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The Right People at the Right Time: Training the Next Generation of Automotive Professionals

Source: Renewable Energy

With gasoline prices increasing, businesses, state and local governments and families are quickly adopting electric vehicles, hybrids and plug-in vehicle technologies in our region. In addition, thousands of hybrid and electric vehicle owners are now outside their warranty period, thus increasing demand for aftermarket technicians who, to date, have not been trained in sufficient numbers to handle the demand. Thanks in part to funding from the SolarTech Workforce Innovations Collaborative (SWIC), De Anza College’s Auto Tech Electric Vehicle (EV) Program is responding to the specific needs of the local industry by training the next generation of automotive technicians and fleet managers.

Furthermore, De Anza's Auto Tech program offers the only pure-play EV training course outside of Detroit.  In developing this program, we searched extensively for dedicated training curriculum.  While some colleges have hybrid courses, none had a stand-alone EV course. We acquired an electric vehicle, created our own curriculum with the help of a leading Chevy Volt technician in the area and offered our training free of charge at a state-of-the-art facility to provide students with hands-on experience.

As part of this effort, De Anza’s Auto Tech department will soon unveil its solar-powered charging station this month in the San Francisco Bay Area. The EV training program provides students the skills they need to effectively and safely work on EVs, plug-in hybrids and related infrastructure such as our newly installed SunPod solar-powered charging station.

SWIC helped fund the training and equipment that pushed the program ahead 10 years, allowing De Anza to offer our students a true “living lab.”  From a modern auto repair facility and a Chevy Volt, to a solar-powered EV charging station, graduates of the program are now prepared to handle the next generation of vehicles.  These skills help unemployed students find jobs as fleet managers, technicians at dealerships and at repair shops and working on electric motor drive public transportation. For those already employed, the program provides important skill augmentation that prepares them for the new generation of vehicles hitting the roads.

Finally, at De Anza’s Auto Tech program, we know that moving our economy to renewable resources is an important transition.  As a 30-year veteran of the United States Air Force Reserve, I know our national security depends on ending our addiction to oil and moving to a sustainable, clean energy economy. By greasing the wheels for the electric vehicle industry, De Anza’s Auto Tech program is making this transition possible. I hope to see more programs like it around the country in the coming months and years.