Art Center’s Transportation Design Department is opening its eyes to new possibilities. Since its inception in 1948, the department has devoted the majority of its energy and resources to training students in exterior car design. Those students have gone on to design many of the cars we see on the roads today, and they’ll continue to do so—just last term, graduating students were hired by Honda and Mercedes. But transportation is moving away from its single focus on the automobile, and the department is making some major changes to its curriculum in order to prepare its students for a broader range of possibilities.
For one thing, instead of looking primarily at the outside of the car, the department is now taking a longer look at the inside. “We want to promote interior design as an exciting and viable option,” says Sanders. In fact, the department is so interested in exposing students to interior design that it plans to hire a full-time faculty member specializing in interior design within the next year.
In keeping with its name, the Transportation Design Department (once called Automotive Design) is also looking beyond cars to motorcycles, boats and airplanes. Says Sanders, “we want students to get an education that’s not so car specific.” A class on motorcycle design was offered for the second time in fall term, and classes in boat and aircraft design are being planned for spring of 2009.
The scope is broadening even beyond individual vehicle design. All students are now required to take a class on mobility, in which they look at all ways that people and goods move from one place to another.
And then there’s fuel-efficiency, which is on everyone’s mind. Several new classes have been added to the curriculum to reflect and accommodate the focus on new fuel technologies and systems. Vehicle Technology and Vehicle Architecture are both new classes in which students look at engines and get an introduction to how new, fuel-efficient cars are packaged. Meanwhile, Automotive Engineering has been brought back into the curriculum after a long hiatus, with a new focus on fuel-efficiency.
Overall, Sanders says, “We want our students to be prepared for a much broader array of possibilities.” The department’s new curriculum is sure to produce great designers of boats, aircraft, motorcycles and, of course, cars.