TEME mechanics fully charged on electric vehicle training


Peter Mallett 
Staff Writer

Mechanics at the base are upgrading their skills to better service the expanding fleet of electric vehicles. 

Eight members of Transport Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (TEME) recently concluded an Electrified Vehicle Technology Service course at Camosun College’s Interurban Campus.

The course is introductory in nature and designed for Certified Automotive Technicians or registered fourth-year apprentices. It was delivered at Camosun’s Centre for Trades Education and Innovation.

“Camosun College has really put together a great course and everyone enrolled is enthusiastic and having a great time learning,” said Sgt Dave Newman, Supervisor of Vehicle Maintenance. “Our technicians learn every day on the job but adding supplementary courses, especially ones to do with modern technology not only helps us gain knowledge and understanding, but also boosts morale.”

BC’s move to Electric Vehicles

The training aligns with British Columbia’s emerging low-carbon energy economy.

British Columbia has more than 60,000 EVs (electric vehicles) on the road and leads all of Canada’s provinces in transition to EVs.

With all of those electric vehicles on the road, someone will be required to service them. In March 2021, the Province of British Columbia announced $440,000 for the expansion of the Electric Vehicle Maintenance Training program at Camosun and three other post-secondary institutions through the CleanBC Go Electric program.

Pilot courses were launched by the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), Okanagan College,
and New Caledonia’s Prince George campus in 2020, and Camosun College in 2021. 

Green technology on base

In recent years, CFB Esquimalt and TEME have gradually added to their fleet of electric-powered vehicles to fall in line with the Department of National Defence Energy and Environmental Strategy, says Sgt Newman. The base currently has more than 20 vehicles, a mix of electric and hybrid.

In order to properly understand the new technology under the hood of an EV, proper training and certification is required.

TEME Vehicle Technicians are well trained to repair and maintain engines of varying sizes, everything from lawnmowers to automobiles, to heavy equipment and armoured vehicles.

The Camosun course provides them the knowledge and skills to safely diagnose, service, and repair high voltage electric vehicles, says Sgt Newman. After six hours of interactive online learning, they moved to 30 hours of in-class/shop theory and hands-on practical instruction. Another eight TEME mechanics will attend the course in October.

Boosting Morale

Cpl Emily Barnard has been a vehicle technician for seven years and is excited to service the new electric technology.

“When I joined the trade in 2015, I never really imagined I would be servicing electric vehicles. It’s a complete morale booster to be learning something new, and electric vehicles are a wave of the future; so yes, this is very interesting to me and our entire staff.”

Her co-worker, Pierre Drouin, a civilian vehicle technician agrees. He has nearly 30 years’ experience working as a mechanic.

“I really liked this course because I don’t have a lot of experience working with electric vehicles and it’s great to get a basic understanding how things work; especially the safety precautions needed to work with high voltage electricity.”

Camosun instructor and program leader Patrick Jones says he has been fully-impressed with his new DND students and their level of enthusiasm and interest in the training.

“One thing that really stood out for me after the first day of instruction, is this is a group of people that works together every day and have a level of comfort that makes them more receptive to learning. I wasn’t really expecting this and from an educator’s point of view that is pretty awesome.”

Jones says the demand for instruction in the field is quickly increasing and he hopes Camosun’s program will continue to expand.

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