DEARBORN, MI –Automotive interiors were the focus of a full day of sessions and speakers at the 2014 WardsAuto Interiors Conference here, but a special part of the agenda recognized winners of an annual student design competition among transportation-design students at the College for Creative Studies.

The competition started last January as part of a 15-week senior-level class, sponsored by WardsAuto and interior suppliers Lear and International Automotive Components.

The assignment was to envision an interior for a 2025 fullsize pickup and began with a tour of the North American International Auto show in January. There, the students saw firsthand fullsize pickups currently available in the U.S., guided by class instructor Joann Jung, who is manager of global interior design strategy at Ford.

Students also were given a full brief on the lifestyle of a hypothetical pickup buyer in 2025, a successful couple in their 50s.

The three best designs, chosen by a jury of top auto industry designers, were given the spotlight during a special ceremony at the WardsAuto Interiors Conference.

Keunhyuk Choi is the grand award winner, with a beautifully crafted GMC concept that depicts a human-machine interface and touch-screen display that is incorporated into the instrument panel covering.

Tyler Charest wins the Lear Design Innovation Award for his Ram pickup design that features an ingenious portable battery pack to run power tools. The Lear award is given to the student whose work includes a specific design or technological innovation the judges deem particularly inspired and forward-thinking.

Dongsung Choi is honored with the IAC EcoBlend Award, which goes to the student design that best embraces green mobility or uses lightweight, renewable/recyclable materials and other Eco-friendly innovations. Choi’s pickup interior emphasized use of such materials in many critical areas.

The projects were judged by a panel of top auto industry designers: Ariel Choi, Lead Designer at Calty Design Research; Teckla Rhoads, Executive Director, Global Industrial Design, General Motors; Scott Ferrier, Design Manager, Ford; and Robert Walker, Chief Designer, Jeep Brand Interiors, Chrysler.

The projects of all 15 students were displayed at the WardsAuto Interiors Conference as well as the SAE World Congress in April. Videos of each student’s presentation to the judges can be viewed on wardsauto.com.

dwinter@wardsauto.com