having a complete well thought easy to use. An appealing interface that will interact with users and generate a good experience will be the real challenge of most vehicle companies as customers’ focus is, as mentioned above, really shifting towards the inner experience inside the vehicle.
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– Color& Trims design team: In transportation design, color and finish are exceptionally important as they are what the final user will see first. The colors, the textures and grains, the patterns, the quality of the fabrics. All these may not be points that users generally notice first, but their brains are responsive to the ambiance they create all together in or on the vehicle. Colors&Trims, most of the time called Cmf ( colors, materials, and finish), is the final addition that helps to enhance or completely ruin a design. Companies are paying immense attention to this as it is a genuine concern for the success or failure of a vehicle. That’s why all manufacturers are not taking chances, and many different internally validated CMF trials are prototyped and proposed to panels of testers before the final approval.
CMF designers are generally very aware of trends in general. It could be in fashion, product, digital, architecture, or interior decoration. And not only are they aware of this, but they need to understand them and their articulation and evolutions over the years to predict which ones will be trending shortly and the ones that will be outdated. This is the key to success for CMF to work on vehicles as companies are taking several years ( generally 4 to 5 years) to develop a new product. It means that CMF designers choose today the colors, materials, and finishes that will hopefully be trending 4 to 5 years after to make the product successful … or not.
Transportation or mobility Design is a real new booming career that will grow in the coming years. Although industrial design occupations are predicted to grow slower by 3% through 2028, transportation design jobs may rise faster. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), transportation designers familiar with computer-aided design applications and software will have an easier time finding a good job than those who are not.