National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium member Rio Hondo College’s Automotive Technology Program received approval April 27 to offer California’s first Associate of Arts degree in hybrid/electric vehicle/fuel-cell technology, a high-demand career field.

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“The approval from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office came in just 22 days – an incredibly quick turnaround that acknowledges the strength of the program,” said Professor John Frala, who designed the Associate of Science degree.

“People are calling me about employees already,” Frala said. “These cars are in heavy demand in California and there is a shortage of qualified technicians right now. There are not many technicians out in the field who are safely trained to work on high-voltage.”

California’s 21st hydrogen station opened on April 27 with about 80 expected to be open by December.

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The Automotive team at Rio Hondo College gathered to celebrate the new degree program. Credit: Rio Hondo College.

To earn the degree, students will need to study electrical systems, chemistry, physics and applied mathematics – a combination of skills demanded by the complex alternative fuel vehicles.

“Rio Hondo College continues to forge new career paths for our students, staying at the forefront of technology and opportunity,” said Superintendent/President Teresa Dreyfuss. “This new program is a tremendous addition to our already rich program of automotive technology degrees, including our historic Bachelor of Arts in automotive technology that becomes available this fall.”

Rio Hondo has been an NAFTC National Training Center member since 2004. For more information about joining the NAFTC, visit

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