New masters for major shifts in future transport

Chalmers University of Technology

The development of autonomous and electric vehicles is rapidly changing the transport industry. Chalmers University of Technology is now launching a master’s programme that will prepare engineers to face the industry’s major transformation and the challenges that lie ahead. The new master’s programme Mobility Engineering, which starts in the autumn of 2021 at Chalmers, will train engineers to develop sustainable, high-performance mobility solutions and handle challenges within electrification, automation, simulation and the reliability of vehicles.

“There are many similar challenges and synergies in the mobility sector and there is a great demand for engineers who have skills in subjects like functional safety, propulsion systems, mechatronics and optimisation”, says Erik Hulthén, Head of Mechanical Engineering at Chalmers and the person who started the new master’s programme.

Replace

s two previous programmes

Mobility Engineering will be taught entirely in English and consist of four different profiles where the students can choose which field they want to specialise in: aerospace, automotive engineering, marine technology and railway technology. Mobility Engineering is therefore replacing the previous Chalmers master’s programmes Automotive Engineering and Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering.
“We need to look ahead to be able to give our students the relevant knowledge and skills needed in three, ten, and 20 years’ time. The new programme is designed according to what we know about the future, but it will also have a more dynamic course structure so that we can stay relevant in our education for many years to come”, says Erik Hulthén.
Chalmers works closely with the industry to develop education and representatives from those companies are often involved in the process of starting a new programme. In this particular case, Volvo Cars, GKN Aerospace and the Swedish Transport Administration have shared their views about the need for this new type of competence in the industry.
“The automotive industry is taking a significantly different direction compared to what is previously known to us. Digitalisation, electrification, connectivity and new business models for selling products are rapidly approaching. Only the fast responding actors will succeed”, says Kristian Abel, Vice President and Head of Complete Vehicle Engineering at Volvo cars.

New solutions to achieve climate goals

Autonomous shipping is also on the way, but total electrification of ships is far from becoming reality, so expertise in hybrid solutions will be crucial in overcoming the emissions. This is an issue the aerospace industry is facing as well. Emissions must be reduced, and electric and autonomous flights for shorter distances also seem to be part of the future.
“In the short term, the development is about improving today’s technology, but in the long term we are talking about a systemic change, for completely new solutions to achieve climate goals”, says Rebecka Karrin who works as a technical doctor at GKN Aerospace.
The trend in railway technology is leaning towards connected trains that communicate with each other, alternative fuels instead of diesel engines, autonomous trains over limited distances and autonomous coupling of freight wagons.
“There is a generational shift happening in the industry right now and a great demand for skills in the railway sector. Signalling systems and communication between vehicles are the future of being able to run trains closer to each other and thus make more use of the railway. We believe that both trains and other vehicles will be connected in the future to make transport more efficient”, says Ingemar Frej, senior adviser at the Swedish Transport Administration.
Text: Vedrana Sivac
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