Local Motors has teamed up with California's Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) to provide an opportunity for students interested in automotive careers to engage in technical education around shared, electric autonomous vehicles. Pittsburg High School will become the first automotive programme in the state, and possibly the US, to provide students with hands-on experience while they learn 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 – 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 programme is expected to begin later this year. The advanced auto programme is part of California's K12 Strong Workforce Program grant received by the school district, 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," said CCTA Executive Director Randell Iwasaki.
"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 – in October. During this time, 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.
"Joining the effort to prepare Pittsburg High School youth is our way of getting involved and giving back to the Contra Costa County community," said Local Motors President Vikrant Aggarwal. "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."
"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 the school's 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."