Coventry University’s automotive design class of 2019 exhibit skills at annual Steve Olney Awards

Contechs Boss named as first national patron of Zoe's Place Baby Hospice
Chris Hamilton, Studio Chief Designer at Ford presents Steve Olney Awards winner Oliver Ball with his trophy

A recent awards ceremony hosted by leading design engineering and recruitment company Contechs showcased Coventry’s University’s best and brightest design students, demonstrating that they were truly in a class of their own.

Now in its 12th year, Contechs, who have facilities in Warwick, Basildon and in Europe, presented awards to final year undergraduates in the University’s School of Art and Design, in recognition of outstanding design achievements.

The talented group of automotive design students had the opportunity to exhibit their highly skilled designs, where a winner and two runners up were handpicked alongside three students who were awarded commendations.

The event, held at Coventry University, provided the students with a prime opportunity to meet and network with industry experts.

The impressive line of judges which was comprised of design and engineering chiefs from past and present included Peter Birtwhistle, former Chief Designer at Mazda, Richard Woolley, Studio Director at JLR and Chris Hamilton, Studio Chief Designer at Ford who presented the awards.

The awards were organised in memory of Steve Olney, a Contechs founding director, who died suddenly in 2005. Each year the firm presents awards to the students who best demonstrate the personal values held by Steve – namely design innovation, technology, craftsmanship and helping to enhance the lives of others around them.

This year’s winner was Oliver Ball, who was presented with £500 plus a commemorative award. Runners-up were Jake Lockyer, who received £300 and Yicheng Fan, who received £200 and commemorative trophies.

Contechs also presented £500 to their chosen charity – Zoe’s Place, which provides palliative, respite and end-of-life care to babies and infants aged from birth to five years old suffering from life-limiting or life-threatening conditions.

Lifestyle and the environment featured highly in the submissions from the prize winners.

Oliver Ball’s entry was a highly innovative Land Rover Antarctic Research Project designed with a view to creating a template for a cleaner future.

Jake Lockyer who was awarded second place took a more futuristic view combining AI (artificial intelligence) and demonstrated how the car can be used to facilitate self-development. Third placed Yicheng produced an intuitive design in which he combined architectural design, living and mobility into an integrated home/car solution to encourage countryside living.

Peter Jarvis, Managing Director at Contechs, said: “The standards of entries have considerably improved year on year, but this year the standards were nothing less than extraordinary which is a testament to the University’s School of Art and Design. Not only did the entries display a keen sense of innovation and design engineering skills but also an intuitive understanding of emerging trends and change in lifestyle.

“With standards ever increasing, we too the decision once again to award three commendations this year. We were delighted to present Oliver Ball with the award and wish him and the two runners up, Jake and Yicheng, our congratulations and best wishes in their future endeavours.”

The awards ceremony further cements the long-standing relationship between Contechs and Coventry University. For over a decade the university has provided research, supervisory knowledge and specialist expertise to Contechs and the two regularly work alongside each other on Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.

Established in 1997, Contechs specialises in design and engineering, trim-manufacture, materials handling and specialist recruitment. The company has sites in Warwick, Basildon and Cologne, Germany and has a total workforce of over 1000.