Sunday, December 26, 2010

And now a word from our sponsor...

On December 20th I received notice that our Hybrid Trainer / Sand Rail project is to receive funding from the Innovation Grant Fund of the NMC Foundation. I applied for the grant back in November and could not be happier to have this sponsorship awarded to our department. This should allow us to have the trainer in "rolling chassis" form, ready to show at the NMC Energy Expo & Aero Park Laboratories Open House on January 15. This event will serve as the grand opening of NMC's fourth building on the Aero Park Campus. This building will house NMC's Renewable Energy and Construction Technology classes starting with the spring 2011 semester. For more information on this event, please visit NMC's website here. The Aero Park Laboratory is located directly across the street from our Automotive Service Technology building, so I couldn't help but notice their new wind turbine being installed last week. I just happened to have my camera with me, so here is a picture of the turbine being set up:

 I would like to send a big Thank You to the Foundation for their sponsorship. If you are following this blog and are interested in renewable energy, please make plans to attend the Grand Opening on January 15. There will be numerous exhibitors and industry experts there to answer your questions. And, time permitting, we will be showing our trainer and answering questions about hybrid electric vehicles. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

See Spot.

Spot is the newest addition to our hybrid vehicle fleet. He was a "test mule" for Ford Motor Company. Please forgive his strange appearance. Automotive publications try to be the first to release photographs of prototype vehicles, and manufacturers go to great lengths to foil their efforts. Mission accomplished. This Mercury Milan Hybrid was used to gather information during the testing phase before it's actual roll out for public purchase. The amount of wiring, sensors and gauges found inside this vehicle is staggering. It was literally a rolling laboratory. But alas, newer models are now under development and Spot was no longer of use to Ford. But here at NMC's Automotive Service Technology department, we are fortunate to be able to give him a new home. And we are grateful to Ford for their generosity in allowing us to adopt him. In his retirement he will provide numerous opportunities for our students to learn skills that will make them valuable employees. And we, in return, will take good care of Spot.   

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Phase one is under way

The frame has arrived from Berrien Buggy! In this picture, the front axle assembly has been bolted on and the Prius drive train has been "mocked up". This means that it has not yet been truly installed. It is merely placed in the approximate position where it will be permanently mounted. There are many factors to be considered before the exact position of the engine/transaxle is determined. If it is positioned too far forward, the rear tires will rub on the frame at the point where the frame widens. If the position is too low, the axle shafts will contact the lower frame rails when the suspension drops. Another factor to consider is whether to mount the radiator in front of the engine or possibly at the rear of the roll cage. The process of sorting out all of these details will be a learning exercise for the students. I always welcome any activity that requires critical thinking skills. A successful auto repair technician needs more than keen knowledge of how the various subsystems work together. One must also posses the ability to identify potential problems and come up with solutions. Textbooks, quizzes, and hours upon hours of study is where we start. The lab is where we continue the process. My reward is bearing witness to the "Aha!" moments when someone grasps a concept and their confidence level kicks up another notch. 

For a closer look, click on the picture and it will open up in full size.