WyoTech Celebrates its 50-Year Anniversary at SEMA 2016

WyoTech Celebrates its 50-Year Anniversary at SEMA 2016

To mark its 50th anniversary, WyoTech unveiled two vehicles that students, graduates and instructors customized at this year’s SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

Students at their Blairsville, PA campus designed and built a "Shagadelic Van" and a Harley Davidson Chopper with bells and whistles galore.

In addition to showcasing the two vehicles at its SEMA booth, the school also hosted an alumni reception to celebrate a half-century teaching the collision repair professionals of the present and future. WyoTech's Industry Relations Specialist John Hurd was one of the main driving forces behind the planning of the reception and is hoping that it will become an annual event.

"We had roughly 80 people at the reception and everyone was excited by the turnout," Hurd said. "We had one alumnus from our 1973 graduating class here and another who graduated in September of this year, so more than five decades were represented. This was our first alumni association event and we are now planning to do this every year. Our graduates have a ton of knowledge and experience and if we can share that with our current students, staff and instructors, that is one of one of our main goals with the alumni association."

Another goal for the school was to make a big splash with their "Shagadelic Van" and they indeed achieved it and more with their eye-catching concept vehicle. Ford Authority named it one of the top five Ford vehicles at SEMA and attendees flocked around it throughout the entire show.

"I keep expecting Scooby Doo and Shaggy to jump out of the back of this van," Brian Frame the owner of Gene's Auto Body in Montrose, CA said while visiting WyoTech's booth. "It is so cool and a real tribute to the 1970s, when everyone had vans like these!"

Featuring a custom grille, rear window louvers, and bubble window, this van was painted completely with PPG custom hues. Although it looks like a 1970s conversion van in many ways, it also contains a lot of technology from today, including a cockpit with a top-tier Kenwood audio system with Rockford Fosgate speakers and amps; 20-inch flip-down center monitors from Samsung, and custom WyoTech appointments with Katzkin leather seating. HushMat soundproofing will keep more of the music inside and with a XK-GLOW lighting system, it's like a disco within a van.

Mechanically, the van still has its 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, but enhanced with the existence of a SCT XR 4 Performance programmer. A Gibson Performance Exhaust system with custom-made side pipes enables the engine to perform better which gives the vehicle a nice look and a strong sound.

Hurd discussed the van and its role at this year's SEMA show. “Ford gave us the van and acted as our corporate partner for this project," he said. "WyoTech graduates and instructors really took the lead on this build and they did an exceptional job. To see how it went from the original sketch all the way to the finished product was a great experience for everyone involved. The little nuances really make this van truly special--from the custom shag carpeting to the lighting system and the custom-fabricated side pipes--it takes that 1970s look and pumps it up with modern additions."

MAVTV documented the Ford build from start to finish with a 12-part series for “Chop Cut Rebuild,” to air after the show, so the van will be getting a lot more than just its 15 minutes of fame, Hurd said. "It's exciting, because we succeeded with this van in several ways," he said. "Showcasing this vehicle is a big deal, but it is going to provide us with continued exposure, which was of course one of our main goals with the "Shagadelic Van."

To show the rest of the world the creative zeal and technical aptitude of its students, WyoTech students and staff also customized a Harley Davidson chopper-style motorcycle, which was also displayed in the WyoTech booth at SEMA.

WyoTech was founded more than 50 years ago in Laramie, Wyoming, and has since become one of the premier providers of technical training in the United States. WyoTech offers training for mechanical and technical occupations in automotive, diesel, collision/refinishing, motorcycle and marine technology. WyoTech has campuses in Blairsville, Pennsylvania; Laramie, Wyoming; and Daytona Beach, Florida. For more information, visit www.WyoTech.edu.

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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