Greenville Auto Tech Students present self-driving car project at annual banquet


GREENVILLE – The 18th Annual Automotive Youth Education System (AYES) Auto Tech Recognition Banquet was held Thursday night to showcase the Greenville Senior High School Auto Technology program.

Auto Technology Instructor Travis Nicholas welcomed students, their families, community members and faculty who came to support the students. Among the guests who attended the banquet were Andrea Townsend; Greenville City Schools Career Tech Director, Justin Morgan; chairperson for Auto Technology at Sinclair Community College, and Beti Yoder; AYES Regional Coordinator. They each gave a speech to motivate, inform and encourage the students.

“The opportunities that are available through Greenville Career Tech Center are truly amazing. This automotive tech program alone boasts over a dozen national awards and they are impressively able to place 92 percent of their students within six months of ending the program,” said Townsend.

Morgan praised the automotive students, saying Greenville’s Automotive Technology program is one of the best he has seen in the country. Yoder lead her speech concurring with Morgan’s praises for the program, but she also had a special announcement.

“The name AYES is going to be changed,” she said. “The name AYES is not as recognizable as the name ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence).”

The ASE is what is displayed on the patchwork of mechanics clothes, as well as in the office to notify customers they are certified to do work on their car. She said the name was officially changed at the first of the year, but that everything and everyone hadn’t switched over to ASE yet. Though the name is changing, that is the only thing, Yoder said, reassuringly.

“Nothing changes as far as the dedication and the direction we are going with our students,” she said.

Several awards were given out towards the end of the banquet. Among those were Student of the year, which was awarded to Cody Browder.

Ending the banquet was a presentation from Gabby Boettcher, Clayton Herron, and Joseph Edwards, on the 2018 SkillsUSA Project ‘The Autonomous Revolution.” The project centered around autonomous technology, specifically the self-driving car.

Herron said they surveyed over 200 people in the community to get their thoughts about self-driving cars. The biggest feedback they received was the cost and safety of the cars.

He continued, saying autonomous cars save the community time and money, giving an example of how it can benefit a parent who needs to pick their child up from school. Instead of using gas and driving their own car, the parent could call a company who has a self-driving car to bring their child home safely.

Edwards said self-driving cars would be inexpensive, estimating the cents per mile to be around 35 cents.

Boettcher touched on the safety concern, saying the reaction time of the cars compared to the 2.3 seconds for human reaction is what made the self-driving car a safer option. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cited 2.5 billion people were injured or killed in accidents in 2015 and 10 percent were because of some form of distraction. She said unlike humans, autonomous cars never get distracted.

“With the development of vehicle-to-vehicle communication, the delay and reaction time will be decreased to almost nothing,” she said.

Self-driving cars have sensors built into them, enabling them to detect the car ahead which makes them able to monitor how close they are. The sensors are also made to detect pedestrians and other objects such as strollers or bikes. Last week, during a test run from Uber’s self-driving car in Arizona, Elaine Hertzberg, 49, a pedestrian, was the first person to be killed by a self-driving car.

There was no mention of the recent accident during the presentation but afterward, Herron did discuss it with a guest who questioned him about the death. He said that people were only blaming the self-driving car and nothing else.

The group brought their presentation to several parts of the community including Kiwanis and Rotary Club. They said the most rewarding part about this project was, “informing our community about autonomous technology.”

By Mary Jones

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