Danika and Mike Bannasch on their farm with their dogs

Photo: Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis

Driven to Teach

by | Jan 7, 2019 | Fall/Winter 2018-19, Office Hours

UC Davis engineering professor Kurt Kornbluth has a knack for restoring vintage European cars. He has rebuilt hundreds of vehicles since he was in high school outside Detroit.

“I love cars because they are pieces of history,” Kornbluth said. “If a car is done right, you open the door, and you’re like, ‘Wow, this is what the 1980s looked like.’”

With the goal of designing cars, Kornbluth studied engineering before working for General Motors. Now, he is the founding director of the UC Davis Program for International Energy Technologies, an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, and the champion for the Sustainable Campus, Sustainable Cities initiative. This large-scale effort will accelerate carbon reduction on the UC Davis campus and demonstrate a model of sustainability for small cities.

“Cars are small laboratories for everything an engineer or designer might want to learn,” Kornbluth said. “They have every sort of system you can imagine, all integrated into one object. Cars are an easy way to talk about engineering subjects with anyone, from my 6-year-old son, who modified his own tricycle with old BMW parts, to my students at UC Davis, who are tackling much larger projects.”