Outlook on Electronics & Software Education

Dr. Engineer Washington Posted   Latest  

Is a deeper competency in automotive electronics and software a requisite skill? 

In the article: mp​.​weixin​.​qq​.​com/s/7rLTRIJBny7H… the case elements are rather convincing.

Although the article is skewed to engineering disciplines, there is also plenty of application for automotive instructors and technicians. In my opinion, the automotive technology space (i.e., automotive educational and training programs, etc.) have yet to embrace the argument that electronics and software training should be a part of education/training programs. There are many automotive courses with "electronics" in the title but, very few (if any) have true electronics as part of the course elements, and the automotive service industry has yet to make the distinction between electrical and electronics. Most courses are training for acquiring diagnostic signals that are in between modules (i.e., using DVOM or scope to measure signals entering or exiting a module). This is NOT electronics, it is electrical. Electronics is what happens inside of the sensor, controller, etc and measuring signals within the device. Software/Firmware (embedded controls) is how the device is controlled.

It is my opinion that, automotive instructors and technicians need a "working knowledge" of electronics and software. I'm not suggesting that a technician needs to know how to design electronic devices and coding software. I am suggesting that knowing how discrete and IC based electronic devices, and how software is structured and executes controls, will likely enhance/change the diagnostic thought-process. Electronics education will help anyone understand how signals are connected and processed. Software education will help develop logical (step-by-step) execution of diagnostics. In short, it will change the way you think. "Working Knowledge" is an understanding of how the electronic circuits and Software/Firmware controls are constructed and operate. Understanding electronics and software significantly increases diagnostic and repair expertise and will enhance competence and confidence, and completely change diagnostic perspective. Having engineered and taught electronics and Software/Firmware for many years (while training my staff at GM and otherwise), it is very common for those completing this type of training to provide feedback that, the education/training has significantly enhanced diagnostic and testing skills. This is why FutureTech Auto (and others) have developed courses to address enhancing electronic and software skills:

futuretechauto​.​com/store/p77/swbo…

futuretechauto​.​com/store/p77/swbo…

In my opinion, automotive program curricula isn't broad or deep enough in electronics or software for those diagnosing and repairing vehicle systems and no longer serves to prepare technicians for building a more robust diagnostic process, testing, manipulating, and diagnosing advanced control systems (AI and Deep Machine Learning levels of controls). In my opinion - quite simply, advanced vehicle systems are going to compel technicians to adapt to a more deep understanding of electronics and software or, it may compel them move onto something else. Acquiring additional education/training in these areas will significantly enhance the "value" of an instructor or technician. Adaptability is what determines Value in almost technology driven markets.

Having a working knowledge of both provides enhanced skills that will permit an instructor or technician to remake their diagnostic process into a more logical and refined Results of 2018 & 19 ASE Training Managers Council Benchmark data indicate the field recognizes this need. So, when will it be actioned by the formal education and training space?

Agree or disagree........but, it's still comin' fast!

Cogent comments are welcome.

Mark

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Gary Owner/Technician
Colorado
Gary Default
   

Hello, Mark You've made some very cogent points regarding modern advanced diagnostics and I agree with them 100%. Of course, we'll always have the "need to know" versus the "nice to know "arguments regarding how much electronics we really need to learn to diagnose a modern vehicle. But I do know from my own experience that having a foundational understanding of how sensors and actuators work…

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Dr. Engineer
Washington
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Hi Gary: Thanks much for the reply and you perspective on the industry. Please see my latest posting that adds some clarity. Best Regards, Mark

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James Educator
Kansas
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Hi Mark and Gary, This is a battle that has gone on long a timer and will not be solved any time soon. But Electrical and Electronics has to be taught as a foundational skill. I taught in a private technical school and saw how we couldn't cover it all. The need is for the tech to have on going training even after leaving a Tech school. As I tell anyone who comes to an class I do, you need to…

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Gary Owner/Technician
Colorado
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Gary the intern program needs to be supported by the shops, which doesn't happen as it should. You make good points! Indeed, James. Back in 1998 I wrote the diagnostic section for Glencoe/McGraw-Hill's automotive textbook, "Automotive Excellence." It was an ambitious project with four of us technical writers and about 26 on staff including copy editors, technical editors, industry advisors…

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Mario Curriculum Developer
Florida
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Hi Gary, You are absolutely correct in saying that our industry needs an internship and mentoring program. That said, there are many college programs that currently attempt follow that model with varying degrees of success. Before I retired, I taught a college degree program that was quite successful. It was patterned after the manufacturer's apprenticeship programs. The students would attend…

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Dr. Engineer
Washington
Dr. Default
 

Mario: Thanks much for the insight........I can't disagree with much of anything in your post. Best Regards, Mark

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Gary Owner/Technician
Colorado
Gary Default
 

Hello, Mario When I chaired ASA-Colorado's Education Outreach Committee during the late 1990s, we sponsored an apprenticeship program with varying success. Ultimately, we didn't have the general shop support we needed to fund and operate the program on a continuing basis. And, as I said above. the better shops didn't participate and the less successful shops didn't have the wherewithal to…

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Dr. Engineer
Washington
Dr. Default
 

Hi Jim: Thanks much for the reply and you perspective on the industry. Please see my latest posting that adds some clarity. Best Regards, Mark

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Dr. Engineer
Washington
Dr. Default
 

Gary, James, & Mario (and others that may be interested): Thanks to all of you for the comments. Although have been in the engineering space for many years and "sometimes" in the technical training space, I have a fundamental understanding of and agree with the comments from all of you. I really get it. There are several primary areas that need to be fixed in both the education/training…

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Dmitriy Analyst
Ontario
Dmitriy Default
 

A great way to convince a tech (or anyone, really) is to present a case study that shows immediate usefulness of a certain tool, technique or knowledge. If the diagnostic process hits a dead-end without using, say, a pressure transducer, the merits of acquiring the tool and signing up for a pressure transducer class become fairly obvious. When it comes to case studies for hybrids and BEVs: -…

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Dr. Engineer
Washington
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Hi Dmitriy: Thank you for the response. The rationale for my post wasn't try to and convince. It was more of a warning. There are tons of case studies for BEV, PHEV, EREV, and FCEV but, unless someone already understands the systems and underlying technologies, it would have no point. I'll provide an example in reverse of a case study (I don't expect answers to these questions.......this is…

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Jaxon Technical Support Specialist
Australia
Jaxon Default
 

Good morning Mark, Given the author's former position in you reference article, it is a sobering read. What your post brings up for me is, quite often on a quarterly review with my mentor I find myself on a delicate balance of work, study/training and exhaustion....

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Dr. Engineer
Washington
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Hi Jaxon: Thanks for the reply! I think we're in the throes (middle) of a technology transition period, similar to …, and it's difficult. On one hand, we have new technologies rolling out that require learning and tooling for totally new systems, while we continue to maintain updates on the traditional technologies. It is very difficult and I understand completely, relative to…

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Gary Owner/Technician
Colorado
Gary Default
 

Hello, Mark I think we're in the throes (middle) of a technology transition period, similar to …, and it's difficult. I agree. BEVs are going to become more popular and with them comes all the advanced electronics that so few have mastered during these years. In a word, we're going from nut and bolts to electrons and our current vocational model simply isn't up to the task of helping…

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Dr. Engineer
Washington
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Hi Gary: Yep - agreed......the game starting changing 30 years ago (as iterations to ICE) and now we're in a full blown technology change with electrification. My personal goal is to work with engineers, instructors, and techs that are ready to roll with the change, even if that's only 10% of them. The remaining 90% will have it figured out for them (i.e., forced to adapt or........). This is…

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Gary Owner/Technician
Colorado
Gary Default
 

My personal goal is to work with engineers, instructors, and techs that are ready to roll with the change, even if that's only 10% of them. We do have an interesting experiment going in the Peyton School District in Colorado Springs. I'll have to get an update from the automotive program manager, but they're following a new vocational model. We spent about three hours last spring going over the…

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Dr. Engineer
Washington
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Hi Gary: I'll be providing a 2 hour Capstone presentation, as part of the ASE Virtual Instructor Conference Sessions for the States of PA and VA, on Dec 23rd. The title of the presentation will be the following: Vehicle Electrification Technologies and the Impact On Technical Education Instruction. It will cover some of the tech-ed stuff but, also the need for electrification, electronics, and…

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James Educator
Kansas
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Can we attend the Conference?

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Dr. Engineer
Washington
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Hi Jim: I know the presentation is for the Instructors in the States of Pennsylvania and Virginia but, you may be able to attend as a guest (?). I'm unsure if the ASE will be rolling this type of virtual conference out to other states. You could call Ken Benson at ASE to inquire. I'll send you his cell number via email. In my opinion, there will likely be some great interaction. Mark

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Maynard Technician
Ontario
Maynard Default
 

Gosh I am sorry, i can feel your frustration. I want you to succeed. I want your outlook to take over..... I guess if I am honest part of it is due to spite. I feel we have been stepped on and undervalued and taken advantage of. So for me a huge curve ball in the automotive world is sort of a compensation thing. I maybe have no idea what i am wishing for but i do know i was so inspired when…

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Dr. Engineer
Washington
Dr. Default
 

Maynard: My schedule is slammed but, maybe we could do something virtual. We would need to define some things (i.e., we need to get a scope of what the goals and objectives would be), start small, and then grow. That would be my initial thoughts. Mark

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Maynard Technician
Ontario
Maynard Default
 

Yep that would be good. Just feeling things out as to what could be options... for possibilities as I try to light some fires locally. I am keeping an ear out for your virtual class in the fall intermediate boot camp etc. I would like to try participating in that.

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Maynard Technician
Ontario
Maynard Default
 

O boy! this is where its at! Education and training and evolution. We all have so much to say around this topic, and that includes me too. Thank you for writing Mark, I get so excited when i see stuff like this posted, its a breathe of fresh air. I was thinking I really aught to write something to contribute to your post, but I don't want to ramble on forever either. Others have responded and…

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