Zero-Emission Vehicles Partnership Connects Academic Institutions

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Energy + Mobility

With support from the U.S. Mission Mexico Public Diplomacy Section, WDI will implement an academic partnership focused on vehicle electrification training

The transition to zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) presents big challenges to workforces, including retraining existing workers and developing new talent pipelines. The technology powering ZEVs also presents new opportunities for research and innovation, and higher education institutions play an important role in their development.

With support from the U.S. Mission Mexico Public Diplomacy Section, the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan (WDI) will implement an academic partnership focused on vehicle electrification training, research and innovation to support universities  in Chihuahua, Mexico. Chihuahua is one of Mexico’s most industrialized regions and a hub for the automotive industry, and both the government and the private sector are investing in preparing the sector for the transition to zero-emission, electric vehicles.

Through the partnership, a select group of faculty in engineering disciplines from the state of Chihuahua will acquire or deepen technical skills related to vehicle electrification technology. This will include  analyzing key industry changes and exploring academia’s role in developing new curricula and advancing innovation through partnerships with industry and other stakeholders. In addition, the program will facilitate connections with University of Michigan faculty and organizations  across the Michigan mobility ecosystem. These connections will help Chihuahua faculty to glean insights from Michigan’s approach to developing talent and creating a EV knowledge network.

As is the case in many regions focused on the automotive industry, higher education institutions in Mexico face challenges aligning their academic offerings with rapidly evolving industry needs, as well as securing resources for research and innovation. In Michigan, the transition to electrification in the automotive industry is at the forefront of the economic, political and educational agenda. Several  Michigan universities, community colleges and other players have moved quickly to develop a wide range of programs related to vehicle electrification. Greater collaboration between the U.S. and Mexico when it comes to training, research and innovation on EVs can play a role in supporting talent needs of an industry that is highly intertwined on both sides of the border.

“A robust EV talent pipeline will enable the transition to electrification,” said Diana E. Páez, WDI Senior Director, Energy & Mobility. “This project represents a new opportunity to promote increased training, research and innovation between educators, industry leaders and future employees in the e-mobility economy. We are grateful for the support and confidence of the US Mission in Mexico in this partnership.”

The program will involve up to 24 participants, including eight core faculty for the entirety of the program. This program will consist of virtual training sessions, an in-person training and study visit to Michigan, and a virtual showcase of ideas proposed by Chihuahua participants. In the final program component, participants will develop a collaboration proposal, a solution to a challenge they are facing, or an idea related to training, research and innovation on ZEVs that could be implemented at their host institutions based on what they have learned during the program.

The expected impacts of the program are enhanced understanding and strengthened ties between the U.S. and Mexico on the topic of electric vehicles, which can lead to improved technical skills for the workforce and further collaboration on research and innovation.

WDI will work closely with the Chihuahua Secretaría de Innovación y Desarrollo Económico (SIDE) and Instituto de Innovación y Competitividad (I2C) to implement the program. Several universities in Chihuahua have expressed interest in the partnership. Eligible universities will be invited to apply to the program, which is slated to begin this fall. 

“Many of the products and services we enjoy today as consumers are the result of years of hard work and collaboration among educational institutions and industries. Zero emissions vehicles and the ecosystem to support them will require the same types of partnerships and a new generation of workers with the skills and competencies to succeed in this new industry,” said Fernando Alba, Undersecretary for Energy, Mining and Industry of the State of Chihuahua.

“We are confident that this program will help us address the current need for further training related to EVs to satisfy industry demand,” said Raul Varela, Director of I2C.

The project builds on previous work between WDI’s Energy consulting team and the Mexican State of Chihuahua. In March, WDI released the “Roadmap to E-mobility for the State of Chihuahua” to support the region’s shift to an e-mobility future.

About WDI

At the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan, unlocking the power of business to provide lasting economic and social prosperity in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is in our DNA. We gather the data, develop new models, test concepts and collaborate with partners to find real solutions that lead to new opportunities. This is what we mean by Solving for Business—our calling since the Institute was first founded as an independent nonprofit educational organization in 1992. We believe societies that empower individuals with the tools and skills to excel in business, in turn generate both economic growth and social freedom—or the agency necessary for people to thrive.

About SIDE

SIDE fosters and facilitates the economic development of Chihuahua, in coordination with economic actors, increasing the competitiveness of business through innovation, to generate wealth and employment, and enhance the quality of life for the people of Chihuahua.

About I2C

I2C is a government agency of the State of Chihuahua that seeks to strengthen and promote scientific, technological and innovation capacities, through strategic research, technological development, and innovation (R&D&i) projects and programs that provide solutions and improve productivity and competitiveness of the productive, social, public, and academic sectors of the State of Chihuahua.

Media Contact:

Jacob Czopek
Media Relations Specialist, Airfoil
P: (248) 304-1427


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