Students Excel at Steve Olney Design Awards

Some of the best and brightest design students recently showcased their highly skilled designs at the annual Steve Olney Awards, hosted by leading design engineering and recruitment company Contechs.


Now in its 15th year and presented 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 showcase their innovative designs, where a winner and two runners up were selected.


Held at the Coventry University, the event was attended by over 100 people, providing the students with a prime opportunity to meet and network with some of the industry’s leading experts.


The lucrative line of judges which was comprised of design and engineering chiefs from past and present included Barry Lett, Director of Advance Concepts at Rivian, Bart van Lotringen, Design Director at DAF Trucks, Carsten Astheimer, Managing Director at Astheimer and former Design Director at Mazda, Peter Birtwhistle.


Initially launched in memory of Steve Olney, a Contechs founding director who died suddenly in 2005, the awards recognise 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.


As a business Contechs prides itself on furthering next generational talent and has a long history of committing to the perseveration of skillsets and nurturing talent through its established apprenticeships scheme —and this commitment has been reflected in their drive to continue Steve Olney’s legacy and champion Coventry University’s designers of tomorrow.


First prize went to Tianliang Wan’s ‘Giraffe Rescue Project’ which was designed in the form of a highly innovative self-driving giraffe transport which is specifically designed for the safe movement of giraffes throughout Africa. Second place was scooped by Ben Masters for ‘Project Royale’ - an incredible all-electric, self-sustainable Maritime-focused hotel, centred around promoting the ultimate yachting experience. In third place, Alan Zachariah came up with the concept of a sustainable form of ariel transport, entitled ’Project Beyond’, which caters for those seeking an out of this world relaxing travel experience.

Peter Jarvis, Group 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.


“The industry is changing and these projects have been reflective of that change. The role of the automotive designer in the modern age is to consider other factors than just how best to move from A to B. How it impacts the environment, comfortability, for a solution it may solve and aesthetics are also fundamental features that end-users look —and all of these considerations have been made in this year’s designs.


“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.


“Our congratulations go out once again to Tianliang Wan, Ben Masters and Alan Zachariah for their fantastic and innovative designs, and we look forward to next year’s event.”


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.