What graduate programs to address the fundamental changes taking place in the automotive and mobility sector?

 IFP School has adapted its graduate programs to the changes under way in the mobility and transport sector.
 In 2018, a strategic study was conducted. It gave rise to an action plan that was introduced from September 2018.
 It is already possible to draw up an initial assessment. 


IFP School had 2 main objectives in mind when launching this strategic study:
-    to further improve its training offer for the "powertrain 4.0” engineering students who will be supporting the development of sustainable mobility; 
-    to shift the focus of programs to skills addressing the business needs of our industrial partners and student expectations with respect to new technologies and sustainable mobility.

A major shift towards electrification

At the start of the new academic year in September 2018, the graduate programs delivered by IFP School in the field of powertrains and sustainable mobility took a radical shift towards electrification. The share of modules specifically dedicated to hybrid technology and electrification increased from 5 to 18%. Taking into account other changes, such as the introduction of practical work on electric machine test benches and the marked “electrification” of end-of-studies projects, as well as themes tackled during company internships, there is now almost a balance between teaching dedicated to IC powertrains and teaching dedicated to electric powertrains.

IFP School’s graduate education offer now comprises five programs:

The MOT & PWT programs, which have a similar content but are taught in different languages, have been repositioned. The focus has been placed on their differentiation and complementarity. It was decided that the share of teaching hours dedicated to hybridization and electrification would be the same and would represent around 50% of modules. Differentiation thus relates to content excluding electrification.

For MOT, a program taught in French with a more limited international scope, the objective is to cover a broader, more diversified powertrain sector, encompassing not only cars but also long-distance transport and off-road applications.

The program’s modules and targets in terms of industrial partners have been broadened to include heavy truck, commercial vehicle and off-road applications (ship, rail, aviation engines, stationary engines, etc.), operated using electricity and gasoline- and diesel-type fuels, as well as gas and hydrogen, which are appropriate for these non-car sectors.

As for the PWT program, which its significant international scope, it remains focused on the global automotive industry, covering hybrid gasoline and electric powertrains for private and commercial vehicles, taking into account urban constraints, the last mile, electric infrastructure, connectivity and driverless technology, etc.

The PRO program, which previously focused on fuels, lubricants and their use in powertrains, now includes modules on batteries and their use in electromobility.

Finally, the EPA master’s program, which, strategically, was always positioned a step ahead of our graduate engineering programs, now incorporates a new module in the connected and driverless vehicle.

In order to support all these changes, upskill in certain areas and develop new teaching modules and academic and industrial partnerships, an "Electric Connected and Autonomous Vehicle for smart mobility" chair was launched on 1January 2019.

What vision for the future of mobility?

In terms of the vision of Industrial players in the sector concerning the future of mobility and the associated challenges, we are likely to see the development of intermodal transport solutions and a re-assessment of car ownership on the part of individuals.

The decline in the privately-owned vehicle market and the increase in the shared vehicle market will lead to new constraints associated with evolving usages: the powertrain for the shared vehicle will have to be redesigned to be more robust and capable of traveling further. At the same time, although the current business model is set to be shaken up, the privately-owned car and the traditional mobility model are likely to remain on the scene.

Electrification and hybridization are going to develop to reflect the tightening-up of pollution-abatement standards and an acceleration in the introduction of new regulations. Concerning the "Powertrain" system, the need for engineers to develop IC engines will diminish, despite the fact that the gasoline version of the IC engine will remain present through hybridization (still present in the period 2030-2040 in 70% of powertrains). The diesel engine for private vehicles would appear to have a finite lifespan, while for heavy trucks and buses, mobility is shifting towards a diversity of solutions between the all-electric for the last mile and liquid (diesel) and gas fuels for long distances.

As regards connectivity, cybersecurity will become a key element. Public transport will undergo a radical transformation with the arrival of the driverless vehicle.

What key skills for tomorrow?

Among the key skills that will be necessary to accompany this “revolution” in the automotive sector, the “holistic” system approach underpinning and characterizing our graduate programs is still considered to be essential and one of IFP School’s core strengths, irrespective of the evolution of technical content. Topics that were already covered in our teaching programs at the notion stage will be tackled in greater depth to integrate them within this powertrain system approach. Here, we are talking about everything associated with electric or electrified powertrains (electric machines, power electronics, batteries, new transmissions, etc.).

Moreover, new themes will form part of the fundamental notions to be familiar with. These include connectivity, big data, the driverless vehicle and alternative propulsion systems, such as the hydrogen cell.

A seamless shift!

Students and our industrial partners offer their views of the changes implemented within our graduate programs in the field of powertrains and mobility.

  Gabriel Nichele (PWT 2019), from Brazil:
« IFP School is resolutely committed to the energy transition. It combines tradition AND innovation to perfection. The PWT Master’s program offers excellent modules on combustion engines but an entire semester is also dedicated to new technologies, within a highly dynamic and multicultural environment. A lot of things have changed in a short period of time. I am certain that I have made the right choice to prepare my future career. »
  Niranjan Edapaddy (PWT 2019), from India:
« With the growth in hybrid vehicles, mechanical engineers need to have a greater understanding of electrification. So, I really appreciate the fact that IFP School has incorporated so much teaching time dedicated to electrification. It has been very useful for me in my internship, where I’m working on hybrid vehicle test benches. »
  Bernard Swoboda (MOT 80), Senior Expert, PSA Group:
« The mobility technologies of tomorrow will have to comply with ever stricter regulations, while satisfying users who will be increasingly demanding in terms of their expectations. For vehicles fitted with an IC engine, the objective will be to reduce fuel consumption. For electric vehicles, the objective will be to increase the range, while keeping costs down to an affordable level. In this context, 3 principal skills are sought:
-    skills already developed at IFP School relating to the IC engine powertrains,
-    the design of electric powertrains (MHEV, PHEV, BEV),
-    in-depth knowledge in the field of electric motors and batteries. »
  Olivier Ferlin (MOT 96), Vice-President Powertrain engineering, Volvo Trucks:
« For heavy trucks and commercial vehicles, there is an increasing focus on a diversity of technological solutions minimizing the environmental impact, greater flexibility and automation. The electrification of the powertrain will develop further and the IC engine will remain a short- and medium-term solution, with non-fossil fuels in particular.
Specific solutions will be adapted to usages, such as, for example, “autonomous robot” vehicles capable of handling loads in difficult-to-access or hazardous zones. When it comes to transporting people, driverless vehicles will make it possible to meet the economic requirements of operators and users, while increasing their availability and safety. The relationship to ownership is set to change and evolve towards a notion of “transport solution usage”, the question of infrastructures and energy availability will arise.
The shift towards these new technologies is under way and will gradually gather momentum from 2025. As a manufacturer, all these challenges will mean we need access to engineers with varied profiles, skilled in the use of IT and capable of using big data as a complement to their general mechanical and/or electronic engineering expertise. IFP School’s graduate programs take into account this transition. »


Experimental tools aimed at ensuring our students are immediately operational 
« The share of teaching dedicated to electric and hybrid vehicles now represents 40% of the content of IFP School’s Energy and Powertrains and Powertrain Engineering programs”, explains El Hadj Miliani, lecturer-researcher in this field at IFP Energies nouvelles and IFP School. The School is equipped with experimental electric test benches to enable students to put their ideas directly to the test experimentally, during practical work and collaborative projects. This, of course, meets the needs of training young professionals with a perfect command of the experimental phase but also facilitates innovation, while developing their aptitude for collaborative work”, concludes El Hadj Miliani.

Alumni now active in the sustainable mobility sector have their say

What did the latest graduates of the Energy and PowertrainsPowertrain Engineering and Energy and Markets programs go on to do when they left IFP School? How are they using their background to serve the energy transition?
Hear what they have to say in the video: