Ford and UDM team up to teach old engineers new tricks
Ford Motor Company is teaming with the University of
Detroit Mercy (UDM) to retrain traditional automotive
engineers, providing them with the skills and expertise
to develop the next generation of advanced electric and
As vehicle electrification plans expand, the automotive
industry’s need for electric vehicle-savvy engineers
also is growing, creating increased demand for electrical,
mechatronics, systems and controls engineering education.
Ford and UDM have collaborated to create a new graduate-level
curriculum focused on key engineering skills for the
development of electrified vehicles.
The UDM program will supplement Ford’s internal electrical
engineering training courses as the company retrains
its own employees to deliver an aggressive electric vehicle
product strategy. The course series, which begins in
January 2010, is designed to advance the knowledge and
capabilities of technological team members in the automotive
and defense ground vehicle industries.
“The era of electric vehicles is here and it’s critical
that we meet this technology challenge by retraining
our engineers with a broad range of new skills and competencies,”
said Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of global
product development. “This program, together with internal
training, will support Ford’s aggressive plans to roll
out electric and hybrid vehicles in the coming years.”
Ford engineers are already at work developing three distinct
types of electrified vehicles – hybrids, plug-in hybrids
and pure battery electric vehicles. The vehicles include:
Transit Connect battery electric commercial van
Focus battery electric passenger car in 2011,
Next-generation hybrid vehicle in 2012, and
Plug-in hybrid in 2012.
Kuzak added that the magnitude of the training program
will be similar to the educational programs undertaken
by Ford during the late 1980s when mechanical engineers
were trained on electrical engineering.
The UDM Advanced Electric Vehicle Program will begin
with the first group comprised of current engineers from
Ford and its suppliers. Team members will apply the program’s
coursework in developing the next generation of electric
and hybrid vehicles. Approximately 125 Ford engineers
will participate in the program over the next several
“We recognize a greater need for our teams to have access
to programs to increase their knowledge of electrical,
mechanical, chemical and software engineering,” said
Nancy Gioia, Ford’s director of global electrification.
“Ford has a large team of talented and dedicated engineers
that are energized by the technological sea change we
are seeing happen now in the industry.”
The UDM courses are supplementary to Ford’s internal
online training programs in battery cells and electrochemistry,
power-split controls, regenerative braking, calibration
and commodity planning.
UDM has created seven new courses that are directly responsive
to the training needs of Ford and the entire automotive
and defense ground vehicles industries, said Dr. Leo
E. Hanifin, dean of UDM’s College of Engineering & Science.
“The competencies achieved by these courses will enable
teams from automotive OEMs and suppliers to develop the
electric and hybrid vehicles that will keep the global
leadership of the auto industry for this critical segment
of the world’s transportation future right here in southeastern
Michigan,” said Hanifin.
Engineers in this program will select five of the seven
newly created courses that are designed by competency
teams of Ford and UDM experts to deploy the most current
technology, strategies, methods and tools emerging from
universities, corporations and national laboratories.
These five courses will be completed in one calendar
year. Most courses will be offered at the Ford Training
and Development Center in Dearborn; others requiring
laboratory experiences will be provided at UDM’s McNichols
campus in Detroit. The Advanced Electric Vehicle Program
Introduction to Advanced Electric Vehicles
Controls Modeling and Design for Electric Vehicles
Energy Storage Systems
Power Electronics for Electric Vehicles
Electric Drives/Electromechanical Energy Conversion
Innovation and System Architecture for Electric
System Engineering for Electric Vehicles