Coventry University has deployed three-dimensional computer-aided design (Cad) software at its Centre of Excellence in Product and Automotive Design (Cepad), which opened in June 2007.
Students in the university's department of industrial design will also use the program, Autodesk's AliasStudio, to gain experience in the automotive sector's industry-standard product.
Cepad is using AliasStudio in collaboration with major manufacturers, such as Land Rover.
The university originally selected AliasStudio to translate skills such as clay modelling into the computer world and because the program has high-level tools for using different surfaces in designs to improve performance.
John Owen, head of industrial design at the university, said that teaching students the whole package would take too much time. "Instead, we take the essence of the Cad tool and explain why it is the best tool for the job, then allow the students to develop their own skills around that."
Owen said other benefits of the software included the ability to do things in two or three different ways so strategies could be compared to work out which is the best, the ability to use animation to show design functionality such as how seats fold down, and the ability to model the interior of a vehicle to scale.