For the past three semesters, diesel power technology students have been busy fixing a donated fire engine in the UAA garage. So while some students claim their class projects are life-or-death, this one actually qualifies.
“Every piece has to work together perfectly or else you have a catastrophic failure,” said Ben Stewart, a diesel student who worked on the fire engine.
The stakes are high because the donated truck will return to service with the Seldovia Volunteer Fire Department. It’s a beneficial partnership: students gain valuable experience, while a small community gains a valuable emergency vehicle.
“These are great real-world projects for our students,” noted Darrin Marshall, director of the Department of Automotive and Diesel Technology.
The engine in question originally served the Anchorage Fire Department until it overheated at a rescue call. Department mechanics determined that, in a city with nearly 300,000 tax payers, it was better to replace the older engine than repair it. A community like Seldovia, though, with 0.1 percent of Anchorage’s population, would really benefit from a donation like this.
Justin Gentz loves to go fast. He built his first engine when he was a sophomore in high school. Now, through UAA’s GM Automotive Service Educational Program, Gentz is learning to work on the latest in automotive technology — including some very fast cars.
Drone popularity has been sky high – and just this week, drone enthusiasts at UAF made it possible to rent one.
They’ve got four mini drones that are called ‘Tiny Whoops’. They’re small first-person-view aircraft that you operate with a video game-like controller. The Tiny Whoop has a camera and monitor that allows you to watch where you’re flying, and even record it.
They’ve set up a hula-a-hoop course in the basement of the Mather library on campus. Anyone with a valid polar express card can rent one after watching an instructional video. Then, it’s like checking out a library book.
Kick-starter, Mathew Westhoff, says this is just the beginning of what’s to come. He has plans to get even more people involved with drone racing.
“Down in the lower 48, a lot of colleges have race teams like this; like they do normal sports teams. And we figured this would be a great thing to do, you know six months out of the year here in Alaska, and it is kind of harsh temperatures so this will be a great thing to really allow them to do year round. Kind of a way to get the kids involved with learning new things and getting them involved with computer science and engineering skills without them really knowing. We do plan actually to put on a camp for middle school, high school kids that we’re going to do here on campus and we’ll end up having a race in the patty ice center at the end of it.” – Matthew Westhoff, Unmanned Aircraft Pilot
A former New York City garbageman, Giancarlo Mone is a both a first-generation Italian-American and—as of this semester—a first-generation college student, too. “I don’t see myself moving back,” he noted. “I wanted to see intellectual smarts in a blue-collar world, and I feel Alaska has that.”
Want to work on the Dodge Challenger? Or a Jeep Wrangler? Maybe that rare winterized Maserati or Alfa Romeo?
Through a new partnership between Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA) and the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), automotive students and current technicians now have greater access to the company’s wide fleet of vehicles without leaving the state.
The new partnership between the university and automaker will expand opportunities for students, save money for the dealerships, and meet a growing national need for technicians. Currently, Alaska’s Chrysler dealerships send technicians to training centers in the Lower 48. This program will start training students on FCA cars before they reach the dealerships, and allow current technicians to receive up-to-date training in Anchorage instead.
The partnership is a product of the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3), a nonprofit that connects the dots between colleges and companies in transportation, energy and manufacturing. Through the new agreement, FCA gives the university access to web-based training programs typically available only to full-time technicians, and allows a UAA faculty member to earn certifications as an FCA trainer.
“If you want to work for Anchorage Chrysler as a service technician, you would have to do these training modules that we’re just basically going to integrate into our program” explained Jeff Libby, director of the university’s Transportation and Power Division. That saves time for students, and allows them to graduate with industry-recognized certifications. UAA already offers a similar track with General Motors. “It definitely means that they’re going to have employment opportunities,” Libby said.
The partnership will unfold in two steps. First, UAA will incorporate the automaker’s online training into its regular automotive curriculum. NC3 predicts students who complete the FCA online training—which keeps pace with new models and technology—will be able to perform 50 percent of warranty work in a service department by the time they graduate.