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Cherry Creek Innovation class preps students for future in electric vehicles

Automotive Technology Pathway class
Posted at 9:11 PM, Apr 14, 2023

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — The electric vehicle (EV) market is booming, with more than 80,000 now on the roads in Colorado.

Growth in EVs means opportunities for young people looking at future careers, and a high school class at Cherry Creek Innovation Campus is leaning into trend by integrating the technologies into its course.

Brian Manley has been teaching automotive technology pathway (ATP) at Cherry Creek Innovation Campus since its inception four years ago, and has watched the industry quickly evolve over that time.

“We always wanted to embrace the innovate side of all the pathways,” Manley said. “Moving from internal combustion engines to electric platforms is causing a lot of people anxiety — the students, as well as technicians, and teachers, and auto manufacturers. We’re all in the same boat. But we have to embrace the future. And it’s here.”

According to the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, registrations of electric and hybrid vehicles went up more than 10% from 2021 to 2022, even while new registrations overall fell by more than 13% in the same time frame. Many of the students in the ATP class see a future working in the automotive industry, and that means staying ahead of the curve is vitally important.

Many of them also have unlocked their full potential through the hands-on learning the course provides.

“It doesn’t really feel like a class. It doesn’t feel like a lecture, which is really nice for me because I don’t like just being lectured,” said senior Chloe Limburg. “Pretty much everything that a car needs to stay on the road, we work on on these cars behind us.”

“I think that EVs are a really cool option to create a green environment, and to have a cool car to drive around,” said fellow senior William Schimberg.

Both Schimberg and Limburg already have plans to continue their automotive education after graduating high school, and intend to make careers in the industry. They, along with their classmates, make the extra drive to Cherry Creek Innovation Campus multiple times per week to attend this course. And, they often stay in the shop after class ends to keep learning and working.

It takes dedication and hard work to get this leg up, but Manley has seen it pay off quickly for his previous students.

“Now they have essentially disassembled and reassembled an entire electric vehicle, and they’ve got a great understanding of all the basics that are involved,” he said, explaining the edge his students have applying for further education and jobs. “These are technical, dangerous vehicles, and it requires technicians that have a good, specialized education. And this is a great place to get a start in that. It’s a lucrative career.

“Any students thinking about doing this for a living — they’re desperately needed by independent shops, by manufacturers in their dealerships. There are a lot of vehicles that need to be repaired, both gasoline vehicles and electric vehicles, and it’s a great place to begin a career.”

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