By: Kayla Friedrich
[SPOKANE, Wash.] As the automotive industry adapts to consumers’ growing interest in electric vehicles, automotive technicians are honing skills that answer the demand.
Two years ago, Spokane Community College Automotive Technology Instructor Paul Petretee and Dean of Technical Education Ashley Purdin set out to apply for grant funding that’d allow them to purchase an electric vehicle, offering new experiences to students in the auto tech program.
In the last year, their efforts have come to fruition after the program received $150,000 through the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges Workforce Development Fund Grant to purchase a Tesla Model 3 from Consulab — a company specializing in manufacturing and distributing high-quality training equipment to help people teach evolving technology.
"This is a presenation trainer vehicle created by Consulab," Petretee said. "They created the vehicle and the curriculum of the vehicle, and I'll create the curriculum for the class. It’s a cut out, open view with parts identification, lights to show current flows, water flow, what’s on and off and more.”
The Tesla and its curriculum will lead the program to offer an Electric Vehicle Certificate, recognizing student’s ability to diagnose and perform maintenance on electric vehicles. Petretee said they anticipate being ready for the first group of up to 12 students by 2025.
“A lot of what’s taught will be safety related and covering the basics — battery life, battery efficiency, mileage,” Petretee said. “The Tesla’s 400-600 voltage system won’t be in the trainer because it’s dangerous to learn on such high voltage, but students will learn introduction material for electric vehicles. I see it as a course that teaches students what to look for when working with EV’s.”
The program has applied for a separate grant to purchase personal protective equipment, testing meters and other materials. Meanwhile, Petretee is preparing classroom curriculum and identifying student learning outcomes of the new certificate.
“Incorporating electric vehicle certification into Spokane Community College's automotive program is crucial to aligning education with the industry's evolving needs, ensuring graduates are equipped to meet the growing demand for electric vehicle expertise,” Purdin said. “This proactive approach not only enhances student employability but also directly supports the automotive industry's hiring requirements for professionals skilled in emerging electric vehicle technologies.”
Spokane Community College Automotive Technology Program is an industry leader in training technicians for successful careers in the automotive field. For more information about Spokane Community College’s automotive program, visit the program website.