Concerned Dad - school/career choices

Since childhood, our son has a passion for cars. He is also a very talented artist/designer. He is mostlyl self-taught. His art education is limited - however he excels in a new AP art program. He is a B+ student with SAT’s in the 1180 at a very competitive school.

He wants to become an automotive designer. We are not discouraging him. But as concerned parents we want to make certain that he can get a decent job. Therefore we are strongly recommending that he attends a school that offers a well balanced program that also embodies a total campus experience. We favor Universities that have strong engineering programs with the thought that he wil learn to work in collaboration with others - engineers, business, marketing, etc.

Art schools scare us because we don’t feel that they offer some of the things mentioned above.

BTW - our concerns are not unfounded - My dad is a very successful POP/package designer and he is the one that is strongly recommending that an IDer should have good technical and people skills

We live in the NYC area and he is considering the following:
Rochester Institute of Tech
Virginia Tech
University of Philadelphia
University of Cincinnati (although we did not like the neighborhood or the 10 hr drive)

My question is are we making the right recommendation or should he just follow his dreams and go to CCS, CIA, or Pratt?

do not let your offspring study ID…

it pays terrible wages, you produce landfill 95% of the time, (if it actually gets produced)

interior designers get paid more and architects get more respek

send him to med or law school so he can make good money and afford a nice house , and surround himself with the nice things that ID kids can only afford when they finally get out of ID and get into Project Managment or Retail Buyers positions

you’re concern is great, it is also great that you are taking an active part in your son’s education, it would be even better if he was on here doing the legwork himself.

Honesty, your son most likely will not get a job in cars from Virginia Tech or Philly, he might not even get a top teir ID job from those schools.

UC is the best school on your list by FAR. Automotive companies recruit regularly from there as well as CCS and CIA. I attended CIA for a semster on exchange, I learned more there in a semester than during three years at my school. It’s a great place and it really focuses on creating great desgners versus making a fancy campus. Frankly, to an employer, just out of school, your son’s ability to communicate with engineers and marketers (won’t happen at school anyway) will mean nothing without a stron design skill set.

My folks where nervous as well. I went to an art school and studied trans. The car thing just never fully lined up for but I’ve got a great job at Nike designing footwear in the Jordan group. I travel the world often with trips to Europe, Asia, and all over the Americas every year, make some good coin, and have a great time, in short, if your boy has drive, he will go far.

Best of luck, and thanks for being a supportive parent that takes the time to get involved, we need more of you out there. Don’t be afraid to let him follow his heart now.

I strongly recommend going to a state university. My parents had the exact same concern and wanted to make sure that I had a good educational base to fall back on. In addition, your son may find a new career path instead…I switched three times (business, education then ID), art schools do not allow for this exploration.

Out’ve the schools you mentioned I strongly suggest Univ. of Cinncinati (the neighborhood nearby doesn’t bother the students).

Also look into Carnegie Mellon some other reputable state university programs in the region also include Ohio State and Syracuse. Financially these schools will save you (or your son) a bundle. Which may not seem important to him now, but he will appreciate it after graduation.

With seven years professional experience I have not run across anything from Viginia Tech, or Univ. of Philly. Wouldn’t recommend those schools.

Problem is, your son wants to become a car designer, that means it’s best that he goes to the CCS ( located in a museum district surrounded by ghetto), or Art Center ( means he will be in great debt upon graduation).

I don’t think any other school will be recommended for transportation design.

Well, it takes a lot of money to go to just about any art school anyways…

I’m in CCS product, so just let me fill in how your son’s life will be like.
Freshman year will be foundation classes plus 1 intro to trans class and 1 intro to product class. Your son will be piled with loads of work. He will stay up late, especially during the weekends and working through the night is not uncommon. You don’t have to worry him about partying too much, cus he won’t have any time to do so. The only time he gets to breath, is when he does his mandatory grocery shopping, probably at 3am in a 24 hr K-mart… no, we perfer Meijers. Feed him well while you can cus cooking can be a waste of time in school.

In no time, he will realize that a year flies by in a flash. He will feel like a different person, but he will like it if that’s his interest. If not, he will definitely leave. To stay here, you have to know that this is what you want to do. The advantage being here is you will be with a group of focused people with strong will and common goal. You see the best and you compete with it.

BTW a car designer generally gets paid more than a product designer for a start. However there are only so many hires each year. Your son needs to be the best to say he’s safe.

A lot of people have strong interest for cars for a while, then after they get into the real program, drawing 60 pages of cars in 2 days can really wear people out. Some students graduated and get a job in one of the big 3, but get worn out after a few years. So it’s a special industry where it’s almost like you got to be born to be a car designer.

molested_cow is correct regarding CCS and Art Center as being the top schools for transporation design.

Here’a a nother suggestion. Your son could start off at one of the universities you mentioned then after his sophmore year transfer to one of the other schools. It might end up taking an extra semester.

I studied sculpture at a university as an undergrad. I decided during my sophmore year to transfer to an art school. One of my instructors was very much against it. Felt I should stay at a university then go to an art school for grad school… I did transfer in spite of his advice. Ironically I went to grad school at a university for ID.

what about abroad? royal college of art, coventry university, and UMEA constantly put out car designers that end up working at renault, volvo, ford europe, etc. The shows featured on are impressive. if you want to stay within the US, I woould have to agree with the previous posts: Art Center, CCS or Cinci.

That is a great suggestion for someone who is not sure about their path or doesn’t know much about ID, but this kid has known what he wanted to do for awhile. I was in the same boat, I learned about ID when I was 13 and I couldn’t think about anything else, the uni stuff is just going to bore him. Art School allows you to explore within design fields and learn in a focused manner about design and art. Oddly, all of those art and architectural history corses are paying off now as I find myself reffering to compositions in paintings, or form work from futurist sculptors, and architectural detailing from arts and crafts era houses. UC is the exception to the rule, great uni program.

I heard Royal is really good. Good friend of mine went there, got transpo offers from all the big names when he graduated. I think they have a lot of inside industry connections also.

Lots of opinions get thrown around about what school is best for what. I wish I knew of a great way of measuring that kind of thing.

It does seems though, that this Dad wants to know what the chances are that his son will get a car job…

I won’t go into what how other schools are doing with post-grad placement of cars designers, as I have no idea…

I do know that 6 UC grads got car jobs, or offers for car jobs in the last 2 years. And they generally graduate less than 8 kids a year that are looking for employment in that industry…I’m pretty certain they all went to majoy car producers: GM, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, and Mistubishi.

But’s let get back on topic…

sycophant \SIK-uh-fuhnt, noun:
A person who seeks favor by flattering people of wealth or influence; a parasite; a toady.

Bit of a low blow from big boy, eh YO?

Rush, I agree with those who feel the University route is a positive direction.
I had the same concerns before I entered school. V-Tech, Syracuse and Carnegie Mellon are actually private. However, all have great design programs as well as other highly-ranked fields. Syracuse and CM have somewhat “healthy” pricetags. However, a degree from either of those schools speaks volumes outside the industrial design world.

CM has a renowned rep for engineering in general and Syracuse has top tier Management and and Communications programs among others. Though design-wise, it leans towards forward-thinking, ID problem solving and design management. Less towards automotive. The ability to have a Managment minor is huge in any field. Also, your son might have a change of heart and want follow or combine another path. It’s nice to have options. VTech is actually a good deal and a beautiful campus. I’ve also heard good things about ASU from peers who have reviewed portfolios as potential employees.

Wrong. Virginia Tech is a public university. And not a school for auto design.

Out of the original list of school options, University of Cincinatti is the only automotive choice. Additionally, the design school also has a great co-op program that will basically guarantee your son will have gainful employment the day he graduates. Otherwise, if cars are his true passion, Art Center or CCS (possibly Clevland Inst. Art) are the only other stateside options.

Sorry about that… It’s public.
Still a $19,853 out-of-state tuition w/room & board. $9,919 in-state.

as a graduate of Virginia Tech ID, I wouldn’t recommend it… and I would actively avoid it for Automotive Design.

The program is still too young and understaffed to provide what the ID world requires… especially in the artistic aspects of the discipline.

I’m a 2000 grad (at the top of the class, I might add) and haven’t even come close to any job in the ID field. I design Door Systems for trains…

original post was interesting. what is a safe career anymore? engineering? i know alot of unemployed engineers. i wouldn’t want to be back in that field today. most now considering overseas work. new graduates get more competition from India and elsewhere. good engineering career in the U.S. afaic means post grad work. cutting edge stuff. research. grants. getting a PhD. 4 or 5 years is just not enough anymore.

think carefully about what you believe is best and what is really best. channeling him towards engineering if he isn’t interested means average grades. no good post grad opportunity. no cutting edge job. and largely no relevance to automobile styling. he’ll wind up taking a job as low-level engineer, getting shipped to Asia half the year, and always wondering when the layoff will come.

if he’s serious, let him pursue his dream. directly. have faith in him. better that he fail having had your support, then failing on his own later. just my opinion.

[edit - realized might be more relevant if i mention i have an aerospace degree too]

Dear Dad…AKA Rush,

I aplaud you in your active roll, and not discuraging your son. Granted design is a field driven by passion for the process. And nothing other than design will or could ever satisfy us. If it is all he thinks about, all he dreams about, all he knows or cares to know, then he has the bug and no other job will ever sufice.

Very few will ever become filthy rich, but we do make a good honest living, and by no means live pay check to pay check. The enviroment seams difficult to find work, but only for those who are un-skilled, under-skilled, or un-motivated. If your son works hard, takes his education seriously, and is allowed to branch out on his own to learn the socilizing skills nessisary for effective networking he will do fine.

I would definatly only consider and in this order.
CCS Ceneter for Creative Studies
UC University of Cincinaty
CIA Cincinati Institute of Art

I would focus on CCS, only choose the others if CCS does not accept into program. These students are very sought after as their creative skills are highly developed, and the curiculum is intense. Focus on the quality of the students work, placement of recent grads (last 2 years max), and make sure the school requires at least two co-ops or internships prior to graduation.

I don’t agree with the liberal arts college route. It will weaken his chances at getting a good job in design because by definition his skills and portfolio will be weaker.

With those grades and SAT score, I’d say he’s done. He’s got what he needs to be able to function in this world. What he doesn’t have is everything that a specialty school will teach him over the next 4+ years; An understanding of art and design history, materials and manufacturing processes, modelmaking, 3D, sketching, rendering, critiquing skills and the “language of design.”

It’s unfortunate, but high school doesn’t even start to teach you those things, and it’s more than enough to keep you busy at it full time for the next four years. Meanwhile a liberal-arts college will keep him busy with the exact same stuff he’s spent 18 years studying.

Transportation design is incredibly competitive and jobs are few.
I’m guessing that exposure to many different design disciplines through college may introduce him to a field that he doesn’t even know about yet, or doesn’t even exist yet. In my expert opinion, there will be more design jobs in the entertainment-design industry (designing virtual cars, spaceships etc.) for movies and videogames than in the real world. …But you need the skills.

The four years I spent in design school were the most influential of my life, and yes, I’ve been very successful in the 10 years since. Coming from a liberal-arts background my dad didn’t really get it either, but he was hugely supportive of my decision and I’m thankful for that. I totally agree with YKH’s post above about letting him follow his dream.

Have you started touring schools yet?

I too am a graduate of VT ID. I’m currently a designer at at a product development firm, and I’ve been working in product design since I graduated. VT may not be a top tier ID school as of yet-- but like any program-- YOU GET WHAT YOU PUT INTO IT. Your comments might have been true in the 90s, but the program has been growing rapidly. Did you know the program is NASAD certified now? Did you know Ron Kemnitzer is now a professor in the program? Things are changing.

That said-- it’s not an automotive school. It’s a design school with great facilities within a large research university. The Pros/Cons are there, the choice is yours.

Make sure your son has other product minors since most car designers end up in other fields like toys (see Hot Wheels) or transportation interiors like aircraft or boats. Art Center is great, but the car guys usually end up doing FX for films, like Minority Report cool too but still kind of a cyber landfill. For cheap schools try Long Beach State which has a complete ID program plus it’s near Chip Fosse and Jesse James shops.

I TOTALLY agree with all comments about focusing on only the best training in ID. I was in exactly the same situation when I graduated high-school: dad was corporate, was happy so long anything with the ‘engineering’ tag was on the title.

I got lucky and got away with doing ID, but only if i went to a more ‘rounded’ school, none of that art college crap. What happenned? well i ended up going to a top engineering school, for ID. Regret it very much. If i had been better informed I would have gone to CCS, Art Center or Cinci.

GRANTED a lot of the experience depends on what you put into it (which I did and fortunately paid off as i graduated one of the better-off people in my class skills-wise, and am learning even more in a sweet internship i landed) but I still feel slightly cheated and frustrated because i knew ID was for me since i was a kid. had i gone to a top ID school I could have more opportunities and beter skills.
So now i have been forced to work extra hard after graduation to catch up to top graduates from those art schools and be able to compete for the jobs i want.

If your kid already has talent, and knows what he wants, i say let him go for it. dont limit his possibilities by making him go to a school whose primary focus is not what he wants to do.

my 2 cents.