SBVC professor Berchman “Kenny” Melancon observes as Enrique Allen Mar of Advanced Training Systems demonstrates a commercial truck driving simulator the college is acquiring as part of its expanded clean vehicle technology curriculum (photo credit: LaVar Godoy)

Edison International, one of the largest corporate charitable contributors in Southern California, recently awarded San Bernardino Valley College (SBVC) Foundation $75,000 to support SBVC’s Clean Energy Hybrid and Electric Vehicle (EV) Technician Program and STEM scholarships.

SBVC’s Clean Energy Hybrid/EV Technician Program grant award totaled $50,000. The goals of the program are to increase the availability of electric vehicle (EV) training, reach additional students who are interested in the training, and give students sought-after clean energy/EV skills that makes them more competitive for higher-wage job opportunities.

The program also includes campus outreach activities, which consists of faculty attending career fairs at local high schools and community events, developing informational materials about the program, and disseminating the materials to promote electric/hybrid clean technology programs. Led by SBVC faculty chair of the Diesel Department, Berchman “Kenny” Melancon, faculty conducted community outreach in Winter 2019 and Spring 2020 at Redlands High School, Pacific High School and an event at the Fontana Speedway to promote SBVC’s clean energy programs. This outreach prioritized meetings with community members, high school counselors, students, and parents.

One of the degree offerings being promoted through the program is the Heavy Medium Duty Clean Vehicle Technology Certificate, a 22-unit certificate, designed for students to build skills working on Zero Emissions, Electric, and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles. Funding from donors like Edison International enables SBVC to develop career pathways and to recruit students to prepare them for jobs in the field.

As a component of the Clean Energy Hybrid/EV Technician Program grant, five student scholarships were awarded to students, who will be graduating with their certifications in June 2021. The scholarships, funded at $1,000 each, were awarded to Blake Burndred, Richard Jaramillo, Anmolpreet Singh, Brian Garcia, and Anthony Przybylek. Scholarships were determined by department faculty.

“We are expanding every year and are grateful for Edison International’s continued support,” Melancon explained. “Our goal is to ensure our students are educated with the most current technology, so when they enter the job market, they are an asset wherever they decide to go.”

One student in the clean vehicle technology program works for Riverside Transit Authority. Once his employer found out that he was taking classes for the clean vehicle technology certificate, they brought him into the shop to work on vehicles, gave him a pay raise, as well as a title promotion.

In addition, Edison International awarded the SBVC Foundation a $25,000 grant for STEM scholarships. The scholarships benefited 25 students at SBVC who are pursuing careers in STEM fields, such as Computer Science, Mathematics, Bioengineering, and Mechanical Engineering. Students were recognized in the SBVC Foundation’s virtual scholarship award ceremony on June 4, 2020.

Since 2010, Edison International has partnered with SBVC Foundation to offer scholarships to SBVC students. Through this work, Edison International has been dedicated in supporting students interested in careers in green technology and environmental areas. For students who begin their studies at SBVC with economic disadvantage, these grants to improve training and create scholarship opportunities represent a lifeline from financial struggle to a living wage and limitless possibility. Ultimately, SBVC’s long-time partnership with Edison International has positively impacted its students’ lives as well as the greater Inland Empire community.