Autobot India, India’s first electric vehicle (EV) technology learning company, seeks to mould and develop the next generation of engineers who will propel this country’s transition towards e-mobility with greater competence and innovation.
Thus far, the Delhi-based startup claims to have provided successful career opportunities to more than 500 people with another 2,500 plus active learners, some of them through their very own The Autobot Academy. Officially launched on 15 August 2020, The Autobot Academy caters to the various skilling, upskilling, and reskilling needs of the workforce currently engaged or aiming to enter the automobile/EV industry in the coming years.
Given the popular notion that electric mobility is the future, there is an urgent need to train, reskill and upskill millions of people on EV technology to fulfil the talent needs of the industry. Through its integrated online, offline and blended (hybrid) learning options.
“Our passion is developing engineers for this future mobility revolution. If we can develop better engineers with the required competency and skills, they can develop better products further down the line. Product development, although important, only addresses one aspect of EVs. Our work adds value to the EV ecosystem and helps further the government’s mission of increasing EV adoption given our ability to churn out capable engineers through our academy,” says Ashwini Tiwary, CEO and co-founder, Autobot India, speaking to The Better India.
The Autobot Academy believes that it supports people in planning for their careers in the sector and offers them job-related solutions as well as mentorship. “We have brought in the best EV experts from all over the world to ensure delivery of an engaging learning experience integrated with top-end technologies. There are seamless learning modes with hands-on projects and well-structured courses that offer domain specialisation to the learners,” claims Ashwini.
Vision for the future
The seeds for establishing Autobot India were first planted in 2015 at a time when Ashwini was working closely with the IC-engine automobile sector, particularly assisting with training and development activities in various engineering universities.
What he saw through his work was a lack of genuine skill development, especially at the college level where the engineering curriculum wasn’t up to par. In other words, industry demands weren’t being met with the supply of domain specialists.
“I was initially engaged in the business of addressing this shortfall in the automobile sector until I first came across EVs in 2015 during a seminar in Delhi. At this seminar, we met a delegation from western Europe, who was consulting with the Government of India to frame the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India (FAME India) policy. Meeting this delegation lit a spark under me to look in a different direction. Back in 2015, the EV sector in India was still in its infancy from the industry and users to the government itself. Only a few major OEMs were working on EVs in the background,” recalls Ashwini.
Considering everyone in 2015 was standing at point zero when it comes to EVs and that all stakeholders in the transport business would have to make that transition from IC-engine vehicles, he took this as a moment of real opportunity.
From 2015 to 2017, Ashwini had gathered a small team of fellow EV enthusiasts, and spent time consulting with industry experts, policymakers, analysing the global market and understanding this new technology. By 2017, his team were convinced that EVs were here to stay and that it’s going to be the next stage in the evolution of the Indian automotive sector.
“In 2017, we completely committed ourselves to e-mobility learning and solution development and registered our startup Autobot India. We were the first company to introduce EV-related courses in India. Autobot India is essentially a solution development company for the e-mobility ecosystem. Our focus is on knowledge and competency development in EV technology. Until March 2020, a lot of our work was hands-on teaching. When the pandemic hit, a lot of our modalities had to change. However, exploring the internet further has helped us scale up our activities in terms of reach while making it more interactive as well,” he says.
Making India an EV Nation
There are various learning methodologies on offer for engineers focusing on the EV sector.
- Autobot Academy (AA): An 360˚ end-to-end online learning platform offering courses to career opportunities using an integrated technology learning experience.
- Autobot Learning Studio (ALS): A customised learning studio for engineering learning and development, adhering to global best practices that ensure an engaging, effective and collaborative online learning experience.
- Autobot Talent Pool (ATP): “A humongous virtual EV talent pool is being developed for the industry players to collaborate for their holistic talent search, placement and networking needs,” claims Ashwini.
- Autobot Hands-on Hubs (AHoH): Autobot Academy has already established three such hubs in Pune, Bengaluru, and Delhi/NCR to facilitate offline hands-on learning and collaboration that provides real-time exposure to the users. By 2024, the number of such hubs is expected to be more than 10, covering all major EV cluster cities across India.
“From 2018 onwards, we started working very closely with the industry, developing the skill sets of people already working across startups, OEMs and PSUs as well. When we develop a programme or course, it undergoes a typical product cycle. There is a lot of market research, validation from industry experts and our 50 industry partners that goes behind developing a course. It’s almost like launching an EV itself. In three years, we have developed three key programmes targeting specific learning requirements of users in the B2C market,” he claims.
1) For those who know nothing about EVs from a fresher straight out of college to 30 years of work experience, Autobot India floated a mass-market programme in 2017. The objective here was to help them acquire a basic understanding of EVs. This is a 1.5-month course with practical hands-on training as well, and helped attract a lot of users early on, notes Ashwini.
2) In collaboration with MG Motors, Autobot India jointly developed a course for users in 2020 to enhance their understanding and develop their skills in the manufacturing of four-wheeler EVs, a still-evolving market. This programme was directed more towards industry professionals in the automotive industry who wanted to gain an understanding of the core technology.
3) A Level 2 certification course directed towards improving the said user’s employability: Their longest course is for those fresh out of college with a maximum of three years of experience in the automotive industry who want to transition to electric vehicles. This four-month programme is directed at specific job roles in the sector. They launched this programme in 2020, employing a blended model (online and offline learning modes). The focus, however, is on more interactive and hands-on training backed by the development of a multi-disciplinary module, which gives candidates exposure to both the electronics and mechanical engineering facets of EV making.
“We have so far delivered three batches of this programme from 2020 totalling about 60 persons. Our focus was not entirely on placements but developing their skill sets and confidence to such an extent that they can go anywhere in the EV market and obtain a job. Out of 60 people, we have placed about 48 people in domain specialised job roles in the EV sector. Our focus was largely helping them find jobs in startups like Ather, Cell Propulsion, Pure EV and Log9 Materials, among others, which have launched products to the market. The programme is titled ‘Powertrain and Embedded System in Electric Vehicles’. We want our candidates to remain flexible and adaptive to multiple job roles,” he claims.
Assisting Autobot India in this particular endeavour is a panel of domain experts like EV startup founders, working professionals and consultants.
“We have a development team, which focuses on specific domains like battery, power electronics, battery management systems (BMS) and electric chargers. Our USP is hands-on training allied with a technology learning experience embedded within our Academy ecosystem. We also have our in-house product building programme so that we remain updated on the latest developments. Our candidates always work in real-time situations with lots of hands-on training. This year we are aiming to also support our OEMs and partners in a bigger way and launch more specialising programmes across multiple domains,” he claims.
“The Autobot Academy is a learning platform where any graduate engineer can start their career as an EV Engineer. For hands-on training, they have the best lab setup, while the teaching faculty is also good. At Autobot, every basic aspect of an EV is covered very well which is sufficient to start a career in EV,” says Tanmay Sahuji, a beneficiary, who is currently working as a QA/QC engineer-battery, with Cell Propulsion, a Bengaluru-based startup.
Until 15 August 2020, The Autobot Academy was in its Beta phase, where they were running multiple learning programmes but at the same time taking feedback. The setting up of this academy is only the formal coming together of all the learning courses under one roof.
“Fees for all our domain specialised EIP (Employability Improvement Programs) courses (online and offline) starts at around Rs 1 lakh, which covers everything from the course itself to mentorship, mock interviews, resume preparation, skill gap analysis and projects. Standard courses, however, start at Rs 10,000. This year will be dedicated to further excellence and exception. We are a bootstrapped venture thus far but are looking to raise some funding down the line and after nearly five years we turned profitable in this financial year,” he claims.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)