Adriana Macouzet
President
Society of Automotive Engineers México (SAE)
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View from the Top

Recruiting Academia to Promote Innovation Excellence

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 16:54

Q: What can Mexico do to solidify its R&D and engineering image and not be known just for manufacturing?

A: Our final vision in SAE is for Mexican automotive engineering to be recognized as the best at an international level and for our engineers to be acknowledged as top of their respective fields. That way, instead of solely being a manufacturing country, we will be able to participate and innovate in the industry. A crucial element to achieve this is to develop our human capital so we are recruiting academic institutions to reinforce our efforts. We already have the support of AMIA and INA, and I have been a counselor for INA since April 2016. We are a nonprofit organization and our council is formed of representatives from universities, OEMs established in Mexico and suppliers from all levels of the supply chain. Our strategy is to form a triple helix through which we can count on the right incentives from the government and private companies to impact all university courses related to the sector.

We are promoting engineering through our World in Motion program targeting elementary and junior high schools to attract more children to engineering, mathematics and science programs. We are organizing several events and competitions to motivate students to later enter formal competitions like Baja SAE. We hope to make professional experience a prerequisite for graduates, especially promoting design and engineering projects through specialized conferences. We expect at least 20 suppliers to follow each new OEM establishing here. Developing adequate talent will become essential to address the predicted demand.

Q: What are the most pressing needs when renovating academic programs related to the automotive industry?

A: The areas in which universities can best contribute. Academic institutions need to integrate lean processes and other manufacturing trends into their plans to shorten training periods for new hires as much as possible. Ideally we could get graduates certified as Six Sigma Green Belts or even Black Belts. SAE is also promoting the creation of degrees such as automotive design and materials technology. If we do not start to delve into these subjects, there is a definite risk that automotive companies move back to an allmanufacturing vision for Mexico. There are universities that already offer these programs but very few students choose them. Our job at SAE is to make young people fall in love with engineering, especially in Mexico’s specific areas of opportunity.

Q: How are you promoting SAE’s vision among companies and institutions that have not yet joined your initiative?

A: Some people think SAE only establishes standards for the American market and, although this was its initial goal, the association has turned to integrating different players who can benefit the entire industry. We are inviting all companies and associations to participate in SAE’s development through our different conferences and events. The objective is to incentivize students to join engineering programs. All companies can contribute through sponsorships or guidance in events and competitions. SAE is not a student organization, however. This initiative is only the first effort toward achieving integration among all members in the industry.

Q: How is SAE promoting the normalization of international standards into Mexican laws?

A: We are not addressing this issue yet because, contrary to popular belief, Mexico is not far from achieving top international manufacturing standards. The country is heavily influenced by the US so most Mexican regulations are similar to those in the American market. Certain areas of opportunity could be addressed to perfect the manufacturing model in Mexico. Enforcement of these regulations has not been the strongest but the industry is evolving steadily with SAE’s support. Safety is an area that needs improvement in Mexico as some markets continue to neglect basic safety standards. A lack of information and willingness to invest in safety systems throughout the Mexican population has become an impediment. The technology exists and is slowly infiltrating the market but we still need to demonstrate the true benefits of these systems so that Mexico can become a safety-oriented market.