Electric cars have grown by leaps and bounds in the past decade, and a large network of mechanics who can service those electric cars has grown up around this new electric car market. We often write about other, much more nascent electric vehicle markets — electric airplanes, electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, and electric boats, for example. However, not much thought or attention is put on the servicing of these EVs. A headline today, though, caught my attention — “Electric boats are coming. Will Maine have mechanics to service them?” Well, I’d like to assume the answer is “yes,” but now I wonder.
So, the headline did its job. Let’s see what the story actually said. The short story is that there’s an organization aiming resolve this possible skills and training gap. “A regional nonprofit has partnered with educators on a three-part training course to help prepare technicians to work on electric boats,” the article notes. The organization is the Island Institute is the organization mentioned there. Its focus is providing support for the island and coastal communities of Maine. It is not working alone on this initiative, though. The Island Institute is working with the Mid-Coast School of Technology, Maine’s community college network, and Maine Electric Boat to bring more electric boat maintenance education to the state.
Shockingly — to me, at least — Maine has more coastline than California! (I know, I need to look at a map now to make sense of this.) Its economy is very marine centric, from its famous lobster industry to smaller coastal industries like aquaculture. Unfortunately, boats are dirty. They create an enormous amount of pollution, and are allowed to. According to Maine Electric Boat Co. co-founder Matt Tarpey (via Energy News), one hour in a boat creates as much pollution as driving an average car 800 miles!
Aside from the reduced pollution, electric boats can provide a quieter, more peaceful boating experience; operational (“fuel”) costs are much lower; and there’s the potential to reduce maintenance/service costs a great deal as well. However, you need the trained workforce for this to be as cost-competitive as possible.
“The movement to electric engines makes sense and it’s going to be really valuable — and it’s going to be here before we know it. To have training already set up is really important,” said Director of Mid-Coast School of Technology Robert Deetjen. Indeed. That’s what you call foresight.
The only downside of this story as far as I can see is that it makes me think or wonder if there’s going to be a lack of electric boat mechanics in other regions where there aren’t such electric education leaders. Will we see electric boat take-up hindered by a workforce training deficiency?
The good news is that the first course of a three-course training program the collaborators created is actually free to the public and online. It’s a training video that runs 90 minutes in length. The remaining two parts will come at a cost and launch in spring and summer. They include some hands-on training, too. While they won’t be free, the collaborators intend to receive some grants and subsidies to provide grants to many students — meaning they’ll be free or come at a discount for those students. They will be geared toward people really looking to take a step forward in this industry.
“The second and third courses are going to be much smaller and much more geared toward people who have some prior knowledge or are really interested in the field,” said Yvonne Thomas, senior community development officer with the Island Institute.
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