Nashua, N.H. (September 1, 2021) – With a growing emphasis on electric vehicles and a need for more trained workers, Nashua Community College (NCC) received and assembled The Switch Glider electric car kit and is integrating the technology across disciplines. Students in automotive programs, computer science, engineering, mechanical design, and physics will gain knowledge and experience with electric vehicle technology as part of course curriculum adding new skills for a growing industry.
The Switch Glider is a three-wheeled street legal electric car from The Switch Lab, a company based in California, that comes in the form of a reusable kit designed to be built, tested, driven and then disassembled for the next class. Automotive instructors are already working on ways to use the electric vehicle kit in existing coursework, such as a class on electrical systems in vehicles.
“We’re already looking at a curriculum to see how we can integrate it, and to see if we need to develop new courses to include electric vehicles, and the Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS),” said Karl Wunderlich, professor and chair of the Industry and Transportation Department, which includes automotive, Honda, and collision repair technology programs.
An interdisciplinary team of faculty leaders first assembled the electric car kit this August, with the help of Switch Lab staff. Applications for the kit reach beyond automotive classes as professors from physics, mechanical design technology, engineering, and computer science programs also have plans to incorporate it.
“There are two computers embedded in the Switch Car. One is used to control how the car drives and the other is used to manage the battery charge. I’m looking forward to showing the students that software is part of many products – beyond laptops, mobile devices and web applications,” said Professor Betsy Gamrat, head of computer science at the college.
NCC received the Switch Glider through a Perkins Innovation grant which also funded curriculum such as engineering lab kits.
“NCC received lab kits that allow students to practice with the wiring that controls the car – including a key and motor,” said Gamrat. “Our Computer Engineering and Electronics Engineering Technology students will have an opportunity to practice wiring an electric car and learn about controlling high voltage with low voltage.”
Beyond academic classes, other campus groups can have their turn with the kit. “There could be a student club that will get involved with this, and potential for a larger political discussion on campus about the impact of electric cars,” said Robyn Griswold, vice president of academic affairs.
White Mountains Community College, which is part of the Community College System of New Hampshire along with NCC, also received The Switch Glider and is adding it to future learning opportunities for students.
About Nashua Community College
Since 1970, Nashua Community College has been successfully meeting the educational needs of Greater Nashua by delivering a high quality two-year, post-secondary education. The college partners closely with area industries that provide students with a unique perspective in their fields of study, allowing for a real-world experience to further their academic journey. Students can choose from a variety of associate degree, certificate, and career training programs. Nashua Community College is a member of the Community College System of New Hampshire. The seven community colleges in the system are committed to working with businesses throughout the state to train and retain employees to develop a robust workforce across all sectors and embraces the “65 by 25 Initiative,” which calls for 65 percent of New Hampshire citizens to have some form of postsecondary education by 2025 to meet future workforce demands. Learn more at nashuacc.edu.
Photo caption: From left is Ben Wagstaff, Nashua Community College automotive instructor; followed by Baudelio Ibarra, the trainer from Switch Labs; and then Dan Larochelle, the Advanced Manufacturing Department Chair at Manchester Community College building The Switch.