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Toledo Technology Academy pushes electric vehicle education after GM announcement

With GM's plan to invest $760 million dollars for electric manufacturing, the school wants to make sure its students can get in on the ground floor.

TOLEDO, Ohio — General Motors announced last Friday it will invest $760 million into its Toledo Propulsions Systems facility on Alexis Road to produce drive units for electric vehicles. 

The goal is to put Toledo on course for a future in EV manufacturing.

Local trade schools, like the Toledo Technology Academy of Engineering, are adapting to prepare their students for the emerging industry.

While the school has had electric vehicle clubs going back 20 years, now they're emphasizing the technology more than ever and making sure their curriculum is giving their students hands-on learning to get a jump start in Toledo's changing market, such as inside the school's engineering and technology wing.

Inside the large workshop, a group of busy seniors are fine-tuning their latest project: a robotic arm.

The school is emphasizing getting students comfortable working with electronics and electric manufacturing. Assistant Director David Volk said the school's mission is staying on top of what a future workforce may need.

"It was just a natural fit for us to expand on that," Volk said. "It's going to make us even more relevant to have a trained workforce that knows anything about electric vehicles."

And that kind of learning is happening in other areas, like the school's automotive engineering club. Students are taking gas-powered vehicles and retrofitting them with electric batteries. Senior Drew Baumgartner said it's giving students like him valuable hands-on experience in the EV field.

"You don't get this at a normal high school, or even half of this," Baumgartner said.

The school recently got a $1.2 million federal grant specifically for electric vehicle education. It'll be used to revamp an entire section of their building to focus exclusively on EV manufacturing. Senior Jacob Havlind won't be at the academy by the time it's ready but said he's excited about this new chapter regardless.

"It's exciting to know that more kids will learn about electric vehicles and how they work and that awareness will be spread about electric vehicles because they're the future," Havlind said.

Volk said he expects the new wing of the school to be open in 2024 at the earliest.

The academy also has plans for more electric vehicle programming as early as this year, the details of which will be unveiled at the school's open house on Oct. 6.

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