Windsor’s transformation to automobility gathers momentum

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With local leaders looking to transform the Windsor region into a global automotive leader, their ability to succeed will greatly depend on how well the region is able to meet the industry’s voracious appetite for skilled talent to fill jobs, some of which do not even exist yet. .

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“Economic development may be the engine of the future of this region, but having the talent to meet the needs of these businesses is the fuel that makes it work,” said Stephen MacKenzie, CEO of Invest WindsorEssex.

“The quality, quantity and cost of talent has always been high on the priority list when businesses make decisions about where to locate. “

These are all our strengths that are attractive

The region’s ability to keep the pipeline filled with talent and needed resources will be one of the key points explored at a September 23 seminar titled Building the World’s Mobility Hub.

The free seminar, which is produced by technology events company CityAge for Invest WindsorEssex, aims to educate registrants about what’s going on in the automotive industry, how to get involved, but also highlights how well all of this is going in the Windsor-Detroit area. Region.

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Peter Wawrow, Director of Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at St. Clair College is presented on Friday, September 17, 2021.
Peter Wawrow, Director of Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at St. Clair College is presented on Friday, September 17, 2021. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

There will be speakers from both sides of the border and topics include building innovation corridors, cross-border clusters, talent development and zero-emission vehicles.

To register go to https://form.jotform.com/CityAge/automobility.

Since 2019, 17 auto-related companies have started or established themselves in the region, creating 230 jobs and nearly $ 34 million in new investments.

“I have no doubts that we will be tremendously successful in this transformation,” said Heather Pratt, Executive Director of Research and Innovation at the University of Windsor.

“All the pieces fall into place. There are some really exciting announcements coming up.

Pratt said there is already an exceptional talent pool in Windsor Essex which is quite large due to the historic presence of the auto industry.

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What is happening now is the layering of new programs, research and development, the virtual reality cave and partnerships with St. Clair College, industry and Invest WindsorEssex.

“It’s not just talent that attracts businesses and people, it’s our infrastructure and the expertise of our faculty,” said Pratt, who credited the province’s and FedDev Ontario’s investments with the accelerating automotive transformation in Windsor Essex.

“We have been contacted by so many companies who ask us for our presence in the automotive industry. These are all our strengths that are attractive.

Pratt added that Windsor’s location next to Detroit and the cross-border partnerships being nurtured are also huge advantages in what is envisioned as a cross-border hub.

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St. Clair College Director of Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Peter Wawrow said a changing industry requires post-secondary institutions to adopt new approaches.

“It’s very varied and is moving away from the more traditional engineering side,” Wawrow said of the talent required for automobility.

“You’ll still need engineers, but now you need battery technicians, those with an understanding of chemistry, 5G networks, and sensors to deal with autonomous and connected vehicles. There is going to be a huge demand for those working in software development and IT.

Automobility is also creating new jobs in the field of fundamental safety with the emergence of autonomous and electric vehicles.

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Wawrow said the college and the University of Windsor have already been proactive and collaborative in meeting the industry’s needs for developing strategic automobility plans.

These plans included consultations with industry and the WEtech Alliance on what is required for prospective students.

“I think we have the right foundational programs that are needed, but we’re fine-tuning them to meet future needs,” Wawrow said.

“We are also developing new programs, such as cybersecurity, focusing more on sensors, battery technicians and our auto technician programs so that they can service electric vehicles.

“The whole industry is new, so there is a significant transformation. We have to be aggressive so as not to fall behind. “

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Both schools are working to tailor their studies in computer science, data analysis, and artificial intelligence to meet the industry’s growing demand for software specialists.

The university, in partnership with the Automotive Parts Manufacturing Association, established the SHIELD Automotive Cyber ​​Security Center of Excellence.

The school is also investing $ 1 million to modernize the CHARGE lab, which has also attracted millions of private sector investment and federal funding.

  1. Stephen MacKenzie, President and CEO of Invest WindsorEssex, is pictured at their downtown office on Wednesday May 19, 2021.

    Invest WindsorEssex offers a free seminar on the mobility hub

  2. Patrick Thompson, head of business development at Ettractive, is pictured with two old Jeeps being turned into electric and autonomous vehicles on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.

    Study highlights scale of job losses in manufacturing

  3. Glimpsed an innovative future, Marco Mendicino (L — Eglinton-Lawrence), Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, is presented on Friday, September 6, 2019 visiting the virtual reality cave for connected and autonomous vehicles at Windsor's Cross -Border Institute on the announcement of a $ 5 million investment from FedDev Ontario to help develop an automotive innovation cluster in the Windsor-Essex region.

    Federal Government Announces $ 5 Million Automotive Investment in Windsor / Essex

Canada Research Chair Dr. Narayan Kar is overseeing the lab’s work on the next generation of electric motors and propulsion systems.

Pratt said the university is also hiring new professors for the automobility space. A recent hire of this type will work in the area of ​​the Internet of Vehicles.

“Our students are working in labs with professors on the technology that we will see in vehicles in five to 10 years,” Pratt said. “Such experiential learning makes them excellent candidates for automotive companies.

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