Walk down a hallway and through a door at McKee Career and Technical High School and you will find a classroom that looks more like an auto shop.

“What we tried to do is mimic a real world shop experience here in the class. So we have work orders. Students do inspections. We do maintenance, we do a lot of engineering. We do a lot of electrical work, we do — we run the gamut,” automotive teacher Thomas Smolka said.

And this year, students are doing some of that work on electric vehicles — thanks to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, or DCAS, which donated two electric cars that had been part of the city’s fleet.

What You Need To Know

  • Students in McKee High School's automotive program are getting a chance to work on electric cars thanks to another city agency

  • The Department of City Administrative Services, which manages the city's vehicle fleet, has donated electric vehicles to the school

  • Some students go on to work for DCAS after completing their high school studies

“We first read an article about electric vehicles and identified how certain things and certain aspects are different from gas powered and hybrid cars,” Angel Reyes said, describing a lesson this week. “After that, we had this list. We had a list of things we had to identify on the electric vehicles.”

That meant getting underneath the car to get a better look around at its parts, and how they differ from a hybrid or gas vehicle.

“The fleet in New York City is transitioning that way. School buses are transitioning that way, private cars are transitioning that way. We’re trying to keep current with industry demands,” Smolka said.

It is also in DCAS’s interest for these students to be up on electric cars — because they will be in need of mechanics to work on the city’s electric fleet.

“This wonderful partnership really allows us to not only provide young people with skills that are relevant for the future, it also allows us to really engage in true pipeline development,” DCAS Commissioner Dawn Pinnock said.

In addition to providing electric cars to career and technical schools, DCAS also offers internships for about 30 to 40 high schoolers each year, who get to work on cars used by city agencies, including the police and sanitation departments.

“The great thing is that time, an internship can make them eligible for a civil service test or an actual title. So we’re really trying to shift where we’re not focusing on a job, we’re focusing on a career,” Pinnock said.