Grooming students in technology and innovation is crucial, as it prepares them for the future workforce. In today’s rapidly-evolving world, technology plays a central role in almost every aspect of our lives, from communication and transportation to healthcare and entertainment. Its influence is only expected to grow, and students need to be well-equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in this digital age.
That explains why Škoda Auto Volkswagen India has rolled out ‘The Student Car Project’ in India. This programme was launched in 2011, with the vision of promoting innovation and nurturing technological advancements within the Indian automotive industry. Inspired by the successful practices of SCADA — a company based in the Czech Republic with data and assembly projects in Germany — the project aimed to provide students with a unique opportunity to design and create their own dream cars from the existing cars in the company’s portfolio, while also incorporating innovative ideas that emerge from their own creativity.
The Indian project draws inspiration from the successful Azubi Car initiative in Czechia, which has been running since 2013 for Škoda Academy students. Lasting an entire academic year, this annual project primarily involves third-year students. Its main objectives are to enhance their expertise, refine practical skills and foster effective teamwork.
The roots of this project can be traced back to a decade ago when a compact car called Citijet marked the project’s humble beginnings. This year, the students are undertaking the impressive task of creating the tenth Azubi car—an innovative interpretation of the Enyaq iV electric SUV. The vehicle aims to combine a mobile office, comfortable living space and sleeping arrangements, catering to the needs of outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers.
Moreover, grooming students in technology and innovation fosters creativity, problem-solving abilities and critical thinking skills. These skills are highly valuable in the workforce, where employers seek individuals who can think critically propose innovative ideas, and solve complex problems.
Technology-related skills are in high demand across various industries, be it software development, data analysis, cybersecurity, or digital marketing. Organisations require employees who possess expertise in these areas. By grooming students in technology and innovation, Škoda Auto Volkswagen India increases their employability and expands their career prospects. The programme positions them better to secure well-paying jobs and contribute to the growth and competitiveness of industries that rely on technology.
Talking about student involvement, Sarma Chillara, head of HR and administration of Škoda Auto Volkswagen India, reveals that the project’s initial enrolment consisted of 16 students, with the number being much higher in international projects. “We hope this will expand significantly, attract more participants, and secure an international budget to support its growth,” says Chillara full of optimism.
Focus of the project
Typically, these students are from mechatronics programmes, and “to ensure a strong foundation in relevant skills, the project focuses on vocational training, specifically in the field of mechatronics. Students who have completed the 10th grade can join a comprehensive three-and-a-half-year programme, carefully adopted from the German headquarters’ successful mechatronics programme,” reveals Chillara.
The success of the project is gauged by the response and demand it generates. The project has received positive feedback, and also attracted support and interest from the headquarters and other sources of income. Encouraged by its accomplishments, the project organisers planned to continue and expand its scope, contemplating the inclusion of additional components and technologies to further enhance its impact.
“The students gain valuable experience in cutting-edge technologies such as robotics and computer numerical control (CNC) machining. The project also emphasises the importance of technology and digitalisation in the automotive industry, equipping students with crucial skills in software development and leadership”
Sarma Chillara, head of HR and administration of Škoda Auto Volkswagen India
From an educational perspective, Chillara points out that the project offers a wide range of subjects for the participating students to explore. He reveals that the students receive comprehensive training in various disciplines such as mechanical engineering, electrical maintenance and the installation of electrical systems.
Chillara goes on to share, “Additionally, the students gain valuable experience in cutting-edge technologies such as robotics and computer numerical control (CNC) machining. The project also emphasises the importance of technology and digitalisation in the automotive industry, equipping students with crucial skills in software development and leadership.”
Looking ahead, the project’s future plans include exploring emerging technologies such as hydrogen fuel and battery-electric vehicles. By embracing these advancements, the project aims to stay at the forefront of the industry and continue providing students with opportunities to engage with cutting-edge technologies and develop their expertise.
Benefits of the project
Regarding employment prospects, the project presents multiple avenues for students to explore. Chillara shares that many of the participants have found employment within the organising company itself, leveraging the skills and knowledge gained during their involvement. Opportunities also exist within the current dealer network, where the project has established strong connections and partnerships. Students can also apply to other automotive companies, leveraging their experience and training to secure positions in the broader industry.
It is noteworthy that the project encompasses a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR). As part of this commitment, the organisers invest significantly in IT colleges, adopting them and actively contributing to the upskilling of technical students. This investment aims to provide internship opportunities and enhance engineering and technology skills, further fostering the growth of future talent in the field.
Chillara opines that, in addition to individual skills, grooming students in technology and innovation promotes collaboration, adaptability and teamwork. Technology is inherently collaborative, and the ability to work effectively in interdisciplinary teams is highly valued in the workforce.
Students engage in group projects where they learn to communicate, share ideas and leverage diverse perspectives to achieve common goals. They also develop adaptability as they become familiar with emerging technologies and learn to navigate their constant evolution.
To conclude, ‘The Student Car Project’ in India seeks to stimulate innovation, provide practical education and create employment opportunities within the Indian automotive industry. By encouraging students to think creatively and offering comprehensive training in various technical disciplines, the project aims to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their careers. Through ongoing efforts and a focus on emerging technologies, the project endeavours to remain at the forefront of the industry, contributing to the advancement of the automotive sector in India.