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The high-voltage trainer

A lot of currents flow in electric vehicles. Of course, conventional cars with combustion engines also have polished on-board electrical systems, but with electric cars, the voltage is many times higher. More than 400 volts are required for an electrical powertrain – and that’s by no means a safe amount of electricity. Those who work on batteries have to know exactly what they’re doing. Jonathan De Bondt knows how to handle electric cars, and he’s sharing that knowledge with the production team in Brussels. For six weeks at a time, he works as a trainer accompanying participants through a high-voltage education course.

De Bondt laid the foundations for his current job when he received a bachelor’s degree in vehicle technology in 2007. Before that, he completed an apprenticeship to become a mechatronics engineer. In August 2009, he finally came to Audi Brussels to be a quality engineer in the E-Planning and Approval department, where the 35-year-old dealt with the approval of electric tests in production and at the testing center.

In 2016, he came to Ingolstadt to train to become a high-voltage electric specialist. “We were the first, and we had to set up the training to become a high-voltage electric specialist in Brussels completely from scratch,” he said. In Ingolstadt, the Belgian engineer went through the specialist training twice – the second time as a trainer for Belgian course participants. He also completed a three-week course in battery assembly and got a look into the Technical Development department. It was an exciting time. De Bondt learned a lot, and not only about his specialization.

Since receiving his qualifications, Jonathan De Bondt has been working as a high-voltage trainer at the Audi plant in Brussels, where he led his first course in 2017. Ten participants are trained in every course. To be able to even participate in the high-voltage training, applicants have to pass a test. The training then lasts six weeks in Brussels, and it ends with a standardized company-wide test that’s up to the standards of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

In addition to the training, De Bondt is also responsible for the training center in Brussels. He and the second trainer, Shahriyar Taheri, work on the training concepts and ensure that the optimal infrastructure is in place for the training. To fine-tune the training content, he keeps in close contact with Ingolstadt. “The biggest challenge for me at the beginning of the courses was training the first ten employees in Ingolstadt, since I had just completed the high-voltage course myself,” he recalled. Another challenge is the employees themselves. He said that they’re highly motivated, but they come from a number of different departments and have different levels of background knowledge. To bring everyone along from where they are initially is a major challenge, as all the participants ultimately have to have the same knowledge and skills as the others at the end of the course.

De Bondt particularly enjoys that the courses he conducts have a strong group dynamic: “Every course in the high-voltage training is like a team-building event that creates a lot of friendships.” So far, the team in Brussels has trained around 150 employees to become high-voltage specialists.

Jonathan De Bondt conducts high-voltage trainings at Audi Brussels.

Author: Manfred Dittenhofer