Shop programs across the US are being defunded, so teachers are finding ways to keep them relevant. Volkswagen has highlighted one in particular, because of its teacher’s exquisite taste.

Ron Grosinger, who teaches at Memorial High School in West New York, NJ where, in 2008, he decided to start working on a 1990 Volkswagen Cabriolet.

Unlike most shop programs, though, he decided not to just blow the engine apart and try to have the students put it back together.
“If you’re teaching students about gasoline cars, that’s basically the equivalent of 8-track players,” Grosinger told VW.

Instead, he decided to teach the kids how to convert it into an electric car. Naturally, he had some detractors.

“With the electric car, I wanted to prove two things,” says Grosinger. “First, [I wanted to prove] that we could convert it. Everyone was telling me at the time that it was impossible when really, we just didn’t have the option yet [on a large scale].
The second thing he wanted to prove was just that high school students could do it. Grosinger taught the kids by walking them through the process slowly, making the projects more and more ambitious as the years progressed.

And the students responded. Enrolment in the program shot up and attracted more and more students from the advanced math, science, physics, engineering students and the proportion of male to female students is crawling nearer and nearer to parity.
Why a Cabby? For the same reasons everyone wants early Golfs.

“Volkswagen vehicles are known for their German engineering and affordability. They’re built with no-nonsense and the parts are readily available,” Grosinger says. “They’re also relatively lightweight, which is great for electric conversion and helps keep the battery costs down for the class.”