The 17-year-old had a 1950s American army Jeep at home and knew that restoring it would give him the chance to demonstrate skills which university tutors and employers would value.
Lewis, from Sir Bernard Lovell school near Bristol, belongs to a group that re-enacts battles from the Vietnam war, and paid pound;1,500 for the vehicle, which was used in the conflict.
From the age of 14, all pupils at Sir Bernard Lovell spend at least two hours a week on projects, which count towards an ASDAN (Awards Scheme Development and Accreditation Network) award.
Lewis searched the internet to find an original manual for the Jeep, ordering it from Arizona, and then stripped back the paintwork, and had the vehicle resprayed. He is now fitting a new engine. During the summer, he spoke about the project to 200 people at an event to promote the school's innovative work with 14 to 19-year-olds.
Lewis wants to study construction management at university, then join the army. He believes the technical, research and public-speaking skills involved in the project will be invaluable.
ASDAN is cited by Tomlinson as a model for the extended project work all pupils would ultimately have to complete to gain the new diploma. Teachers at Sir Bernard Lovell believe pupils' confidence can improve by giving them the responsibility to plan and implement an idea, and that motivation and performance in other subjects will rise as a result.