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New Battery Minor Trains Students For Alternative Energy Economy

A new minor being offered at the University of Nevada, Reno, is teaching students how to build batteries from scratch — the same type that Tesla is preparing to mass produce at the nearby Gigafactory.

Graduate student Marylou Lindstrom is explaining the process for making a lithium-ion coin cell battery to a group of students decked out in white coats and safety goggles.

She's one of 21 people enrolled in the Battery and Energy Storage Technologies minor added to the College of Engineering.

Professor Dev Chidambaram [Chi-dam-buh-rum] is leading the course. He says the curriculum was created with Tesla in mind, with company officials giving feedback during its development.  

"They [Tesla] gave us some input that we actually took into consideration to change the course. One of the things is to go into the safety aspect of the battery and testing them, and we are planning to come up with a separate course to do that with them, training those people."

He says the class will help create a sorely needed pipeline of skilled employees for Tesla, which is required to hire at least 50 percent of its workforce from Nevada in order to get state tax incentives.

Julia Ritchey is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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