Leno’s lot

Mechanical engineering students and Dr. Martin Morris visit Jay Leno’s Garage in Southern California.

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By Abby Rhodes
January 19, 2011

Most people know that Jay Leno is both a comedian and a serious car collector, but few get to sit in his audience and walk through his personal garage in the same week. Last week, Dr. Martin Morris and a group of mechanical engineering students got to see both of Leno’s worlds as part of a January Interim expedition course to Los Angeles. 

The invitation came from Leno himself, delivered during his Homecoming 2010 visit to Bradley. He was so taken with the University’s efforts to build more efficient, environmentally friendly automobiles that he asked the students to check out his own fleet of electric and hybrid cars – as well as the antique and rare models he famously dares to drive on L.A. streets.

“The greatest part was learning the story behind all the cars. Some of them are just one of two or three in existence,” said senior Kyle Mulligan, who has been building racecars at Bradley since his freshman year.

Leno also welcomed Dr. Morris and his students to a taping of The Tonight Show.

While in California, the group paid a visit to Tesla Motors, one of the world’s premier manufacturers of electric vehicles.

“We were able to get an up-close and personal view of a very appealing, high-performance electric sports car,” Dr. Morris said. “I hope the urban vehicle we design this year will look very similar.”

Mulligan said the Palo Alto carmaker is just the kind of company he and his classmates would love to join someday.

“It’s a growing company whose mission I really believe in, and as a senior about to graduate, it’s very encouraging to think that one of us could have the opportunity to work there,” said Mulligan.

As Mulligan and his classmates prepare to graduate, it’s also encouraging to see a new crop of prospective students excited about Bradley. Current students and faculty met with families eager to learn more about the University at the annual Hollywood Gala Reception on January 12. Mulligan took the opportunity to impart some advice based on his own personalized educational experience.

“Getting involved here can really take you places because if you stand out, it brings great opportunities,” said Mulligan, who has talked shop with several high-profile people, including U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood ’71 and the vice president of research and engineering for Ford Motor Company.