11 Y/O Son interested in car design - mrmender
Wonder if any BR's can help point my 11 Y/O in the right direction.
He's said for the last 4 years he wants to be a car designer. I'm sure he does not know exactly whats involved, but we try and encourage him except.... How. His good ponits are
1/ Very inteligent much brighter than i was at his age all his reports from school to date are faultless
2/ Has the potential to be a bigger petrol head than me!
3/ Can gave valid reasons (for a 11 Y/O) Why he thinks certain car shapes are good or bad

Bad points
1/ Very lazy possibly because he's so clever and finds work easy
2/ Not very artistic as a family we're not (not especialy good at drawing)
3/ does NOT like getting his hands dirty, which as a practical time served engineer annoys me! as a result has little intrest in the oily bits of cars/engines
He starts secondary school in September. If this is what he would like to do, we would like to get him on the right path now. I'm thinking along the lines of him studying ether car design straight away or Mechanical engineering then branching off to car design
Any advice or pointers in the right direction would be good
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - SlidingPillar
11 is too young to commit youself. Not for nothing do you not specialise at that age.

But unless I'm seriously mistaken, car design is partly art, and these days partly CAD (computer aided design). Plonking in the word "Automotive" into a UCAS search gives mostly Engineering courses - and more than one, with a foreign language. (German in particular).

There are not that many motor motor manufacturers in the UK, and few of them allow visits. Shame as that really would be the obvious thing. Morgan do by prior arrangment, and they do now (honestly!) have CAD facilities.

My advice would be to let him get started on secondary school, subscribe to something like "Car" magazine if you don't already and ask the school careers advisor for their suggestions.
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - Pugugly {P}
MrM you're from North Wales aren't you ?

Richard Parry Jones the Bangor born Sesign Exec of Ford (he was responsible for the Focus) is giving a lecture at Bangor University on the 26th....
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - mrmender
We actualy live in Bangor will pass the message on to mrs mm as i'm in Sudan. I presume you mean 26th tomorrow?
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - Pugugly {P}
Yeah, we were up in Llanberis last weekend and saw it referred to in the Bangor Mail. He's a famous (if little known) son of the City.
I think it was tomorrow evening. I would have gone myself if I was there.
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - Altea Ego
A very large percentage of Car designers are british, trained at a couple of british universities that do automotive design. One is in London and one in the midlands, cant remember who or which tho.

YOu son has one major problem. He has to be able to draw. CAD or no CAD, all car designs start off as hand drawn concepts on paper.
TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - Happy Blue!
If he still wants to do that at 18 he should take an industrial design course at the best university he can find (even if its overseas) and then do a post graduate course at the RCA in London where Ken Greenley lectures.
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - mike hannon
I should chop his fingers off now - then he'll be a dead cert for a design job at Nissan or Peugeot...
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - Aprilia
Well, I can give a bit of useful info here because I've been working in what might be termed 'car design' since the mid-1980's.

It all depends on what you mean by 'car design'. The people who do the aesthetic design ('styling') and ergonomics are a different bunch to those that design the oily bits and the electronics.

Lots of kids want to get into the aesthetic design aspect of the industry and, to be honest, there are probably about 1000 qualified applicants to every job. To go that route then its D&T and possibly Art at school and then an 'automotive design' course at somewhere like Coventry Uni., followed by postgrad study at the RCA. At the end of it the fully-formed 'felt-tip fairy' emerges and its a case of getting noticed and taken on by one of the companies or styling houses - most likely overseas somewhere. Many try this and fail (there are just so many people chasing this dream) and instead end up working for suppliers (e.g. trim & accessory suppliers) or doing something completely different like designing garden sheds or table lamps. I have heard statistics quoted that suggest only about 5% of design graduates get jobs in the design industry - the rest go on to other things. You have to be the best of the best and have innate aesthetic talent and flair - something that can't really be taught.

Another aspect of 'automotive design' is the engineering design - this is the area I've worked in. There is solid demand for mechanical and electrical engineers - particularly in mainland Europe. My honest opinion is that the best route forward is a traditional engineering degree (either mechanical or electronic - depending on his interests) followed, possibly, by postgraduate specialisation. Understanding the basics will stand him in good stead for a job in most engineering-based industries.

In terms of school work this means working hard at maths & physics and developing an understanding of CAD - most schoolkids can, I believe, get ProDesktop for free (its a stripped-down version of ProEngineer). Then look at taking Maths, Physics and Chemistry as A-level and apply to a university engineering degree course of your choice. Don't think it has to be a highly academic course at a 'top' university - car industry employers look for good applied skills and industrial relevance of the course - many auto engineers are recruited from the ex-Polytechnics (the 'new' universities). If your lad wants to go this route then get him working on cars/bikes now - learning how bits fit together and work - developing 3D visualisation skills. Pull an old motormower apart and put it together - that sort of thing.

With this kind of background he is virtually assured a job with either a vehicle manufacturer or supplier. Of course things might be different in 10 years time.....
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - NowWheels
With this kind of background he is virtually assured a job
with either a vehicle manufacturer or supplier. Of course things
might be different in 10 years time.....

Only geographically: the job will be in China.
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - cub leader
Coventry University do a very good automotive course or a motorsport engineering course if that is more his cup of tea in about 7 years. both are well respected courses with coventry graduates going into jobs in big companys such as jaguar and aston martin, also oppurtunity for placements friend of mine is currently at vauxhall.
Temporarily not a student, where did the time go???
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - mfarrow
The designs shown on Midlands Today looked very impressive from the course at Coventry University. Nothing like that here at Warwick :-(

Alternatively, if he is interested more in graphical design, I here Loughborough offer a very good Design Technology course if he gets interested through GCSE and A-level. Still too early to tell yet I guess though...

Mike Farrow
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - Lud
He may not be as idle as you think mm (you are his dad after all) but if he's clever and lazy it's quite important that he learn to work properly as early as possible. That makes everything much easier.

You can't do it by scolding him about laziness, and it's quite possible school won't be much help unless he's lucky. Much better to point out how easy it all is really for a chap of his ability. He needs from your description of his personality to go the engineering route outlined by Aprilia.

Just warn him that if he leaves everything too late and swans along taking the line of least resistance he may end up like me. Not a pretty prospect.
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - mrmender
Yes Lud my thought are somewhere along the lines of Apriia better to get a mech eng degree with some sort of automotive bias
Thanks for the advice too Lud.... You mean he may end up a burnt out journo!
A local retired Journo has become famous localy, he still writes a weekly column in the local daily, he also presents a local radio prog.
His news paper column is normaly some hilarious bit about his past battles with the "sauce" as he calls it, he's now dry
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - Gromit {P}
Perhaps a bit premature for a 11 year old, but Coventry (already mentioned) and Brunel enjoy a good reputation for their automotive design courses.

IIRC the emphasis in Coventry is on asthetiss, whereas Brunel's emphasis is technical - they offer BEng/MEng degrees in Mechanical Engineering with Automotive Design degree.

Another possibility, when the time comes, would be to study industrial design first and then specialise. Here in Ireland the Engineering Department of the University of Limeirck offers such a degree in conjunction with the National College of Art and Design.

It strikes me, though, (and apologies in advance for making a sweeping generalisation) that somebody drawn to the artistic side of car design is probably not too interested in mechanical engineering - and vice versa. Better encourage your son to find and follow his own path than spend years to come grinding through studies he has no enthusiasm for in the hope of getting a job he'll have no interest in at the end of it all.

But above all - good on him for taking an interest and on you for helping him develop it!
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - MichaelR
If he's 11, by this time next year he will probably have changed his mind.

Kids of 11 want to be everything from a car designer to an airline pilot, they'll change their mind soon enough and I'd imagine its a waste of time doing anything about his aspirations at this stage.

If he still wants to do it when he's picking his A levels, then its time for serious consideration. Until then, whats the point?
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - BB
As suggested earlier, there are teams that style the cars and there are teams that design the components. To sum up a new car design team, each car will have a design chief. This chief has a specialized team of stylists who work on exterior and interior.

I work in interiors as an engineer so I work with the stylists to try and come up with a feasible style. We then use the CAD guys to come up with the technical details. 90% of a CAD guys work is fine detail and not actually drawing up a new component. I would also estimate that 90% of all CAD guys are working on pretty boring stuff like switches, BIW (Body In White), latching mechanisms and checking external suppliers drawings for draft angles and the like. Only the top 10% get to ever get near designing anything interesting and the top 1% will get through to being a stylist or chief designer.

Just make sure he knows he will be designing nuts and bolts for most of his life! An engineering degree and knoweledge of the latest software that the OEM's are using would be a benefit (Catia v5 for example.)
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - Lud
I was far too idle to become an engineer. I preferred subjects that came naturally to me, with absolute minimum effort. Yet I had at amout mm's nipper's age the ambition to become an engineer.

I wish I had in many ways, although crying over spilt milk is a bit of a waste of time. My life as a dilettante doing this and that has been interesting at times, but disorganised and not terribly profitable financially.

Obviously when you first become an engineer they put you onto designing unimportant boring things like nuts and bolts. Only if you really enjoy that and make progress in it will you be spotted as a possible, say, seat or steering wheel designer. And so on.

Actually it's more interesting, because more of a challenge, to do something useful with a boring valueless component like a nut or bolt. That's where talent will show.

Designing bolts isn't soul-destroying. Working with idiots in a carp environment is.
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - Dalglish
when you first become an engineer they put you onto designing unimportant boring things like nuts and bolts.

if that happened, it would be a surprise to me. nuts & bolts were designed eons ago, and all you do is pull out standard specs for what you need. (even when choosing nuts and bolts for 1000 megawatt pressurised water reactors or their steam turbines.)

11 Y/O Son interested in car design - Aprilia
For heaven's sake don't let him end up as a 'CAD jockey' - I've seen room fulls of these people - kind of an intellectual battery-chicken environment.
One part of my career that I did quite enjoy was working at MIRA (Motor Industry Research Associate - a consultancy). Lots of different projects to work on - variety is the spice of life! Not terribly well paid though, although its located in a low-cost and pleasant part of Warwickshire.
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - Number_Cruncher
For heaven's sake don't let him end up as a 'CAD jockey'

Couldn't agree more!

In some ways, engineering is too broad a description - I almost wish there was another word, possibly along the lines of mechanical architect? that describes the particular blend of maths, physics, material science, finance, management, and sheer practicality that is involved in the more intellectualy demanding areas of engineering.

I think that keeping as many options open as possible is the key thing - maths, physics and chemistry A levels are good IMO, becaue they leave the whole of science and engineering open. If the lad is artistic, and could develop the talents required to be the best of the best of the "felt tip fairys", you would know already, the talent would probably be obvious.

But, having said all that, I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up! (I don't particularly want to find out either!, I intend to have a few more moves into different spheres of operation before I settle)

11 Y/O Son interested in car design - Aprilia
Very good points made, Number_Cruncher.
Always keep your options open - that's what I've done and its worked (reasonably well) for me, whereas friends and past colleagues who specialised have tended to 'peak' nicely (in terms of income etc) but for a limited period of time - then things nosedive when they have to move jobs and their specialism is no longer required. In the early '90's CAD jobs were well paid, especially if you were expert with FEA products like Ansys, Algor etc. Now this type of work seems to be regarded as almost 'technician level' and pay has slipped accordingly.
For these reasons I would be reluctant to suggest anyone does a specialist 'automotive' degree of any sort - if you find you can't get a job in the industry for any reason, or decided that you want a job in a different sector, then the word 'automotive' in your degree title will be something of a lead weight. A general mechanical, electrical/electronics or physics degree is a well understood quantity by all recruiters and you'll be able to adapt your knowledge and skills to a wide variety of sectors.
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - mrmender
Thanks for all your interesting comments i am fully awaire that a 11 Y/0 will probably change his mind next year.
Buit since he's talked about nothing else, i thought it would be good to have some insider info myself. For instance if he wanted to become a Marine engineer like his dad i would know how to advise him.
I appreciate Luds and Aprilia coments, i don't want if i can help him to go down the "Oligy" route
Good example i live in a University town they spent 8m on a large "Oligy" department, but may have to close the Chemistry dept due to lack of students'
Anyone thinking as a country we can contiue, as we are with out good engineering science skills, is living in a fools paradise
Thats why i think he will always have a job.... somewhere! yes maybe China
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - Gromit {P}
Fear not, MM, the closure of several chemistry (and other science) departments has more to do with university politics than lack of student demand.

Student for student, a chemistry department is the most expensive to run in most universities because of the laboratory facilities required. Essentially, you need the same labs irrespective of whether you teach 20 or 200 students a year. Speaking as a chemist, the "logic" in the UK appears to be to concentrate chemistry students into fewer, larger, schools to reduce costs. If a student is keen to attend a particular college where chemistry is no longer offered, its assumed and hoped they'll opt for another science course instead.

As most of us here share a keen interest in all things technical, I don't think the UK need fear for its future supply of scientists and engineers - but it does need to take care that they're well educated and well rewarded for their work. We can then be optimistic and hope that (returning to motoring!) though our fuel cell powered recycled plastic cars may be built in Africa in 2030, they'll be styled in the UK and made from parts designed in Europe.

Don't be too dismissive of 'ology' degrees, though. When the technical jobs have all gone to China and India, the 'ology' graduates will have broader scope to find new areas of work for themselves. As with engineering, Aprilla's advice holds: pick a known degree (for example, most people know what 'psychology' is, but how would a new graduate explain an Arts Degree in 'European Studies' to great aunt Gladys?) and enjoy studying it. A good degree - whatever the discipline - is a valuable asset in the job market and its always easier get a good degree in a subject you're interested in!

But for now, let MM Junior enjoy his dreams of designing the next McLaren F1! Time enough to sweat over completing the UCAS forms when his A levels loom...
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - cub leader
when you first become an engineer they put you onto designing unimportant boring things like nuts and bolts.

Not the case i am coming to the end of my industrial placement year at a big Aerospace engineering firm and i have actually been working on a whole range of different projects for devolopment, qualification etc not had anthing to do with drawing nuts, washers and bolts!!!
Temporarily not a student, where did the time go???
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - cub leader
Thats because as far as engineering goes Coventry is a far superior University!!! ;-) You do have better facilities though and more space for students to have cars at uni
Temporarily not a student, where did the time go???
11 Y/O Son interested in car design - Garethj
I'd decided the same thing at age 11 too!

I did a broad range of subjects at O level, dropped Chemistry because I was rubbish at it but did ok at maths and physics.

Did maths, physics and art & design at A level and then did an HND in Automotive Engineering at Coventry. A really good basis because it's hands-on as well as theoretical. A few friends of mine went onto the Industrial Transport Design degree at Cov, I did a Mechanical Engineering degree because I knew I lacked talent with the magic markers.

I got a placement at an automotive tier 1 supplier during the university summer holidays, got taken on when I graduated and went from there.

Easy, really

Perhaps a good first step is to contact the universities, ask them what GCSEs and A levels they like to see for applicants and work back from there?


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