Little did Nick Nguyen know that one day his entertainment arts degree would land him a job at one of the world’s leading auto manufacturers. The designer recently accepted a position as a UI/UX designer at Ford Motor Company in Dearborn.
“I never would have thought this is where my education at CCS would have brought me,” said Nguyen. “Some people may think that the automotive industry has nothing in common with the entertainment industry; however, that is beginning to change. While the movies and video games have predicted much of the future, there are a lot of amazing opportunities for the automotive industries to inspire and surprise people.”
As a UI/UX designer, Nguyen focuses on the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) aspects of design. Ford specifically hired him to help design the next generation of “cluster” (the gauges behind the steering wheel) and center stack (the center screen where navigation, phone, media and climate control reside). To put it simply, he designs all parts of the car that are (or soon will be) digital. One of his latest projects, the work he did on the 2017 Navigator, was unveiled at the New York Auto Show in April (2016).
“UI/UX design is a new and emerging field that will change how we feel and communicate with our technology,” he said. “I enjoy the challenges of designing something that is completely new and mixing it with the background I had from CCS as an entertainment arts major, which laid the groundwork for the way I approach problems.
“I still do a lot of character design and digital sculpting on the side when I'm not working at Ford or teaching the Intro to Maya class at CCS. At times, I think about going back to my roots and pursuing a job in the entertainment industry, but I would really like to leave a legacy to the new growing field of UI / UX design—to leave my footprint in the golden age of tech growth and autonomy inside the car.”
Nguyen first crossed over from entertainment arts to the automotive industry during his junior year internship at Visteon, where he was hired shortly after. One of the first projects he worked on was HABIT, developing the beginning stages of artificial intelligence inside cars to remember and predict habits. He also worked on an autonomous simulator in which he got to design an entire city and countryside and has shown work in the Las Vegas Consumer Electronic Show the past three years. By August of 2015, Ford had taken notice of Nguyen and offered him a position two months later.
“Passion, creativity, and dedication are three qualities that have launched my career to the level it’s at today.”
“I continually find ways to strengthen my skills and pursue the endless stream of creativity that flows all around us. This stream of creativity and beauty is what drives me to capture and release it into the world in my artwork. You have to be perpetually hungry for creative designs to make it in this world of ever-evolving technology and culture.”