Johnson Controls donates electric cars to Milwaukee high school

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Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc. has donated two electric vehicles and its services in developing related curriculum to Pulaski High School in Milwaukee.

The $60,000 investment includes a plug-in electric Chevrolet Volt and an all-electric Nissan LEAF. Engineers from the company will help Pulaski teachers plan an advanced powertrain technology and energy storage curriculum at its existing automotive garage, then work directly with students to teach them about the cars.

The Volt has a Johnson Controls starter battery. The company analyzed both vehicles as part of its competitive benchmarking studies, then donated them to Pulaski.

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Johnson Controls looks at it as an investment in workforce development for the future, said MaryAnn Wright, vice president of technology and innovation for Johnson Controls Power Solutions.

“This is our pipeline,” she said. “The purpose is to really get them excited to go into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).”

The company also has a partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, including an investment in a microgrid test bed installed recently at the school for energy research.

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Michael Lovell, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said Milwaukee Public Schools can help make Milwaukee a national energy storage and battery center. More students need to enter the STEM fields to meet a growing national deficit in those industries.

“These are the folks that we want to get going to (UWM) when they graduate,” Wright told students from the Pulaski automotive program. “We’d like to see you become Johnson Controls employees.”

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett thanked Johnson Controls for its leadership in providing a hands-on learning experience for students.

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“We have already installed charging locations in Milwaukee…because we want this city to be more ready for electric vehicles,” Barrett said.

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