Posts Tagged ‘Fuel Cell Technology’

What Are Advanced Automotive Technologies?

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Car

This week, ATETV visited Stark State College where instructors in the Fuel Cell Technology program are working hand-in-hand with local industry to train technicians in this rapidly growing field within the changing automotive industry.

Fuel cell vehicles are powered by hydrogen gas rather than gasoline, which makes for an important advantage in terms of reducing harmful tailpipe emissions as well as reducing the nation’s dependence on oil.

And this is just one new alternative avenue that the automotive industry is taking, according to the ATE Center for Advanced Automotive Technology (CAAT). The CAAT is headquartered at Macomb Community College in southeast Michigan, home to some of the largest American automakers, numerous foreign automakers and more than 270 automotive research and development centers.

What, exactly, are Advanced Automotive Technologies?

According to the CAAT, these are the technologies that are helping to shift the transportation economy from petroleum-powered engines to new vehicle propulsion systems. In addition to fuel cell vehicles, these include electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles, which operate on ethanol, biodiesel, compressed natural gas and liquefield propane gas.

As the ATE notes, with stringent Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards now imposed on new autos (to reduce dependence on oil and improve the nation’s trade balance), the need for alternative technologies will only grow, and as this demand grows, so too will the demand for highly trained technical workers – who are already in short supply.

For an up-close look at how a hybrid electric vehicle gets its power, check out the Virtual HEV Simulator or to learn more about the future of clean energy technologies, take a look at web site of the Clean Vehicle Education Foundation.

There’s no question – it’s a fast-moving industry!

ATETV Episode 47: Industry Offers Opportunities and Incentives

Friday, August 27th, 2010

This week, from directly impacting one student’s experience, to networking and sharing resources in professional learning communities and tailoring community college programs to meet critical hiring needs, industry involvement makes a difference everyday in Advanced Technological Education.

First we meet Andrew Engel, a student with a passion for hands-on electronics and an interest in alternative energy. Andrew is currently enrolled in the Electronics Engineering program at Stark State College where he has found an outlet for both in the Fuel Cell Technology program. Andrew reveals that “Since (I was) a kid boy, (I always) tore stuff apart, tried to fix things.” Guided by industry input, this program translates that childhood hobby to hands-on labs like the DC and AC Circuit Analysis. In this lab, Andrew can continue to do more of what he has always loved to do while preparing for a secure and bright future.

Advanced Technological Education programs offered through community colleges benefit from being part of a large network of expertise and shared resources. In the second segment, we visit one example of a program where curriculum is structured with industry input and faculty are trained to be up-to-date with the skills they are teaching- the National Center for Information and Communications Technologies at Springfield Technical Community College in Springfield, MA.

Finally, in the third segment, we see how the close relationship these national ATE Centers and ATE programs at community colleges share with industry professionals is also beneficial to the industries. In the field of Lasers and Photonics Technology, for example, industry is actively seeking to hire more female technicians. Central Carolina Community College offers a special incentive to reach out to more qualified women in response. “One thing that we have is a sex equity grant,” recruiter Gary Beasley tells us. “All females can go to school for free- free tuition, free books. It doesn’t make any difference if they are real poor or real rich. It’s free education. You can’t beat that!”

Nope. You can’t beat that! By collaborating directly with industry, ATE programs at community colleges across the country are able to offer many advantages to students as they prepare them for the high-paying, high-demand jobs of the future.

ATETV Episode 45: Safeguarding the Future

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

This week, we look at the many ways that emerging technologies are protecting our futures — from supplying safe, clean drinking water and new energy sources to guarding our computer information.

In our first segment, Linda Correira of Aquaria Water, LLC, describes how Water Treatment Technology systems successfully treat salt water and turn it into clean, thirst-quenching drinking water.

“Everyone needs water and we have limited supplies [on earth]” explains Linda. “But if you have the ability to take salt water — which we have much more of — and convert it into drinking water, then there’s [an important resource.]” As Linda further explains, the desalination process puts salt water through a treatment process to remove any bacteria and then salty, high-conductivity water goes through a “reverse osmosis” system to remove dissolved salts. From there, water is disinfected and — voila! — the glass is half full of drinkable water.

In our second segment, we talk with a student at Springfield Technical Community College whose work in the school’s Information Security Program will have an impact on lots and lots of people.

“[Almost all of your personal information] is stored on a computer system somewhere,” explains Sean Coughlin. “People might think, ‘Oh, I don’t use online banking, I don’t put my credit card information into websites, so [computer security issues] don’t affect me.’” But, in fact, says Sean, everyone is affected because businesses put their information on computer systems — and your information is their information.

The growing need for Cyber Security professionals, and a lifelong love of computers, has brought Sean from an 18-year career as a commercial flooring contractor to a new “position” as an Information Security student at Springfield. And he couldn’t be more satisfied. “Every single job you look at, [employers] want to see that you have experience in addition to classroom work. [Through the program at Springfield Technical College] I’ve actually worked on devices and reconfigured them…that’s the solid foundation that employers want to see.”

Finally, in our third segment, we take a look at the cutting-edge field of Fuel Cell Technology and learn how students at Stark State College are not only responding to industry needs — they’re staying ahead of them!

“A student who studies fuel cells is going to have a wide range of opportunities available when he graduates,” says Justin Ruflin of Contained Energy, LLC. “Fuel cell technicians are needed within the lab itself to help build the technology, while scientists are busy figuring out how to solve the challenges within the fuel cell industry and managers are running the companies.” So whether a person is interested in building fuel cells, understanding the properties of fuel cells or creating new materials to increase fuel cell performance, there’s likely to be a job opportunity available — and it’s likely to be a good-paying job offering employees a lot of responsibility.

ATETV Episode 39: Helping to Shape Technologies of the Future

Monday, June 21st, 2010

This week, we look at how Advanced Technological Education programs not only enable students to craft their own futures, but also help them to shape the future of emerging technologies .

We begin with our first segment at Florence -Darlington Technical College, where John Evans, a graduate of the school’s Electrical Engineering program, credits his ATE education with providing him with the valuable first-hand experience that led to his current job as a technician at ESAB Welding and Cutting Center.

As John notes, his everyday work routine includes “a lot of math, a lot of calculating, a lot of formulas in order to [determine] the voltages you need. This [requires a particular] way of thinking and troubleshooting.”

Through his training at Florence-Darlington, including a hands-on internship, John was able to acquire the demanding skill set that the position requires. “If I didn’t go to school, there would be no way that I could just come out here and do what I’m doing now and at [this] level,” he notes. “A person couldn’t come in off the street and [do this job].” Of particular value, he says, was the “double dose” of experience he received throughout his school program, as he gained classroom experience in the mornings and headed off to an internship in the afternoons where he applied the skills he’d mastered in the classroom.

In our second segment, we learn that employers in Alternative Energy fields are also looking to hire well-rounded individuals.

“What I’m looking for is students with initiative and ambition and smarts who are going to fit into areas like technicians and service personnel, and installation personnel,” explains Mark Fleiner of Rolls Royce Fuel Cell Systems. “[I need] people who have good hands, good minds, who don’t need a lot of direction, who can see things [for themselves] and are willing to [actively] participate, maybe say, ‘Hey, we could do it better this way.’”

Within these numerous Alternative Energy fields — Solar, Wind, Hydrogen, and Fuel Cell Technology, for example — there is plenty of room for students to make their own mark. “These educational programs are very flexible, very adaptable,” explains Diane Auer Jones of The Washington Campus. “[Today's technological education programs] have the ability to really figure out where the workforce needs are for both today and tomorrow and are able to address those needs very quickly.”

And, as we learn in our third segment, one thriving example of alternative energy is Fuel Cell Technology. This efficient and environmentally friendly source of power offers a wide range of applications for our society — and a wide range of career opportunities for tomorrow’s technology students.

As Rolls Royce’s Mark Fleiner notes, “Fuel cells basically can be applied anywhere that power is being used.” So, whether energy is required to move an automobile, to light up a building or put electricity on the grid, or to power a ship or airplane, fuel cells can fit the bill.

The end result: A healthy environmental footprint. “Right now, with our world’s increasing population, the burden on natural resources — crude oil, coal — is [rapidly] increasing ,” explains Pallavi Pharkya of Contained Energy, LLC. “Our [fuel cell] technology would help ease that burden. Energy is a global issue.”

Or, as her colleague Benjamin Emley puts it, “Fuel cells are the future.”

ATETV Episode 35: On the Pulse of the Future

Monday, May 17th, 2010

This week, we visit a community college that is working hand-in-hand with the fuel cell industry to prepare students for jobs of the future, hear from a professional firefighter who has returned to school to study Civil Architectural Technology and visit an ROV underwater robotics competition that is helping students and employers to connect with one another.

In our first segment, we visit Stark State College, where a state-of-the-art Fuel Cell Technology program is providing employers with student employees trained in the industry’s most up-to-date technologies and mechanics.

“We’re in the process of developing technology that will eventually be designed into a product — the stationary solid oxide fuel cell system,” explains Mark Fleiner of Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems, which has its headquarters on the Stark State campus. “[The Stark State Fuel Cell Technology] program gives us the opportunity to work [directly] with students, to get students into our business to see how things work in our company and to see if there’s a good fit between the student and our business needs.”

And the college’s focused approach of aligning educational curriculum with industry needs is beneficial for students and employees alike. “External partnerships for colleges are critical because it lets us keep our hand on the pulse of what’s happening in our fields,” says Stark State’s Dennis Trenger. “Without [our] business partners coming back and saying, ‘Here are the skills that we need for future employees,’ we’d be shooting in the dark.”

In our second segment, Sinclair Community College student Jon Flynn describes his return to the college’s Civil Architectural Technology Program — after 15 years in the firefighting field. “In 1993, I believe it was, I started this program at Sinclair,” Jon explains. But a switch to a Fire Science Technology major led Jon to a career as a professional firefighter. Now, he says, he’s back to where he started so that he’ll have another career to fall back on.

And, as he describes, today’s Civil Architectural Technology is a whole new field compared with 15 years ago. “The technology has come so far compared to when I was initially in the program,” he explains. “There was no such thing as green building and not nearly as much emphasis on saving energy.”

Today’s focus on sustainable buildings has Jon excited about his future. “I’ve always dreamed of being able to design a building for a client that was completely self-sufficient, [making use of] solar power, wind power [or] geothermal technology. This might be a little bit down the road, but we are certainly going in the right direction.”

Finally, in our third segment, we talk with participants at the MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education Center) International ROV competition. “ROV stands for remotely operated vehicle,” explains Jill Zande of the MATE Center. And, through this annual underwater robotics competition, students are not only developing problem-solving, critical-thinking and team-work skills, they are learning that there are a sea of opportunities open to Marine Technology students.

“One of the things that this contest does is open [students’] eyes to disciplines [that they might not otherwise have considered]” explains Fritz Stahr of the University of Washington. “You know, we have students who come here from an engineering [curriculum] and now they’re beginning to see something of oceanography. We have others who are coming from a science background and they begin to realize that there are a lot of challenges in engineering. The career paths available are varied and they can range from marine policy to actual engineering design and from the building of new instrument systems to the actual role of the research scientist, using ROVs to gather data about how the oceans work.”

As today’s episode demonstrated, when it comes to emerging technologies, community colleges really do have their hands on the pulse of the future — where a sea of opportunities await.