Student:

Matt Green.

School:

College for Creative Studies, Detroit.

Achievement:

Green, 24, of Doylestown, won two transportation design awards in the 19th annual Michelin-College for Creative Studies Design Competition in Detroit.

Green designed an "autonomous rescue vehicle" with a wheel/tire assembly that earned first places for vehicle design and for tire and wheel concept. The vehicle could be operated by remote control, and was designed to rescue people trapped in dangerous situations. Green, who is majoring in transportation design, used a sophisticated computer program frequently used in the automobile industry to create the digital model.

Green's winnings include $2,850 in scholarship funds, and his design will be on exhibit during the 2008 North American International Auto Show, scheduled for Jan. 13 to 27 in Detroit.

The spark:

"I was taking engineering classes at Drexel University, and I did an internship at an architectural engineering firm," Green said. "It was there that I heard about industrial design.

"I realized that architectural engineering is about number-crunching a lot of time and making things as cheaply as possible. The industrial designer is responsible for the aesthetic and the creative part of a device. That is what I was into."

Why cars?

"The human element. You have to get inside the head of the person you're designing for and imagine yourself in every factor. Cars aren't some small device that you touch and throw away. You get into it and it's a part of your daily life and our culture, and that's fascinating to me for some reason."

Role of car designers:

"They design the aesthetic, the exterior, interior design and the human interface with the man-made machine. Someone has to go and make a car look cool. If you leave it up to the engineer, they'll make it look like a box. The designers make it cool, just like the architect makes the building look cool."

Getting prepared:

"I actually transferred from Drexel to Bucks County Community College and started taking classes in art because I needed to put together a portfolio. You have to have a portfolio to apply to an industrial design school. The school I'm going to is one of only [a few] that offer my major. It's very specialized and competitive. I'll be graduating in 2009."

The winning design:

"The contest theme was 'Smaller, Safer, Better.' So I replaced human rescue personnel in situations that are too dangerous like battlefields or in a fire. Instead, this vehicle could go and rescue someone by itself. It was basically a stretcher on wheels, that could be operated by remote control. It was also armored and equipped with a device that could physically move a person onto the stretcher. The wheels were designed so that each wheel operated independently, and could go through narrow spaces and perform 360-degree turns."

Biggest challenge in car design:

"To be original. Cars have so much history tied up with it. People have all these assumptions about what they want in a car that it's difficult to match up people's expectations with something original that will move the industry forward."

Career plans:

"In my school, you usually intern with an an automotive manufacturer between junior and senior year. That sets you up with a job because a lot of time, you end up working for that company. Those internships are pretty competitive.

"They're the guys who win a lot of the contests and are known to be hot shots. They get multiple offers, and that's when you get paid a lot."

Is he a hot shot?:

"Too early to say. I won one competition, but I didn't win the one sponsored by GM. Actually, my roommate won. That was kind of cool."

Dream job:

"I'd like to work for Toyota. It has one of the most progressive corporate cultures, and Honda has that, too. But the companies everybody wants to work for are Nissan and Chrysler. Nissan has been winning a lot of awards, and Chrysler pays very well. Most of the the studios are in Michigan and California, and everyone wants to go to California."

Where he wants to go:

"California."

What a judge of the competition says:

"Matt focused on exactly what we asked for and had some excellent ideas," said Steve Lash, jury chairman for the competition. "The theme was 'Smaller, Safer, Better.' He eliminated the driver, so it's excellent for safety. It's smaller because it's only as big as it needs to be be, and it's better because the rescuer is not at risk."

- Kristin E. Holmes