The agenda for the 30th STN EXPO Reno will feature representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discussing the Clean School Bus Program’s year-two competitive grant, one of many timely sessions listed in this year’s agenda.
Details were still being finalized at this report, but Michael Laughlin, the technology manager for DOE’s technology integration program, returns to Reno for the July 18 general session, to be joined by Grant Jones, a physical scientist in the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality who is working on the Clean School Bus Program. The discussion will be moderated by Abby Brown, the transportation research project leader at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and representative of the Joint Office of Energy and Environmental Protection.
School district representatives will also join the discussion.
This is the second consecutive year the EPA and DOE have spoken to the school bus industry, amid the five-year, $5 billion funding program. Last July, Laughlin moderated a panel that shared the perspectives of electric, natural gas and propane advocates alongside Esperanza Perez, the school bus lead for EPA Region 9 covering California, Nevada and Arizona. That panel came in advance of applications being due a month later for nearly $1 billion rebate funds to pay for new school buses and chargers.
This year’s $400 million competitive grant funds more activities, such as energy infrastructure and workforce development. A second rebate program is expected this fall.
STN EXPO Reno, which launched in 1994, also features the one-day Green Bus Summit on July 16. The day opens with a panel moderated by Energetics engineering consultant Ewan Pritchard that will share end-user perspectives on the real-world challenges of scaling electric school bus deployments. Sessions will follow from a dozen school bus manufacturers and energy suppliers, and the day will conclude with the 3rd annual Green Bus Fleet Awards and Ride and Drive.
The event begins on July 14 with eight hours of National School Bus Inspection Training in a classroom setting, culminating with a written exam. New to the program this year, registered inspection participants will visit Washoe County School District’s transportation facility the next day to apply their classroom learning by identifying pre-determined defects in and on school buses.
Also on July 15, school district and bus company transportation leaders will participate in the annual Transportation Director Summit. They will work with body language expert Traci Brown, who was trained alongside FBI agents and other law enforcement personnel to detect fraud. Brown will also provide the opening general session keynote on July 16.
That same day, the first conference breakout sessions are offered. Over the next two days, attendees will learn more about the future of technology, team culture, planning for school bus incidents, staff retention and recruiting, fleet sustainability programs, verbal and nonverbal de-escalation techniques, a primer on special needs transportation, student data privacy, and more.
About 120 companies are expected to exhibit at the STN EXPO Trade Show, which begins the evening of July 17 with the STN EXPO 30th Anniversary Celebration. The trade show continues the afternoon of July 18, following a lunch keynote address by school psychologist John Van Dreal to help attendees identify risk factors and prevention strategies on school buses.
The conference concludes July 19 with closing general sessions on identifying concealed weapons on school buses and how to prepare for litigation resulting from school bus accidents.