Changing the way we move, particularly in the automotive industry, is imperative to help reduce our carbon footprint and mitigate the lasting effects of climate change. We need to rethink the way we use natural resources, and the women from CCS’s transportation design program are leading that change.
In the past, mobility was seen as taking a person from point A to point B, and the future must emphasize sustainability, connectivity and a personalized transportation experience, according to automotive designer Hyeyoung” Jessica” Suh (’18, Transportation Design). Suh works for IDEENION Design AG, a design and development company exploring solutions for the future of mobility, located in Gaimersheim, Germany.
Suh designed the exterior of the Apollo EVision S and presented the design concepts in November 2021. She says the EVision S takes the first step for Apollo vehicles toward an electrified future. Suh also contributed to the development of Universal Mobility Electrified (UME). UME’s goal is to create sustainable solutions for a range of vehicles, such as urban delivery vehicles (UDVs), mobility scooters and drones through modular design.
The UDV aimed to reduce carbon emissions with a quick battery change and truck parts shipped in knock-down kits that can be assembled in local micro-factories. The mobility scooter was designed to help aging populations stay active and independent as they age.
From her internships at Tesla and Uber ATG to her current role as a strategic interior designer at Ford, Eva Ross (’18 Transportation Design and Product Design) has sought to reduce barriers to sustainable mobility through the vehicles she works on. Vehicles range from using autonomous technology, ride-sharing vehicles to shared ownership, and low-cost electric vehicles.
Before reaching the market, manufacturing, logistics, delivery, materials and other factors must be considered with respect to environmental effects.
“We need to look at not only how it actively affects the environment, but also how it is produced and how industries related to the product affect the environment, such as cobalt mining, installing new infrastructure for gas stations recharging, disposal and reuse. components and products, and the expected longevity and life of the product,” says Lexie Nowicki (’20, Transportation Design), creative designer at General Motors. “Our work focuses on so much more than just styling the car.”
Although Newicki is a few years away from revealing and publishing what she is working on, she can say that she is part of two advanced teams that are exploring ways to make more sustainable proposals through powertrain, efficiency , size, aerodynamics and consumer/industry requirements.
Women in industry are not only working towards solutions for the future of the environment, but also navigating a male-dominated field. According to Zippia, men make up about 70% of designers in the industry, while women make up 25%.
Nowicki recalls being one of the only women in class on her first day at CCS, but finding solace and community in female faculty and mentors. She even joined the Automotive Women’s Alliance, a non-profit organization aimed at empowering women in the automotive industry.
“My goal in my position, as well as in future positions, is to continue to progress and inspire brands and vehicles to explore new areas of mobility with a focus on efficiency and sustainability,” said Newicki. “I also seek to inspire others, especially women, to get involved in the industry. I want other women to see me and know about my story and goals to hopefully inspire them.
However, at the start of their professional career, they have learned a lot in recent years:
“Throughout my professional career, I’ve learned that design isn’t just about look and feel,” Suh said. “Design is about how it works and involves user desirability and technological possibilities.”
“Being part of these teams, I worked not only as a designer drawing on several programs,” said Nowicki. “But also strategizing for brand identity, brand progression, sustainability, customer and marketing progression, and so many other topics besides just sketching.”
“Transportation design has so many facets. It’s an extremely complex industry, and that’s one of the reasons it’s so exciting to be a part of it,” Ross said.