National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium Executive Director Al Ebron recently attended two conferences focused on promoting electric drive vehicles.

Held April 19-20 in Detroit, the “Taking Charge of the Electric Vehicle Industry’s Educational Needs” conference, which was part of Electrifying the Economy, Educating the Workforce (E3), was organized by NextEnergy, Wayne State University and Macomb Community College, a National Training Center member of the NAFTC.

The event featured a gathering of recipients of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awards, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—Transportation Electrification, to promote electric drive vehicle programs at the master’s, bachelor’s and associate’s level, in partnership with industry to understand the skills they envision needing in the emerging field of electric drive automobiles.

E3 conf 1

The “Taking Charge of the Electric Vehicle Industry’s Educational Needs” conference featured presentations about the educational and training needs of the electric vehicle industry. Credit: NAFTC

Attendees benefited from a collaborative conversation about the educational and training needs of the electric vehicle industry, leading to better educational programs in energy storage, hybrid and electric power trains, power electronics, grid services and charging infrastructure.

Ebron made a presentation about the NAFTC’s Advanced Electric Drive Vehicle Education Program, focusing on the training materials available through the DOE-funded grant. He also participated in an expert panel on academic programs that address electric drive vehicles.

Two highlights of the conference included tours of the General Motors Hamtramck Plant, where the Chevy Volt is assembled, and the A123 Systems, which develops and produces lithium-ion batteries.

“The Volt was going down the same assembly line as other vehicles, and there were no safety issues because all the employees were aware that it’s an extended-range electric vehicle and were knowledgeable about how it is different from conventional vehicles,” Ebron explained. “We also saw the battery pack being raised up into the middle of the car, which was very distinct.”

Ebron added that it was interesting to see, at the A123 battery plant, which manufactures batteries for light- and heavy-duty vehicles, how different arrays of cells are needed depending on how much energy is required for the car or truck.

“Because of this battery plant and other suppliers to the electric vehicle industry, thousands of jobs are being created,” Ebron said.

In addition, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) hosted an electric vehicle (EV) forum April 29 in Washington, D.C. Ebron attended with Terry Wolfe, Automotive Department Coordinator at Community College of Baltimore County, a National Training Center member of the NAFTC.

Terry Wolfe with Volt

Community College of Baltimore County Automotive Department Coordinator Terry Wolfe stands with a Chevy Volt at the EV forum hosted by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Credit: NAFTC

The purposes of the event were to examine successful local and regional EV readiness strategies and to begin the conversation on a regional level on how to transition to new transportation capabilities. The forum included discussion on the role of area utilities in EV infrastructure development, national and regional perspectives by the U.S. DOE and industry experts and a vehicle showcase of EV technology.

“A Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid and Chevy Volt were on display during the event,” noted Ebron. “I attended the event to show support for the Clean Cities Program and for numerous other presenters as well as networking with industry representatives.”

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