Three years ago, the Victor Valley College Automotive Technology Department obtained a clean fuels grant that helped create new and improved curriculum.
The California Energy Commission / Advanced Transportation and Renewable Energy grant also supported increased professional development and the purchase of state-of-the-art classroom equipment.
As a recent extension of the award, VVC partnered with Victor Valley Union High School District to channel funding from the energy commission to developing pilot training programs at two local high schools.
Adelanto and Victor Valley high schools were two of just eight schools in the state to be awarded. VVC officials joined representatives from the energy commission, Strong Workforce Transportation Sector, and VVUHSD at an award presentation last Wednesday.
“It was a really cool day,” said VVC Automotive/Industrial Technologies faculty member Steve Coultas. “It reinforces the linkages between us — there will be a much clearer, better transitional pathway from their propulsion programs to ours.”
Both high schools now have “Switch Lab” kits from Switch Vehicles, Inc., allowing students to build fully-functional electric cars from start to finish.
“Building an electric car is an experience I would have never thought I’d be a part of during high school,” Adelanto student Jayden White said to the crowd during the award presentation. “This project has been an amazing experience and it is something I will always remember.”
In October, Coultas attended a Switch Labs training workshop along with auto instructors from the awarded high schools, Robert Carlos from Victor Valley and Dave Mendoza from Adelanto.
“The automotive industry is evolving, and so are our automotive programs,” VVUHSD Career Technology Education Coordinator Dr. McKenzie Tarango said. “We are working with VVC to train a new generation of electric car technicians to meet the needs of the industry while providing students exposure to the high-wage careers of today and tomorrow.”
While the high schools received vehicle kits with direct current (DC) propulsion, VVC’s auto program ordered a kit with alternating current (AC) propulsion thanks to funding from the Strong Workforce Program.
Arriving in time for a class in the Spring 2020 semester, it will compliment and advance what students coming out of the local high school programs have already learned.
“We have increased the rigor of our program by about 25 percent (in light of the industry changing rapidly),” Coultas said. “Thankfully, because of the grant funding, we’re a year ahead of other schools.”