Driving up talent for Canada’s electric vehicle sector



University of Waterloo is paving the way for innovation and skill cultivation in our surging electric vehicle industry

By Jordan Flemming University Relations

Canadians are buying more electric vehicles (EV) than ever, with one in 10 now owning EVs. The number is set to increase as consumers look for ways to reduce their environmental impact and capitalize on government incentives.

With the growing market share of EVs, there is also an increasing need for talent in the design, development and maintenance of electric vehicles as well as support infrastructure from charging stations, improved battery technology and energy generation.

As the demand for skilled professionals in the EV industry continues to rise, the University is well-positioned to be a driving force behind Canada’s transition to electric vehicles.

The Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research ( WatCAR ) has a legacy as a hub for cutting-edge research and development in the automotive sector. Going forward, the University will continue to focus on the development of solutions in sustainable transportation more broadly, including electric mobility. Waterloo promotes collaboration between academia and industry, providing a dynamic environment for researchers, engineers and students to work on trailblazing projects.

Waterloo Engineering’s student teams actively engage in the design, construction and modification of vehicles destined for international competitions and auto shows. These teams undergo evaluation based on design excellence, problem-solving, performance, crash-worthiness, fuel economy and environmental friendliness of their vehicles.

Industry partner support is crucial to the success of these students. This support takes various forms, including sponsorship, mentoring and product donations. Teams collaborate with industry partners not only for traditional support but also to utilize their technological capabilities in evaluating and enhancing new product concepts, promoting innovation and practical application.

Together with the Autonomous Vehicle Research & Intelligence Laboratory ( AVRIL ), the University is one of the largest and most comprehensive automotive research and training hubs in Canada.

AVRIL opened in February 2019 thanks tofederal and provincial government funding. The facility is a shared research space offering the opportunity to work on automated driving, vehicle connectivity and advanced driver assistance systems. AVRIL offers a space to work on a wide variety of mobility applications.

With the convergence of electric and autonomous vehicles on the horizon, AVRIL is equipping students with the skills needed to navigate this complex intersection of technologies.

"Advancing automotive innovation has been a driving focus for research work in Waterloo and we will continue to enthusiastically work with ecosystem partners knowing that true solutions, those that advance sustainable transportation, will only come through partnership," says Mary Wells, dean of Waterloo’s Faculty of Engineering.

As the University strives to provide innovative solutions to global challenges, our commitment extends to local collaboration, ensuring we are serving the needs within our communities. The Waterloo Region continues to see investments in the automotive sector by the likes of Toyota, the federal and provincial governments and various automotive suppliers and manufacturers.

The University remains dedicated to collaborating with partners like the Waterloo Economic Development Corporation to collectively address the growing demands in talent development for our local automotive industry.