Denso upskills its engineers for the EV Age, Auto News, ET Auto
New Delhi: Global automotive component manufacturer Denso recently announced its plans to upskill its existing employees to compete with the new EV age while addressing the industry-wide shortage of engineers for a future of electric vehicles and advanced electronics- “It is encouraging its associates to transform themselves.”
Like many automotive companies, Denso is rich in mechanical engineers — the preferred discipline for the past century of internal combustion vehicles. But it’s short-handed on electrical engineers, mechatronics engineers, and software engineers — the employees now need to handle EVs and autonomous driving technology programs.
Intensifying the matter, the Japanese supplier giant, with a huge presence in Michigan and Tennessee, is now gearing up a program called ‘Power Shift’, in which its powertrain engineers will volunteer to go back to school to learn a new discipline of engineering, said Dan Ronayne, Denso’s director of engineering for the powertrain.
“We’re going to be changing,” Ronayne said. “We want our associates to change with us. The people we already have are good at working with our customers and understand how Denso does things, and we want to teach them the skills they need to move into the new products.”
He said that the first few engineers have begun the re-skilling process. There are about 30 engineers in the U.S. operation’s internal combustion engine group. Powertrain engineering of all kinds has about 70, while Denso’s U.S. thermal products group has 50 to 60 engineers.
Denso is trying to steer its people away from that ending. The company prides itself on not laying off associates during the Great Recession, and it also has refrained from layoffs during the pandemic, Ronayne added.
“So we’re working on figuring out what our customers need and then getting our engineers re-skilled to deliver it. We’re looking at how to create programs to help them do it.
“What we want are mechanical engineers who also understand the other side,” he said. “Things are still going to break, and we’ll still need mechanical engineers to fix things. But everything has a chip in it now, and everything has software in it now. We want them to be able to fix both parts.”
Re-skilling will not necessarily require engineers to return to a campus setting. So much advanced learning is done remotely now that most of the engineers will be able to make the change without leaving their desks.
But the clock is ticking, Ronayne added.
“Our goal is to be carbon neutral by 2035, so we need to have our product portfolio ready by then,” he said. “Our first priority is to understand what our customers need. As our customers’ plans become clearer, we can begin to see what we need to do.”