Western Nevada College and Redwood Materials Announce Partnership

Nevada State Human Resources Analyst Jon Terrezas, right, speaks to students, including Benny Buchanan, far left, about job opportunities and programs in various departments during the WCTE Career Fair and Western Nevada College Open House March 6. Photo by Jessica Garcia.

Redwood Materials has announced its first eight graduates of a training program for new hires tasked with disassembling batteries developed with Western Nevada College’s Mobile Manufacturing Lab.

The program was celebrated with local and state officials on March 6, with support from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, as WNC marked Career and Technical Education Month.

Carson City-based Redwood Materials aims to create a zero-waste lithium-ion battery recycling system and manufacture battery materials for electric mobility and electric storage systems.

GOED’s Workforce Innovation Grant enables WNC to develop a targeted training program on safe and effective battery recycling practices using the Mobile Manufacturing Lab. The first training called Battery Basics was recently completed.

Former Nevada State Senator Don Tatro of Carson City, while announcing the new graduates, called it “amazing” to develop the nature of the collaboration with WNC, GOED and Redwood.

“In the US, to take and close the lithium loop, to take your batteries from your garbage drawer, your cell phone, your electric toothbrush, to an electric vehicle battery, to recycle and refine them and reprocess them into battery-grade materials – I didn’t know there was a possibility and frankly nobody knew,” Tatro said. “But it’s amazing to have a partner like WNC, GOED and everyone supporting us now.”

Bob Potts, associate director of GOED, called the partnership a “home run” for the state, historically known for its mining industry.

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“We have this missing middle that we need to build on, and that’s where Redwood was the answer…it sets Nevada up for a whole lot of opportunities, not just today,” Potts said. “I think this is a huge opportunity for us to go into the future.”

The Redwood announcement was part of the WCTE Career Fair and WNC Open House. Employers representing law enforcement, school districts, the state and industry were invited to answer students’ questions about employment opportunities.

Visitors were encouraged to learn about career opportunities through WNC’s convenient virtual dissection table; a truck driving simulator; three-dimensional printing demonstrations; excursions into virtual reality; and activities in the Mobile Manufacturing Lab.

Jon Terrezas, a human resources analyst with the Nevada State Department of Human Resources Management, said there are more than 650 positions available across the state. Such career fairs held at WNC are opportunities to advance Nevada’s Learn and Earn program to recruit IT trainees who need online or business courses or certifications while getting paid, he said. It’s also useful for those with minimal work experience to enroll in WNC, commit to an eight-hour work day, and log in to classes daily and finish at their own pace.

Student Benny Buchanan said he majored in engineering in high school and will likely major in it as a minor after graduation. Now in his sophomore year at college, he has a few semesters left and said he’d take a few more minutes to attend the careers fair.

“CTE is one of the biggest markets right now, especially with the arrival of Tesla,” Buchanan said. “Engineering is pretty much everything. It designs better cars, better planes, better infrastructure, and other than that it’s just cool, it’s just fun.”

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