UAA Automotive and Diesel’s 2016 Chevy Corvette and “absolutely electric” events

UAA’s Automotive department boasts a blue 2016 Chevy Corvette donated by General Motors which may be present at the department’s many future events.

UAA's 2016 Chevrolet Corvette ZO6. Photo by Hannah Dillon.

UAA’s Automotive and Diesel program has been the recipient of many generous donations from General Motors for nearly 30 years. One donation – a 2016 Chevrolet Corvette ZO6 with a ZO7 package – has been the department’s center of attention.

Director of the Automotive and Diesel department Darrin Marshall explained the fascination with the hot rod.

The Corvette is wrapped in blue General Motors signage and is often used as a recruiting tool for the department due to the vehicle's impressive attention-grabbing capabilities.

This vehicular recruiting tool has been brought to events in the state, such as the Alaska Race Wars for the past five years, and is often connected to a dynamometer to elicit “shock and awe” from the audience.

“A dynamometer is basically a hamster wheel for a car. You put the car on and you strap it all down and now you can run the car however you want. This thing is an all-wheel dynamometer. It can test wind resistance, hill, horsepower, torque, power curves,” said Marshall.

The Corvette is worked on by Automotive and Diesel students. Marshall and fellow professors install ‘bugs’ on the vehicle to create different problems for students to solve.

When students begin their hands-on work, the instructor clicks one of the switches and, for example, a check engine light appears.

The Corvette’s full potential has been utilized by the Automotive and Diesel department, but where can community members find the vehicle?

The Automotive and Diesel program started an event in May of 2023 called the UAA Automotive Expo. Marshall said the expo was the first one they had done and it brought much attention to the department.

The UAA Automotive Expo featured a burn-out contest, rev-up contest and a few other events. The department hopes for there to be another expo at the end of the 2024 spring semester.

“We had about 30 industry members show up with their crew and their tables and say ‘hey, this is us, we’re hiring.’ It was absolutely electric all day long and we got students out of it,” said Marshall.

Automotive and Diesel will participate in a car show at UAA’s Fur Rondy collaboration on March 2.

Marshall said automotive companies such as Lithia, Anchorage Chrysler and the Army National Guard will be participating and possibly bring their own vehicles to the car show.

A ‘gearhead’ from Wasilla will also show off his powerful Cummins pickup that has 1200 foot pounds of torque that he’s built by himself at UAA’s Fur Rondy event.