Sinclair program helps students get jobs at Tesla

Sinclair College student Adam Shier works on a Tesla.
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Sinclair College student Adam Shier works on a Tesla.

Training at community college is one of eight in the United States.

The largest electric automaker in the world has teamed up with Sinclair Community College to offer a job training program that prepares graduates to work for the company.

Sinclair College is just one of eight schools in the nation that offers Tesla START, which is a 12-week “accelerated” program that provides students with the skills they need to become electric vehicle technicians.

Students who successfully complete the program get a chance to work at one of Tesla’s service centers around the country. A special ceremony will be held today for the Sinclair program’s first class of graduates

Sinclair Tesla class. Photos submitted by Sinclair
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Sinclair Tesla class. Photos submitted by Sinclair

Electric car sales are increasing around the nation and Ohio, according to state data, and industry experts say electric car technicians are increasingly high demand.

“Individuals who come out of this have job opportunities at Tesla North America service centers,” said Justin Morgan, chair of automotive technology at Sinclair College. “Right now, all of the graduating students in this class have jobs.”

Tesla has partnered with Sinclair and colleges in Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle, San Jose, Charlotte, Waco (Texas) and Selden (New York) to offer the START program, which trains students to work for the California-based electric vehicle and clean energy company.

Telsa is a giant in the electric vehicle industry. The company outsells the three next largest electric automakers combined.

The START program offers a “blended approach” that includes in-class theory, hands-on lab work and self-paced learning, the company says.

Sinclair’s START students started their training back in May. They will graduate today at a special ceremony.

Sinclair Tesla class. Photos submitted by Sinclair
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Sinclair Tesla class. Photos submitted by Sinclair

The graduates come from inside Ohio and as far away Canada. All have received job offers from Tesla, with some getting opportunities inside the Buckeye State, while others expect to work facilities in California.

Spots in the program are competitive because graduates get employment opportunities.

A second class that is already at capacity will begin in late September. Sinclair’s START program will have classes in the fall, spring and summer, with each accepting about a dozen students.

Sinclair already had a relationship with Tesla from when the company was a small partner on a grant to do some training around advanced driver-assist systems and electric vehicles, Morgan said.

Many electric vehicle technician students already have automotive training or experience working in a repair shops, but Tesla’s vehicles require knowledge of specific procedures and technology, Morgan said.

Sinclair students in its automotive programs get to work on a fleet of vehicles that include a Tesla. Knowledge of electric vehicle technology is expected to be increasingly important in the days and years to come.

“I don’t think we’re going to have the internal combustion engine going away in like the next two to three years, but certainly the market from hybrid to electric vehicles continues to grow and so that technology will need to be taught in programs like ours,” Morgan said.

A growing number of Ohioans are buying electric vehicles.

Sinclair Tesla class. Photos submitted by Sinclair
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Sinclair Tesla class. Photos submitted by Sinclair

In the first two months of 2020, more than 1,344 all-electric Tesla vehicles were registered in the state of Ohio, according to data from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

These included 85 registrations in Warren County, 55 in Montgomery County, 51 in Butler County, 31 in Greene County and four in Miami County.

Rob Strong, the owner of Canal Street Arcade and Deli in Dayton, purchased his Tesla Model 3 about a year ago.

He said the fully electric car is a remarkable and complex driving machine.

The entire car is controlled by a large touch-screen tablet that serves as far more than just a dashboard. Strong can open his glove box with a voice command, and the car is semi-autonomous, meaning it can steer and drive itself.

Strong’s vehicle had an issue with a camera on the driver’s side, and Tesla sent a technician to Dayton to make repairs.

Rob Strong purchased his Tesla about a year ago. He often charges the car at a station across from Day Air Ballpark, where the Dayton Dragons play. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
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Rob Strong purchased his Tesla about a year ago. He often charges the car at a station across from Day Air Ballpark, where the Dayton Dragons play. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Strong agreed that the car is so high-tech that repairing it will require a specialized skill set.

The technology is great, but Strong’s favorite thing about his car is its acceleration and speed.

“Man, it’s just so fast,” he said.