from ID to transportation design

Hello all,

I’m an ID student at Carleton University, Ottawa. I have been searching the whole forum but couldn’t come across with an answer I’m looking for.So I decided to post my question. Hope someone can help…

My passion is Transportation design and really want to find a job in related field after the graduation…I know how hard and competitive it is to find a job after school. And I also know that Car Design or Transportation Design is such a different subject than ID.

So here is my question:

I think that the elements for interior design of a car design is very different than the exterior design. Also ID’ers, we have unique understanding of form,function, ergonomics, userability, etc. If I concentrate on interior design rather than exterior design*(in my major project), would there be any chance to find a job in a car company.?

Thanks in advance!!


  1. What year are you? If you are graduating this year, it will be nearly impossible.

  2. If you are a first year student, start concentrating on what you will need to succeed in trans. design. That is, incredible sketching ability.

Also, try to select projects that will have some application to trans. design. I imagine that you won’t have a car design project, but maybe you could do a roof-top camper concept for an sport equipment project.

I wouldn’t hesitate to do a side project as well. You have four years and access to a well-equipped shop (a shop that will be under-utilized at the beginning of the year…hint hint). Get yourself some clay. Do a design over the summer and build a model at the beginning of next year in your shop.

  1. Realize that you have a serious up-hill battle. Every year, CCS and Art Centre graduate 40-60 people in trans design. These students are already in the NA centres of trans design. They are also meeting designers at the car companies. I think an average amount of entry level posts is 30 a year. So you are going to have to be better than half the students who spend four years studying this one particular field.

However…you are Canadian (I assume). Broaden your vision and there are less sexy opportunities. Bombardier recreational, Bombardier transport, bus companies like Prevost and suppliers like Magna. Try now to get in contact with these companies and find out what they are looking for. Don’t be afraid to call people either. People love talking about themselves and that’s what you will be asking for.

Best of luck!

Your best bet would be to get an internship at Valcourt designing Skidoos. Then get transferred to CCS/CIA/ACCAD or graduate from CU first. I think Denys Lapointe heads the trans design dept for Bombardier Recr Vehicles in Valcourt.


Over in Daihatsu, all junior staff start off as exterior, and those who express an interest in interior will get the extra training. No one really gets hired off the bat as an interior designer. The focus here is very much on packaging, hence form dictated by function, so a reasonable understanding of both are necessary.

it’s not easy to go from CUSID to trans, given the background education, IMHO (as being a fellow carleton grad). too much focus on the engineering and not enough on the skills for trans… buts, that being said, it’s not impossible. I remember a student that graduated a year before me (2000 i think) was very trans focused and did a major project with bombardier and then was hired with them. it’s not impossible, for sure, but will likely require lots of your won time working on the sketch and rendering skills that carleton doesn’t seem to focus on. i’d think companies such as bombardier would be your best “in”.

trans is no doubt very competitive as i’m sure you realize. for good or bad, a lot seems to come down to those key viz skills. keep at it, and best of luck.

you might also want to consider a master at some place like umea or some of the milan schools that do a lot of partnership with trans companies. +1 or 2 more years but may be worth it just in terms of connections alone (but it will cost you $).


Thanks to all for their valuable answers and posts.

I have done some research and found out that even if I do my major thesis in trans, it will be extremely difficult to get a job in a related field. I agree Rkuchinksky, our school is a bit technical and not par with sketch/rendering type of school. Especially competing with all other trans graduates who made their portfolio full of car design projects, that would be so hard for me to compete them.

So my best bet would be a masters in trans design. Ive looked couple schools and came across with UMEA. They are offering free of charge masters degree in trans design and one of the best design schools in the world. So Im assuming it is extremely hard to get in(since its for free and one of the best). (But I also try to be an optimist). Im in my second year of ID. So maybe if I work hard on my sketching skills, there can be a chance to get accepted. Also with good grades…

Ive realized that, even thinking about to get in a trans school is such a stressful and competitive process… I cant imagine how hard it would be to be after in a harsh-competitive school(as well as workforce). The road already starts with stress… But at the end , nothing can compare to the delightful pleasure of designing a car. I can not describe it with words…

I think it is worth it to try… Hope I can improve my sketches, visual ability and pursue a masters degree…

Thanks again for the answers…


BRP has a new design center now and it’s huge. Denis Lapointe is still the executive vice-president, design and innovation.

Intership is important. I was able to have two internship at BRP. Got hired after. I am no longer with them but still working in the field of transportation design (contracts).
You may want to consider changing schools…a school that supports your needs, if that is possible.

There are ways to work in the field of transportation (not just cars). Like Mr-914 mentioned, there’s bus design, train/metro design, interior plane design, truck design, agriculture vehicle design, moto bikes, bicycles, ATV etc.

Just have to knock on the right door with the right portefolio.