BLOUNTVILLE — The National Science Foundation recently awarded Northeast State Community College a $349,340 grant to integrate electric vehicle (EV) technology into the college’s current automotive programs.
The project is funded by the NSF’s Advanced Technological Education program that focuses on training in advanced technology fields that drive the nation’s economy.
As envisioned, Northeast State will work with industry partners to develop/adapt curriculum and train EV maintenance and repair technicians to meet employment needs statewide and beyond.
The college will also be a part of the National Electric Vehicle Consortium, a diverse network of academic and industry experts funded through a separate NSF award to develop national standards for EV training across a variety of fields, including manufacturing, maintenance and repair, vehicle conversion, safety and standards and emerging technological advances.
“We’re bringing together smart people in the EV world to standardize knowledge across fields and the nation,” said Dr. Kevin Cooper, principal investigator of the consortium. “We want to identify gaps and ensure that all programs are sustainable for the long term.”
According to the NSF, industry leaders agree there is an immediate shortage of skilled technical workers across almost every sector required to support the EV industry. Workforce projections estimate that the EV sector will add 250,000 to 500,000 high-paying jobs by 2030.
First on the agenda for Northeast State is a job task analysis with industry partners, followed by a review of the college’s current Automotive Technology curriculum and the development of additional EV courses and training.
Other components include training for faculty and an emphasis on recruiting a diverse student population, focusing on females.
The project starts July 1 and runs through June 30, 2025.
According to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Tennessee ranks first in the southeastern United States for EV manufacturing, with more than 162,000 electric vehicles manufactured since 2013. Ford, General Motors, and LE Energy Solutions recently announced plans to invest billions in the state for EV vehicle and parts production.
“We are thrilled with the NSF grant and the confidence shown in Northeast State to provide workforce development in the emerging electric vehicle industry,” said Dr. Donna Farrell, dean of technologies at Northeast State. “We look forward to the challenge of integrating EV technology into our already successful Automotive Technology programs.”
An all-new $5.6 billion mega campus in Stanton, Tennessee, called Blue Oval City, is to create about 6,000 new jobs and reimagine how vehicles and batteries are manufactured.