Peninsula college to offer alternative fuels program

From Peninsula College sources

When the fall quarter starts at Peninsula College on Sept. 26, students will be able to enroll in a one-year certificate program in Alternative Fuels, one of only a few to be offered in the country.


The program will admit 15 students each year, said Mike Hansen, Automotive Technology program coordinator and instructor.


The 54-credit curriculum includes components for vehicles in the following categories: hybrid and electric, compressed natural gas, propane, bio-diesel, flex fuel and ethanol-powered.


Students also study science and math in addition to automotive technology.


In coming years, the curriculum also may include instruction in other types of alternative fuel, such as the possibility of generating fuel out of bio-waste.


The program got a boost last year when Peninsula College was awarded a $150,000 National Science Foundation Advanced Technology Education Small Projects Grant. The two-year grant, which started in October 2010, provides $75,000 each year to the college.


Although Peninsula College has received other foundation grants, this is the first awarded specifically for advanced technology education and is the first-level grant for institutions that previously have not received foundation Advanced Technology Education grants.


“We’re very proud to be among the few colleges in the country to receive the NSF ATE grant,” said Peninsula College President Dr. Thomas Keegan. “It fits very well into our strategic priorities of environmental sustainability and providing leadership and support for rural economic development. It also will place us at the forefront in training men and women for careers in the rapidly expanding field of alternative fuel vehicles.”


Hansen said he has big plans for his Alternative Fuels program. In addition to the one-year certificate, he also is investigating enhanced program delivery methods, such as online and hybrid courses (a combination of online and face-to-face labs) as well as streaming video that will address the needs of time- and place-bound students, incumbent workers, automotive technology graduates and advanced automotive technology students.


“Once we have delivered the Alternative Fuels curriculum to our own students and enhanced it, the curriculum will be available to other automotive programs across the country,” Hansen said.

‘Trainer’ program going strong

Peninsula College also has a “Train the Trainer” program in hybrid and electric vehicle technology, now in its second year. This summer’s program drew professionals from all over the United States as well as British Columbia, Canada, who studied fundamental and advanced electric propulsion concepts, which blend traditional engine and electric propulsion torque, system design, basic and enhanced diagnostic considerations, and special service topics of HEVs.


Existing HEV production vehicle architectures from Ford, Honda, Lexus, Toyota and GM are used as case studies.


The instructor for the three courses in the program is Dr. Mark Quarto, engineering group manager for advanced powertrain technology systems for General Motors Corporation Global Aftermarket Engineering. The curriculum was developed by American Research and Design.


“We’re very pleased that so many trainers have enrolled,” Hansen said. “We’re one of only a very few colleges in the country to offer this kind of in-depth training to other instructors and the fact that we are drawing students from all across the country and internationally speaks to the need for this type of instruction.”

Growth expected

Hansen says he expects the program to continue to grow as more hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles hit the market. In fact, he notes, next year’s expanded training sessions already are set and will be held on the college campus July 9-13 and July 16-20, 2012.


Quarto has been engineering, managing and teaching electric and hybrid electric vehicle systems for 26 years and has a patent pending for a hybrid electric vehicle power generating system.


He received his doctorate in technical education from Nova Southeastern University, specializing in designing and developing learning systems for hybrid/electric vehicles and high voltage energy and propulsion systems.


For more information on the program, call Hansen at 417-6540.


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