State officials join Heartland Community College, Rivian to unveil new electric vehicle training ground

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), Heartland Community College (HCC), and auto manufacturer Rivian came together to offer the first look at the new Electric Vehicle Energy Storage (EVES) training instructional operations.

The new training program will help prepare residents and companies doing business here to keep pace with demands in the fast-growing electric vehicle production sector in Illinois.

State officials, including Gov. J.B. Pritzker, attended the event.

Students in the EVES program get a hands-on experience, training them for the future of auto-mechanics.

“We’re ever expanding, we need a huge workforce. Our Rivian trucks will be all over the country in no time and we need experienced technicians to repair them,” said Ted Foos, co-instructor of the course and Rivian employee.

Foos said in the class, students learn basics of all car systems like braking and steering to more complex electric vehicle systems such as high voltage and electric batteries.

“We’re starting right from the basics and working our way up to complicated computer control systems,” Foos said.

Foos said upon completion, students can then be employed or gain an apprenticeship in EV manufacturing. Governor J.B. Pritzker said he expects that field to double in Illinois as the state shifts toward renewable energy over gasoline.

“Our nation leading climate action plan will put 1,000,000 electric vehicles on the roads by 2030,” Pritzker said.

EVES is one of two programs funded in part by $15 million from the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The other is at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville. The goal of both programs is part of the Pritzker administration’s five year economic growth plan that identified manufacturing as a high growth industry.

Pritzker said one of Illinois’ strengths in attracting new businesses and encouraging others, like Rivian to expand is Illinois intelligent workers and the state’s community college system.

“It’s one of the reasons we’re beefing up programs like this one at Heartland. They (businesses) want to know when they come to a state or region that there’s enough people who are trained properly,” Pritzker said.

This is the first class of students enrolled in the EVES program and Heartland hopes it will grow within the next five years.

“Knowing that it can take off in the next two years and we’re only a 12 student class is what’s amazing about it,” said student, Darrion Grismore.

“Thanks to our collaboration with industry partners like Rivian, and with the significant impact of the Manufacturing Training Academy grant, Heartland Community College is poised to become a regional leader in advanced manufacturing education,” said Heartland President Keith Cornille. 

The EVES’ program Bloomington location off of MLK Drive in Bloomington is temporary. Heartland is looking to build a 6,278 sq. foot facility on its Normal campus by 2023 with help from the Rebuild Illinois capital grants.

Watch the full presser here:

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