The Autocar-Courland Next Generation Award 2012 is calling for university students to enter the much coveted and premier automotive industry talent search competition. But you'll need to move quickly - the deadline is 31 August.

The 2012 winner will be rewarded with a priceless work experience package comprising one month at each of the contest sponsors – Jaguar Land Rover, McLaren Automotive, Peugeot, Skoda and Toyota – as well as £7500 cash.

The contest was launched in 2009 to offer entrants a unique chance to launch an automotive industry career and is run by Autocar in partnership with Courland International and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. The 2012 award is backed by Jaguar Land Rover, McLaren Automotive, Peugeot, Skoda and Toyota.

To enter the competition, students need to answer in 500 words a brief set by Autocar editor-in-chief Steve Cropley and submit their entry via the Autocar-Courland Next Generation website by 31 August 2012.

The brief states: “In no more than 500 words, describe an improvement (be it an invention, innovation, a legislative change, a change to corporate policy or the adoption of a new convention) which you believe would be a worthwhile benefit to the UK automotive business. You will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of how such an improvement could be made viable and what the wider implications of it might be.”

Submissions will be welcomed from all disciplines, including – but not limited to – engineering, marketing and communications, design and media. Special credit will be given to the originality of entrants’ suggestions.

The six best entrants will attend a judging day at the home of Autocar, where they will have the chance to present their ideas to a panel of leading industry executives. Three finalists will be invited to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ annual dinner on 27 November, where the winner will be announced.

Autocar editor-in-chief Steve Cropley said: “This contest offers students a priceless opportunity to get a foot in the door of the most amazing and inspirational industry. In addition to the work experience and the cash prize, it offers a great opportunity to make contacts, network, see the industry at work first hand and maybe even secure a job offer.”

Oliver Brunt, the winner of the 2011 Next Generation Award, is currently in the midst of his work experience prize. He has already completed one month at McLaren and is shortly to start his month at Peugeot. Oliver is studying Industrial Design at Northumbria University.

Speaking of his experience at McLaren, Oliver said: “The month I spent at McLaren was one of the greatest experiences of my life. It may sound like an exaggeration, but I’ve seen and done things most people will never have the chance to do. It has been a huge privilege to be at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, let alone work there. In my time in the design studio I have learnt a lot about design itself in the real world, not just at university level. Working on live projects and keeping to briefs and deadlines, while trying to maintain an extremely high level of quality and brand identity throughout the work, was invaluable. I am looking forward to my future placements, but I will never forget my time at McLaren."

Oliver Brunt’s winning idea combines a new kind of active head-up display, known as SHUD – Social Heads-Up Display – that uses sophisticated graphics and can employ the whole of a car’s screen as its ‘canvas’. The SHUD system conveys a new level of real-time car-to-car communication to provide drivers with a much better standard of information, presented more attractively and without distraction.