October 02, 2007

Automotive students benefit from Toyota donation

by Pete Rosenbery


CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale's nationally recognized automotive technology program continues to supply its students with the best equipment — this time with the donation of 2007 Toyota Tundra truck from Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. through Marion Toyota.

"The donation of the 2007 Tundra is yet another example of the support we continue to receive from Toyota," said Paul D. Sarvela, dean of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts. "Without these donations, our automotive program would quite simply be unable to keep up with the technological advances of the industry. This donation will enable our students to work on cutting-edge technology in our labs, and will help us better prepare our students for their work in the industry."


Media Advisory

Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Toyota officials will be available at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4, to discuss the Toyota Tundra gift to the automotive technology department. The presentation will be at Marion Toyota, 3209 W. DeYoung St. — southwest of the Illinois 13-Skyline Drive intersection in Marion. Reporters, camera crews and photographers are welcome to attend.


The relationship with Toyota goes back more than 25 years, said department Chair Jack S. Greer.

"We enjoy strong industry support from all of the automotive companies, including Toyota," he said. "The vehicle will be used in our classes for training purposes to ensure that our faculty and students are up to date with the changing automotive technology."

In 2005, the program earned the Automotive Industry Planning Council's Award of Excellence for 2005 — the third time it has been judged the nation's top program. The program also earned top honors in 1991 and 1999; national winners cannot compete again for the award for five years.

"Toyota has been increasingly supportive of SIUC's efforts to provide only the best education for students in our nationally recognized automotive programs," said Jeffrey D. Lorber, associate vice chancellor for institutional advancement and executive director of development with the SIU Foundation.

"The gift of this vehicle allows our students to have direct, hands-on experiences with current technology," Lorber said. "In turn, these opportunities clearly help our graduates gain an advantage as they prepare for careers in automotive and other related fields."

There are about 40 program graduates working for Toyota and Lexus in a variety of fields, Greer said. Approximately 30 automotive technology alums work at Toyota headquarters in Torrance, Calif.

Sarvela recently visited the company's Torrance facility "to see the good work that our graduates are doing at Toyota," he said.

"I am proud of our Toyota alums, and am most grateful for the support provided by the corporation," he said.

Dan Williams, a 1996 SIUC automotive technology graduate, is Toyota Motor Sales Chicago Region Truck Manager. The program is the best in the industry, and Williams said he is proud to be a graduate of it.

"The reputation of the SIUC automotive program is well known in the industry, and the continued support of the education programs is important to the future of the automotive industry," he said.

Program graduates are going into fields that include tech compliance, warranty, vendor relations, engineering, emissions testing, Toyota Racing Development, parts inventory and sales, dealership business relations, sales and marketing, district service and parts managers, and district sales managers, Williams said.

Another SIUC automotive program graduate, Neil R. Swartz, is a corporate manager with Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. He has served on the automotive technology department's advisory committee for more than 20 years, including committee co-chairman since 1994. Swartz is currently corporate manager of the company's North American Parts Distribution and Operations, and oversees operations of 10 parts distribution centers throughout the nation, including Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston.

The Tundra that the department is receiving features a 381 horsepower, 5.7 liter V8 with a 10,000-pound tow capacity, a six-speed transmission and gains up to 20 miles per gallon. The truck is built at Toyota plants in Texas and Indiana, and features more than 80 percent American-built parts, Williams said.