Plum grad wins Pitt car design contest

Tom Zacher, a Plum graduate who attends the University of Pittsburgh, recently won a car design contest. Submitted photo
Tom Zacher, a Plum graduate who attends the University of Pittsburgh, recently won a car design contest. Submitted photo
| Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Tom Zacher has varied interests.

The 2011 Plum High School graduate is studying industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.

Zacher, 20, a sophomore, also is a musician and plays tenor saxophone in the Pitt band.

And Zacher enjoys dabbling in graphic design using Photoshop.

Zacher entered a contest for Pitt students to design a custom Chevrolet Sonic with a Pitt-related theme.

He had only a couple of weeks of design and Photoshop work under his belt, along with a wealth of research on the heritage of the University of Pittsburgh.

Zacher found out Jan. 18 that his design was the Chevy Sonic 2013 contest winner when officials pulled a cover off the winning car and announced Zacher's name.

“It was nerve-wracking,” Zacher said about the time prior to the announcement, which took place at the Petersen Events Center.

“When they pulled the cover off, it was the best feeling.”

The unveiling was played on the Jumbotron screen at the Pitt-University of Connecticut basketball game Jan. 19.

Zacher said when he sat down to work on his design, he set out to show the University of Pittsburgh's history and the “iconic features of the last 225 years.”

Last year was the 225th anniversary of Pitt's founding.

Zacher said he incorporated gold and white racing stripes, indicative of Pitt football uniforms from about 30 years ago.

The Cathedral of Learning design is on the back of the car, and the Panther head design is on the sides.

Also, ‘H2P' for “Hail to Pitt” is on the top of the car.

“I spent a lot of time working on it,” Zacher said. “It gave me an appreciation for Pitt's heritage.”

The Plum graduate's entry was one of four. The winner was determined by both voting on the Pitt Panthers Road Warriors Facebook page and a panel of judges, Zacher said.

The Pitt Road Warriors, a group of students who attend sporting events, have been taking the car to various sporting events throughout the semester.

“It has been at the Fitzgerald Field House, the Petersen Event Center and Heinz Field for a recruiting day for football,” Zacher said.

Zacher received a $1,000 check from Chevrolet as well as a Pitt and Chevrolet prize package that contained T-shirts and other merchandise.

Zacher said he also considered attending Penn State and Ohio State, but Pitt won out.

“I love Pitt sports and Oakland,” Zacher said.

“Pitt stood out to me for its engineering program, and the Pitt band was a big factor.”

Zacher's father, Thomas Zacher, is proud of his son's showing in the contest.

“It's a big check mark on his resume,” said Thomas Zacher of Plum.

“Most of his time and effort has been put forth toward music. But I'm not shocked because he has the ability and the computer skills.”

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or

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