Beginning this fall, automotive students at Francis Tuttle Technology Center will be able to earn certification as alternative fuel technicians.
Automotive service instructor Charles Lawson will add about two weeks of instruction on working with compressed natural gas vehicles to his engine performance class at the Rockwell campus.
The donation of a 2008 Chevrolet Impala from Chesapeake Energy Corp.'s fleet will help Francis Tuttle teach its students to work on CNG-fueled vehicles, Lawson said.
“Because it's an alternative fuel, there's some different things, mostly in the safety area, that they need to learn about,” he said.
Tom Friedemann, superintendent at Francis Tuttle, said the expanded program fits with the school's vision for its curriculum.
“We continually look to our business and industry partners to help us improve our curriculum,” he said. “We started down the road of environmental responsibility as one of our strategic initiatives a few years ago, and preparing our students for an emerging technology like CNG vehicle maintenance fits well within that.
“With the oil and gas industry being one of Oklahoma's strengths, we can continue to help our country reach toward energy independence.”
Natural gas is gaining a foothold as an alternative to gasoline or diesel, particularly in Oklahoma thanks to the advocacy of Chesapeake and Gov. Mary Fallin.
Chesapeake is converting its entire vehicle fleet to CNG, while Fallin led a 22-state coalition seeking bids for natural gas vehicles for state fleets.
Oklahoma already has added about 320 CNG vehicles to its fleet, Fallin said at Tuesday's Oklahoma State University Energy Conference.