Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” This sentiment could easily be applied to the workers designing buggies more than 100 years ago and engineers designing automobiles today. Consumers and even most automobile professionals don’t fully grasp the extent to which mobility will change over the next twenty years. What is clear is that the education, design, and mobility solutions of today will not be sufficient to meet the challenge and opportunity that electric and autonomous vehicles provide.

Innovative leaders like the Michigan Mobility Institute and SEA Detroit Section are taking a collaborative and imaginative approach to develop a workforce for the mobility future. Founded in 2019 by Jessica Robinson and Chris Thomas the Michigan Mobility Institute accelerates mobility workforce development by fostering partnerships with education and industry groups. These partnerships focus on training professionals and tradespeople to help them gain crucial skills in artificial intelligence, robotics, cybersecurity, and the digital transformation of mobility.

Photo Credit: SAE Detroit Section Formula SAE Workshop

SAE Detroit Section and Michigan Mobility Institute announced on Wednesday, March 11th that they have formed a new partnership to work together to increase awareness of mobility industry opportunities in Southeast Michigan. The effort will also support the development of early-career engineering professionals. This partnership will extend the impact of the Michigan Mobility Institute’s existing work with Wayne State’s Industry Center for Advanced Mobility and as convener of the Mobility On-Ramp Collaborative, a multi-employer effort to boost preparedness for software and data science jobs in the mobility industry.

“Our partnership with SAE Detroit Section will engage current professionals in the industry and attract new young people to careers as mobility engineers,” said Jessica Robinson, Executive Director of the Michigan Mobility Institute.

SAE Detroit Section’s programs place a strong emphasis on inspiring future engineers through science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning from K-12 through college in Metro Detroit. Competitions prepare engineering students from a variety of disciplines for future employment in mobility-related industries by challenging them with a hands-on, team engineering experience that also requires budgeting, communication, project management, and resource management skills. SAE Detroit Section supports collegiate chapters at Eastern Michigan University, Lawrence Technological University, Monroe County Community College, Oakland University, University of Detroit Mercy, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor and Dearborn, University of Toledo, and Wayne State University.

“We look forward to working with the Michigan Mobility Institute as they create credential programs for working professionals and career pathways by connecting existing youth STEM initiatives and post-secondary programs. These efforts will promote next-generation mobility careers for our local SAE membership,” said Renee’ Bovair, Executive Director of SAE Detroit Section.

The skills the mobility workforce of the future needs are still very much in the design phase. However, incubators, educational intuitions, businesses, and governments that work together now will be in a better position to capitalize on disruptive innovation. It is clear we don’t just need the modern equivalent of “faster horses”, we will see a paradigm shift in mobility training.