Technical education is creeping toward the future. Next fall, Lake Area Technical College in Watertown will become South Dakota’s first school to offer training in electric and hybrid vehicle technology:
”The industry is moving at a such a rapid pace toward EV and hybrid that we started talking to our advisory board and they showed a great interest in getting this program going as quickly as we could,” said Automotive Technology Instructor Thor Green.
…”As of right now, we’re going to be the only ones offering this program. We’re gonna definitely set ourselves apart being the only one in the state right now. I’m hoping that we’re actually ahead of the curve,” said Green.
Students believe this adaptation to change will give them a better chance at being hired after graduation.
”That’s kind of where the industry is going. So, if I have a year of education in this program, that’ll pretty much put me in a whole other spectrum. So, I’m kind of looking toward the future of things. The electric cars are definitely my kind of area,” said student Sam McKay [staff, “Lake Area Adds New Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technician Program,” KSFY, 2021.11.29].
The training will take the form of an extra year after completing its regular 18-month auto-tech degree:
Graduates of an ASE certified automotive technician program may enroll in the new one-year Electric Vehicle option ! As the transportation industry continues to evolve toward electric and hybrid vehicles, there is a growing demand for skilled service technicians who are trained to troubleshoot and repair them. Upon completion of this option, graduates will be able to develop diagnosis and repair procedures for electric and hybrid vehicles; demonstrate electric vehicle and hybrid safety and service procedures; describe electric vehicle and hybrid batteries and service as well as electric vehicle and hybrid electric motors, generators, and controls; and describe regenerative braking systems as well as electric vehicle and hybrid powertrains and power steering. Students enrolled in the new option will build on the automotive skillsets learned during their Automotive Technology coursework, and gain another highly marketable skill [Lake Area Technical College, “Automotive Technology: Electric Vehicles Option for Automotive Technology Grads,” school website, retrieved 2021.12.02].
The Watertown School Board (don’t forget: each of our four vo-techs is run by its local K-12 school board) approved adding the electric/hybrid vehicle program at its November meeting. Board members heard that the state and local businesses are pushing for green-car training:
The board was informed that the electronic vehicle maintenance and repair program has been well-received on the state level and requested that new courses could be in place as early as fall 2022.
Several letters in support of the new program from area dealerships were presented. One was from Scott Driscoll, president and owner of Watertown Ford Chrysler.
“We are already seeing an increased demand for technicians with the training and skills necessary to service these vehicles, and that will only continue to increase in the future as these are highly skilled positions that pay very well,” his letter read.
Bob Scherbenske, the owner of Scherbenske Auto Repair Inc., also wrote to in favor of the program.
“Electric vehicles have been around in some form since the invention of the automobile. As an industry, we have seen technology and sales of the electric and hybrid vehicle increase in recent years,” his letter read. “The demand for highly trained technicians in this area will only increase. Young technicians need to be fully prepared for the future workforce demands of automotive repair” [Kelly Drager, ” Watertown School Board Approves Program to Maintain, Repair Electric Vehicles for Lake Area,” Watertown Public Opinion via Yahoo, 2021.11.09].
What was that President Joe Biden was saying about investment in electric-vehicle infrastructure creating jobs and opportunity?