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Wallace State showcases heavy duty electric truck, first of its kind sold in Alabama

When most people think of electric vehicles, the image of a heavy duty truck doesn’t come to mind.

Wallace State Community College, however, flipped the switch with the purchase of a brand new Kenworth T680E Class 8 heavy duty electric vehicle, which will be used by the school’s diesel technology program.

The new vehicle is also the first of its kind ever sold in Alabama.

Dr. Vicki Karolewics, President of the college, believes the new tech will help the school to become a “pace setter.”

“I’m often reminded of something that Tom Peters said a few years ago in his book, Re-Imagine!,” said Karolewics. “Tom’s book was focusing on the disruptions in the business world, and he said, if you are uncomfortable with the notion of change, think how much uncomfortable you’ll be with the notion of irrelevance.”

“Here at Wallace State, we not only work constantly to change how we do things in order to maintain that relevance, with our partners, but we strive to be a pacesetter.”

Wyatt Swann, chair of the Wallace State Diesel Technology program, thinks that the new purchase will provide invaluable experience for those enrolled in the department.

“This will give our students the opportunity to see something that no one in the field has seen yet,” he said.

Associate Dean of Technologies, Jerry Murcks, discussed the new EV initiative as a whole.

“Over the timespan of the grant, Wallace State aims to provide comprehensive training to as many as 230 students in the safe handling and maintenance of high voltage vehicles and batteries,” said Murcks. “The initiative encompasses both prospective technicians who will enroll in our programs and the upskilling of current technicians already working in the field.”

A representative of Truckworx, the company that sold the vehicle to the school, said that the institution has trained a number of talented technicians that have gone on to work for the company.

“Electric is coming, and it is coming faster than we realize,” said Heith Pike. “And as you know, over the road trucks keep America moving. But without good technicians the over the road trucks are not on the road.”

“Wallace State has provided us with great technicians,” Pike said. “Almost every single location that Truckworx has a graduate from the Wallace State diesel program.”

The purchase off the truck was made with funds provided in a three-year, $1.3 million grant by the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.

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