Airdrie teen wins international award for innovative dream car design

With 531,692 entries from 78 different countries, 14-year-old Joseph Lee is the only Canadian winner in the global competition, which features innovative vehicle designs.

An Airdrie teen who won Canada’s 2022 Toyota Dream Car Art contest recently won a $3,000 USD cash prize in the world finals for his art project and car design.

The design, called “Surgery on the Road,” was named the best finalist in its category.

With 531,692 entries from 78 different countries, 14-year-old Joseph Lee is the only Canadian winner in the global competition, which features innovative vehicle designs. He entered the national competition earlier this spring after his art tutor suggested it to him.

Participants from across the country sent in their artwork featuring vehicle designs that would “help make the world a better place,” a theme inspired by recent health and environmental issues around the world, according to Toyota.

“It feels really great [to succeed] because nobody was expecting me to win,” Lee said of the international recognition. “And then, it just hit me – I was really, really excited because I had won.”

It took Lee two weeks to complete his submission, which features an ambulance-like vehicle that would enable surgeons to provide life-saving surgeries on the road.

He said his artwork was inspired by his own dream of becoming a surgeon and helping to save lives.

The young artist said he has his sights set on one day becoming a neurosurgeon, or if that doesn’t work out, he hopes to become a heart surgeon instead.

“I just want to save lives,” he said of his motivation. “Also, Airdrie doesn’t have a big hospital that you can go to when you are in desperate need of surgery, so I was thinking of becoming a surgeon to help [save] lives.”

Lee was one of nine Canadian finalists in Toyota’s global competition to design a vehicle, according to Hanan Ismail, a corporate communications consultant for Toyota Canada.

“The 2022 Toyota Dream Car Art Contest aims to foster innovation and creativity in youth ages 15 and under, by encouraging them to think about their dream car that will help make the world a better place,” Ismail said.

Toyota’s competition has been running since 2004. Lee’s “Surgery on the Road” was selected as one of the three finalists in the 12 to 15 age category this year, when he won a $250 online retail gift card to KiwiCo.

“I’m truly impressed by the creative, innovative and world-changing ideas presented by Canadian youth,” said Larry Hutchinson, president and CEO of Toyota Canada Inc., in a press release.

The finalists were each entered into the world finals of the global design contest vying for a grand prize of $15,000 USD.

“With their vision to design a future that is more sustainable for our people, animals and ecosystem, it’s clear to see that these are the leaders of tomorrow bringing forward their world-changing ideas.”

Last year’s international grand prize winners in each age category came from Korea, the Canary Islands, and China.

“It means a lot [to me] because I wasn’t really expecting to win this,” Lee said of his big win. “If I’m completely honest, I feel very, very thankful to Toyota.”

He added he plans to save the award money for college and school supplies to help him on his journey of becoming a surgeon.

—With files from Masha Scheele/Airdrie City View

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