Bill Cardoso started Scorpion EV as a COVID project, converting a replicated body and chassis of the classic Shelby Cobra roadster to house a Tesla S motor, battery pack and power train.
That project, which began and still operates out of this garage in Temecula, is now a small commercial company selling the modernized classic cars to collectors and EV enthusiasts. As Scorpion EV grows, Cardoso is already preparing for an issue that EV companies large and small face — where to find technicians.
"There's no formal education for technicians and engineers to work in electric vehicles," he said. "There's no EV programs out there — a lot of talk, a lot of plans, but there's no such thing right now."
So rather that "sit and wait" for a program to develop, Cardoso utilized his relationship with MiraCosta College Technology Career Institute (TCI) to explore how a program might develop.
"Let's get these students educated, let's get them to learn on the job," he said.
On March 15, TCI students got their chance to learn on the job when they took part in a day-long project installing the electric motor and power train into a Scorpion EV.
Kate MacArevey-Colello, TCI engineering technician instructor, said the school is "100%" exploring providing EV curriculum in its existing programs or expand to include training for EVE manufacturing. Even before the student trip to Scorpio EV, TCI had already developed a partnership with Carlsbad-based EV company Aptera Motors, who sponsored a TCI outreach event last summer.
"I think there's going to be a shift in automotive manufacturing in the next few years. We're going to have a tremendous shortage of qualified technicians to work on building EVs and supporting and maintaining the infrastructure around electric vehicle use," she said. "There's an opportunity there. If there's going to be a shortage, be the program that meets the need."
Tech Workforce Pipeline
TCI was started eight years ago to serve the needs of North County industries. The school runs three cohorts per year in a variety programs, such as manufacturing and engineering, health and veterinary, child welfare monitor, brewing, drown piloting, and more.
Unlike traditional community college courses, which are in large part funded by the state to be free to students, TCI students rely on grants and sponsorships to make them more affordable.
Cardoso has been one of many North County business owners who have supported the program and have benefited from its pipeline of trained technicians. In addition to Scorpion EV, he is founder and CEO of San Marcos-based Creative Electron, Inc. - the largest U.S. manufacturer of X-ray machines.
"We're still growing fast and we're looking for qualified people to work with us. And as a fast-growing company we're always having a tough time finding good people," he said, adding that his relationship with the school began after hiring a noticeably "talented" TCI alum. He has hired many graduates of the program since and also donated and X-ray machine to the program and started a scholarship to offset costs for students.
"Half of our service techs are from MiraCosta College. Most of the assembly team are from the TCI program because we know the high quality of the people who go through the program," he said.
Three of those high-quality people include students who took part in the Scorpion EV motor assembly trip. KC Cadacio, Gustavo Vasquez and Eric McConnell have already landed paid internships at Creative Electron and the three students all pointed to TCI's unique approach to learning as what attracted them to take part in the program over traditional college coursework.
"I had an idea that I wanted to be a mechanical engineer, but I wasn't sure if that was right and going four years into school, for me, would have been hard because I do much better when I can actually get my hands on something," McConnell said.