I was just reading a WSJ article (WSJ subscription required) on Chrysler asking interns to design the Jeep of the future.  This is most certainly a cool intern project in that you get to be as creative as you can be and one that has clearly not been a challenge met by the full time designers at Jeep.

These interns are all Art and Design interns for the most part and so concept projects like this are the norm for most internships.  We have interns with these backgrounds (as well as full timers of course) though we tend to focus on a different set of projects.

We try very hard to make our intern projects significant contributions to shipping products.  It makes for a challenging experience and one that reflects the “real world” a bit more.  There is probably room for both ends of the spectrum at Microsoft.

I just thought the article was interesting so I’d pass it along.  

This article is © WSJ and was retrieved via an online service.

An excerpt  follows:

 

EYES ON THE ROAD

By JOSEPH B. WHITE

Rethinking the Jeep

Chrysler Interns Take on a Challenge:
Design Next-Decade Jeeps for Six Cities
August 29, 2005

If a reality-TV promoter wants to set a new series in Detroit, here's a scenario: "Motor City Designers," in which a group of eager young contestants competes to design a Jeep that will go on sale in 2015.

In fact, that's the assignment Chrysler gave to a group of six college-age design interns and three engineering interns this past summer. The company recently offered a peek at the ideas that resulted.

Give Chrysler's design management credit: They handed the kids a genuine challenge that has bedeviled the company's full-time design staffers for years. Jeep is one of the most-recognizable brands in any business. The word "Jeep" is practically a synonym for four-wheel-drive vehicle, having the relationship with SUVs that "Kleenex" has with facial tissue and "Xerox" has with photocopiers.

That's great, except when it's time to react to shifts in consumer tastes, or move the brand into different markets around the world where consumers may like the idea of owning a Jeep but wouldn't really want to drive a U.S.-spec SUV. Moreover, by 2015 -- which in auto-industry terms is roughly two model changes from today -- will consumers who are today in high school or college want a Jeep that looks just like Mom's Grand Cherokee? It probably wouldn't be wise to bet the franchise that they will.

Chrysler's apprentices were each assigned to design a Jeep for a different major city. The cities were Los Angeles, Detroit, Geneva, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney, all places that Chrysler either sells Jeeps or wants to sell more in the future. Each designer had an engineering intern to work on practical questions, such as "Will there be room for the driver's feet under the dashboard?" The concept designs had to fit more or less on the chassis of real DaimlerChrysler vehicles, such as a compact Mercedes or a long-wheelbase Dodge Caravan minivan.