Groundbreaking Partnership Aims to Prepare Teens for Careers in Autonomous Vehicle Maintenance.
Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) and Local Motors are teaming up to provide a unique opportunity for students who are interested in automotive careers to engage in technical education around shared, electric autonomous vehicles – making Pittsburg High School the first automotive program in the state, and possibly the nation, to provide hands-on experience while learning about autonomous vehicle maintenance and repair.
Local Motors—the creator of the world’s first 3D-printed car and the maker behind Olli, a low-speed, electric, autonomous vehicle —announced it will donate one of its Olli shuttles to Pittsburg High School’s new advanced auto shop program. In addition to the vehicle, Local Motors will make the technical experts on its engineering team available to periodically mentor Pittsburg High School auto shop instructors and students. Pittsburg High School’s tech-centric advanced auto shop program is expected to begin in the fall of 2020. This advanced auto program is part of California’s K12 Strong Workforce Program grant the school district received, in partnership with CCTA, aimed at engaging youth in technical education, sparking interest in the transportation industry, and exposing them to autonomous and electric vehicle maintenance and repair.
“The future of transportation is already here, and Contra Costa County is on the leading edge,” CCTA Executive Director Randell Iwasaki said. “CCTA has long been a vanguard to test Shared Autonomous Vehicles (SAVs) as well as secure government permission to allow SAVs on public roads. What we don’t have is a trained workforce to support this emerging industry sector. CCTA is committed to supporting the development of a workforce with the training and skills to sustain a new era of transportation.”
Local Motors began testing Olli, its low-speed, electric shuttle, at GoMentum Station – the automated vehicle proving grounds co-founded by CCTA – this past October. When its executives learned of the need for private industry partners to support Pittsburg High School’s program in the form of ‘in-kind’, material, or monetary donations, Local Motors quickly jumped on board. In total, Local Motors’ donation of Olli and associated resources is valued at over $300,000.
“Joining the effort to prepare Pittsburg High School youth is our way of getting involved and giving back to the Contra Costa County community,” Local Motors President Vikrant Aggarwal said. “The advanced auto program is a unique opportunity for students to engage in technical career education that is immediately practical and a strategic way to participate in the autonomous vehicle revolution.”
High school training in car maintenance was once a universal way to teach a valuable job skill, but tight budgets and an emphasis on college academics have led to the decline of technical training for the automotive industry. Yet, the need for vocational training still exists. To provide training to those pursuing a career in a technical vocation, school districts like Pittsburg Unified School District are relying on grants and innovative partnerships to bring auto training back with a much improved, technology-driven curriculum.
“Thanks to CCTA’s dedication and Local Motors’ generosity, Pittsburg High School will be the first automotive program in California to offer a curriculum of this kind,” said Pittsburg High School Principal Todd Whitmire. “By the time our students get all the way through our program, their resume will be robust enough to be able to compete with professionals applying for the same entry-to-mid-level type of jobs, they will have had training and experience in employability (soft) skills, and they will have had professional mentoring. Those who complete the program will be workforce ready and part of the solution for traffic congestion, environmental pollution, and poor air quality.”
The Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) is a public agency formed by Contra Costa voters in 1988 to manage the county’s transportation sales tax program and oversee countywide transportation planning efforts. CCTA is responsible for planning, funding and delivering critical transportation infrastructure projects and programs that connect our communities, foster a strong economy, increase sustainability, and safely and efficiently get people where they need to go. CCTA also serves as the county’s designated Congestion Management Agency, responsible for putting programs in place to keep traffic levels manageable. More information about CCTA is available at www.ccta.net.
About Pittsburg Unified School District
Awarded the College Board’s Gaston Caperton Opportunity Honor Roll award in 2016 for expanding access to college, Pittsburg Unified School District (PUSD) is one of 130 school districts across the nation recognized for creating opportunities for traditionally underrepresented students. PUSD is a K-12 district serving the community of Pittsburg, California. Founded in 1933, the school system is committed to providing an excellent opportunity for all students to learn. Comprised of eight elementary schools, three junior high schools, one comprehensive high school, one alternative education high school, an adult school, independent study options, and a preschool program, the school district serves more than 11,300 students. PUSD is located in the San Francisco Bay Area, fifty minutes outside of downtown San Francisco.
About GoMentum Station
GoMentum Station is the largest connected and automated vehicle testing facilities in the United States, owned and operated by AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah. It supports next generation mobility technology development and helps advance traffic safety to bring unprecedented mobility options to the public. It offers a range of road features and testing services including: test plan development, equipment rental and a vehicle to everything (V2X) lab for testing connected technologies. Learn more at GoMentumStation.net.