Students at Crater High School in Central Point Oregon found a new and engaging class on their curriculum last year: they could join a class that was to build an electric vehicle – or EV as it’s called.
The EV is designed by Switch Lab and you can think of it as a very large Lego kit that has to be put together – by students. Rogue Valley Clean Cities Coalition purchased the Switch in 2018 for around $38,000, then asked high schools to submit presentations about how they would use the EV in a class or as a project. Crater High School had the best presentation and was awarded the vehicle.
The Switch is a three-wheeled vehicle with functions similar to commercial EV’s, like Tesla, Chevy Bolt or Nissan Leaf it has an A/C motor, lithium batteries and the ability to be programmed.
And here’s the kicker: once a class has put it together and driven a few victory laps around the school parking lot, it will be disassembled and made ready for next year’s class.
Avista Account Executive Victor Bautista is on the board of the Rogue Valley Clean Cities Coalition.
“We promote cleaner air in many ways, one of which is to provide information about vehicles that use alternative fuels,” Bautista said. “This vehicle is going to stay at Crater High School, but we have gotten interest from other high schools and if it goes well, we will consider purchasing another one.”
Mike Quilty is the coordinator for Rogue Valley Clean Cities Coalition. Quilty says few high school students want to go into the trades, in spite of the fact that in trades like mechanics you can have quite a lucrative career with a high school degree compared to a college degree.
The Switch covers a ton of areas of education,” Quilty said. “The obvious are basic vehicle repair skills, engineering and computer programming – and the students also made promotional videos for marketing.”
YouTube videos show students excited about the Switch and the skills they learned. Quilty said many students also were very interested in the impact EV’s have on the environment.
“It surprised us a little bit that the students were so interested in a smaller carbon footprint,” Quilty said. He’s hoping that they will be able to survey the students in the Switch class to see if they have changed their mind about a career in trades or STEM, before and after the class.
“It would be very nice if we could show that some of the students now are interested in STEM and trades, after taking the class,” Quilty said.
Avista employees spend over 40,000 hours per year volunteering at local non-profits, Rogue Valley Clean Cities Coalition is one of them. Through grants, volunteerism and economic development, Avista is supporting education, reducing poverty and increasing community vitality and driving economic initiatives.