Redwood Materials has announced its first eight graduates from a training program for new employees assigned to battery disassembly developed with Western Nevada College’s Mobile Manufacturing Lab.
The program, with the support of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, was celebrated with local and state officials March 6 as WNC marked Career and Technical Education Month.
Redwood Materials, based in Carson City, seeks to create a no-waste recycling system for lithium-ion batteries and produce battery materials for electromobility and electrical storage systems.
GOED’s Workforce Innovation grant allows WNC to develop a targeted training program for safe and effective battery recycling practices using the Mobile Manufacturing Lab. The first training class, called Battery Basics, recently concluded.
Former Nevada State Sen. Don Tatro of Carson City, announcing the new graduates, called it “amazing” to develop the type of collaboration with WNC, GOED and Redwood.
“In the U.S., to take and close the lithium loop, to take your batteries from your junk drawers, your cell phone, your electric toothbrush all the way up to an electric vehicle battery, recycle and refine them and remanufacture them into battery-grade materials — I didn’t know that opportunity existed, and quite frankly, nobody did,” Tatro said. “But it’s amazing to now have a partner like WNC, GOED and everybody supporting us through this.”
Bob Potts, deputy director of GOED, called the partnership a “home run” for the state that historically is known for its mining industry.
“We have this missing middle we need to build out and that is where Redwood has been the answer … that sets Nevada up for whole lot of opportunities, not just today,” Potts said. “I think that’s a huge opportunity for us going forward.”
The Redwood announcement was part of WNC’s WCTE Career Fair and Open House Day. Employers representing law enforcement, school districts, the state and industry leaders were invited to answer questions students had about job opportunities.
Visitors were encouraged to learn about career possibilities through WNC’s hands-on virtual dissection table; a truck-driving simulator; three-dimensional printing demonstrations; virtual reality field trips; and activities in the Mobile Manufacturing Lab.
Jon Terrezas, personnel analyst with the state of Nevada’s Division of Human Resource Management, said there are more than 650 positions available across the state. Such career fairs held at WNC are opportunities to push out Nevada’s Learn and Earn program to recruit information technology trainees in need of online or business classes or certification and get paid at the same time, he said. It’s also useful for those with minimal amount of work experience to get enrolled at WNC, commit to an eight-hour workday and log in for classes daily and finish at their own pace.
Student Benny Buchanan said he studied engineering in high school and likely would minor in it when he graduates. Now in his second year at the college, he still has a few more semesters left and said he wanted to take a few minutes to visit the career fair.
“CTE is one of the biggest markets right now, especially with Tesla moving in,” Buchanan said. “Engineering is pretty much everything. It designs better cars, better planes, better infrastructure, and other than that, it’s just cool, it’s just fun.”
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