Inside ISD News

Bridging the Skills Gap Around the Globe

Bridging the Skills Gap Around the Globe

"Javier and some of his teammates in engineering celebrate their certificate completion. Left to right: Raul Quintanar, Javier Villanueva, and Sergio Villalobos. Pablo Martinez is not pictured but also completed the Certificate."


While searching for a continuing education program for his team at Ford, powertrain installation supervisor Javier Villanueva came across something that fit the bill and happened to feature a professor from his master’s program at the University of Michigan. “We have plenty of resources for internal training, but I was searching for a certificate credential,” says Javier. “This program was very suitable for my team and beneficial for us to understand new technologies.” The Certificate in Current and Emerging Technologies is an online program with courses taught by U-M researchers on important automotive and manufacturing technologies. Javier first took a course from Prof. Huei Peng, an expert in hybrid vehicle technologies, as a part of the Global Automotive and Manufacturing Engineering master’s program in 2011.

The Certificate’s Hybrid and Electric Vehicle courses, in particular, have helped Javier’s team to be aware of current battery and hybrid vehicle technologies and has been applicable to their work in air induction and engine cooling, fuel, and exhaust systems. In fact, some of the Ford engineers who completed the program are now working on Ford’s first mass production of a 100% electric vehicle. Javier describes the importance of the program for their success: “These engineers feel empowered because they have the knowledge from the Certificate.” Furthermore, he notes that understanding the chemistry and layout for designing battery cooling systems has allowed them to create better designs.

The flexible format was another key benefit. “Engineers can work at their own pace. Even when they’re super busy, they can just work a couple hours on the weekend or evenings so it’s very manageable,” says Javier. Each course consists of 4-6 hours of online instruction divided into shorter modules to make it easy to set a convenient pace.