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Offroad vehicle curriculum takes place at AWC campus in San Luis
SAN LUIS, Ariz. — It's not ready to crest hills or negotiate rugged terrain, but high school and Arizona Western College students here recently unveiled their prototype of an all-terrain vehicle.
The unfinished chrome frame was fabricated in the welding shop at San Luis High School in what is a joint venture of the high school and AWC students, and college officials hope their efforts will lead not just to a trail-ready vehicle but a thriving offroading industry in the Arizona border town.
The AWC students are enrolled in a year-old offroading program at the San Luis campus designed to prepare them for jobs as offroad vehicle mechanics, manufacturers, dealers and other facets of the sport.
“We have thousands of (offroading) enthusiasts who come to the recreational areas in the desert in this region with their vehicles, but we don't now have a service industry that they need,” said Everardo Martinez Inzunza, south county director for AWC. “So about a year ago, we began on an experimental basis a class in the offroad industry.”
Part of the students' instruction relates to fabrication of the vehicles, and the uncompleted prototype unveiled recently is one of their projects.
“They are creating a vehicle beginning with a frame made with a chrome alignment,” said Martinez Inzunza. “That is what the industry is using in the racing vehicles.”
Industrial engineering students from the Center for High Studies for Sonora, in neighboring San Luis Rio Colorado, Son., attended the recent unveiling of the prototype in what he called an academic exchange between the two institutions.
Martinez Inzunza said AWC is seeking financial sponsors to help the students finish the project.
“We are taking with a local racer that is interesting helping us, but we need more sponsors.”
AWC's San Luis campus began offering the offroading curriculum in early 2011, hoping to take advantage of area residents' interest in offroading and of thousands of offroaders from the Phoenix area and California who come to the area each year during the milder months.
Talk of cultivating an offroading industry comes at a time when the border city's economy has been battered by a recession and a dropoff in sales in San Luis to consumers from neighboring Mexico.