Where has 2023 gone? It seemed like yesterday we were reviewing the latest autonomous sensors, and now we've started turning the corner into fall.
While most households across the country are purchasing back-to-school supplies, hundreds of collegiate and high school automotive instructors returned to the classroom to update their skills.
The first event, held in July, was the 43rd North American Council of Automotive Teachers (NACAT) in Houston. Hundreds of U.S. and Canadian instructors enjoyed fellowship, valve-cover racing and hitting the books on the upcoming technology that most likely will drive into the classroom bay within the upcoming school year.
Following the Texas meeting, the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Education Foundation's instructor training conference was held in Concord, N.C. Again, the instructor base was secondary and post-high school teachers attending the four-day event, which included some hands-on activities geared to tune-up training skills for the 2023-24 school year.
I was fortunate to present at both: HVAC with heat-pumps, and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). The latter — ADAS updates — had more in store than just triangulating stands, measuring in millimeters and learning about new sensor applications and their logic: "Do I know what 'that' is, or do I run over 'that?'" and subsequent programming.
This year, the main reason for my in-class participation was to introduce available ADAS curriculum, equipment and funding opportunities for these institutions.
Being on the advisory committee of the National Council of Autonomous Technologies — land-based/ADAS representation — an arm of the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education (NSF/ATE), the group's goal is to get ADAS educational tools into the classroom with little or discounted costs, qualified educational materials and a support group of like-minded peers.
The first (of many) meetings is scheduled tentatively for the first week in September via WebEx. Watch for the get-together info at https://autoINENG.io.
This 60-minute assembly will be more of a review of both NACAT and ASE Conference classroom conversations and letting instructors have a say in how they want to see this ADAS program formulated to fit their needs. The sign-up and topics to be covered will appear on the autoINENG site (under the "more" tab).
Speaking about classroom curriculum, another interesting topic that came up multiple times within separate bull sessions was the fact that when it came to alignments — the base of ADAS — the steering angle included (SAI) and included angle (IA) were not being given the respect that they deserve in either high school or college labs.
If it's not getting the recognition in the learning arena, I can almost guarantee that the post-secondary education SAI/IA mindset isn't getting any more attention when they walk into the professional bay of an automotive center; performing alignments on ADAS-heavy and not-so-heavy cars and light trucks.
A little refresher — for all of us — is always beneficial. These angles let the technician know how a vehicle handles and how the steering wheel reacts when turning left or right and wheel-return effort going back to zero-degrees steering angle sensor (SAS) reading.
When left and right SAI/IA numbers are considerably different — from left to right — from each other, this means there is a structural issue, and it needs to be discovered and repaired before a proper alignment can be performed. Lesson learned.