Automotive Program Gets New Equipment

High quality machine is rare in industry

By: Becky St. Clair

The dynamometer is installed in the ground, so the top part is the only part visible of this several-ton machine.

The Technology Department’s automotive program has purchased a Mustang all-wheel drive dynamometer.  This world-class, lab-quality instrument is capable of testing nearly any vehicle up to 2000 horsepower.  

“Its capabilities are mind-boggling,” says Rob Holm, assistant professor of technology at WWU.  “They are too numerous to list, really.”

The machine was purchased using funding given by anonymous donors.  The automotive program can use the dynamometer to do extensive testing and diagnosis of vehicles in an actual driving situation while still in the safety and convenience of the shop.  

“Its data-gathering capabilities will allow us to confirm and test any changes that have been made to vehicles so we can know if they were successful or not, and to what degree,” explains Holm.  

The instrument even has a built-in weather station to accommodate for differences in humidity, temperature, and barometric pressure, for when tests are done at different times.

In addition to its large variety of abilities, the dynamometer is itself very large.  It fills a 4-feet-deep pit that is 15 feet wide by 22 feet long, and it weighs over 30,000 pounds.

“Having equipment of this quality and capability will allow us to continue to attract the best and brightest students from all over the country,” says Holm.  “This will, in turn, continue to increase the quality of our program.”

According to Holm, instruments such as this are very uncommon in automotive education.  Anything close to this dynamometer is found only in programs specific to automotive engineering, which is offered at large schools, such as Clemson University or University of Michigan.  

“Within automotive technology, it’s a pretty safe bet that WWU is the only school anywhere with a dynamometer of this caliber,” says Holm.  “It’s a magnificent machine, and we are fortunate to have it here.”

Most schools, if they have anything, have two-wheel drive dynamometers, but many of them use the machines more for marketing than as teaching tools.  Even for-profit educational companies such as WyoTech (formerly Wyoming Technical Institute) and Universal Technical Institute don’t have instruments such as the one recently purchased by WWU’s automotive program.

The dynamometer will be used in nearly half of the classes offered by the automotive program, and will give students an effective competitive edge when they begin looking for work.  

“We are truly blessed to have benefactors that believe in the value of the automotive program here at WWU,” Holm says.  “I feel extremely fortunate to be able to use the donors’ generosity to enhance the educational experience of our students.”

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