Local students and community members got a taste of the world of American sports cars Thursday afternoon during a presentation by a Corvette engineer at the public library.
Tom Hill, an engineer at the Bowling Green GM Corvette Assembly Plant, gave an hour-and-a-half presentation on “Engineering the Corvette” at Mary Wood Weldon Public Library, as part of the library’s new engineering-focused Discover Tech program.
A Glasgow High School engineering class and members of the community attended the presentation, which studied the Corvette from an engineering standpoint.
Hill started his talk by asking the group what they think an engineer is and does. An engineer is a problem solver, Hill said.
Hill’s passion for cars and fixing things started when he was about 5 years old, he said, but when his grandfather told him he would be an engineer, Hill had no idea what that meant.
In high school, Hill said he started to grasp what engineering was, and how much problem solving and fixing things were involved in the field.
“It’s the process of solving the problems that’s really fun,” Hill said. “If you don’t like doing that, you don’t really want to be an engineer.”
Hill walked the group through the history of the Corvette, from the original 1953 car to today’s Corvette sports and race cars. The idea of the Corvette evolved after World War II, when soldiers returning to the U.S. were buying the European sports cars they had admired abroad. The original Corvette was made out of plastic, known as fiber glass, Hill said. The first year, General Motors sold 300 Corvettes, all made in the future research and development center in Flint, Mich.
“We never got respect with Corvette because they never really know if it was going to work,” Hill said.
Hill bought his first Corvette when he was 16. It was “old, worn out, beat-up,” Hill said, but he planned to fix it up.
“It didn’t even run,” Hill said. “My dad said, ‘What in the world are going to do with that?’ I said, ‘I’m going to fix it.’”
Sports cars are intended to be faster and more fun than a regular car, Hill said. They are something a person wants, not needs. After a couple years, Hill said GM hired a European to help them make the Corvette “a true American sports car.”
After about five years of steadily improving the Corvette line, Hill said the 1963 Stingray was the car that made the Corvette brand.
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