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Need to reskill automotive engineers for electric mobility

by Ozva Admin
Need to reskill automotive engineers for electric mobility

The global automotive industry is being disrupted by the rapid emergence of electric mobility. Automated driving powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning is fast becoming a reality. Connected cars are here, and now they are enabled by technology components like protocol standardization, improved bandwidth, and cybersecurity.

Indian auto original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have responded to the global trend by building new vehicles using innovative electric vehicle (EV) architectures and platforms. Driven by the Union government’s ambitious initiatives to build a robust electric mobility ecosystem by 2030, several Indian auto brands have invested heavily and announced the launch of new EV models.

Development of various new EV products, localization of EV components (batteries, motors, sensors, electronic control units, etc.) and construction of EV charging infrastructure across India is expected to create many new jobs. According to an analysis by IVCA-EY-Induslaw, the automotive sector is expected to generate more than 10 million direct and 50 million indirect job opportunities by 2030. These new jobs could include: (a) electric vehicle design, vehicle manufacturing electric vehicles, research and development at automotive original equipment manufacturers (b) design and manufacture of electric vehicle components (battery cells and packs, semiconductor electronic chip design and manufacture) at component suppliers (c) software development, e.g. For example, Battery Management System (BMS), Automotive Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), etc. and (d) connected vehicles: V2V communication, data analysis, cybersecurity, etc. These new jobs would require people trained in new skills.

Read | India’s electric vehicle charging needs are nuanced

When the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International FISITA interviewed automotive experts from industry and academia to investigate what skills a mobility engineer would need to possess by 2030, they identified three key themes: (1) In addition to mechanical engineers, companies automotive will have a significantly greater need for IT engineers; (2) In addition to deep domain specialists, the industry will require generalists with ability in different engineering disciplines linking the various fields of engineering. Engineering collaboration across multiple disciplines will become critical success factors for engineering in the future; and (3) The skill set of engineers will expand from predominantly technical requirements to more process-related skills, such as agile project management, communication skills, and operating in virtual environments.

Automotive experts in current vehicle technology and engineering students aspiring to join the industry are in dire need of retraining in these emerging technologies. These new EV skills cross the traditional boundaries of engineering domains such as mechanics, electricity, electronics, and computing. An ideal EV engineer is a mechanical, electrical, and electronic engineer rolled into one, and will also have computer programming skills. They will have technical depth in new areas such as batteries, engines, communication, navigation and security. They will also have technical breadth in product design, manufacturing, sourcing and supply chain management and marketing along with technology integration, product quality, project management, innovation and the skills to decision making.

way to go

The challenges before us are (a) how do we develop all these skills in a short time? (b) How do we create millions of industry-ready students by 2030? (c) How do we bring industry, academia and government together to converge and collaboratively build these new skill sets?

Industry experts weigh in on your thoughts.

“To get started, we need to prepare an occupational map of different types of functions and new job roles in the EV segment. We have divided job roles into categories such as skills that will become obsolete, jobs that need retraining, and brand-new job roles,” said Arindam Lahiri, Executive Director, Automotive Skill Development Council (ASDC).

Other academics said the auto industry has been looking to retrain its employees and prepare them for the migration to electric vehicles, said IIT Madras director Professor V Kamakoti. The institute launched an industry-oriented online certificate program on e-mobility for working professionals in October 2022. IIT Hyderabad, under the guidance of Professor B.S. Murty, launched a Master of Technology program on Smart Mobility (in 2020) for working professionals. IISc Bangalore has also recently introduced a PG Level Advanced Certification in Mobility Engineering (Dec 2022). Many IITs offer online courses on EV technologies through the SWAYAM platform and NPTEL MOOC; one course that stands out as a sharp and effective introduction to EV technology is “Fundamentals of Electric Vehicles: Technology and Economics” taught by Professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala and the IIT team. Madras.

Going forward, the most important skill for an automotive engineer to have is “learnability” – the ability to learn and apply new technology. New technologies entering the automotive industry are growing exponentially and rapidly converging to create new possibilities. Only curious and motivated quick learners will be able to keep up with technology.

Upgrading the skills of automotive engineers at scale is only possible when industry, academia and government collaborate. The industry is known to use technology roadmaps to drive innovation and growth; the most famous being the semiconductor industry’s technology roadmap that fueled computing doubling every 18 months for many decades (Moore’s Law). Now, the Indian auto industry needs to create a roadmap for reskilling at scale, with short-term (2030) and long-term (2050) targets to build technical capacity in EV technology. If we roll out the skills roadmap with focus and speed, then India can realize its potential to become a global hub for electric mobility.

The opinions expressed in this article are the personal views of the author.

(The author is the Vice President of Mahindra & Mahindra and is the Dean of the Mahindra Technical Academy)

(This is the fourth story in the “Reimagining Mobility” series focused on building a holistic ecosystem around the future of mobility)

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