On an unseasonably warm September afternoon, an immaculately dressed car company executive stands in a boardroom in Germany and smoothly defends his company's environmental credentials. Asking the difficult questions are 19 students from the UK.
The executive is Martin Ertl, Audi's head of design management who also discussed the philosophy of Vorsprung durch Technik and the ongoing conflict between designers and engineers: "Engineers like to have something that looks like a shoe box because it is easy. Designers want to have something that looks like a Batmobile."
His interrogators were the finalists of the 2004 Audi Young Designer of the Year Award who were at the Audi design centre and production plant at Ingolstadt in Germany to learn more about the design process, and meet fellow aspiring designers.
The competition, which is run by the Audi Design Foundation, celebrates the work of A-level design students and it offers more than just cash prizes and a certificate. It is the extras that make it a popular competition with both teachers and students.
During the trip, the students went on a tour of the plant and saw the production process from sheet metal to final polish. They were also given a demonstration in clay modelling this was popular with students who had assumed that all car design was done solely on computer. Every car designed by the company goes through a clay model stage and the students were given the opportunity to add their own curves and lines to a model. They also took part in a design masterclass run by Audi design interns.
Nineteen out of the 20 regional finalists travelled to Germany and all were enthusiastic about the trip. Lauren Currie, 18, from St Joseph's Academy in Kilmarnock said: "It was absolutely fantastic and I am just so delighted to have the opportunity to meet people who are passionate about the things I'm passionate about."
Fellow finalist Graeme Thyer, 18, from Gateacre Community Comprehensive School in Liverpool was also won over: "I liked the tour around the factory and we were given five-star treatment the whole time."
l A trip to Germany will be a feature of next year's competition, along with cash prizes for schools and finalists. Entries are based on A-level coursework and teachers can now register students for next year's competition at: www.audiyoungdesigner.co.ukTel: 0800 5877112
Key stage 3 competition
The Audi Design Foundation has created a competition for key stage 3 DT students which could net pound;2,000 for your design department. The Audi Innovation Awards is a series of six challenges with students asked to create a new product, improve an existing one or develop a product for a specific environment. The competition focuses on design and creativity rather than the making. Support materials are available and individual or group entries (no more than four people) are welcome. As well as pound;2,000, other prizes include a laptop and a teacher trip to Germany. Closing date is November 19.
Tel: 01280 818769