The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium’s recent members’ Professional Development Meeting provided automotive instructors with in-depth training on the Chevy Volt and Eaton charging stations.

NAFTC Executive Director Al Ebron, Assistant Director of Training and Curriculum Development Micheal Smyth, National Instructor Mark Schmidt and Business Operations Specialist Laura Tinney attended the three-day event, along with 42 participants representing NAFTC training center members from across the country.

Held July 27-29 at Southern Maine Community College, the meeting updated members on NAFTC projects, including curricula for the Advanced Electric Drive Vehicle Education Program, the results of the Propane Vehicle Training beta test and the release of an updated propane curriculum.

Members received updates and information about many new training tools the NAFTC is developing

“The members are excited about the phone app, the Toyota Prius cutaway training tool and the online learning management system (LMS),” Smyth noted. “They can expect continued progress on a lot of fronts.”

The Volt session, conducted by General Motors (GM) trainer Alan Nagle, was specifically geared toward automotive technology instructors. “He’s very familiar with that audience,” Tinney said. “He’s done presentations at many conferences.”

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Volt trainer Alan Nagle, far right, discusses the extended range electric vehicle during the NAFTC Professional Development Meeting. Credit: NAFTC

Schmidt agreed, calling Nagle one of “the best subject matter expert anywhere” when it comes to the Volt.

“He has an engineering knowledge level, but he makes the material understandable for those of us who are not engineers,” Schmidt commented. “It was just the best Volt training ever. He was able to go a bit farther and explain why GM refers to the Volt as an extended range electric vehicle, rather than a plug-in series hybrid. He talked about how the two types are similar and how they are different.”

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Electronic parts of the Chevy Volt are labeled as part of the training session. Credit: NAFTC

Eaton’s presentation on electric vehicle charging infrastructure was taught by Mike Dixon and Roger O’Donnell. The Certified Contractor Network for Electric Vehicles Certification Class – which Ebron, Smyth and Schmidt attended in June at Eaton’s Asheville, N.C., facility – covered the need for electric vehicle charging stations and what it takes to install and support them. The course included eight lessons, which detailed the history of the industry; electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) technology; Eaton solutions; device communication; customer interaction; site evaluation and installation; maintenance and troubleshooting; and summary and review.

“They discussed Eaton’s present and projected offerings,” Smyth explained. “We saw Level 1 and Level 2 charging stations. The training was very well received by our members.”

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Eaton representative Mike Dixon makes a presentation about the company’s Level 2 charging station. Credit: NAFTC

“Having a combination of the vehicle training along with the infrastructure training was an excellent way to put the total package together for electric drive vehicles,” Ebron explained. “The infrastructure training gave the automotive instructors a perspective they normally wouldn’t think about. They saw how much training, education and outreach are needed for the vehicles as well as the infrastructure in order for advanced electric drive vehicles to achieve more widespread use for consumer and business applications.”

In addition, Ebron recognized Associate Training Centers Burton Center for Arts and Technology and Monongalia County Technical Education Center with certificates, while National Training Centers Alfred State College and New Mexico State University Alamogordo received plaques for their newly established membership.

The NAFTC staff agreed that the Professional Development meeting was an exciting time of networking and training.

“During the meeting, I saw representatives from high schools talking with people from community colleges in their areas,” Tinney said. “They are looking for ways to work together.”

Smyth added, “We received a lot of positive feedback from our members, and there was a great deal of enthusiasm built about the NAFTC. The NAFTC staff has high expectations to keep this ball rolling at the next Professional Development Meeting in late November or early December.”

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