The NAFTC recently implemented state-of-the-art hybrid vehicle training for technicians, instructors and other interested participants. Over the next couple of months dozens of NAFTC member instructors from throughout the U.S. will attend a five-day train-the-trainer course, held in locations nationwide, certifying them to conduct the Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Propulsion Systems course in their own schools and local communities.
The addition of this new course allows the NAFTC to play a key role in preparing Americans for increased use of hybrid and electric vehicles. Al Ebron, NAFTC Executive Director, explained that “With the growing interest in vehicles powered by electric drive, there is a significant need for training more people on how to use and maintain the propulsion systems. This training package was designed and is presented to train the people who will end up teaching others.”
The course will also ultimately benefit post-secondary and secondary instructors and other target audiences. The initiative will allow the trainer a great deal of flexibility to offer classes from 1-5 days in length for adult learners or as a semester or multi-semester class for students.
The new hybrid vehicle training program was developed in partnership with Automotive Research and Design, Inc. (AR&D). AR&D is a technology company that specializes in the development of training materials that support electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle propulsion systems.
The first “train-the- trainer” session was held at the NAFTC headquarters, in Morgantown, WV on June 22-26. The training will prepare the participants to return to their own schools to implement the course into their automotive programs or teach a growing number of independent garage owners and automobile dealers who wish to learn more about maintaining the new propulsion systems.
“There are so many new technologies, and we need all the bright minds we can get,” said John Frala, an instructor at Rio Hondo College in Whittier, California. He wants to show his students that there’s more to the automotive industry than just fixing cars. He said, “I’ve spent 32 years learning and teaching about alternative fuels, and I want my students to know this is available, to spark their interest in this new technology.”
Mark Quarto, a Technical Consultant and trainer at AR&D and the contracted trainer for the NAFTC’s Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Propulsion Systems train-the-trainer course, recognized the need for this training. “I spent 30 years in the industry, and I noticed there was very little known when it came to high voltage electric systems and also little technical training to address the problem,” he said. “I saw this training as an opportunity for me to collaborate with the NAFTC and to get credible and accurate information to instructors for the next generation.”
Many of the participants in this training were happy to find that this course filled the gap in information that original equipment manufacturers have not fully addressed. This was the first NAFTC training Tom Berryman, the Director for Automotive Programming at Lawson State Community College in Bessemer, Alabama, attended. He said, “I’m glad I attended this training. It has helped me gain a better understanding of hybrid electric vehicles, and it’s more than the manufacturers will tell us. They’re not in the business of teaching.”
Through lectures and hands-on exercises, participants gained a deeper understanding of hybrid electric vehicles, and they are now NAFTC approved to relay this knowledge to others. Berryman believes that the spreading of this knowledge should be a priority. “If we want to lessen our dependence on other countries from oil and, to be truly innovative and self-sufficient, we need to spread this knowledge throughout our communities.”
Quarto also offered some final advice to technicians. “Don’t wait long to learn this technology. Do it while there is still time before the volume of hybrid vehicles is in the market. We must have the technicians with the know how to analyze, diagnose and repair these things. We have to be ready for them.”