Dirk Wan never imagined what he was in for when he left his home in China to pursue a graduate degree at CCS in Detroit. Looking back, he says it was the best decision he ever made.
“Both of my parents are professors at a university in China, so it was important to them that I earn an advanced degree,” said Wan, who earned his undergraduate degree in engineering from Wuhan University of Technology in China. “Plus, I knew that it could only help me in my career as a designer. In the end, going abroad was the best decision I have ever made.
“Adapting to a new culture and broadening my understanding of design has strengthened my skill set and broadened my vision. CCS was a competitive environment. The industry is no different. Usually, it's the most skilled, focused and passionate people who succeed. I never thought I was the most talented student; however, there was no excuse for me not to be the most hardworking.”
Wan’s hard work paid off. He was awarded best thesis and Excellence in Graduate Studies upon graduation. As a student he and classmate Jason Chen won Best Innovative Interior (sponsored by Volkswagen) and IMDA Student Design of the Year in 2014 for their innovative single-seat commuter vehicle, “Life Cycle.” He interned with Angell Demmel (also known as Alutrim) and worked at Rivian Automotive and Nissan before landing a job at Karma.
“Overall, these experiences give me a more holistic view of auto industry, especially how the different approaches and methods fit into the design process as we encounter different challenges,” he explained. “And every time I move forward, I meet more and more talented, passionate and excellent people. This has helped me develop strong connections with other professionals in the industry.”
Since becoming a junior interior/exterior designer this June (2016), Wan has primarily worked on the interiors of current and future Karma vehicles, from small detail components to overall layouts.
“However, my responsibilities are not limited to interior projects,” said Wan. “The goal is to support any endeavor of Karma as it is a design-driven company. I'm still new to the company though, so none of the projects that I’ve worked on have been released yet.”
Outside of work, Wan is a fan of sci-fi and superhero movies. He also enjoys staying active and enjoying new experiences in Southern California.
“I’ve always envied those artists who use their imagination to create amazing conceptual art and then turn it into movies,” said Wan. “Then, somehow, those unbelievable ideas make it off the screens and into our lives.”
To check out more of Wan’s work, visit https://www.behance.net/dirk_s_wan.