MyNicolet  |  Blackboard  |  Directory  |  Email  |  LibraryContact

News Story

Nicolet College - Hybrid vehicle training to take leap forward in Nicolet College’s Auto Program

Hybrid vehicle training to
take leap forward in Nicolet's Auto Program


Auto TechNicolet College is emerging as one of the leaders in the state for hybrid vehicle technology training by creating two new classes that will soon be added to Nicolet’s Auto Technician program.

“Just about every major automaker is ramping up production of hybrid vehicles,” said Nicolet Auto Technology instructor Jon Werkmeister. “Professional auto technicians will need to move with the industry and learn this new technology.”

Werkmeister and fellow Nicolet Auto Technician instructor Paul Marquardt are currently in the process of writing the curriculum for the two new classes. Once completed, the curriculum will be submitted to the Wisconsin Technical College System for approval. When approved, the Nicolet curriculum will be made available to the other 15 technical colleges across Wisconsin.

“This type of training fits perfectly with Nicolet’s effort to incorporate environmental sustainability into our curriculum,” said Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster. “The trend is clear and we are excited to be furthering new-technology training for technicians working on hybrid vehicles.”

Nicolet plans to start offering the new two-credit classes in January. One will be an Introduction to Hybrid Vehicles and the other Hybrid Vehicle Maintenance.

Much of the training will focus on battery technology and using electricity to propel the vehicle forward and using that forward momentum to recharge the batteries when the vehicle is in gas-powered mode.

Another major component of these courses will focus on safety and instilling greater comfort and confidence levels in technicians working on the hybrids. “These vehicles work with electricity in the 400 to 600 volt range,” Werkmeister explained. “The typical power outlet in a home is 120 volts. A lot of people know what kind of jolt that can deliver. We want to educate our students so they understand what is going on in these vehicles. If you don’t understand how the electrical systems in these vehicles work, that’s when you get into trouble.”

Auto technicians aren’t the only ones who need to practice safety protocols when working around hybrids. Emergency first responders must also be trained in how to safely work around these vehicles. The college has already offered a series of hybrid vehicle safety classes for emergency responders and firefighters in the Northwoods.

“With the number of hybrid vehicles on our roads increasing, the chance of these vehicles being involved in a crash also increases,” Marquardt explained. “When emergency responders need to bring out the Jaws Of Life or similar equipment at an accident scene, they need to know the components of a hybrid vehicle electrical system in order to safely work around that much electricity.”

In addition, Werkmeister and Marquardt also recently completed the Train-the-Trainer Diagnostic Certification in Hybrid Vehicles from Snap-On Tools, an international industry leader in automotive repair.

Now, when students graduate from Nicolet’s Auto Technician program, they’ll receive a college diploma and the added industry certification from Snap-On Tools. “Anytime you earn an industry certification like this it looks good on a resume and employers take notice,” added Marquardt who, along with teaching at Nicolet, owns Northwoods Auto Techs in Rhinelander.

Nicolet’s Automotive Technician Program recently received five-year certification from the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF), a national industry organization created to ensure technician training programs subscribe to high standards. Nicolet’s auto program scored a 4.89 out of a possible 5, garnering the college the five-year certification, the highest level given by the foundation.

For more information about Nicolet’s Auto Technician Program, visit or call the Nicolet College Welcome Center at (715) 365-4493, 1-800-544-3039, ext. 4493, TDD (715) 365-4558 or 711 relay.