‘They see it, they touch it, they break it’
CedarBridge class getting hands-on experience courtesy of Noble Automotive
By Owain Johnston-Barnes
A group of CedarBridge Academy students interested in auto repair are receiving hands-on training in the field, with the help of Noble Automotive.
Fernando Olivera, the owner and operator of the business, said the shop began leasing its site on the CedarBridge campus last year.
Since then, he said the garage has worked closely with both the school and the National Training Board to provide a unique learning opportunity for the students.
“They see it, they touch it, they break it,” he said. “They start off a little afraid of cars. They’re used to bikes, so we let them strip the cars right down. We have a chassis out front we let them work on.
“It helps to learn the hands-on aspect of it. The level of passion, their skills with the scooters, it’s phenomenal. We just take that extra step and transition that to the cars.
“We hear about people being on the wall with no fun, no energy and no passion. There’s a lot of talent in Bermuda but not a lot of people exploiting it.”
Right now, he said the centrepiece of the programme is a former police motorcycle donated by the Bermuda Police Service, which the students are working to transform into an electric drag bike.
“We basically took an old 750cc police bike and asked the guys what they want to build,” Mr Olivera said. “It’s pretty ugly right now, but when we start her up we have students knocking on the door wanting to see the bike.”
Over the last few months the students, with the assistance of shop staff, have made numerous modifications to the vehicle, including installing a hand shift, a suicide clutch and open exhaust.
At the front of the vehicle, he said they intend to install a foot-long solar panel to power the motorcycle’s electrical systems and recharge its battery.
Next year’s goal, Mr Olivera said, will be to turn the motorcycle fully electric.
And while he stressed that the bike can’t legally be ridden, he felt the experience of working on the project is enough to make it worthwhile, saying: “It’s something to energise them.”
He said solar aspect of the project came thanks to the assistance of Michael Burke from thegreenhousebermuda.
“We’ve known Mr Burke for a while. We called him up and said we wanted to introduce some of the kids to this technology, and also promote the environmental aspect,” Mr Olivera said.
“I think in Bermuda electric cars are a good fit. There’s not a lot of distance, it’s sunny and it’s just a good environment for it.
“We offered to install the panels and give the kids some exposure, and that led to us installing a panel on the drag bike.”
In addition to the hands-on training, he said they have invested in computer software to help educate the students.
“There’s a lot of reading,” he said. “Maths and physics, and some students tend to shy away from that, so we purchased CVX software, and that allows them to watch every module online, participate, registrar and learn the modules visually instead of just reading it.
“It was a challenge to get them to read the books, but now they are going through everything themselves.”
The programme received high praise from the students involved.
CedarBridge Academy student Kyle Tucker said he has been working after school in the garage since the beginning of the school year and has thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“It’s been good. I’m getting an idea about what I want to do in the future and getting some experience,” he said. “You always learn something new every day, a new tune up or something about the engine.
“I’ve never gotten to work on a 750 before. It’s great. It’s a big step from working on a 50cc.”