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SVCTE receives $55,000 grant for Switch electric vehicle kit

 SVCTE Automotive Services teacher Tom Nemeth and Jake Clayson, DAKTIC product marketing & sales VP

Tom Nemeth, one of Silicon Valley Career Technical Education (SVCTE) center’s instructors for the Automotive Services program, is using his enthusiasm and expertise to ensure that his students receive a future-proof education.

“The future of EV (electric vehicles) is here,” he said. “Our students will be working on electric cars if they are in the business. So what we need to do is prepare them.”

Nemeth applied for a $55,000 grant through the Cerritos Community College District’s Advanced Transportation Technology and Energy Center, who awarded $1.5 million to recruit additional high schools to participate in the Zero Emissions Vehicle High School Pilot Project funded by the California Energy Commission. 

The grant was recently approved and allowed SVCTE to purchase a Switch electric vehicle kit, which arrived Oct. 18. It can be assembled, disassembled and reassembled any number of times. The grant came with curriculum for Nemeth to use in his classroom. He also attended a comprehensive train-the-trainer workshop to receive the instruction needed to help his students assemble the vehicle. The Switch itself is a three-wheeled vehicle with a roll cage that is the length of a car and classifies as a motorcycle.

“When I pitched the opportunity, it wasn’t just the Switch kit,” Nemeth said. “It was just part of it, but it is the entire industry of automotive that needs to pay attention to the electric car and hybrids because in five to ten years, that’s all we will be talking about. That’s all we’re talking about now.”

The grant is designed to increase career awareness in the clean fuels transportation field for high school students in underserved communities, including regions impacted by poor air quality as well as those serving minority populations.

“Over the past four years we've been able to fund 52 high schools throughout the state,” said Jannet Malig, statewide director of the Advanced Transportation and Logistics Sector hosted by Cerritos College. “We work closely with each high school to connect them with equipment vendors, collect student feedback about the project, and promote matriculation to their local community colleges so that students can continue on the clean transportation career pathway.”

Nemeth found out about the grant through Jake Clayson, vice president of product marketing and sales with DAKTIC, who knew Nemeth was interested in evolving his automotive services curriculum based on their previously existing relationship. 

“Our hope is that the Switch vehicle, curriculum, and train-the-trainer workshop included in the Switch EV Lab will help Tom as he shares his industry expertise with his students, that this will lay a solid foundation for these students, inspire them to become life-long learners who will continue their studies in one of California's top college programs for automotive technicians, and that this will ensure California has the expert EV technicians they'll need in the years to come,” Clayson said.

Additionally, thanks to receiving part of the one-time grant of $250,000 from Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, Nemeth plans to revitalize his course by turning it into a new full year SVCTE program, “Electrical Vehicles/Automotive Services,” which will include hybrid and electric vehicles as well as other transportation that is electrical related, including electric scooters and bicycles. The course is scheduled to launch next Fall 2023-2024. 

Shannon Carr