Alan Kulwicki with race car

Alan Kulwicki, BSE ’77, Inducted into 2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame; New UWM Kulwicki Garage “Thinkerspace” Honors Legacy

In 1977, Alan Kulwicki graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a BS in mechanical engineering. He would apply his degree to his skill in racecar driving to achieve success on the track. Kulwicki was on the cutting edge of an increasing emphasis on technology in the sport. Less than ten years later, in 1986, Kulwicki would be named NASCAR Rookie of the Year and would go on to win the 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup by the then-closest margin in NASCAR history.

Despite his death in a plane crash in 1993, Kulwicki’s name and legacy live on. On February 1, 2019, Kulwicki was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Kulwicki garage front door
New Kulwicki Garage
Kulwicki garage interior
Kulwicki garage interior

Getting the education may have put me behind schedule a few years with my racing career, but it is paying off . . . It has definitely been essential in the success of operating my own team. It’s an asset that I’m proud of.

ALAN KULWICKI, on his UWM education

Kulwicki’s UWM Legacy: Inspiring Student Innovators

In 2013, Kulwicki’s stepmother, Thelma H. Kulwicki, provided funding to establish the Alan Kulwicki Memorial Student Center, affectionately known as the Pit Stop. This space is located on the first floor of UWM’s Engineering & Mathematical Sciences building, and is a meeting space and occasional classroom.

To honor Kulwicki’s induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, in 2020 the Pit Stop was reimagined as the Kulwicki Garage. This flexible place, where students in engineering and other disciplines can collaborate and innovate, is being called a “thinkerspace”; it will be used as a non-traditional classroom with many possibilities for other public events, including pop-up workshops, speaker series, entrepreneur-in-residence “office hours” and student meet-up sessions.

Replacing the front wall with a garage door expanded the capacity–and invites more students, visitors and industry partners to stop in. The Kulwicki Garage has tools for creative thinking and collaborative problem-solving, such as massive wall-mounted whiteboards, low-resolution prototyping materials for conceptual design and idea sharing, audio-video equipment for sharing design research and ideas and movable flexible furniture allowing for various room configurations.

In the spirit of open innovation, the UWM Kulwicki Garage honors Alan Kulwicki — the impact of his college education and unique path to success — and inspires today’s student innovators.

Alan Kulwicki holding trophy
Alan Kulwicki being presented the NASCAR championship trophy.