Future-proofing skills for the evolving automotive industry

Michelle Connors, enterprise and commercial manager in Coventry University’s Faculty of Engineering, Environment and Computing, reveals how the university is working with a commercial partner to future-proof skills in the automotive industry in an article first published by Insider Media.

Michelle Connors

Michelle Connors

Automotive technology is developing at an unprecedented rate – and it is vital that manufacturers and educational institutions keep pace with that transformation.

In an increasingly global industry, that presents challenges for companies and education, a partnership Coventry University has developed with a sector leader is proving highly successful and gives a glimpse into the future of how higher education can be delivered in an ever-changing market.

The automotive industry is looking for ways to accelerate the upskilling of its engineering workforces to adapt to a developing market in which electric vehicles and autonomous driving are becoming the dominant themes.

In the automotive industry you traditionally have electronic engineers and mechanical engineers, but with the inevitable increasing prominence of electric and autonomous vehicles, industry is now demanding that there is a blend of skills including knowledge of software development for an automotive application.

One company with such needs is KPIT Technologies – a global technology company specialising in product engineering and IT solutions based in Pune, India but operating across 23 different countries, and is a strategic partner to Jaguar Land Rover, Chrysler, General Motors, Bentley and BMW.

Over the last two years we have formed a close collaboration with KPIT focused on co-creating, co-developing and co-delivering two specialised programmes to navigate industry challenges and to promote the development of employee competence.

The MTech Automotive Engineering course focuses on key concepts such as cybersecurity, machine learning and embedded systems, while the MBA Strategic Engineering Management centres on the development of strong core skills to progress to senior management roles within the organisation.

The courses are designed to ensure KPIT’s workforce has the necessary skill sets to operate in a new-look global automotive market dominated by electronics.

It will also equip students with a skillset that includes the vital perspectives of innovation, sustainability and organisational long-term competitive advantage.

The ‘flying faculty’ approach that we use to deliver these courses combines traditional classroom teaching methods, online digital media and independent study.

Coventry University delivers simultaneously to two sites in India and also has support from the UK using video conferencing.

Traditionally is takes a long time to design, develop and deliver a bespoke education scheme with an organisation, but together KPIT and Coventry University have co-created, co-developed and co-delivered a great example of the commercial world working with education by introducing the ‘flying faculty’ into the organisation.

The uniqueness of this programme stems from the ongoing support and commitment of not just our internal faculty team but also the KPIT Education & Competency Development (ECoDE) group, experienced engineers from its strong commercial wings of autonomous vehicles, powertrain, body and chassis electronics, AUTOSAR, connected vehicles and cyber security.

Their strong educational in-house delivery team has enabled us to develop and deliver these programmes collaboratively, therefore creating the perfect blend of academic and industry content.

The collaboration between Coventry University’s Faculty of Engineering, Environment and Computing departments and KPIT is strategic for both entities as there is significant overlap in the areas of research and development.

Back in the 1950s, the Lancaster College of Technology – the forerunner of Coventry University – was formed to meet the training needs of industry.

In those days the market was very local and while the world is a vastly different place, that desire to work closely with industry to help technological advancement still remains as strong and key to much of the university’s activities.

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