More than 120 students attended this year’s Automotive Restoration Summer Institute at McPherson College – arriving from all across the country and ranging in age from high school teenagers to retirees.

Brian Martin, director of auto restoration projects at McPherson College, said this year’s enrollment represents about double the attendance at Institute even just a few years ago.

McPherson College is the only college in the nation to offer a four-year bachelor’s degree in automotive restoration. Not everyone has the time or resources to enroll as a full-time student, however, so the summer institute gives people interested in automotive restoration the opportunity to learn from McPherson College’s expert faculty on the MC campus during a focused class lasting five days. This year, institute students could choose from classes on electrical systems, paint restoration, automotive woodworking, engines, upholstery and trim, and sheet metal restoration, among others.
Matthew Joseph of Gaithsburg, Md., was attending for the second time this year, and has enjoyed the experience so much that he will be attending McPherson College this fall as a full-time student to earn his bachelor’s in automotive restoration. He said he found the professors at Institute to be hands on and interested in meeting students’ needs.

“I thought it was great,” he said. “So I sent in my application.”

At least three high school students are attending the institute, with Carson Hall of Wichita being one of the youngest at 14. He and his father, C.R. Hall, are attending this summer for the second year in a row, Both are taking the engines class taught by Curt Goodwin, associate professor of technology.

As C.R. Hall sat down to lunch on Monday, he joked, “I’m realizing how little I know about engines.”

C.R. Hall said that cars are an interest that he and Carson have developed together.

“He’s liked cars for as long as I have,” he said. “We just decided this is something we can do together that we’re both interested in.”

This year McPherson College again partnered with the REVS program at Stanford University to give five Stanford students the opportunity to attend Institute and add to their knowledge of vehicles and restoration. Tushar Goel and Vincent Laurense were two of these Stanford students, pursuing postgraduate degrees in mechanical engineering. Goel and Laurense are researching in the field of autonomous – that is, self-driving – cars, but with a bit of an extra twist. They’re working on a car that can not only drive itself, but also successfully complete the racing maneuver known as “drifting” without any human intervention.

Apart from being, honestly, pretty cool, a self-driven car that can drift provides an interesting engineering challenge.

“It’s an unstable equilibrium,” Laurense said. “It’s constantly changing.”

And it has the potential for more practical applications in the future, such as developing vehicles that can handle difficult road conditions or turn a vehicle suddenly to take an unavoidable collision in the best possible section of a car.

Laurense said taking the engines class at the Institute was giving him practical applications for the engineering skills he has learned at Stanford. The program at McPherson College came to him highly recommended.

“The students who were in previous years were really enthusiastic,” he said.

Learn more about the McPherson College Automotive Restoration Summer Institute and see pictures from the last three weeks of classes by liking the department’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MCautorestoration.