You know the EV revolution is real when educational institutions like Minnesota State Community and Technical College start offering training for hybrid and electric car technicians. Thanks in large part to a $349,652 National Science Foundation grant, M State is rolling out plans for a new training program to help meet the demand for the auto technicians of the future.
It is planning to introduce the electric car technician program on Wednesday, October 19 at 2 p.m. The presentation will take place at the new Transportation Center at the Moorhead campus and is open to anyone with an interest in the automotive industry. Community members, media professionals, auto industry stakeholders, and college faculty, staff, and students are all invited to attend.
“The energy surrounding the hybrid and electric vehicle market is surging. It’s a transformative era for the automotive industry and we’re excited to be leading efforts to prepare students for this transition,” said M State President Carrie Brimhall. “It’s important that we don’t sit back and wait for the change but rather take the wheel to lead the next generation of automotive service technicians to long and successful careers in the field.”
An array of electric vehicles will be on display during the event, including a 2022 Chevy Bolt added in June of this year thanks to another grant. There will be an announcement about M State’s upcoming Level 3 EV charging station, which will be one of only four such stations in the Fargo-Moorhead area and will be available to the public to use free of charge.
M State is developing the new hybrid and electric car technician training program under the leadership of faculty members Shannon Mohn and Allan Lineburg, with input from other college faculty, auto industry partners, manufacturers, and stakeholders throughout the region. Mohn was a key figure behind the National Science Foundation grant award and has previous experience in the execution of grant duties and curriculum development as well as close connections with the regional automotive industry.
The newly developed curriculum will consist of two complementary 3 credit “stackable certificates” that automotive technology students may complete along with their regular coursework. The certificates will demonstrate a student’s abilities in the maintenance and repair of hybrid vehicles, EVs, or both. It is expected to be implemented at M State by 2024, and after that it will be shared with other colleges across the country for potential adoption and use.
“This project will have the ability to impact the automotive industry and college automotive technology programs on a local, regional and national level,” said Mohn. “The curriculum and resulting e-textbook and lab materials we develop will be shared with multiple National Science Foundation centers around the country, allowing any automotive technology program to use them.”
Mohn will serve as an ongoing resource for those centers, answering questions and offering advice and information to educators, organizations, and schools as they implement their own similar programs.
“The goal is to address the severe lack of technicians who are trained to work on electric-powered vehicles,” said Mohn. “Currently, only 3% of technicians are trained to work on these vehicles, yet the market is growing rapidly. Fewer than 1,000 such vehicles were sold in all of 2009; today, 100,000 are sold every month, in the U.S. alone.”
That number will only continue to rise as attitudes about clean energy and electric vehicles continue to change. A 2021 survey by Yale University showed that 67% of Americans are in support of transitioning the national economy from fossil fuels to 100% clean energy by 2050 and 78% are in favor of tax rebates for electric vehicles.
Major car companies, including Ford, General Motors, and others, are reporting year-over-year increases of well over 100% in new electric car sales and have made pledges to spend billions on the development of new electric vehicles. Forbes estimates that by 2025, electric vehicle sales will make up more than 20% of the total market.
At M State, the automotive department has already procured two fully functional hybrid vehicles, as well as components and batteries, for educational lab use from several manufacturers and salvage and recycling companies. Local industry has also committed to loaning EVs to the program for short term use so students and instructors will have access to the most current technology.
It may be, as EV advocates claim, that electric cars require less maintenance than conventional cars but less does not mean none. America will need a supply of properly trained technicians who understand the ins and outs of electrified vehicles as the number of EVs on the road increases. The new program at Minnesota State is a big step in the right direction.
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