College for Creative Studies: Transportation Design


Joel Piaskowski

Ford Motor Company

Director, Exterior Design for Americas

Joel Piaskowski welcomed the challenge he faced when he accepted a position as Hyundai's chief designer at the Hyundai Kia America Design and Technical Center in Irvine, California. By 2010, the company's chairperson, Chung Mong-koo, is determined to push Hyundai into the list of the top five automakers in the world.

"When our studio opened three years ago (January 2003), only a small percentage of Americans knew the brand Hyundai existed," said Piaskowski. "Now we are ranked as the highest non-luxury brand by JD Power and Associates in their IQS study which measures PP100 (problems per 100 vehicles) as a measure of initial quality. This is a monumental accomplishment that reflects the drive of our chairman."

As Hyundai's chief designer in the United States, Piaskowski coaches teams of designers and helps them formulate the best solutions. He regularly meets the teams in their studios to review sketch concepts and check on model progress. He often travels to the newest of Hyundai's satellite studios outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the company's R&D Center southwest of Seoul. In addition to new production vehicles (Santa Fe and Elantra), he has overseen the HCD8 and Talus concept cars.

Piaskowski formed the basis of his design knowledge through an eclectic combination of courses he completed at CCS.

"The core art and design classes were building blocks for advancement in my career."

"Students can only be as good as their teachers. All of my professors were active or retired professionals in the art and automotive fields. I learned from the best."