I often get reminded, here at Drive, that design is all about opinion, so here’s mine on the dark and scary world of job applications. So you can take some of it on board, all of it on board or none at all and prove me wrong.
It’s the age old and favourite past time of anyone seeking a career in the automotive industry, the application phase. From designers to alias modellers, we are all aware that our industry doesn’t tend to favour the conventional CV and cover letter with a careful placement of buzz words/phrases like ‘I can manage a team of people and take on individual responsibilities’. Although these are areas we all have to consider, at the end of the day, the dreaded ‘P’ word is what we are all thinking right now….your Portfolio. So let’s start with my do’s and don’ts of the most important aspect of an application.
First of all, know who you are applying to, if all you have is speed boats and lawn mowers in your portfolio then I would say it is quite rare that an automotive studio will consider you. Research the studio / brand and try your best to think of what they might look for in a candidate.
“You are only as good as your worst piece of work”. This cannot be said enough, and I wish someone had told me this at university too! As a designer especially, your portfolio will mainly be put under the eyes of other designers, we love looking at them, we want to be excited, we want to see that sketch or render that inspires us and then we will want you! So let‘s throw away lifeless package drawings of translucent, colour filled boxes that say “batteries” or “motors”, and the 97.5 percentile Dutch males that you’ve squashed into your vehicle, we can save all this for when we actually have to face reality, when designing a real car for manufacture (and you may not even have to worry about this).
Keep your projects to a minimum, we see 56 page portfolios with about 10 projects in. These are too big to keep/capture our attention for the period of time it would take to digest that amount of information / wade through it. We are designers ourselves and therefore have to design things and unfortunately you can’t spend all day every day looking at portfolios! Now this is the hard bit, discarding older projects as your skills have improved …. nearly impossible to do sometimes as you probably hold emotions for each project as if they were your own child. They aren’t your children and they don’t have emotions, cut them out and be brutal. Do it, cut it down, get through it. Even if you are left with 3 projects, this will the make us think that you can do everything of this level.
From my own experience as a Coventry graduate, cut out the following 1. Clay head project 2. Any ergonomics based project with lights that reflect your mood 3. An alias model or render which is then repeated in different colours to show colour choices up to 5-6 times (padding out your portfolio?).
Variations of design work. The tricky creative taboo topic, difficult to answer without causing a whole world of design debates and potential Ted talks animosity establishing what design is and how we should approach it. Try to mix it up, don’t just have 3 projects of space ships and fantastic speed painting art work, show that side of you by all means it’s great to see, however try and include some good old fashioned automotive design, displaying an understanding of surfacing, brand interpretation and proportion over 4 conventional wheels.
Your portfolio should be an extension of yourself, it should be presented in a way that you want it to be. Your style should be natural rather than something that is forced. Always be honest with the way that you work, whether you are all about hand sketching or a Photoshop wizard, show how you work as we all have different ways we do things.
A great way to stay sharp, get your name out there and they really keep you on your toes. Local motors, the Michelin design challenge and interiormotives to name but a few, the briefs are usually fun, and if it is not fun then you need to twist their brief to do so! No one wants to design something boring in their spare time. These usually have no engineering requirement, package constraints or a need to convince university tutors to what you are doing, go forth and have fun!
Keep it simple, if you don’t have that much experience it’s ok, we have all been in your shoes at some point and we don’t expect to see years of experience from a student. Whatever you do, please don’t write that you have been ‘freelancing’, it’s a term we all know, love and laugh about, and it means you are probably skint after uni, living at home with your parents with a remedial part time job doing your portfolio and design competitions of an evening whilst your parents tell you that you should start thinking about getting into a different career.
My last thought on this topic, which I could probably continue to preach about for another hour whilst I annoy my collegues by seemingly moaning endlessly is this …. the self-rating skill charts!
Now I’m not sure what the universities have been preaching to the students of late, but here’s my number one pointless thing to put in your portfolio if you are applying to be a designer or alias modeller. Grading yourself out of 10, maybe out of 5 stars even, stating how good you are at alias, photoshop, design or sketching. It won’t be right, it will probably annoy someone in the studio that you have sent it to. The idea of your portfolio or data you send is that we will be working this out, and to what level we see you as and if we feel you are right for said particular studio position. Whatever you do, please don’t include ‘football’ as a skill set, to which you then score yourself higher on this than any other design skills. Makes me think you should be a professional footballer instead! Hobbies are acceptable to list, but it is usually quite boring to do so, we would like to see your character in your work.
I hope this helps you in all your applications
Have an opinion
Get a photo of you applying a tape to a clay model
Drink green tea or a lot of coffee
Be protective over your pen
Talk about sketches with emotions and feelings
Moan about all cars on the road
Try as best possible to never mention Steve Jobs in an automotive studio
Never be truly happy with your work
Keep portfolios to no bigger than 5mb (if possible)
Drive look forward to seeing the results!
Aeronautical engineer-turned-artist Brendan Walker the creator of VR Playground, involved Drive in the building of the environments that he then programmed into a virtual reality experience. You put on a virtual reality headset and start to swing, the motion detection matches your inputs and you are transported through the virtual world.
Walker, is one of the worlds created in his VR Playground which you can currently experience at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.
The diversity of the public enjoying the experience shows the empowerment of Virtual Reality technology.
“The worlds I have created are going to challenge your body and mind,” commented thrill engineer Brendan Walker.
Brendan has taken the forces of the swing and re-engineered or reverse-engineered them create four new virtual worlds where you believe that your body is doing four very different things other than swinging. As a spectator you will think people are just on an ordinary swing but the experiences for people include bouncing like a shuttlecock across buildings, feeling like you are inside a giant wheel rolling through the street and propelling yourself like a jellyfish undulating upwards in the water.
This has been a fascinating project to be involved with. Drive are building on this experience, and hoping to take some of the learning and applying it to the automotive and transportation industries
Brendan Walker – http://www.aerial.fm
Ripley Soapbox Challenge is being held today on the 5th August 2017 in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.
Meeting at Ripley Court Meadows, the event has seen local businesses and residents propel their machines around the purpose built track.
With a large crowd enjoying the racing, entertainment and refreshments it is a great credit to everyone involved with the organising of the event.
Get along to enjoy taking part in one of the local scouts’ 5 ready to race chassis, it really is a fun packed event, with a raffle, auction and bouncy castle.
For more information please go to the official Facebook Page
1pm Saturday 5th August 2017 – Ripley Court Meadows
Coventry University held a ‘Future of Transport Design Debate’ at their Simulation Centre on the Coventry University Technology Park. This annual debate was taking a light-hearted but serious look at issues which will influence transport design in the future.
The debate was chaired by Steve Cropley, Editor in Chief of Autocar at Haymarket Media Group, with an expert panel of Andrew Everett, Chief Strategy Officer at the Transport Systems Catapult, David Hilton, Senior Design Director at NextEV, Dr Cyriel Diels, Human Factors Researcher at Coventry University and Dr George Gillespie OBE, CEO of Horiba MIRA.
This year the event concentrated on electric and autonomous vehicles, with the need for greater integration requiring the topics to touch on areas such as rail and freight. A huge subject to try and cover, but the discussion was moved along expertly by Steve Copley, through the death of ‘Car Culture’ as we know it, the car’s current status likened to that of the horse in the early 1900s and how do Local Authorities influence the debate?.
The audience came from engineering and design consultancies, OEM’s, research institutions and govermental departments and although everyone could see both opportunities and challenges through the speed of development of current technology, the over whelming feeling for the future was one of excitement in finding and designing solutions.
The event also gave attendees the chance to view ‘virtually’ The National Transport Design Centre (NTDC) whose construction has already started on Coventry University’s Technology Park. The centre is being funded through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and the government’s multimillion pound Local Growth Deal, with an initial £7 million contribution.
State-of-the-art features of the NTDC, which forms a key facility for the University’s existing Centre for Mobility and Transport, include:
• a 6m interactive power wall which allows users to explore detailed design and engineering concepts in virtual reality;
• advanced clay milling facilities for creating physical models of vehicles;
• a projection mapping system which can cast digital images onto 3D objects below, helping designers to assess how multiple options would appear on full-scale models.
The centre is set to address many of the Automotive Council report’s recommendations, with key areas of focus including undergraduate and postgraduate education in transport design, research projects in collaboration with industry, and support for the UK’s high-value manufacturing sector and its supply chain to improve design capability.
Drive developed an App for car manufacturer MG Motor UK to showcase its latest SUV, the MG GS using augmented virtual reality (AVR) technology. Drive used its experience in this field to create an AVR experience using Virtual headsets, to allow MG to give potential customers the first in-depth look at the new car before its official ‘real life’ launch.
Matthew Cheyne, Head of Sales and Marketing for MG, said: “We are really excited about using augmented reality to bring the GS to life. The kit we’re using is great and really allows you to explore the GS. You can open doors, fold down seats, open the boot and walk around it. When you’ve got the headset on, it recognises where you’re moving and updates the image in front of you.”
MG Motor UK also took the virtual experience to Brands Hatch Paddock during the British Touring Car Championship race weekend.
Augmented reality is a way of superimposing virtual (computer generated) content like the MG GS into everyday surroundings.
This is achieved with any electronic device that has a screen and a camera. The camera takes a photo or video and displays that on the screen while superimposing computer imagery. The cg car can be adjusted to your personal colour choice, allowing you to see how the new car you want to buy looks on your driveway.
Virtual reality is a way of submerging you into a virtual environment, using a headset. The headset has two screens, one for each eye which allows you to then see with depth or in cinema terms; 3D. The head set monitors which way you are looking and updates the scene in front of you. This allows you to move around in the environment and see it from all angles. For instance, you might find yourself walking around the virtual surface of the moon, a virtual showroom with virtual cars or a virtual version of the house you have just purchased which is still being built.
Using a combination of the two technologies as MG did, it’s possible to put virtual objects in your real environment, allowing you to walk around and interact with them. At present, to do this it’s common to use an object that the application instantly recognises. This is called a marker and it positions the virtual object where you want it (and vary the size).
For more information on creating such an Augmented Virtual Reality experience please get in touch.
Images courtesy of MGmotor FB