Category: Top Stories

Waymo given green light to start testing fully self-driving cars in California

Wednesday, October 31, 2018 08:49AM
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — The self-driving technology company, Waymo, announced it was given the green light to start testing fully driverless cars in California.

Similar testing is already underway in Arizona.

The designated testing area in California includes parts of Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Palo Alto and Mountain View.

The company announced the news in a tweet on Tuesday, reading in part, “Waymo was just granted the first driverless test permit in the state of California.”

The permit by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) allows the testing on city streets, rural roads and even highways.

“I wouldn’t get in one yet,” Palo Alto resident, Joe Novosel told ABC7 News. “But you know, maybe five years or so I can see myself driving in them if they keep progressing the way they have.”

According to Waymo, its vehicles have driven more than ten-million autonomous miles on public roads across 25 cities since 2009.

Around the Peninsula today, people can spot the white Waymo vans, noticeably tricked out with technology.

“They really make no attempt at being hidden,” Novosel added.” They definitely like being seen with their logo white vans and all the crazy sensors that they have sticking off the top.”

“Waymo, by my outside observation of the industry, is certainly among the most advanced companies in this,” Sven Beiker told ABC7 News. Beiker is the managing director of Silicon Valley Mobility.

He says the permit will create a world of possibilities, like mobility options for seniors, those with disabilities or anyone unable to operate a vehicle themselves.

Beiker said testing will also allow developers to understand where the driverless technology is needed most. One possibility, he said, is late night bus rides and the option of having a bus drive from destination to destination on its own.

“The exciting thing is, we don’t really know what it might generate,” Beiker said. “I mean, think about the internet. Who would’ve thought what the internet enables.”

Beiker also addressed concern from consumers.

“The reason can be that we don’t have full knowledge. It could also be that we do have knowledge, and know that things can happen,” he explained. “Because after all, driving is a dangerous undertaking.”

Waymo announced the first driverless rides will be for members of the Waymo team. Eventually, the company will create opportunities for members of the public to experience the technology, as they’ve done in Arizona with its early rider program.

The California DMV has a list of accidents involving self-driving vehicles. To see the list, go here.

https://abc30.com/technology/waymo-given-green-light-to-start-testing-fully-self-driving-cars-in-california/4589022/

Merced may become part of a mega-region

Central Valley Business Times

Sept. 23, 2018

  • Would be one of 21 counties centered on Silicon Valley
  • “It’s not just about creating a bedroom community here”

A 21-county mega-region, centered on Silicon Valley, would incorporate many northern Central Valley counties and perhaps mean one of the biggest economic boosts to the Valley in its history.

“Today we are focusing on the economic potential of building greater interconnectedness, which would have major benefits to both regions,” says University of California, Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland. “It’s not just about creating a bedroom community here. We will be attracting businesses and industries that will help lift Merced, the Valley and the state.”

The proposed Northern California “mega-region” would connect the Central Valley to the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, according to Bay Area Council President Jim Wunderman. In all, 21 counties would be grouped into four regions: Bay Area, Sacramento Area, Norther San Joaquin Valley and Monterey Bay Area.

The mega-region would possess one of the fastest-growing economies in the nation and allow for more interconnectivity and innovation, he says. Mr. Wunderman says projects like high-speed rail would help create stronger and more profitable partnerships for the entire mega-region.

“When you look at the Central Valley and the Bay Area, you think of separate places that are far away,” Mr. Wunderman says. “Once that transportation connection is complete, the game is going to change.”

He cited Merced as a potential hub because of its proximity to where the proposed high speed rail line would connect from north and south to the Bay Area.

http://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/922a98e4-a025-4ffa-83e6-94afee083081.pdf

Amazon will build second fulfillment center in Stockton, with 1,000-plus jobs

Updated 4 hours 32 minutes ago

You can get a job at Caltrans in two days. It still has 1,100 openings.

 

 

By Adam Ashton

September 12, 2018 05:15 AM

 

Forget the stereotypes of California state government’s painfully slow process for hiring new workers.

This summer, it was possible to walk into a Caltrans hiring fair and leave with a job offer.

Motivated by a wave of retirements and an urgency to fill new positions created by the state’s gas tax increase, Caltrans devised a bureaucracy-defying human resources program that let it bring on hundreds of new employees at a time during hiring events. Almost 600 people have joined the department through those two-day job fairs.

“It was a very quick turnaround,” said Andy Chou, 29, a new Caltrans structural engineer who went to a hiring fair at Sacramento State in May had a job offer within days. He started work last month. “I was definitely surprised by” the speed of the department’s hiring.

There’s more good news if you know someone looking for a job – Caltrans still has another 1,100 vacancies.

The rush to hire comes mainly from Senate Bill 1, the 10-year gas tax and vehicle fee increases the Legislature adopted in 2017 to fund a decade’s worth of transportation projects.

Voters in November will see a bid to repeal the tax on the ballot which would jeopardize funding. So far, unions, contractors and local governments working to defend SB 1 have raised more than $26 million to defeat the repeal. Groups that want to repeal the tax have raised about $2.5 million.

Caltrans is moving forward as if the repeal initiative would fail, and is filling jobs at a fast clip. The state budget Gov. Jerry Brown signed in June sets Caltrans on track to add 1,150 new positions over the next 11 months, up from 19,109 last year.

“We are making a dent,” said Michelle Tucker, the department’s human resources director. “I’m really pleased with the innovative hiring techniques we’ve done this summer.”

California’s web site for applying for state jobs – jobs.ca.gov – has been redesigned to guide applicants through the hiring process.

It’s racing to add staff in a hot economy in which other engineering firms and local governments also are bulking up.

“They need design staff to deliver state highway projects,” said Ted Toppin, executive director of Professional Engineers in California Government. “That’s what Californians expect. Right now they’re competing with other state and local departments and the private sector for engineers, so the need to on-board them is real or they’re going to lose them.”

Caltrans had a long-approaching retirement wave, especially among its engineering ranks. In 2016, the average age of the state’s civil engineers was 51, and 52 among electrical engineers.

Meanwhile, the Brown administration shrank the headcount at Caltrans over much of the past decade. The department had 10,143 employees in the division that plans road projects in 2013. That number shrank to about 7,000 two years ago. It’s expected to grow again to 8,700 by next year.

“The department did not hire engineers and related staff for over 10 years,” Toppin said. “From 2007 to 2017 they sort of shed 3,500 positions,” he said. “Year after year, it was no replacement of folks who retired, so they’re an older workforce.”

PECG’s three-year contract that expired in July also did not give engineers a reason to stay. Brown did not commit to a raise this year when his administration negotiated the contract with the union in 2015.

Between July 2017 and July 2018, 922 Caltrans employees retired.

PECG’s new contract includes some incentives that would keep longtime engineers in the workforce developing projects funded by the gas tax increase, including an immediate 4.5 percent raise and an escalating seniority differential that rises to an extra 5.5 percent for engineers with 23 years of experience at Caltrans by 2021.

Caltrans crafted four rapid-hiring events it held this year with the state human resources department. They allowed people to apply for jobs in person, be interviewed by panels of managers, have their qualifications reviewed and references checked within two days. If they passed, they’d walk out with a conditional job offer.

“We’re able to do hundreds of interviews in a day,” Tucker said.

Usually, landing a state job takes much longer. The only other state departments that regularly use rapid-hiring events are the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Prison Industry Authority, Cal HR spokesman Andrew LaMar said.

Jeff Wiley, Caltrans’ assistant division chief for project management, said the department has been attracting engineers with a range of experience, from new graduates to veterans from other states.

The department and PECG negotiated a compromise to get more experienced engineers working on projects as soon as possible. The agreement lets Caltrans slightly increase the amount of work it sends to private contractors, although the department has not yet exceeded its traditional outsourcing cap.

“We’ve got some plans out for making those goals,” Wiley said.

Toppin said the agreement was reasonable considering the department’s “sudden increase in revenue” and shortage of experienced engineering staff.

 

Read more here: https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article218170925.html#storylink=cpy

Fresno State named one of the 100 best schools in the country

VOLT Institute Graduates Inaugural Class

MODESTO, CA — On June 27, nearly a year after opening, VOLT Institute saw the graduation of its

first class of maintenance mechanic students. VOLT Institute, a partnership of Opportunity Stanislaus

and Stanislaus County Office of Education, was started at the request of local employers looking for

skilled candidates to fill existing and future vacancies. Employers set a priority of training maintenance

mechanics, a field with widespread shortages including over 300 openings in Stanislaus County alone.

Austin Parker, 22, is one of the graduates. He credits the program with his new job at Hughson Nut,

citing the teachers, hands-on learning, and personalized pace as benefits.

 

“VOLT was a greatopportunity,” said Parker. “It has already opened up a ton of doors for me. The instruction at VOLT

was hands-on and kept pace with students and the job placement assistance was beyond what any other

college would do. Thanks to VOLT I no longer just have a job- I have a career.”

 

Parker’s situation is not unique. In fact, VOLT boasts an 88% placement rate among graduates.

Opportunity Stanislaus CEO David White has been a driver of VOLT since the planning stages. “We

have come so far so fast and are excited about the momentum we’re gaining,” said White. “We have

the best equipment—machines that simulate industry facilities—and we have a team that is absolutely

committed to the success of the students. We look forward to great things.”

 

In addition to the 11-month Industrial Maintenance Mechanic program, VOLT also has a 3-month

Certified Production Technician program and workshops on a wide variety of business topics. Training

areas will continue to expand as the student population and capacity grows. “Stanislaus County Office

of Education has a tradition of preparing students for the workforce through education,” said Executive

Director Deb Rowe.

“VOLT is a great example of multi-sector partnership training, the industry

recognized certifications through VOLT qualify student for a living wage job which affirms we are

headed in the right direction to support our community and beyond.”

 

VOLT Institute recently made news when it was awarded $1,000,000 in the 2018-19 California State

Budget to expand training for high-demand careers in manufacturing, one of the county’s most critical

industries. The funding will support the expansion of an education and training partnership between

Modesto Junior College (MJC), Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE), and Opportunity

Stanislaus to prepare students for jobs based on employer demand. The grant will serve as the local

match necessary for a federal United States Department of Commerce, Economic Development

Administration grant.

 

New classes start October 8 and continue through September 5 of 2019. For more information or to

enroll please visit www.voltinstitute.com or call 209.566.9102.

Software engineering school opens inStockton

Central Valley Business Times

August 10, 2018

  • Code Stack Academy seeks students
  • “We know firsthand the challenge in recruitment and retention of software engineers”

Stockton’s first immersive, accelerated software engineering school offering students paths to high-paying careers and source for businesses in need of highly skilled employees has opened.

The San Joaquin County Office of Education says it has officially launched “Code Stack Academy,” Stockton’s first accelerated software engineering school. The immersive  coding school provides a route for students pursuing careers in technology and will help build a community of software engineers in the region ready to meet the growing demand for a highly skilled workforce.

“Students will have opportunities to find well-paid jobs with local businesses in need of workers with software-engineering skills,” says San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools James Mousalimas.

Code Stack Academy offers a combination of hands-on workshops, one-on-one mentoring with career-experienced developers, peer-to-peer learning, and real-world project experience. It uses project-based “gamification” to measure progress and provide a fun and engaging experience. Students gain points as they complete projects. Points allow progression through the curriculum.

In addition to the full, nine-month course, Code Stack offers three-day and one-day Foundation Workshops throughout the year that teach core concepts of web development and equip students with all the basics to develop simple websites.

No previous coding experience is required for either the workshops or the academy course. Students must be 18 years or older to enroll. The first nine-month Academy Course begins in November.

Code Stack Academy will be operated through the SJCOE’s Center for Educational Development and Research, a software engineering department responsible for building web, software, or mobile apps used by over 5,000 school districts nationwide and over a dozen state agencies.

“We have the resources, curriculum, expertise, and experience to provide a broad and deep dive into software engineering,” says Johnny Arguelles, director of CEDR. “And as an employer,

we know firsthand the challenge in recruitment and retention of

software engineers.”

Business and government leaders voiced their support for the new Code Stack Academy and its potential to benefit San Joaquin County.

“Our community needs a workforce trained in technology to support growth of our current businesses and attract others to our area. This program will help to meet those needs,” says Jane Butterfield, president and chief executive officer of the Business Council of San Joaquin.

For more information:

https://codestackacademy.org/

Advance Kern incentive program aims to bolster industries throughout county

The county has been drawing attention with its new Advance Kern business incentives, and hopes to soon have companies sign up for this program, which allows eligible companies to earn tax rebates when they relocate to the county or expand their operations here.

The program is being actively marketed by the Kern Economic Development Corp., which launched a website last month.

Teresa Hitchcock, assistant county administrative officer for economic and workforce development, said that although the process of relocating business is “lengthy” and the program is still in its early stages since being voted on by the County Board of Supervisors in November, she expects to see an application soon.

“As soon as we bring an agreement to the board…you would probably see the business up and running within the next 12 months,” Hitchcock said.

Richard Chapman, president and CEO of Kern EDC, said the program has already gained some attention and could be a “game-changer” for the local economy. In a state that offers few incentives and is ranked #48 in business tax climate by the Tax Foundation, Chapman said the county has taken it into their own hands to promote business.

“This is an important part of the toolkit when you look at site selection factors,” Chapman said.

This incentive program hopes to diversify county industries from current key players like agriculture, energy and government employers such as Edwards Air Force Base.

“It’s about investment in the region, be it companies coming in, as well as companies expanding their local operations,” Chapman said.

According to an industry snapshot provided by Kern EDC, agriculture-type workers are about 20 percent of the county’s workforce. Oil, gas and mining jobs declined at an average 8.1 percent annually the last five years, although oil is now picking back up.

Hitchcock said that with the recent downturn of oil and mechanization of agriculture, the time has come to bring in new business. Companies that sign up must meet certain criteria, such as bringing in jobs that pay above a living wage.

“We want to make sure that we’re enticing people that really will impact local economy,” Hitchcock said.

Chapman called these types of employers “multipliers” that can help create additional jobs in related fields. Target industries include aerospace and defense and health care services.

Bill Deaver, a board member for the Mojave Air and Space Port and for Kern EDC, said the incentives could help to bolster aerospace, which he said is booming, but also bring in new options, especially in the eastern part of Kern County.

“The whole county needs to diversify…you can’t put all your eggs in one basket,” Deaver said.

The county also recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment to implement the East Kern Economic Diversification plan. Three county employees are being hired to work with area leaders in brining a study that was published in 2017 to fruition.

The primary goals of the plan, according to its text, are: (1) business development, (2) talent development and recruitment, (3) innovation and entrepreneurship, (4) tourism and visitor attraction, and (5) regional collaboration.

These employees would do work similar to Kern EDC, which markets Advance Kern incentives and other benefits of doing business in Kern County.

“We’ve got a lot to offer and some of the brightest people in the world,” Deaver said of eastern Kern.

The Advance Kern program also works on a case-by-case basis. Any business that applies will be reviewed by the Board of Supervisors, and a public hearing will discuss what the business can bring to the county.

Joe Rentfro, executive vice president of real estate for Tejon Ranch Company and a board member for Kern EDC, collaborated in the development of Advance Kern. He said the county was innovative in emphasizing job creation and ensuring that the incentive is not given until business is developed and benefits are reached.

From his perspective, Rentfro said, Advance Kern is already “helping to attract the interest of companies from outside the area.”

Rentfro said the program is a “safe bet” for the county, as it simply reimburses from companies’ own tax payments. He also pointed out that the policy stipulates that offsite developments must be built in an area with appropriate infrastructure and zoning, thus preventing expense to the county.

Faraday Future occupies Hanford factory

  • Updated 
Faraday Future Vidak
Senator Andy Vidak shakes hands with YT Jia, founder and global CEO of Faraday Future, at the company’s Hanford facility.

ANFORD — In another milestone for Faraday Future, the electric car company announced July 16 it was awarded a temporary certificate of occupancy for its Hanford factory.

The temporary certificate of occupancy is the first step in final approval required from building and safety inspectors before a new occupant can fully take over a site or structure, move in and start its intended activities full-time as a running business.

This latest development intends to keep the company holding on to its ambitious schedule to start production on its first product by the end of 2018, an electric luxury car called the FF 91.

The lease for the old Pirelli tire plant, a 1-million square foot site in Hanford’s Industrial Park, was signed in August 2017, with major cleanup and infrastructural preparation continuing through this summer. A building permit from the city was given in early June and contractor Bernards signed to lead the construction project.

At the Hanford City Council meeting on July 17, Community Development Director Darlene Mata said parts for over 80 cars to be made have been shipped into the factory.

Mata thanked her staff for all their hard work, especially chief building inspector Tom Webb, who she said walked Faraday Future through the entire process and made sure the inspections were performed.

“It was a team effort,” Mata said. “It was a huge achievement to get them that [certificate] in such a short amount of time and we look forward to continuing that relationship.”

Mata also commended the Faraday Future officials, saying they were collaborative, easy to work with and were always gracious and willing to work with the city toward finding solutions if something wasn’t working out.

Dag Reckhorn, Faraday Future’s senior vice president of manufacturing, said the temporary certificate of occupancy is a step forward and will allow for the ramp-up of assembly for the FF 91 prototypes in the most finished part of the Hanford site.

“The team effort here from all participants to get to this point is indicative of the spirit of this entire project and company,” Reckhorn said in a released statement.

Ayers said the city is appreciative that Faraday Future chose Hanford to produce the advanced automobile.

“The commitment Faraday Future has made to Hanford is matched only by Hanford’s commitment to the company,” Ayers said. “We anticipate a long and mutually-beneficial relationship.”

In turn, Jia said he was impressed by the city’s partnership and commitment with the shared goal of building the FF 91.

“This is a positive step toward delivering our first production vehicle on time,” Jia said in a released statement. “We are grateful for Hanford officials’ partnership in making the [Faraday Future] Hanford factory a top priority.”

Jia said Hanford’s location between Southern California and the Bay Area has several benefits, including being ideal for deliveries. He said city officials have been very collaborative and he’s pleased to be able to bring jobs and add revenue to the area.

“It is exciting for me as an entrepreneur to begin with this small step in building my dream of creating the next-generation mobility products that will change the way people view transportation,” Jia said.

Following the temporary certificate of occupancy, and as aspects of construction move ahead while building the initial prototype cars at the factory, Faraday Future is set to apply for the conditional certificate of occupancy and then the final certificate of occupancy for the first FF 91s.

Faraday Future hopes to create over 1,000 new jobs in the area when it reaches full operating capacity.

https://hanfordsentinel.com/news/local/faraday-future-occupies-hanford-factory/article_03346e86-6c5f-5d30-a2ae-1e57f31182df.html#tracking-source=home-top-story

1,000-plus new jobs coming to Stockton, Tracy

Two new employers are coming to San Joaquin County, each promising 500 or more well-paying jobs to a region with an unemployment rate that is 1 percentage higher than the state average.

The city of Tracy on Thursday announced that Katerra, a Menlo Park-based firm, will open a 577,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in the first half of 2019. The building is under construction.

Katerra plans to open a high-tech factory that will produce building components including wall panels, floor systems, windows and cabinets.

Downtown Stockton, meanwhile, is the intended home for ConSol USA, a new firm that founder Robert Tibbs said will focus on developing artificial-intelligence technology to be used in the medical and financial sectors.

Of special note concerning ConSol USA is its planned workforce. Tibbs, 63, said he intends to provide jobs to young people from Stockton, giving them opportunities to begin in entry-level positions that will lead to living-wage careers with the company.

“We really have to demonstrate we’re committed to the (geographic) areas that really have the most needs,” said Tibbs, who added that he escaped an impoverished childhood to become a lifelong entrepreneur.

“It’s about zeroing in on communities like Stockton and putting our money where our mouth is. There are thousands of people in the Stockton area that have as much talent, intellect and energy as do I. It’s about giving them an opportunity.”

The ConSol USA plan was announced Thursday at a news conference featuring Mayor Michael Tubbs, the University of the Pacific and Valley Vision, a Sacramento-based nonprofit organization.

The main purpose of the news conference was to publicly release a “workforce development action plan” for Stockton produced with private funds. The 30-page plan offers a road map intended to bring better-paying jobs to Stockton while developing a better-prepared workforce to fill those positions.

“We want to build a future here in Stockton,” Tubbs said. “If we continue the status quo, we will continue to grow low-wage jobs. This report outlines our challenges but it also shows that with the right focus, we can set Stockton on a path toward economic prosperity.”

According to government data, Stockton’s 6.3 percent unemployment rate at the end of May was 2.1 percentage points higher than the state’s jobless rate of 4.2 percent. San Joaquin County’s unemployment rate in the same government report was 5.3 percent. Tracy’s was 3.4 percent.

At roughly the same time as the Stockton announcement, Tracy Mayor Robert Rickman spoke optimistically about the new jobs Katerra will bring to the region beginning next year.

“Tracy’s proximity to workforce talent, affordable land and state-of-the-art building opportunities provide a business-supportive environment for advanced manufacturing companies such as Katerra to thrive,” Rickman said.

Tibbs said he hopes to have a more detailed announcement of ConSol USA’s plan within two months.

http://www.recordnet.com/news/20180712/1000-plus-new-jobs-coming-to-stockton-tracy