GCC Celebrates Odyssey Day

Friday, October 19, 2012

They are the drivers of tomorrow and 200 of them, high school students from around the state, had the chance to check out hybrid and fully electric cars, take part in lectures on how those cars work and learn about how alternative fuel use can lead to a reduction in oil consumption in the country. It is all part of the biennial National Alternative Fuel Vehicles (ATV) Odyssey Day conference at Gateway Community College (GCC) Friday, October 19.

The workshops took place in the new Gateway campus and on the first floor of the adjacent parking garage where students took a close look at a number of hybrid and fully electric cars as well as a CT Transit hydrogen-electric-operated bus. Members of the GCC community, students, faculty and staff also learned about the fully electric and hybrid vehicles.

“Today’s generation of high school student is much more energy conscious and aware,” said Paul Silberquit, GCC’s Divisional Director of Engineering and Applied Technologies. “When Odyssey Day first came into existence, there was not a lot of buy-in into alternative energies. Now people, particularly high school and college-aged students, have bought in. They are interested and we want to reinforce and encourage that.”

The workshops addressed the savings that come from energy-efficient cars not only in terms of in terms of dollars in students’ pockets but also how the vehicles and fuels can cut down on the costs to the environment and to their health. Students learned about how much electric cars cost as compared to gasoline-powered cars as well as the many different types of fuels being used and where drivers can go to get those fuels, while participants discussed the many advances taking place today in automotive engineering and in the development of new batteries and other technologies.

National AFV Day Odyssey is a biennial event coordinated by the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NATFC) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, dedicated to promoting the use of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. Odyssey is comprised of numerous green transportation related events coordinated and hosted by NAFTC members, Clean Cities Coalitions, and others. Gateway has long been at the forefront of clean technologies and continues to take a leadership role. Earlier this month GCC held a two day workshop on alternative fuels attended by coalition members from around New England. 

Participation in Odyssey Day has grown from 17,000 students, nation-wide in 2002 to more than 250,000 at more than 150 sites around the country. Silberquit said the Odyssey day aims to illustrate how ATVs can help provide solutions to growing energy, security, and environmental issues while helping to ensure that people have clean air to breathe.

Beyond raising understanding of the kinds of vehicles and alternative fuels available and the impact they can have, Silberquit said the program generates interest in studying automotive engineering.