Story by Charity Lindsey
Electrification of the car industry is imminent and Victor Valley College is “at the forefront of this,” according to Automotive/Industrial Technologies faculty member Steven Coultas.
With carmakers around the world committing themselves to offering electric cars in the near future, educational programs must be able to produce a workforce skilled in alternative propulsion vehicles.
Luckily, VVC is a year ahead of most schools in offering specialized curriculum to prepare students for this wave of change.
“We have increased the rigor of our program by about 25 percent (in light of the industry changing rapidly),” Coultas said.
VVC students can now look at upcoming classes that will allow them to earn an Alternative Vehicle Propulsion Certificate/Degree. Those interested should first take the requirement of AUTO-50, “Intro to Automotive Tech,” which is offered in Winter and Spring 2020.
Once they’ve taken AUTO-50, the first cohort of Alternative Vehicle students will enroll in AUTO-89.3, “Intro to Hybrid, Electric, and Alternative Vehicle Tech,” which is offered in Spring 2020.
Cameron Hill, a 22-year-old VVC automotive student who will be enrolling in alternative vehicles courses, said he is looking forward to learning something new.
“Besides the tires, (electric cars) are a whole new vehicle,” Hill said. “I couldn’t tell you what we’re going to be learning, but I know I’m excited.”Hill said he never wanted to go to school until he came to the VVC auto department.
“Now I go to class give days a week and have a smile on my face the whole time,” Hill said. “This industry is always going to be growing, and it makes it fun because there’s so much going on.”
The automotive department’s development of new curriculum has been supported by the Strong Workforce Program, which California Community Colleges established in 2016 to drive more students into programs which lead to high-demand, high-wage jobs. VVC belongs to the Inland Empire/Desert Regional Consortium, partnering with other nearby community colleges to provide the region with programs that contribute to economic prosperity.
Recent funding has allowed the automotive department to purchase new equipment, including new hybrid and electric vehicles. The department has four primary “alternative” vehicles for students to learn with: a 2016 Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid, a 2016 Honda Accord hybrid, an electric 2016 Chevrolet Bolt, and an electric 2015 Fiat 500.
VVC also purchased a Switch Lab kit from Switch Vehicles, Inc., allowing students to build fully-functional electric cars from start to finish.
Coultas said VVC is “at the forefront” of the push toward alternative cars, seeing as California is one of the world’s largest economies and leads the country in sales of hybrid and electric vehicles.
“Our technology is driven by the computer industry because the more computer technology they have available, the more technology we can utilize on an automobile — so you have to know both,” Coultas said. “As we transition into electric propulsion, the newest technology we’re going to have is automation, which is autonomous, self-driving vehicles. So we’re starting to build curriculum for that right now.”
The Alternative Vehicle Propulsion Certificate is one of the 11 total automotive certificates now offered at VVC, which all require the same foundational courses, making it easy for students to work toward multiple certificates at once. For more information, please contact Steven Coultas at firstname.lastname@example.org.