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Campus to offer course on energy efficient vehicles

December 6th 11:41 am | Joseph Miller Print this article   Email this article   Create a Shortlink for this article

As the fall semester at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Bristol Bay Campus is drawing to a close, the registration for Spring classes are opening up and revealing several new and engaging courses for students for the upcoming year, including a course on the mechanics and the building of energy efficient vehicles.

The course schedules for the new Spring Semester of 2014 have been posted by the Bristol Bay Campus for students to look over and select their classes before the end of the fall term. However, there are still several courses left within the time frame of the fall semester. Between Dec. 2 and Dec. 6, a class called the Introduction to Concrete Materials and Forms will be offered as well as an Introduction to Welding course that will be available beginning on Dec. 12. A course on Hazardous Materials Technician training will be offered from Dec. 9 through Dec. 13 as well as a refresher course that will be offered on Dec. 14.

Perhaps the most exciting course is a new class called Energy Efficient Vehicles that is scheduled to take place between Tuesday, Dec. 17 through Thursday Dec. 19 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.. The course is only worth one credit, but it is provided for free by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"What we have here is this class being used as an elective, which will be one credit towards a Sustainable Energy Occupational Endorsement degree," said Michael Golub, the Bristol Bay campus sustainable energy coordinator and the instructor for the upcoming course. "We offer a couple of the courses needed for this major at the Bristol Bay campus, but we certainly want to offer more. It's a way for high school students to take a handful of courses here and then immediately be able to get a job in an entry level position in the field opposed to spending a lot of time working towards something that would require much more time like a two or a four year degree in a broader specialization. This class is one way that will help students get their feet wet with enough knowledge in these energy efficient areas so they would require less training in an entry level position when the time comes."

For the past several years, Golub has been perfecting the art of converting gasoline powered motors into sustainable electrical ones, including several cars that he has converted for his own personal use. While building his second car, Golub also constructed his own adapter plane in the University of Alaska Fairbanks machine shop, which attracted attention from his professors and eventually led to Golub receiving a grant for his work and to help further his electric projects. According to Golub, this new course will specifically focus on the conversion of snow machines.

"This a class spread over the span of three days, so there is enough time to cover  some of the basic material," Golub said. "There might be a part two and even possibly a part three, but it is depending on how well it goes. The enthusiasm of the students will dictate how far we will actually go into the building of energy efficient vehicles. The students will learn how inefficient snow machines are, which is something that most people already know, especially when considering the fuel economy of snow machines and comparing that to the fuel efficiency of a car. We want to show how inefficient some of these machines are and ask questions like 'What if the snow machine was battery powered?' and then learning how to change them. There are a lot of creative things that you can do and learning how to change some of these machines through conversion can be an interesting route. You take a lot more ownership in your machine if you can get it to work."

The class is mostly aimed at high school students who are looking to fill their time with learning a new skill for little to no cost. There have been a handful of students that have already enrolled in the class, but time is running short before classes reopen on Jan. 3. According to Golub, if the course generates enough enthusiasm from the students, the subsequent courses following Energy Efficient Vehicles will lead to the students building their own snow machines, and then entering them into a competition in March of next year.

"The course is open to anyone in the community," Golub said. "It will be nice if the students show interest, but it's up to them to put their mark on it. I've taught classes like this before, and the things that a student can learn from this course can really help when it comes time to enter the work force. If some of these students go on to work in installing solar panels or other sustainable weatherizing or homebuilding, it won't be a whole new language for them."

For information involving registering for the Energy Efficient Vehicles course or any other course for the upcoming Spring semester, visit the Bristol Bay Campus website for a list of available courses and registration cutoff dates.


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