GE is harnessing the creativity of students to come up with new ways to use plastics in automotive design. They have started a program and competition call PLASTicon for graduate students in vehicle design from the prestigious Royal College of Art in London. Students will earn prizes by finding ways to incorporate GE innovations like plastic body panels, lighting technologies and thermoplastic glazing to create futuristic vehicles for Gen-Y and SUV-loving consumers. Students will be designing auto exteriors, but may also be called on to design interiors or subsystems. Students will work initially in teams of three to do research, but will each will design and model their own creations.
The contest is useful for the students, but also potentially valuable for GE, especially if a student comes up with something unexpected. GE is working with manufacturers to use plastics in manufacturing as they can be lighter, cheaper, quieter and easier to customize.