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Airdrie teen wins national Toyota Dream Car Art contest

After winning Canada's 2022 Toyota Dream Car Art contest, Joseph Lee's art project and car design moves on to the global Toyota competition with a chance to win a prize valued at $15,000 USD.
Joseph Lee’s “Surgery on the Road” submission was deemed a world-changing vehicle by Toyota Canada, designed to help doctors provide surgery while a patient is in transit to increase their chance of survival.

AIRDRIE, Alta — Fourteen-year-old Airdronian Joseph Lee’s artistic talents paid off, helping him become a finalist in a national vehicle design contest, and advancing him to the world finals.

The Airdrie teenager entered the 2022 Toyota Dream Car Art contest earlier this spring after his art tutor suggested it to him.

Participants from across the country sent in their innovative vehicle designs to help make the world a better place – a theme inspired by recent health and environmental issues around the world, according to Toyota.

“I thought why not try and do it, because I have nothing to lose,” Lee said, adding it took him two weeks to complete his dream car’s design.

Lee’s “Surgery on the Road” submission was deemed a world-changing vehicle, designed to help doctors provide surgery while a patient is in transit to the hospital to increase their chance of survival.

According to Lee, his own personal ambitions laid the foundation for his design’s inspiration.

“[Since] three years ago I kind of wanted to become a surgeon. So I got this idea; people die a lot because they can't get surgery fast enough. And I just thought, ‘What if you can get through surgery while you're going to a place where you can get better treatment?’” Lee said.

The vehicle he designed would drive to an accident with surgeons on board ready to operate, he explained. While the car is in motion as it heads to a hospital, surgeons would be able to provide life-saving medical care inside.

As a finalist of the national competition, Lee won a $250 online retail gift card to KiwiCo.

“Honestly I'm a bit surprised because this is my first ever competition I've ever been in, so I'm just feeling really happy right now,” he said after finding out he won.

Lee will now be entered into the World Finals of the global design contest for a chance to win a prize valued at $15,000 USD.

“I'm not expecting to win but it feels really really good now that I can just put this on my resume,” Lee said. 

The teen added that he enjoyed the art design competition, but said his plans for the future lie in the medical field rather than in art and design.

As he is about to enter his Grade 9 year in September, his current plan is to become a neuro-surgeon in the future.

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.

The other two participants in Lee’s age category were both from B.C. One of the other finalist's designs would allow doctors to journey inside a patient’s body for treatment, while the other finalist’s design would spray water in fire regions and save animals.

Three of Canada’s finalists were under the age of eight, all from Ontario, while another three were between the ages of eight and 11, with two from Ontario and one from Sherwood Park, Alberta.

“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. “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. 

The official announcement of awarded winners in the 2022 international competition is expected in August.