New Advanced Transportation Technology Center
|LBCC automotive students Nicholas Waymack, Misty Davis, |
automotive instructor Bryan Schiedler, Randy Camp (in
CoEnergy truck), and automotive student Jamie Gayler.
|Future site of ATTC in Lebanon.|
When it comes to fueling our cars, how much we spend at the pump can drive us to seek better, cheaper ways to get to our destinations.
Those cheaper, cleaner alternatives aren’t on the horizon –they are already here. Hybrid electric/gas motors, full-on electric motors, biofuels, propane, compressed natural gas, and hydrogen fuel cells are being developed and improved upon as viable alternatives to gasoline.
The new fuels bring new technology, and the need for people to service the fuel systems. LBCC is positioning itself to provide highly skilled technicians to work on the automobiles and heavy equipment of our future with a new Advanced Transportation Technology Center.
The Advanced Transportation Technology Center (ATTC) will serve as a first step toward creating a base for alternative fuel technology in the Willamette Valley, becoming the only major training facility for alternative fuels between Seattle and San Francisco.
With $4.3 million raised – including a $2 million private donation, $1.4 million from the Lebanon Urban Renewal District, $800,000 from state lottery funds and $100,000 from the Lebanon Industrial Council – the project is underway. LBCC finalized the purchase of an 11-acre site that includes a 35,000-square-foot industrial building in Lebanon to house the ATTC. Total cost for the center is estimated at $6.3 million.
For automotive student Nicholas Waymack, learning about the new fuel systems is exciting. “It’s mind-blowing! That we can power an engine using propane and compressed natural gas, and that they use less natural resources and are better for the environment is really something,” he said.
Randy Camp, general manger of CoEnergy Propane in Corvallis, puts it this way: “You can’t buy a car that runs on alternative fuels like propane if there is no place to take the car to be serviced. What we are missing locally are the people who can repair and maintain these vehicles, along with the places to fuel them. The ATTC will help fill that void.”
Propane is the third-most used fuel in the world, and is a less-polluting alternative in today’s market, says Camp. CoEnergy’s propane-powered truck is featured on the front cover.
“We have the technology to run vehicles on propane,” said Camp. “But it’s kind of like the chicken or the egg scenario. We can sell the vehicles, but we also need places that can service them."
LBCC automotive students are learning the new systems from the inside out. “We are working with the newest technology,” said automotive student Jamie Gayler. “This is where our cars are going, and we need to learn how to fix those cars.”
The main catalyst behind the ATTC has been LBCC Automotive Technology instructor Bryan Schiedler. He sees the many possibilities for the center to have a positive economic impact on local communities.
The center will be ready for students beginning fall term 2013, and Schiedler would like to see partnerships develop that will set the Valley up to become a hybrid vehicle and electric car battery research and development site.
“LBCC has the students, equipment and now the space, to provide an environment for learning about and developing the newest automotive technology,” said Schiedler.
The center will offer 3,000-square-feet of flex space, providing an opportunity for shared learning in research and development with local industry, something that Schiedler is working to make happen not only to engage his students, but to engage the local economy.
“Our center will have cutting edge equipment, such as a EV/hybrid dynamometer,” said Schiedler. “This can provide a perfect opportunity for industry to develop new battery and alternative fuel technologies right here.”
Along with the vehicle technology, Schiedler would like to see the college be an integral part of the development of infrastructure to support fueling these vehicles, such as creating alternative fueling stations for trucks that transport goods up and down the I-5 corridor.
When the auto and diesel programs move from their current homes on the Albany campus, the project will also create room to expand programs in welding, machine tool technology and mechatronics, said Schiedler.
Story and photo: Lori Fluge-Brunker, Communications Specialist, LBCC College Advancement
ATTC building photo: Alexis Schiedler