Battery education infrastructure requires huge effort and wide coordination

Society of Automotive Engineers panel discussion.
A panel of industry experts and academics agreed that ensuring a supply of battery-knowledgeable workers needs systemic investment from grade school through graduate-level programs, and must include vocational training.

China is stunningly ahead of the United States in the support and education of the future EV battery workforce. That was the stark message at the start of a 2023 Battery Show North America panel discussion titled “Educating the Next Generation of Battery Workers.”

Two panelists discussed their 2019 visit to a battery safety symposium at St. Paul University in Beijing. As part of the trip, panelists Brian Engle, director of electrification business development at Amphenol, and University of Michigan Professor of Mechanical Engineering Anna Stefanopoulou took a lab tour. “Shock number one,” said Engle, “was that the lab had technology that was better than NASA at the time.” He said shock number two was when they saw the “patent wall,” a display of more than 200 patents earned by students at the university.

They also met a professor who had 70 post-graduate students working for him, solely in electrochemistry. “So it’s time to tie our shoes at the starting line and get going,” Engle said.

Even today, said moderator John Warner, chief customer officer of American Battery Solutions, there are no more than two battery engineering programs in the entire U.S. “There are many courses, but few programs,” he said.

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