Luxury electric carmaker Tesla Inc. and Farmingdale State College announced an agreement last week to offer students training and career opportunities in the rapidly growing company.
The public-private collaboration is the first between a four-year college in the state university system and the California-based automaker hoping to open new sites in New York, company executives said.
“This is a new paradigm for the automotive industry and so we are excited that the students at Farmingdale are going to have a head start learning about this tech and be ramped and ready to start working as soon as they graduate,” said Will Nicholas, senior policy manager at Tesla, who joined officials from Farmingdale and state lawmakers at an afternoon announcement inside the company’s Energy Operations Center in Hauppauge.
Tesla would provide training internships to students nearing graduation from Farmingdale’s two-year technical program or the four-year automotive management program. About five to 10 students per semester would gain hands-on training to work specifically on Tesla’s electric cars, representatives from the company and the college said. The internship would have a high probability to turn into a full-time job with the company.
“Only great things can come of this going forward. I’m elated that we have this partnership and the college has a few initiatives in the area of applied learning. This is really a capstone,” said John Nader, president of Farmingdale State College.
Celine Zollinger, 21, of Valley Stream was among about 10 Farmingdale State College students present for the announcement.
“It means the future. It’s an up-and-coming brand, it’s an electric car company that everybody is trying to get into,” said Zollinger, a junior who will graduate in 2018 with a bachelor of science in industrial technology and automotive management. Her program has about 85 students and she is one of two women in her class. She has taken apart cars and also learned the business and accounting side of the automobile industry, she said.
Executives at Tesla, based in Palo Alto, California, hope more lawmakers endorse a bill introduced in the State Assembly that would allow the company to expand the number of dealerships in New York from five to 20, with at least five sites in the upstate region. The company has met its cap of five sites in the state.
Founded in 2003, Tesla builds all-electric vehicles and “clean” energy storage products. Earlier this year, the company began production on the Model 3, its fourth vehicle that is more moderately priced, starting at $35,000.
Currently, Tesla has two Long Island dealership locations, in East Hampton and Manhasset, and a gallery in Huntington Station. Long Island is a “massive market” for electric vehicles and for residential and commercial solar power storage technology, Nicholas said. If it is approved, the company would expand service facilities and charging stations in the region.
Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) said he hopes Tesla “will be an integral part of our economy.”
“Legislation along these lines — I can’t predict what’s going to happen in January or February,” Flanagan said after the event. “I think anything we can do to promote zero emissions or even net zero emissions is incredibly important.”
State Sen. Thomas Croci (R-Sayville) noting Long Island’s history of innovation, said: “There’s a natural home here for this kind of technology.”
Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) also attended last week’s event and questioned why Tesla wouldn’t move its operations to New York from California. He was partly joking.