Partnerships keep Chabot College job training alive

Chabot College has found a way to forge partnerships with automakers to expand technical training classes.

April 5, 2011 7:14:10 PM PDT
As the state budget deficit cuts deeper into community college budgets, Chabot College in Hayward has found a way to forge partnerships with automakers to expand technical training classes.

Chabot is one of only three community colleges in the nation to partner with BMW, which provides current model vehicles and supplemental support worth $1 million. That program has 100 students enrolled. Chabot is hoping to recruit Tesla Motors to help support its hybrid technology program.

Two engineers from Palo Alto-based Tesla were teaching an informal class at Chabot on Tuesday afternoon, showing students the original roadster and allowing them to look under the hood at the technology inside.

Kurt Shadbolt, who teaches the hybrid technology classes, says it's not a matter of if but when Tesla will come on board. There will be a need for computer-trained technicians to maintain and repair advanced technology vehicles as Tesla's plant in Fremont (the former NUMMI plant) comes on line. The first Model S Tesla sedan is expected to be in production by mid-2012. The Chabot associates degree program runs two years. Shadbolt says his graduates will be replacing existing, veteran technicians who will be retiring or who do not have the skills to

Dr. Celia Barberena, president of Chabot College, says BMW approached the school about the partnership. Chabot provides the faculty and the facilities.

Tom Clark, the dean of advanced technology and business at Chabot, says students have had to be turned away in other academic areas due to budget cuts. However, there has been no reduction in the automotive program. Graduates of the two-year hybrid technology program can be expected to earn $16 to $17 an hour as apprentices, and then advance to $28 to $29 an hour as journeymen.

Tesla received a $465 million federal stimulus loan from the advanced technology vehicle program. The money was used to acquire the former NUMMI plant in Fremont. Tesla said today the loan is "not completely paid," but a spokeswoman would not elaborate on how much has been paid back.

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