National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium executive director Al Ebron participated in the White House’s “Advanced Vehicles: Driving Growth Event” on June 27.

Ebron participated on the Clean Energy Innovation panel of the afternoon conference in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House. The event celebrated the resurgence of the auto industry and recognized its leaders.

“I was honored to be asked to participate in this prestigious event,” Ebron said. “It was exciting and a privilege to be able to share the story of West Virginia University’s energy programs, especially the success of the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium.”

The panels were both streamed live online through the White House’s website and have been archived on YouTube. The YouTube video for Ebron’s panel can be found here.

NAFTC Director Al Ebron (fifth from left) shares his thoughts on panel. Credit: White House Council on Environmental Quality.

In addition to Ebron, the Clean Energy Innovation panel participants included Atul Kapadia, the CEO of Envia Systems, Jules Toraya, the Program Manager of Clean Cities Atlanta’s Center for Transportation and the Environment , Ryan Harty, Manager of Honda’s Environmental Business Development, and Mike Gammella, President of United Auto Workers Local 1250 (Cleveland). Event moderators were Vice President for Climate and Energy at the National Wildlife Federation Tim Warman and Special assistant to the president for manufacturing policy Jason Miller.

Director of Clean Cities Atlanta, Jules Toraya shares his thoughts on the panel. Credit: White House Council on Environmental Quality

In his opening comments, Ebron discussed three NAFTC projects, the Clean Cities Learning Program, the Advanced Electric Drive Vehicle Education Program, and First Responder Safety Training.

He went on to emphasize the importance of education.

“Education doesn’t always move at the speed of technology,” he explained. “New technologies aren’t being exposed to young people. At the NAFTC we are developing Electric Drive Vehicle training to go in career and technology education programs at the high school level. And I am so excited about this because after we do several pilots, one of which will be in West Virginia, we hope to pilot this in other states to start getting this new technology into the high schools, which then can move into the community colleges and so forth.”

“In addition,” Ebron continued. “We are going have to re-train our trainers. We develop education programs at the teaching level as well.”

“We really need to educate the general public, the consumers,” he concluded. “We want to help them understand this new technology.”

Ebron illustrated his point about the need to educate the general public on how alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles work, by sharing an anecdote. While at a conference in Washington D.C., he asked several Toyota Prius owners if they could explain how their cars worked.

“There was not a single person, who could explain it to me in a full way,” Ebron said.

While discussing what made him hopeful for the future of alternative fuel automotive technology, Ebron said, “I have been around these alternative fuel vehicles for over twenty years. And in the late eighties/early nineties we were having a lot of the same discussions we are having today. The difference is now the technology is better. The auto industry is more behind it. And the government is more behind it. I believe it will stick this time.”

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