Education/Career Gap Study

Section 2: Front End Analysis


 With concerns about global climate conditions and the cost of conventional internal combustion (ICE) fuels, transportation dynamics are changing.  Technology is starting to prove alternate drive train as a viable choice for personal vehicles.  More cars and trucks are using electric and hybrid power systems for their drive trains. However, there is little or limited training available for this students to learn this new technology. Our intent is to identify performance gaps in training and employer needs for these technicians.

Our target audience is educators seeking to model course work that is suitable for career training in this new technical field. One goal is to help instructors develop an empathy with their students by learning the technologies themselves, and then become proficient at using our training materials in their existing classroom and shop facilities.

Present Condition

Conversion kits are currently available from various manufacturers and resellers, but most are designed as singular components to be assembled by hobbyists.  There is a lack of formal documentation designed to instruct students in the history of the industry and the assembly of components and their definition and function.  Most published material simply reflects the individual hobbyists’ journal recording his personal experience.  Our goal is to help faculty do several things:

  • Identify courses they currently teach that could be offered for the alternate drive technology.
  • Implement effective instructional approaches, such as team based project work, in their classroom offerings.
  • Help students with issues they may encounter using tools and systems designed for alternate fuel vehicles.

Currently there are a few offerings for alternate fuel technology. Looking at the ones that do exist, few are regularly offered with standardized, replicable lesson plans. Fewer have industry approved certification. It is our goal to create these courses with input discerned from this Gap Study.

Potential Solution and Recommendation

Using input from successfully produced vehicle conversions, the solution for addressing this performance gap is to create lesson plans that prepare the learner career opportunities in the coming industry.  

Several curricula are completed and being prepared to meet this need:

Racer 8 Kart Course

This course serves as an introduction to electric technology for those students at the grade school level.  It demonstrates basic battery technology, wiring and controllers as related to driving a simple cart.  Students assemble a DC powered cart in their classroom.  No shop facilities are required.

DC Conversion Course

This course serves as an introduction to DC-powered electric drive technology for on-road vehicles.  It covers basic history of vehicles, components and manufacturers.  Students learn to use tools and kit assemble as they assemble a DC drive train in auto shop laboratory.

AC Conversion Course

This course serves as an introduction to AC-powered drive train technology.  It teaches the development of power needs under different terrain and speed applications.  It shows more sophisticated battery, motor, and controller technologies. Students assemble an AC drive train in their auto shop facility.

Emergency Responder Course

This course instructs the special needs and safety considerations for emergency responders.  The lesson plans include steps required to safely address accidents and recovery situations for emergency crews responding to hybrid and electric vehicles with different battery technologies.

Solar Garage Course

This course addresses the components and technology for solar charging stations.  It instructs students on components and their design, along with their interface to the electrical grid. The course is scaleable from a mini solar carport to full home charging systems. Students build an electric vehicle charging station in their shop/lab setting.

The tasks performed in completing each of these courses prepare students for real time technical situations they will encounter as technicians in these various fields. For the target audience, the students, the ability to learn from each other and faculty as they work in classroom team situations may be especially powerful as there is a wide range of learning situations they will encounter.  Such a variety of perspective provides for a rich learning experience.

In addition to providing the learners and instructors with opportunities to learn by doing and to learn from each other, the selected approach affords the learners the opportunity to develop empathy toward one another.  Educators will become more proficient by teaching each course and gathering feedback by employment of its graduates.  The learning experience afforded by this approach should prepare faculty learners to help their future students in subsequent classes.

Data Collection Method

Data collection is to be accomplished through three main approaches:

  1. Interviews with faculty within the Automotive, Electrical, Technical, Safety departments
  2. Interviews with faculty outside of these departments
  3. Direct observation of faculty during course work

Interviews can be conducted by phone. Interviews within various departments can be informal and conversational. Interviews in other departments can be more formal via emailed questions prior to direct contact.

Intent of the interviews within the departments of focus are: (1) to understand Organizational context for promoting offerings at other schools and (2) to obtain an expert opinion of what skills are important for providing future coursework and what are some of the barriers to providing this coursework.

Intent of the interviews outside the departments of focus are: (1) to understand experiences these faculty had with the technical courses, and (2) to understand attitudes other instructors have toward these new team-based courses. 

Task Analysis

Task analysis for this project will be based on the terminal goal of the learning: complete a team-based project using alternate technology to facilitate team collaboration; along with the instructional goal of Faculty/Instructors being able to implement this with their own students.   As we began to identify these, we put together scenarios through which to take the learners.

As we began to identify these, we put together scenarios through which to take the learners. These scenarios became the mechanisms for selecting which technologies and strategies to include in the training and the order in which to present them. As we worked through the scenarios, we realized there are certain categories of skills and knowledge that are needed for each of these technologies. In addition to knowing the mechanics of each of the selected technologies, it is equally important to know strengths and weaknesses for each of these technologies in order to collaborate understandings, mitigate weaknesses and build strengths. These understandings determine best practices for instruction at different points in each course. A detailed task analysis outline and graphical presentation Is included in the appendix.

Learner Analysis

The main intent of the learner analysis is to better understand the barriers to incorporating alternate fuel technologies into traditional classroom offerings.  As mentioned above, to obtain this understanding, interviews were/will be conducted regarding individual experience with learning alternate fuel technologies and attitudes toward these learnings. 

From these interviews we expect to determine that for most faculty the barriers are not so much a matter of attitude; but rather a matter of knowledge.  Based on these findings and expectations, we intend to close that ‘knowledge gap’.

Instructional Goals and Objectives

The performance goal for this training is to enable target learners to incorporate alternate fuel vehicle projects into existing schedules and facilities using the new curricula developed and optimized herein.  The high level enabling objectives are:

  • Demonstrate course viability
  • Cite best practices for using lesson plans, video in support of team-based projects through a series of advancing programs (basic DC technology, then system models, then small carts, then AC technology, then Hybrid technology, then charging, etc)
  • List the reasons for using these projects in the alternate fuel education environment

 The focus for this study is not to simply enhance the opportunity for students to advance, it also includes helping create a more complete educational training environment for instructors.  We wish to prepare instructors to be more effective within their instructional offerings.

Media Selection

The course will include written lesson plans supported by video, with input from the class instructor.  Each class has a lab/shop feature where students assemble the technical components of the course.  The instructor shall model the course to meet scheduling timelines and educational goals in his/her particular environment.

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