Grant allows PSU auto tech to work with hybrids

Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Pittsburg State University Automotive Technology professor Trent Lindbloom flips through a maintenance manual from one of the hybrid vehicles used for student training at the Kansas Technology Center. The Automotive Technology Department was recently awarded a $150,000 grant for hybrid education. (Submitted photo)

As consumers embrace cleaner, greener ways of living and hybrid vehicles become more commonplace on the roadways, Pittsburg State University is preparing its professors to be leaders in hybrid technology education.

Recently, the Department of Automotive Technology at PSU was awarded a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to bolster faculty education in the area of hybrid technology. The two-year grant will provide more training to professors, who will then pass along those tools to students.

Automotive professors Trent Lindbloom and Roger Adams worked together to pursue the grant, which will help the department during its recertification process with the National Automotive Technical Education Foundation this fall. The Foundation, which requires schools to recertify every five years, recently added the area of hybrid technology as a new focus.

"We've been seeing hybrids on the road more often now and seeing them end up in independent repair facilities, so there's a growing need for our students to know how to work on these vehicles," Lindbloom said.

The department began working on securing the grant last October, and will begin receiving money this September. The funds will go toward purchasing hybrid components for the lab, developing self-learning units, creating new curriculum to enhance the two- and four-year automotive programs, and training faculty.

Lindbloom said that not only do hybrid engines have a different structure, but they are also more complex. Dealing with high-voltage batteries, for example, can be dangerous -- an even more important factor when it comes to educating students.

The department currently has three hybrid vehicles that have been donated by industry and are used in the classroom. Knowing students will be seeing them more and more, Lindbloom said word of the grant couldn't have come at a better time.

"Hybrids are here to last, so we have to be able to teach this in the laboratory and develop curriculum for it," Lindbloom said.

For more information, contact the Department of Automotive Technology at (620) 235-6189.