Connections: Linking Talented Educators
Connections: Linking Talented Educators

In Connecticut, Automotive Technology Classes Explore AI

May 15, 2020

Automotive technology Peter Arseneault2

By Lara Santos

Automotive technology has come a long way from intermittent wipers and seat warmers. Today’s vehicles can detect objects in their paths, warn us when we stray from our lanes and even drive on auto-pilot. Artificial intelligence (AI) is advancing rapidly, and aspiring automotive engineers need to keep up.

At Bacon Academy in Colchester, Connecticut, Milken Educator Peter Arseneault (CT '15) incorporates science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) into his four automotive technology classes: general intro, technology repair, and two sections of science and alternative energy, which he co-teaches with a colleague in the science department.

Under the bellies and below the hoods of vehicles, Peter’s students get their hands dirty through practical instruction. They learn basic maintenance tasks, including changing flat tires, replacing filters and checking emergency brakes. But they also dive deep into AI as they diagnose, analyze, calibrate and repair electronic systems, using multimeters, alignment systems, scanners and other technological interfaces.

“AI is covered under various different topics—when we talk about the diagnostic systems in vehicles, reading trouble codes and diagnosing sensors,” says Peter. “We also do a unit on vehicle safety that includes crash test ratings. We discuss new safety features, such as side-scanning radar, collision avoidance and camera systems. And we do a unit on self-driving vehicles.”

Watch the video below for some of the safety features Peter’s students study:

Peter stays up to date on relevant news and trends by regularly connecting with local businesses and industry partners. He learns from them, then passes that knowledge to his students.

“The automotive industry is an ever-changing world, specifically as it relates to electronics and various electronic systems on vehicles,” notes Peter. “As vehicle manufacturers strive to enhance vehicle safety, students need to have the skills and awareness to troubleshoot, diagnose, maintain and improve these technologies. The opportunities for students in the automotive trades are huge, as there is a high amount of retirement expected within the next five to 10 years. Students who are savvy with electronics, AI and the related technologies have a jump on the competition.”

Self-driving vehicles are one of the most exciting areas of automotive technology. Peter challenges his students to think creatively about the future by facilitating class debates about self-driving vehicles: where they might be best used, passenger comfort levels and more.

Peter’s favorite thing about teaching is seeing students use what they’ve learned in his classroom to succeed once they’re out of it.

“Nothing makes me prouder than students who work hard to overcome the odds and build opportunities to better their own lives and futures,” he says. “I am proud of all my students who are ready to launch into the real world and drive the future of automotive technology.”

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