Pittsburg High School Leads the Way in Autonomous Vehicle Training

Pittsburg High School Leads the Way in Autonomous Vehicle Training
Posted on 06/15/2021
PHS Autonomous Vehicle

This article was published by ATL (Formerly CETI, ATRE, Advanced Transportation and Renewable Energy)Please visit their site for more information on this project.  Pittsburg High School's Automotive Technology is supported by CCCOE ROP.

Thanks to support from the California Energy Commission and the California Community Colleges Strong Workforce Program, Pittsburg High School in the Bay Area is one of the first — if not the first — high school in the state to train students on how to work with and repair fully-autonomous vehicles.

The school’s automotive program received two grants totaling more than $640,000 through a partnership with the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA).

“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.”

Sherene Sasser, Workforce Liaison for the Pittsburg Unified School District, heard a presentation from CCTA about its workforce needs and saw an opportunity to ensure that its automotive graduates could meet the demand.

“We are preparing students to have options,” Sasser said. “If they go through our whole pathway, by the time they graduate high school, they will be competitive with people who have been in the industry for a while.”

Pittsburg High School will receive an Olli, a low-speed, electric, autonomous vehicle developed by Local Motors. The company will also provide members of its engineering team to work with students and instructors.

“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.”

Pittsburg High School also received a Switch electric vehicle kit through a CEC grant. Sasser said students have enjoyed working on it, and she sees it as a stepping stone to working with Olli in a new class on autonomous vehicles that will be introduced in the fall.

“We’re using Switch as a launching pad to talk about autonomous vehicles and what our third level class will incorporate to encourage students to continue on in the program,” Sasser said.

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