Electric Vehicles: Push for courses and research in India
Amid policy push for electric vehicles (EV) from both Central and state governments, educational institutes are now setting up research centres and offering courses to bridge the skill gap in the sector.
In July, several Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) as well as the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru launched new courses on EVs and renewable energy, design for Internet of things (IoT), business and sustainable development through the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), a joint initiative of IITs and IISc. The courses, taught by faculty from IITs and IISc, are free to all and can be accessed through the Swayam (Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds) platform of the Centre.
The demand for EVs continues to grow in India and is driven by several major policy pushes and incentives from the Central and state governments. The Maharashtra government introduced an EV Policy in July, aiming at 10% of all newly registered vehicles in its major cities to be EVs. The state plans to incentivise to generate demand for EVs and also provide incentives for production of EVs.
Meanwhile, central planning authority NITI Aayog intends that 80% of all two- and three-wheelers, 40% of buses and 30-70% of cars be EVs by 2030.
Maharashtra environment and tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray said, “The state is readying itself with blistering pace to transition towards green mobility solutions and EV will play an important role in getting us to 100% green transit systems. The EV Policy looks not only at demand and supply side stimulus but also at contemporary practices such as the zero emission vehicles (ZEV) programme. We also hope to create an ecosystem of clean energy production along with EV.”
This drive for EVs has created a demand for a talent pool adept in the latest technologies in the sector. “[There is a demand for] Courses which can help learners to understand the urgency of climate change and its mitigation potential via clean mobility,” said Sahil Bhandare, climate fellow, EV Policy, ministry of environment and climate change, Maharashtra.
To address this demand, institutes are offering cutting-edge courses in subjects relevant to the EV sector such as energy storage and monitoring, automotive health monitoring and diagnostics among others.
In 2019, IIT-Delhi set up a Centre for Automotive Research and Tribology (Cart) to promote interdisciplinary research in EVs, energy storage and other relevant areas, said the institute’s director V Ramgopal Rao.
Cart offers postgraduate programmes and also facilitates networking and collaboration among various industries, research labs and universities in India and abroad to carry out research in the area of automotive research and tribology (wear and friction).
An executive programme in EV is in the works at IIT-Bombay, said Sidhhartha Ghosh, professor-in-charge, continuing education programme of the institute.
“Our EV course is a certificate programme in Power Electronics and Motors for EVs. This course contains selected topics in the areas of electromagnetics, thermal and power electronics, mechanical and material selections, algorithms for motor design, inverter design and motor control that help in a system-level modelling. The course is being offered to equip learners with state-of-the-art technologies in the applied and integrated field of electric vehicles,” said Ghosh, adding that the course can be taken by graduates and graduating students of electrical or electronics engineering and related fields.
Many traditional automotive companies are looking forward to training their existing engineers in the EV field, added Ghosh.
“EV is a rapidly growing field where the demand from environmental concerns and government thrust are much higher than the requisite integrated skill set currently available in electrical, mechanical and electronics engineering sector. IIT-B is known for offering courses that are contemporary, experiential and on the cutting edge of technology. We are well placed to offer capacity building in the integrated and interdisciplinary technological field of EV,” he said.
According to Saurabh Jain, research and public policy secretary (private) to Thackeray, institutions are following the lead and adapting to the growing needs of the sector. “The government has already incentivised opening up of research and development centres. Charging stations is a big area of interest as well as fast charging, standardisation of charging units, solar-powered charging infrastructure for an end-to-end clean ecosystem. ZEV is the future and we’re cooperating with governments, who’re already running the ZEV programme. Software and hardware on EVs and its charging units will require a lot of innovation if we are to enable EVs without range anxiety,” said Jain.
Bhandare added, “Industries and academia can work in synergy to develop a plan which can be implemented in order to promote clean mobility. Industries can help the academia to develop a potential talent pool.”