The unprecedented need to develop a workforce that can build and service electric and autonomous vehicles and develop the cybersecurity to protect them is the driving force behind a new consortium based in South Carolina.
The consortium, named “Collaborative Research: REVVED,” short for Revolutionizing Electric Vehicle Education, is receiving $2.83 million from the National Science Foundation to fund the project.
Trident Technical College is working in partnership with Greenville Technical College, Spartanburg Community College and Clemson University as part of the consortium. Several workforce development centers and industry partners are also involved.
The consortium will conduct evidence-based research studies to investigate integration of virtual and augmented reality systems to support electric vehicle manufacturing and education. The digital learning tools will be based on industry needs and be available at EducateWorkforce.com.
One of the main goals is to strengthen learning and retention among students from rural areas, veterans and students who are from groups underrepresented in the workforce. Digital learning systems are especially attractive for students who are non-traditional and underrepresented in the workforce, researchers said.
Several consortium members have collaborated in the past on workforce education initiatives, and they expect to strengthen their partnerships through the consortium.
Industry partners involved are BMW, Michelin, Bosch, Daimler, Proterra and Volvo.
National Science Foundation consortia members are: Indian River Community College, the National Cybersecurity Training & Education Center, the National Center for Autonomous Technologies, the Center for Advanced Automotive Technology, the Northwest Engineering Vehicle Technology Exchange, the South Carolina Technical College System, Upstate Alliance and the South Carolina Manufacturing Partnership Extension.
Mary Thornley, president of Trident Technical College, said REVVED addresses a critical need in South Carolina and across the country.
Jim Clements, president of Clemson University, said the grant will provide important support to the automotive workforce.
“We are excited to be part of this collaboration to create the next generation of innovation and talent for the electric vehicle industry. Clemson has a rich history of working with technical colleges and industry. It’s in our DNA. These efforts make a difference in achieving high-quality outcomes for 21st-century challenges and opportunities.”
Tim Hardee, president of the state Technical College System, said he supports the collaboration.
“This is a great example of how Clemson University, an R1 research institution, partners with technical colleges and industry to support workforce preparedness for the betterment of all South Carolina,” he said.
Keith Miller, president of Greenville Technical College, said the grant provides new opportunities to ensure the future workforce is equipped with relevant skills, as the industry transitions from the internal-combustion engine to electric vehicles.
“The Greenville Technical College team comes to this project with extensive experience in curriculum design, implementation of online courses and recruitment of underserved and underrepresented students,” Miller said. “Deepening our collaboration with fellow technical colleges across the state and CA2VES will enable even greater impact.”
Michael Mikota, president of Spartanburg Community College, said that consultation with industry will be crucial to REVVED.
“Our team will utilize our unique connections with industry leaders to provide guidance for the creation of educational modules, provide feedback on effectiveness, and ensure we are creating the most competitive workforce,” Mikota said. “The talent, experience and passion in this consortium uniquely position us for success.”
The consortium faculty team consists of Robert Elliott, the dean of manufacturing and maintenance, and Walter Varella, the coordinator of the Automotive Technology Program at Trident Technical College; Trent Hulehan, the department head of the Automotive Technology Program at Greenville Technical College; Joe Santaniello, the academic program director of computer and engineering technology at Spartanburg Community College; and Kapil Chalil Madathil, the Wilfred P. Tiencken Associate Professor of Industrial and Civil Engineering. The Clemson University Center for Workforce Development is leading the initiative within Clemson University.