The department's latest addition is a 2009 Pontiac Vibe, which retails for around $17,000 and was donated by General Motors Corp.
"There's nothing wrong that we can see with it - it was just pulled from GM and given to us for training," said Ron Downing, assistant professor of automotive technology. "We really do appreciate that from GM."
Another recent donation is a 2009 Ford Mustang GT, which retails for around $20,000. Two more recent donations include a Cadillac XLR worth $90,000, and a Buick Lucerne worth $30,000.
All told, the donations total around $170,000. That may seem like a hefty price tag, but Downing said keeping students up-to-date on automotive technology is invaluable to the industry.
The Cadillac XLR in particular is stuffed with high-end electronics that are of great interest to PSU instructors.
"The nice thing on the XLR for us is that it has technology on it that our students are going to see for years to come," Downing said. "A lot of cars may have that technology as standard equipment in five or six years down the line. We can train now on what's out there and what's past, but we have to train students to get ready for what will be out there in the future."
The Buick Lucerne sports cutting-edge Magna Ride suspension that Downing plans to teach in suspension classes.
"Within two milliseconds it can change from a soft ride to a stiff ride," Downing said. "There's a fluid inside that can be magnetized to change the viscosity of it, and by doing that it stiffens it up and keeps the car from swaying to the side."
Downing said the vehicles will be used in many automotive technology classes. PSU offers both a two-year program designed to train students for work as a technician, and a four-year degree program designed for students interested in working in a retail or management position in the auto industry.
Donations like these, Downing said, are essential in providing the hands-on learning auto students need.
"In technology education, we have to have very good ties with business and industry," Downing said. "Without them we couldn't survive. You can only do so much with PowerPoint and a piece of paper."
For more information, call the Department of Automotive Technology at (620) 235-6189.
©2008 Pittsburg State University