Update: The winners were announced Tuesday, January 15. Reymin won in the GMC category. His prize includes a paid internship at GM in Detroit.

You might expect aspiring car designers to drive something sporty, something cutting edge.

At the very least, you’d expect them to drive something.

“Not me,” laughs Reymin, a fourth-year Industrial Design degree student in the vehicle design stream. “I’m a poor student. I don’t have a car.”

Rick, Reymin’s fellow fourth-year student, isn’t quite carless, but his ride is a little incongruous nonetheless.

“All I do is design electric cars, but I drive a very uneconomical truck,” he says. “I need the utility of a truck for work, but…yeah, it’s weird.”

Fortunately, the pair weren’t judged on their choice of personal vehicle when they both made it into the finals of Car Design News’ 2012 GM Interactive Design Competition in late September, 2012.

The international competition, sponsored by GM, requires student designers to submit interior and exterior concepts for existing cars, including the GMC Terrain (chosen by Reymin) and the Camaro (chosen by Rick).

The prize? One of five year-long paid internships in GM’s design department.

Rick and Reymin are now two of 17 finalists, up against competitors pulled mainly from Detroit’s College of Creative Studies, one of the top vehicle design programs in the US.

“Making it this far is a really, really big deal,” says Rick. “The fact that we beat out guys from the big schools in the States to get into the finals speaks to the quality of the program at Humber.”

For both, this competition is a big step along a road that started a long time ago.

“My love of cars probably started when I was three,” explains Reymin. “My dad was an engineer for a car company in the Philippines before we came here – and it caught on with me and never went away.”

Rick’s family also had connections to the automotive industry.

“My family was in automotive manufacturing for 60 years, and I grew up in a tool and die shop,” he says. “This is pretty much what I was always meant to do.”

Both say juggling the demands of an international competition with school and work was challenging – but that hard work is a fact of life at this stage in their careers.

“It’s a continuous cycle,” says Reymin. “Do your work, come home, do more work, wake up in the morning, work, come home, do more work. Now that we’re in fourth year, it’s pretty intense.”

Are the long hours worth it? Without a doubt.

“I’m crazy busy right now, but it’s awesome,” says Rick, who’s also working part-time as a designer for Pfaff Auto. “I mean, I did a year of marketing management at university, but all I was doing was sitting in my room every night drawing cars. This way I get to develop a career out of what I would have been doing anyway – and love what I’m doing along the way.”

The winners of the 2012 GM Interactive Design Competition will be announced at the North American International Auto Show later this month.