GICCA Receives $150,000 grant for SWITCH Electric Vehicles

The Golden Isles College and Career Academy (GICCA), was recently awarded a $150,000 grant from the Georgia Department of Education to support incorporating EV (Electric Vehicles) into their Engineering Program. The funds will be used to purchase two Switch EV Kits valued at $75,000 apiece.  
According to the Switch Vehicles Inc. website, the Switch is designed to be built, tested and driven and then disassembled for the next class to use every semester and year after year.  A 96-volt lithium-ion battery powers the Switch, boasts 108 horsepower, can speed up to 85 mph, and has a range of 40 miles on a single charge. The grant includes a ready-made curriculum in which students will first learn about and study the EV industry, learn about the components of an electric vehicle and then assemble the vehicles all within one semester.
While many may assume this new curriculum would be incorporated into the Automotive Pathway at GICCA, it is better suited for the Engineering Pathway.  GICCA revamped the Engineering Pathway three years ago under new Engineering Faculty Greg Smith.  Until now, the primary focus has been on Programmable Logic Controllers, which are used in manufacturing processes at companies like King & Prince Seafood and Rich Products. The EV curriculum will complement students’ training and provide flexibility to pursue multiple career paths.

According to GICCA CEO/Workforce Strategy Leader Brian Weese, the timing of this grant couldn’t be better.
“With our proximity to the new Hyundai plant, Glynn County is perfectly situated to support the EV industry. Over the past year, we’ve been involved in many site-selection meetings with potential EV manufacturers and suppliers.  This grant and the subsequent training our students will receive will only solidify our position as a viable location for high-paying, in-demand careers in the EV industry.”

GICCA Principal and CTAE Director Dr. Joe Depenhart agrees this grant is well-timed.
“With the opening of the Hyundai Metaplant in Bryan County, we expect to see serious growth regionally in the EV manufacturing process.  Not just with Hyundai itself but also through the opening of companies that support or provide logistics for the Metaplant.  Incorporating these Switch EVs in our engineering program will give Glynn County students the knowledge and skills needed to fill jobs in the EV industry both here in the Golden Isles and throughout our region.”

While this grant is big news for the Career Academy, it also means big things to the region. McKenzie Padgett, Director of Business Development for the Golden Isles Development Authority, works regularly with companies seeking locations for new EV-related manufacturing facilities.  
“We have seen an 87% increase in new projects last fiscal year, most operating in the electric vehicle (EV) sector. Georgia has a rapidly growing EV ecosystem, and it is vital we have a strong workforce pipeline that incorporates the appropriate curriculum not only to strengthen our growing workforce but also to look more attractive to EV-related projects seeking prime locations.”