NAFTC program introduced in WV high schools
August 22, 2012 ·
The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium, in Morgantown, has been working for the last year on a pilot program that can be used in high schools. Its purpose is to train students on the components of repairing alternative fuel vehicles. The program is now launching.
This program is part of an effort to get people more acclimated with electric drive vehicles, especially ones using battery electric, plug-in electric, hybrid electric, and fuel-cell electric technology. The pilot program’s mission is to reach out specifically to high school students, since that’s where automotive education typically begins. Al Ebron is the NAFTC’s executive director.
"A lot of the automotive programs really haven’t been updated in many years. These vehicles are here now, there are many of them on the road, and they are here to stay in my opinion, this program will give students a unique skill set and make them very employable when they go out into their post-secondary education, or some of them will go directly into dealerships, or take other career paths," he said.
The NAFTC brought in teachers to give them an exhaustive overview of the program. That includes hands-on work with alternative fuel vehicles at the consortium’s facilities. Ebron says this was something the participants really enjoyed.
"The instructors need to be familiar with the components, they need to understand the technology," he said.
And for those instructors, it’s now their turn to teach. This fall, the pilot program’s curriculum will be offered to students in some West Virginia schools. Students will go through the program too, and about half of it is classroom instruction and half is laboratory experience, with the vehicles.
"These vehicles are pretty new to the market, and many of the automobile manufacturers now are replacing, if a single cell goes bad in the battery pack, they’re going to replace the entire battery which could be thousands, thousand dollars plus repair," Ebron said.
"What we need to be teaching our instructors and our students in the future is how to diagnose that single cell; open up the battery, test that single cell, take out that single cell, and replace it. That would save you thousands of dollars in repair costs. That’s coming in the future. That’s why this training is so important to get started at the high school level."
The schools in West Virginia participating in the program this year are Preston High School, the Putnam Career and Technical Center, the Mercer County Technical Education Center, the Nicholas County Career and Technical Education Center, and the James Rumsey Technical Institute.
The program is also being launched in some schools in South Carolina. Other components of the NAFTC’s training series on electric vehicles include first responder training, and college-level training for vehicle repair.