Art Center College of Design was founded in 1930. While the school offered courses in industrial design from the beginning, the Transportation Design Department was formalized in 1948. Longtime instructors like Kem Weber, George Jergensen, Strother MacMinn, Joe Farrer, Ted Youngkin, Harry Bradley and Richard Pietruska have mentored thousands of young designers over the years, and their impact will last an eternity.
The legacy of the Transportation Design Department’s impact upon culture and society over the last six decades is unparalleled, thanks to the outstanding leadership of our alumni in automotive design, aircraft and marine design, motorcycle and racecar design and entertainment design. Some believe that over half of the cars on the road today were designed under the leadership of Art Center’s alumni, and many of those vehicles have become icons of our culture such as the Corvette Stingray, ’57 Chevy, Camero, Mustang, Miata, Viper, Enzo, Prowler…not to mention a few Batmobiles and host of award-winning hotrods.
The full story of the Transportation Design Department’s 65-year legacy does not exist in any one place. It exists in the thousands of anecdotes, photographs, and resumes of our alumni and faculty around the world.
Learn more about us here.
The challenges facing the automotive industry present tremendous opportunities for transportation designers. Art Center has long served as a catalyst for innovation, and with more than twenty advanced automotive design studios and companies located within an hour of Art Center's campus, our students have unparalleled access to top level design professionals who serve as faculty, host sponsor projects and personally recruit for internships and full-time positions.
Alumni from the department represent a who's who of the industry and many are profiled here.
There is a very high level of learning in Art Center's Transportation Design Department, as most of our instructors are professional designers currently working in the industry. That enables us to understand what is happening in the real world of transportation design - to know the current status quo before breaking out of it.
A full gallery of our faculty and their bios can be found here.
Following in the footsteps of renowned Art Center alumni like Willie G. Davidson and Miguel Galluzzi, many of the students in Art Center's Transportation Design Department focus their passion on motorcycles and other two-wheeled vehicles. Art Center fuels this passion with courses focused on this area.
Through strong historic ties to the car collector community, entertainment community, racing and motorsports communities and more, Art Center's Transportation Design Department is deeply connected to movers and shakers in the automotive world who lend their support on a regular basis.
The Petersen Automotive Museum and some of the world's finest car collections are all located within driving distance and regularly provide students with opportunities to study preeminent examples of design.
Art Center's annual Car Classic event also brings these vehicles and personalities to campus for a daylong celebration. More information on that event is available here.
As automotive design studios are increasingly placing emphasis on the driver/passenger experience and the interior of vehicles, Art Center is well positioned to prepare students for success in that field. Students begin studying interior design as early as their third semester, using both traditional media and digital modeling. Students also have the opportunity to take classes in Art Center's Interaction Design, Product Design and Environmental Design Departments and Art Center's Graduate Transportation Design Department to gain experiences in different areas related to interiors.
Alumni from Art Center's Transportation Design Department are literally a Who's Who of the design world, having left a major impact for over 60 years on automotive design, motorcycle, marine and aircraft design and entertainment design.
See bios of select alumni here.
Although known primarily for our impact on automotive, motorcycle and entertainment design, Art Center's alumni are also deeply involved in many aspects of marine design. Art Center offers students the opportunity to study marine design with alumni like Glade Johnson, Jeff Arnold, Adam Voorhees and other top designers in building a portfolio aimed at a career in this exciting field.
The success of Art Center's Transportation Design Department begins with the students. Only the most talented men and women are accepted into the program, representing more than 15 different countries on average. Our students have a keen interest in the important challenges facing all aspects of transportation and see them as opportunities to utilize technology as a stimulus for creative and innovative design solutions.
Today, Art Center's Transportation Design Department is known for more than just its longstanding influence in automotive design, and can prepare students for a career in motorcycle, marine, aircraft, commercial transport, personal mobility and public transit design. Exploring the balance between form and function, students develop the ability to create vehicle concepts with distinct personality, improved function and broad social impact.