Exciting times at the Automotive Department within the Institute of Engineering

Without question, calendar year 2020 and 2021 to date are among the most challenging years in MCAST history. This is most evident in vocational departments such as the Automotive department, where practical sessions are an integral part of the course being taught.

Despite these anomalous times, during the 2020/21 academic year, all the courses offered by the Automotive Department were taught in full. The MQF Level 3 courses, namely the Diploma in Light Vehicle Maintenance and the Diploma in Automotive Repair (bodywork and painting) were taught on campus, while the MQF Level 4 course -Advanced Diploma in Light Vehicle Maintenance- started online, with practical sessions given on campus starting in the second semester.

During the current school year 2021/22, all three study programs are being taught on campus, while still observing the directives of the health authorities on COVID-19. There are currently more than 100 full-time students pursuing a program of study related to the automotive industry.

While the pandemic increased the degree of logistics planning substantially, the Automotive Department was also busy planning and formulating an Undergraduate Diploma (MQF Level 5) in Automotive Electronics and Electrical Theory. This diploma is offered part-time for 2 years and is intended for qualified and experienced automotive mechanics looking to further their knowledge of electric and hybrid vehicles. The diploma contains 60 credits, but offers the student an exit route after 30 credits, with the possibility of obtaining a Bachelor’s Certificate in Automotive Electronics and Electrical Technology.

Beginning in the 2022/23 school year, this program of study will be offered as a one-year full-time course to Automotive Department students who have successfully completed the Advanced Diploma in Light Vehicle Maintenance.

The course also provides practical experience.

Students following the undergraduate diploma start from the fundamentals and concepts of electrical and electronic systems. Subsequently, they are gradually introduced to the advanced theory of automotive electrical and electronic control systems and microprocessor control systems. The course delves into the theory of electric and hybrid vehicles, including electric machines, power electronics, and the different energy sources available on the market.

The course also provides hands-on experience using diagnostic approaches that help students troubleshoot potential integration issues. Students are also instructed to work with various electronic equipment and become familiar with various computer controlled systems, diagnostic software test equipment and tools.

At the end of the program, the student will be able to repair and maintain electric and hybrid vehicles. They will be familiar with the fundamentals and concepts of electrical and electronic systems, health and safety requirements, and the use of tools when working on an electric or hybrid vehicle. The student will also be able to differentiate between various electric vehicle control systems and power sources, acquire excellent knowledge about microprocessor systems, power sources and electrical machines.

The entry requirements are an MQF Level 4 certification in electrical and electronic or automotive engineering. Mature students who lack the required qualification can also apply under the maturity clause.

Exciting times await us. In addition to plans to offer additional courses in electric and hybrid vehicles, the automotive department is also looking to offer electives related to motorcycles, marine engines, heavy vehicles, and agricultural machinery for students pursuing the Advanced Diploma in Light Vehicle Maintenance. More information can be obtained at www.mcast.edu.mt

in g. Longino Dingli is Deputy Director, Institute of Engineering and Transportation MCAST

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