Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Cuyamaca College takes the wheel to train auto tech students in EVs, hybrids

 Hybrids that are part of the auto tech fleet.
A Toyota Prius trainer.
As hybrid and electric vehicles become more commonplace on San Diego County roads, Cuyamaca College is shifting gears to ensure its automotive technology program is on top of the trend.

The program two years ago added an introductory class to hybrid, electric and alternative fuels vehicles, which it now offers on Saturdays to provide a training opportunity to working mechanics. Program director Chris Branton said the college will be adding more classes as demand grows and has plans to develop a certificate program in electric vehicles, or EVs, and hybrids within the next two or three years.

In addition to classes, the program has added more cars to its fleet of EVs and hybrids, including a 2006 Toyota Prius delivered in May that has been converted into a cutaway car by Megatech Corp., a company specializing in providing training vehicles to auto industry training centers worldwide.

Cuyamaca College was recently recognized by San Diego Gas & Electric for being at the forefront of the EV and hybrid movement, when auto tech instructor Brad McCombs joined San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other leaders to help SDG&E launch a $52.5 million program promoting electric vehicles.

McCombs, program coordinator for the college’s Ford ASSET program, a training partnership with the auto manufacturer, represented the college at a news conference announcing the utility’s investment in charging stations and education programs to expand electric vehicle, or EV, ownership over the next five years.

“It’s exciting that Cuyamaca College has been recognized as a regional leader in promoting electric vehicle growth in the San Diego region,” Branton said.

SDG&E introduced 20 multifamily communities and businesses that are committed to the growth of electric vehicles and charging stations under the company’s “Power Your Drive” pilot program. Cuyamaca College was one of two colleges to join the City and County of San Diego, Sea World, Sony, UC San Diego and others at the news conference.

Jeff Martin, the utility’s chairman, president and CEO, said the goal of the “Power Your Drive” program is to make San Diego “America’s EV and clean-energy capital,” noting that there are currently more than 20,000 electric vehicles on the road in San Diego County. That number is expected to grow to 80,000 by 2020.

“The expansion is why Ford and GM have EV and hybrid training as part of our curriculum in our Ford ASSET and GM ASEP programs,” McCombs said. The GM program is another training partnership for Cuyamaca College. “Students in our factory training programs apply electronic technology throughout their training and there are specific classes and web-based training required.”

Raymond Kay, a mechanic at La Mesa Auto Care, has been enrolled in the auto tech program at Cuyamaca for two years and sees the EV and hybrid training as a “huge benefit” to students.

“Hybrids are completely different than your typical car,” he said. “There are a lot more electronics involved and without the training like we receive here, mechanics have a big challenge to stay on top of the technology.”

For more information about the automotive technology and other programs at Cuyamaca College, go to www.cuyamaca.edu. Cuyamaca College is at 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway in Rancho San Diego.


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