Investing in Engineers for the Bajio RegionMon, 09/01/2014 - 14:28
Q: What role does National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) play in supporting Mexico’s economic and social development?
A: IPN is one of the main institutions that offer engineering training in Mexico. Its main objective has been to translate knowledge into practical applications for various industries, including automotive. Five years ago, there was no solid institution in Guanajuato offering engineering, which is why IPN established itself here with the support of the government. With the industrial growth taking place in the Bajio region, IPN’s presence was needed to fuel the creation of human capital and attract investment at the same time. It is only natural to create that strong relationship with industry in Guanajuato, which is an industrial heartland, and it is important to have this institution established here in the Interior Port given companies’ need for highly skilled human labor.
Q: How has IPN developed its academic program to ensure students are prepared to successfully meet the demands of the automotive industry?
A: Before the arrival of IPN, Automotive Systems Engineering courses did not exist in Guanajuato. In order to ensure that the quality of the engineering programs is adequate, the professors must have a Master’s or a doctorate and speak fluent English since, as the world becomes increasingly globalized, it is vital to speak a language other than Spanish. The professors must have experience in the automotive industry, or other relevant sectors, to be better able to arm students with the skills that they need outside the classroom. In terms of courses, IPN has launched Automotive Systems Engineering, Biotechnology Engineering, and Aeronautical Engineering which focuses on materials. Pharmaceutics Engineering is also popular because of the presence of pharmaceutical companies like Bayer that have established research centers in Latin America. Automotive is by far the most popular sector on our roster. Out of a total student population of 1,800, around 700 of them are studying automotive courses.
Q: How are you working with the industry to identify areas in which more human resources are needed?
A: IPN stays in close communication with the industries in the Interior Port and has a department in charge of maintaining those links. The companies inform IPN of their areas of opportunity and the number of students they need, then IPN looks at its community of students and evaluates their profiles to match them with the best companies. All of our engineering students get at least six months of work experience in the industry where they acquire additional abilities to the ones obtained in class. At the end of the program, there is an optional course where students have the opportunity to tackle a specific industry problem within a set timeframe with the support of IPN faculty. This program benefits both sides, as students gain a better understanding of the industry’s needs and the companies get help to efficiently tackle their problems.
Q: How is IPN helping students to develop a way of understanding the evolving technological requirements of the automotive industry?
A: It is crucial for students to acquire knowledge about high technology as the automotive industry is now demanding this. We do not have the economic means to continually buy new equipment, but we ensure that students can stay updated on the latest innovations through cooperation with companies and teachers with industry experience. When students finish their courses, they have the opportunity to participate in collaborative projects with students from other institutions. We do not just make sure our students stay ahead of the curve, we also arrange for our teachers to spend month-long stays in the automotive industry to keep track of the evolution in technology.
Q: How is your business incubation system helping the growth of SMEs in the automotive industry?
A: IPN’s next objective is to develop the incubation system and help entrepreneurial students to start up their companies. There is a major opportunity for small Mexican companies to establish themselves in the automotive industry due to the lack of Mexican suppliers, which is causing suppliers to move here from other countries to fulfil the needs of the industry. This is the moment for Mexican entrepreneurs to seize the opportunity to grow and attend to those needs themselves