Isn’t it amazing what can happen in 12 months?
About a year ago, the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) had just said goodbye to two long-time employees. In May 2017, Assistant Director Judy Moore relocated to a new job in Nicholas County, West Virginia, where she was born and raised, followed in June by Director Bill Davis, who retired. Losing this sort of institutional knowledge is a challenge for any organization, regardless of the circumstances. But we faced an additional hurdle last summer when we moved the entire NAFTC operation to a new location on the West Virginia University campus.
You won’t be surprised that it has taken us the better part of the past year to adapt to these developments.
The good news is that we’ve taken advantage of this situation to reexamine our mission and how we do it: What works well? What works, but could use some improvement? What would we be better served to leave behind? In future columns, I will share more details about our new vision for the NAFTC. For now, I’ll provide a broad overview of three items that represent our new direction.
A Commitment to Member Institutions
First, if you are a long-time member of the NAFTC, thank you for your support. We couldn’t do this without you. If, however, you were a member at one point but have let your membership lapse or you’ve never joined for one reason or another, we have some new features that we believe make membership more appealing than ever.
NAFTC membership includes:
As Kent Johnson, associate professor and chair of the Automotive Trades Department at Alfred State College (NY), observes about professional development, “The NAFTC offers member meetings that provide networking opportunities and unique alternative fuels training that are not available anywhere else. The connections made and training received through the NAFTC have had a profound impact on our ability to advance our alternative fuels training program.”
Recognizing that bringing training to your area can be difficult, we recently launched a program that takes much of the worry out of these efforts through a three-way partnership with limited financial commitment on your part. Contact me at the number below to learn the details.
Regardless of your membership status, you will hear from Mark Schmidt, our national trainer. Mark is interesting in learning what you need from the NAFTC to make your work easier and explain how we might fit into those plans.
Over the next several months and into 2019, we will launch several new training courses. Four of these will be online courses: one for those working in auto towing; one for salvage yard and auto recycling personnel; and two related to propane autogas (one providing an overview of this fuel, the other developed for firefighters and other first responders). These courses will join our online electric drive class as a way for people to upgrade their alternative fuel knowledge without traveling for training.
At our fall member meeting (more below), we will debut the online courses for towing and automotive recycling, and present two classroom-based curricula: one providing an overview the various requirements for facilities that work on alternative fuel vehicles, the other explaining considerations for collision repair on AFVs.
In the pipeline, we are working on a revamp of our natural gas vehicle course and the development of training related to ethanol.
In the past, the NAFTC held member professional development meetings. These meetings were open only to members and provided a summary of organizational activities. Starting in 2018, we have rebranded the member meetings as “Expos” to encapsulate a more holistic approach. Of course, we will still provide train-the-trainer sessions, but we have expanded our offerings to include shop activities with state-of-the-art equipment and materials, and industry partner presentations. The Expos are primarily for our members but are opened to our Clean Cities Coalition partners, prospective members (come and check us out), and any other organizations that may bring beneficial information to our member institutions.
We launched the first of these—dubbed Expo I—in Sanford, Florida last month. The event featured hands-on training at Seminole State College (one of our valued members) with our cutaway Prius and our new propane trainer developed by ATech Training (see related article). Based on feedback from the 35+ attendees, the new format was informative and useful, and fun.
Expo II, slated for October 28 and 29, 2018, in Las Vegas promises to build on this success. Not only will attendees get the first look at several of the curricula described above, but participants will also receive free admission to the AAPEX/SEMA show being held October 30 through November 1, 2018. This is one of the largest car shows in the world!
We are extremely excited about the new possibilities for the NAFTC. I am always delighted to hear from our members and encourage you to reach out with any suggestions you may have or questions you’d like me to answer. The NAFTC main number is (304) 293-7882 and our website is www.naftc.wvu.edu. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
With kind regards,
NAFTC Interim Director