On December 6 and 7, the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium hosted a professional development meeting at the Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh. The two-day meeting was designed to update NAFTC’s national and associate training center members on the NAFTC’s accomplishments, new projects, and revamped curriculum materials. In addition to NAFTC staff, 24 representatives from member training centers attended.

Bill Davis, the NAFTC’s assistant director of operations, welcomed the crowd, and shared the good news that the NAFTC has recently added four new training centers to its membership – three national training centers, and one new associate training center.

New national training centers include: Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs, Wyoming, San Jacinto College in La Porte, Texas, and New River Community and Technical College in Ghent, West Virginia. Lively Technical Center, located in Tallahassee, Florida is the one associate training center which has recently joined the ranks of NAFTC membership schools. Each new training center was in attendance.

On the morning of December 6, Catherine Mezera, a project manager at the NAFTC, presented national training center members with an overview of the consortium’s newest curriculum, Petroleum Reduction Technologies (PRT). The PRT material has been traditionally divided into eight modules, covering: biodiesel, ethanol, natural gas, propane, hydrogen, electric drive, fuel economy, and idle reduction. Now, the NAFTC has recently added a ninth module, titled “Fleet Applications.” This module, which focuses on the ways in which fleets utilize alternative fuel vehicles, was unveiled during the morning session of the Pittsburg meeting. In addition, for the first time ever, the NAFTC presented national training centers with marketing and outreach materials for promoting the use of alternative fuel vehicles. The morning session was wrapped up by Micheal Smyth, assistant director curriculum development and training, and Judy Moore, assistant director communications and outreach, who presented on the NAFTC’s plans for the development of additional curriculum and products.

NAFTC assistant director of curriculum development and training, Micheal Smyth, presents an update on curriculum development and training activities. Credit: NAFTC.

CCAC automotive engineering professor, Bob Koch, and assistant professor of automotive technology, Scott Mein, conducted an afternoon presentation on the different types of natural gas and the various types of tanks that are used to hold the fuel. Koch then led a tour of the community college’s automotive facility; the tour included a peek at a Dodge Ram converted to run on compressed natural gas. Koch’s tour was followed by a presentation from Mike Lickert, corporate fleet manager for Giant Eagle’s distribution unit Talon Logistics, Inc. Lickert spoke on how Giant Eagle has implemented natural gas in its fleets.

Meeting attendees wrapped up day one with an exciting networking activity: they traveled to the Duquesne Incline in Pittsburgh. There, participants rode on a century-old incline railway, one of the oldest alternative fueled transportation systems in the eastern United States. Attendees were given a tour of the machinery room of the system and a presentation on the operation and history of the railway.

The second day of the Pittsburgh meeting consisted of additional NAFTC updates. Bill Davis, assistant director operations, Judy Moore, assistant director communications and outreach, and Micheal Smyth, assistant director curriculum development and training, presented information on the NAFTC’s involvement in the Clean Cities Learning Program, the Advanced Electric Drive Vehicle Education Program, the First Responder Safety Training program, and many other important updates. Davis also presented certificates of appreciation to two retiring national training center member representatives, Jim Pitts and Terry Wolfe.

Jim Pitts from Lansing Community College (left) and Terry Wolfe from Greater Washington Region Clean Cities Coalition (right) receive certificates of appreciation from NAFTC’s Bill Davis (center). Credit: NAFTC.

Day two of the Pittsburgh meeting finished off with a tour of Giant Eagle’s maintenance facility and natural gas fueling infrastructure. The tour included a stop at a natural gas fueling station, a peek at natural gas trucks, and a look at the company’s first refrigerated natural gas truck. Participants learned about safety issues to be taken into consideration for natural gas infrastructures, and what to do in case of a natural gas leak.

Mike Lickert, corporate fleet manager for Giant Eagle’s distribution unit Talon Logistics, Inc., shows off the company’s natural gas fueling station to meeting attendees. Credit: NAFTC.

“The meeting was very well-attended,” said Jeannie Bellman, NAFTC’s Membership Coordinator. “It was a great success, overall.” Jeannie can be contacted at Jeannie.Bellman@mail.wvu.edu with any questions about NAFTC membership.

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