Preparing Vehicle Technicians for Advanced Transportation Fuels

The Preparing Vehicle Technicians for Advanced Transportation Fuels Project is an initiative designed to develop an advanced transportation technology training program at Owensboro Community and Technical College. The program will be the first college program in the state and the nation to offer technician training in all of the advanced transportation/alternative fuel vehicle technologies. The curriculum will include conventional hybrid, plug-in electric and all electric vehicle technologies as well as biodiesel, propane, ethanol, compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, and fuel-cell vehicles.

The project partners include Owensboro Community and Technical College, Cummins, Kentucky Corn Growers Association, Kentucky Propane Gas Association, Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition, Atmos Energy, ConsuLab, and ATech. Not only have all project partners dedicated themselves to serving on the project steering committee, participating in initiative in events, and supporting project outreach, but are also providing their expertise to specific program areas.

Natural gas technician training will focus initially on heavy-duty vehicles with the future plans of expanding into light- and medium-duty vehicles with market developments. Atmos Energy is providing their support by installing a natural gas refueling station at OCTC. The refueling station will provide fuel for the Cummins CNG Training Module which Cummins will be housing at OCTC for hands-on training. Cummins Engines has committed to providing OCTC faculty and staff with access to Cummins Virtual College web-based training and establishing the country’s Cummins CNG Training Facility on OCTC’s Southeast Campus.

ConsuLab will provide fuel cell demonstrations at OCTC technician training events and ATech has committed to donating fuel cell equipment that the students can use in their courses.

Conversion has been the focus of OCTC’s ethanol technician training. The Kentucky Corn Growers Association provided $30,000 for the purchase of the 1965 Cobra Kit. OCTC students have been converting the 1965 Cobra’s engine to run on E85. The engine and body work will be complete in the spring semester of 2014. The vehicle will be featured in events around the state to increase public awareness of alternative fuel/advanced technology vehicles.

At the inception of the propane curriculum, vehicle conversion will also be the focus. The Kentucky Propane Gas Association (KPGA) will assist in developing propane technician training curriculum and provide the college with two propane conversion kits. The KPGA will also train OCTC faculty on safe usage of propane and installation of propane conversion kits. The Kentucky Propane Education and Research Council (KYPERC) awarded the program $15,000 to support OCTC’s effort to provide alternative fuels training to automotive students. The funding will cover the conversion of two existing vehicles in OCTC’s “fleet” to propane, conversion training for instructors (from ACME Alternative Fuels) and the necessary tools & computer software.

The Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition will provide national networking to assist in developing conventional hybrid, plug-in electric, all electric, and biodiesel vehicle technician technologies. OCTC offered two hybrid-electric courses for the 2014 spring semester. Meanwhile, they are in the process of installing storage for biodiesel on-site and in talks with local biodiesel producers for access to their facilities for OCTC faculty and students to expand their understanding of the production and quality of biodiesel.

OCTC is dedicated to preparing its students for the 21st century workforce in Kentucky in the nation by ensuring they are knowledgeable of the evolving technologies transforming the transportation industry.

The project provides opportunity to advance knowledge of the evolving transportation industry through:

  • Improving STEM education and educator development, modeled after prior successful work, by providing training to secondary and two-year college students and educators and incumbent workers in advanced transportation technologies and alternative fuels.
  • Improving student learning and educator development in STEM technical education by providing hands-on experiences that directly correlate to real-life industry concepts through redesigned curriculum, summer academies, teacher professional development, and technician training, modeled to adapt current work in the field.
  • Realistic, worthwhile, and well-developed goals, objectives, outcomes, and plan for evaluation, designed to achieve success and serve as a guide to follow in evaluating the project’s effectiveness in transforming automotive and diesel technician training in Kentucky.

The broader impacts of the project include:

  • Promoting diversity in the workforce by increasing participation of females and other groups underrepresented in STEM (disabled, minorities, low-income, and first-generation college students) in technician training through targeted recruitment efforts based on proven strategies identified through prior successful NSF projects.
  • Increasing partnerships between academia, industry, and others to support the evolving transportation industry in Kentucky and the nation, including Consulab, ATECH, Atmos Energy, Cummins, the KY Corn Growers Association, the KY Clean Fuels Coalition, the KY Propane Gas Association, and the KY Department of Energy Development and Independence.
  • Widely disseminating project results that will be useful to educators, industry, and government leaders across the nation interested in the evolving science and technology advancements related to advanced transportation technologies and alternative fuels.
  • Increasing public science literacy and public engagement with science and technology through a variety of outreach efforts, including a National Alternative Fuel Vehicles Day Odyssey.

Project Links

Take a look at videos from project partners

NSF ATE Automotive Program Narrative

OCTC case study

The OCTC Cobra exhibited at the NASCAR series races

OCTC E85 video (YouTube)

Dr. Klauber, OCTC President speaks to Kentucky legislative committees about initiative.

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