SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine –
The Southern Maine Community College Automotive Technology Center is both a classroom and a fully functioning auto repair shop.
It is also perhaps the most picturesque store in Portland. Looking at a row of cars through the windows on the north side of the building, the Spring Point Ledge lighthouse glistens in the sun as its iconic rock foundation juts out from its South Portland Peninsula.
But, the work done inside the simple brick building – albeit not worthy of a postcard – marked the start of a promising new opportunity at the school.
This month, SMCC launched an electric vehicle repair certification program. It is the first of its kind in Maine.
Ruth Morrison chairs the school’s automotive technology department. She has been working professionally on cars since 1993. But, for that week in class, she was a student.
“Well, teachers are still students,” she explained. “Especially in this area, because we have to keep up with technology. “
Technology: like America’s ever-growing fleet of electric vehicles. According to the Secretary of State’s office, more than 30,000 hybrid and fully electric cars are registered in Maine alone.
SMCC’s new program offers workforce training – not part of a two- or four-year degree – where students can graduate quickly.
Justin Hynes joined Morrison and a handful of peers in the 70 hour course (30 hours online, 40 hours in person). All are already trained automotive technicians. After this additional knowledge, he said, they will return to work more valuable and ready for the future of the industry.
“Being able to handle this is a whole different ball game,” he said.
Work on renewable energy is a ball game the Maine community college system wants to play. In the spring, with a $ 400,000 grant from KeyBank, York County Community College will redesign a two-year program currently offered at Eastern Maine Community College and begin a crash course, training students to become electrical technicians and work. on solar panels. John Fitzsimmons, president of the Maine Community College Foundation, said his students are practical with their education.
“They really come to us to see where the opportunity is at the end of education,” he explained of his average student. “So it’s not, ‘I’m going to college for the experience; I’m going to college and I’ll find out what I want to do along the way. It’s very useful.
Additionally, Fitzsimmons sells these programs to students with the confidence that they will leave school with high demand for their particular skills.
Thought practice now; a well-paying career probably soon.