The mission of the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) is to educate the nation about alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. In fact, one part of the five-goal Advanced Electric Drive Vehicle Education Program is to expand National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day Odyssey, a nationwide, biennial, outreach event, to include educating a new generation of consumers at the secondary school level. The subject matter – the benefits and challenges of alternative fuel and advanced electric drive vehicles.

This year the NAFTC anticipated reaching more people than before and did just that with 125 Odyssey events nationwide. Each location played its part in setting the tone for a brighter and “greener” energy independent country.

Odyssey was designed in 2002 with the goal of helping individuals promote and educate the public on the use of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. However, this year marked a new stepping stone for the NAFTC because the Advanced Electric Drive Vehicle Education Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, provided $250 for the first 25 secondary schools to participate in Odyssey in 2010. For the 2012 Odyssey, the AED grant will provide $250 to the first 50 schools that agree to host an event.

“Today’s secondary school students may become tomorrow’s engineers, technicians and consumers of alternative fuel vehicles,” says NAFTC Executive Director Al Ebron. “There are better choices to be made in terms of transportation, and we are excited to educate a new generation of AFV enthusiasts.”

NAFTC Odyssey Manager Virginia McMillen added, “By focusing the Odyssey participation on advanced electric drive vehicles and how they will aid in providing cleaner transportation, saving energy and decreasing dependence on petroleum, the NAFTC is putting the knowledge in the hands of the people. Creativity is key when forming engaging material, and we have achieved that with an interactive PowerPoint presentation and educational video.”

Students, faculty and administrators at Arlington Career Center in Arlington, Va., participated in Odyssey this year, and Northern Virginia Community College hosted ACC students for an ingenious lab demonstration that provided hands-on activities for students. In a similar feat to Sir Arthur in the “Sword in the Stone,” inquisitive minds were challenged to try and pull a hybrid motor rotor (large magnet) out of the hybrid motor windings.

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An Arlington Career Center student works with a Northern Community College instructor on the hybrid motor rotor challenge. Source: NAFTC

“Having the students try to pull the magnet out of the motor made them realize how strong the motor really is,” said Dale Winchell, automotive technology instructor, at Arlington Career Center.

The topics covered during the demonstrations and class sessions were the need for hybrid vehicles, how series and parallel hybrids work and differences between a mild hybrid and a full hybrid. Approximately 120 students were in attendance.

In another part of the country, high schoolers from Northwest Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas observed an alternative fuels car show hosted by College of Southern Nevada that included several vehicles running solely on propane, hydrogen and electricity.

After a presentation on the benefits of alternative fuel vehicles by Dan Hyde, president of the Las Vegas Region Clean Cities Coalition, the group attended and participated in a ride-and-drive event. Students in attendance had the opportunity to drive the vehicles through an “Auto-X” style course to see just how quiet and clean they run. Approximately 100 students were in attendance.

The $6.9 million grant for the Advanced Electric Drive Vehicle Education Program will allow the NAFTC to provide training and educational outreach initiatives related to the manufacture and deployment of electric vehicles and components.

For more information on Odyssey events in your state and how you can host a site for 2012, visit Additional information on the NAFTC can be found at

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