• Sun. Dec 10th, 2023

Automotive Designer

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Programme will launch with up to 24 students in September

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Much of the future of the transforming Canadian automotive industry will be birthed in the Windsor region and St. Clair College plans to produce the workforce to service it by creating Ontario’s first electric vehicle technician program.

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The two-year diploma will be launched this fall with up to 24 students and will be a separate entity from the college’s existing internal combustion engine diplomas.

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“This program has been in discussion for a couple years and was deemed a priority with the direction the industry is going,” said St. Clair College’s dean of the school of Skilled Trades, Apprenticeships and Engineering Technologies Lido Zuccato.

“There’s a high demand from the industry for this. We’ve recently put the program on our website and I’m getting calls left and right about it.

“There’s definitely a lot of interest.”

Zuccato said the college sent away five instructors for the required certified training last year. The program will meet all the internationally recognized standards in the field set by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

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Lido Zuccato, Dean, Schools of Engineering, Apprenticeship & Skilled Trades at St. Clair College, is pictured next to a Nissan Leaf, a battery electric vehicle, as he talks about the college?s new EV technician program, on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2023.
Lido Zuccato, Dean, Schools of Engineering, Apprenticeship & Skilled Trades at St. Clair College, is pictured next to a Nissan Leaf, a battery electric vehicle, as he talks about the college?s new EV technician program, on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2023. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

More instructors will be undergoing the specialized training this spring and summer.

The cutting-edge equipment required for the program will soon be set up in the main work area at St. Clair’s Ford Centre for Manufacturing Excellence. The college has two battery electric vehicles for students to work with.

“We’re going to prepare students for what is here now, but also what is coming very soon,” said Dan Vincent, a professor in the EV technician program and a lead on developing the curriculum.

Vincent said the program will offer parallel pathways for students.

For those looking to acquire some foundational knowledge and skills, they need only take the first year to earn a Certificate of Electric Vehicle Fundamentals.

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To earn the full diploma, a second year is required with a work placement with an employer in the program’s third semester.

Students will learn about EV powertrains, the safety requirements of working with electricity and batteries, the vehicle’s computerized systems, energy storage and balancing batteries, regeneration braking and literally how to build a complete electric vehicle.

In designing the curriculum, Vincent said the college consulted extensively with all sectors of the industry including independent garages/dealerships, the automotive supply chain and automakers such as Ford, Tesla, Stellantis and Rivian.

“Everyone was very enthusiastic and no one said no to getting involved in helping develop the program,” Vincent said. “It was more, can you have this ready before 2023.”

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Vincent said St. Clair College has built a network of private-sector partners to provide 50 student placements. Companies eager to offer placement opportunities extend from Windsor to the Greater Toronto Area.

Lido said that allows the college to expand the program quickly if the demand is there as he anticipates it will be.

He added the EV technician program is just the first step in the college’s aim to design curriculums to support the direction of the automotive industry.

“There are three different stages to where the automotive industry is going,” Lido said.

“There’s chemistry, manufacturing and service. This program looks at the service sector.

“However, we’re always in communication with industry.

“Supporting the battery plant will become a focus. Cybersecurity will be huge. Other areas of the college, like business and IT, will also become involved.”

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