share this

Apply Now
Get started here.
Share This Search

News . Press Releases

Press Releases

March 06, 2015

Dodge designer, CIA grad to lead symposium at the 2015 Cleveland Auto Show

For Immediate Release
Contact: Ann McGuire
Director of Communications


CLEVELAND (Ohio) – Nearly 100 aspiring automotive designers will learn about the field from a lead designer behind the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat when Cleveland Institute of Art holds its annual Automotive Design Symposium at the Greater Cleveland International Auto Show at the IX Center on March 13, 2015.

Nicholas “Nicho” Vardis, the keynote speakers for this invitation-only event, is a 1999 CIA graduate and Manager – SRT/Mopar Design Studios for FCA US LLC, formerly Chrysler Group LLC.

The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, an iconic American “muscle car,” has been making waves and headlines in the automotive world with its 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI® V-8 engine with 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, making it the quickest, fastest and most powerful muscle car in the world. Running from 0 to 60 miles per hour (mph) in 3.5 seconds with a top speed of 199 mph, the Challenger SRT Hellcat looks as supercharged as it performs – thanks to Vardis and his design team.

After giving a presentation about his education and career experiences, Vardis will lead the students in a hands-on design sketching exercise, and conclude by bringing students onto the auto show floor at the I-X Center to view the hot new cars he helped design.

More than half of the participants registered are high school students from across Ohio and neighboring states interested in automotive design; the remaining are CIA Industrial Design majors. Many of the enrolled CIA students will be familiar to Vardis, who returns to the college regularly to teach Saturday automotive design classes as a visiting instructor.

Vardis is a native of Lorain, Ohio.

“As a student at CIA, I was inspired by the many guest speakers and instructors that took time out of their schedule to meet and interact with us. Their counsel and advice helped me to define my career path,” said Vardis, “In order to keep art alive, it’s important to continue to give back to the community and inspire future creators and designers in and out of the automotive industry.”

Vardis has responsibility for overseeing exterior design of the Dodge Charger SRT, Dodge Challenger SRT, Dodge Viper and Jeep® Grand Cherokee SRT products. In addition to the Hellcat, he has worked on numerous recently launched vehicles, including the 2015 Dodge Challenger, and the Challenger 392.

An avid car enthusiast, he enjoys racing open-wheel cars on a professional and amateur level.

CIA’s annual Automotive Design Symposium is underwritten by the Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers Association in conjunction with the 2015 Cleveland International Auto Show.

Vardis will be available for media interviews to talk about his experiences at Cleveland Institute of Art, as well as his roles in designing a new generation of global supercars for FCA US. For March 13, 2015 interview opportunities at the I-X Center, contact Dianna C. Gutierrez, Design and Product Communications, or 248.705.7504.

About CIA

Founded in 1882, the Cleveland Institute of Art is an accredited, independent college of art and design offering 15 majors in studio art, digital art, craft disciplines, and design. CIA extends its offerings to the public through gallery exhibitions; lectures; robust continuing education courses; and the Cinematheque, a year-round art and independent film program. CIA’s public programming is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. For more information visit

Back to press releases


For more information about this or other CIA news, contact us here.

Read More

Support CIA

Show the world creativity matters: make a gift to the annual fund.

Read More


On view in Reinberger Gallery through June 15.

Read More

ThinkCraft Symposium

A symposium focusing on issues critical in craft today. Join us Sept. 20-22.

Over The Top SEO