Chrysler recognizes local students’ car designs

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published March 26, 2014

 Alex Fischer’s rendering of a sporty coupe took first place in the senior class division of Chrysler’s 2014 Autorama High School Design Competition.

Alex Fischer’s rendering of a sporty coupe took first place in the senior class division of Chrysler’s 2014 Autorama High School Design Competition.

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ROCHESTER — Stoney Creek High School senior Alex Fischer and junior Connor Stormer were among a group of young artists recently recognized for their car sketches in Chrysler’s 2014 Autorama High School Design Competition.

The competition asked Michigan public high school students to explore their creative side and design a vehicle that satisfied the needs of young consumers while remaining eco-friendly. Students were able to pull inspiration from any of the current Chrysler Group brands: Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Fiat or SRT.

“This is our second year hosting this competition to show young people with an artistic side that a design career in the automotive industry is possible,” Mark Trostle, head of SRT, Mopar and Motorsports Design for Chrysler Group, said in a statement. “Joining forces with the College for Creative Studies, United Way for Southeastern Michigan and Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama gave us the necessary tools and exposure to connect with young creative minds and potentially the next great car designer.”

Fischer was named the top senior class winner, taking home a $2,500 CCS scholarship, in addition to passes to Meguiar’s 62nd Detroit Autorama, a three-week summer automotive design course at CCS and an iPad.

“I was really surprised. ... It took a little bit of time for me to accept that I won,” he said.

The 17-year-old Rochester resident said he’s had a love for cars and drawing since he was young.

“When I was a little kid, I liked Hot Wheels and I loved cars, but I also liked to draw. … I was always into art,” he said.

But he didn’t start sketching vehicles until last summer, when he attended a three-week automotive design course at CCS, where he plans to attend next year.

“Last year, I wanted to decide what I want to do for a living, so I thought, if I like drawing and I like cars, I might as well start trying to draw cars and put the two together,” he said.

Fischer’s design, which he sketched in less then 10 minutes during math class, was an electric coupe inspired by incorporating different aspects of the automaker’s brands.

“I basically took different things from all the models that Chrysler makes. … The headlights on the car that I drew were similar to some Jeeps, and the grille of the car was similar to some Chrysler sedans … so it was kind of like a crossover,” he said.

Stormer, 17, of Rochester, took second place in the junior division, winning Autorama passes, a three-week summer automotive design course at CCS and an iPad mini.

Stormer also began sketching cars after attending a summer course two years ago at CCS, a school he hopes to attend in the future to pursue a career in automotive design.

“This one was a week long, and half of the day was product design and half of the day was transportation design, so that really introduced me into transportation design, and that’s how I got really involved in it. From there, I just really took off with it,” he said.

For the Autorama contest, Stormer designed a compact truck with solar panels on the top and headlights that could be taken out and used for flashlights for off-roading or camping.

“When I was designing it, I really just wanted to get out of the mindset that all eco-friendly cars have to be small cars or sedans. I wanted to break free of that and design a truck that was eco-friendly. My design probably took me around an hour to do, total,” he said.

Stoney Creek art teacher Diane Heath, who instructs both teens, said she was “super excited” to hear their designs had received awards in the contest.

“What I like about this contest is that they had to take pencil to paper. There’s a lot of digital art that goes on right now, and that requires a skill set, but this is a different skill set that doesn’t always get recognized,” she said. “I think that it’s so important for kids to understand that taking paper to pencil is an essential skill.”

The teens also participate in the You Make a Difference Program offered by General Motors, a 22-week seminar provided by GM professional designers and sculptors at the GM Design Center in Warren. The program gives students the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skills in drawing and shading using digital tablets for computer-based designs and full-color renderings, as well as the creation of a one-fifth scale clay model of their design.

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