EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — A new effort by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation is pushing the electric vehicle industry to employ homegrown talent.
The Michigander EV Scholarship program is a collaboration between the MEDC, universities, and employers. So far, it’s bringing along 12 Michigan State Spartans for the ride.
“The automotive industry is undergoing a once-in-a-lifetime transformation with the shift to e-mobility,” said Garth Motschenbacher, Employment Engagement Director of the MSU College of Engineering.
While Michigan is home to multiple schools with stellar technology programs, many graduates leave the state for careers elsewhere.
“Making sure the students are aware of opportunities right here in their backyard, and exciting them about those opportunities is all about what EV Scholars is about,” Motschenbacher said.
The program offers up to $10,000 scholarships to as many as 350 students at participating universities who sign a letter of employment with an approved company. This includes a commitment to staying in Michigan for 12 months.
State officials said Michigan had at least 3,000 job openings in the electrification and mobility sector as of March.
And according to MEDC officials, there’s only one main focus in order for the EV businesses to thrive.
“The number one key ingredient for success of companies in a sector is talent,” MEDC President and CEO Quentin Messer, Jr. said. “And we need to make sure that younger people understand that there’s a tremendously interesting set of opportunities here in this sector.”
Students said they can’t wait to plug in and get started.
“It’s really helpful right,” said Eduardo Ferdinandi, an MSU student and scholarship recipient. “First of all, just for me personally, it’s a big experience to learn more. And just to see if it’s the right fit.”
Another scholarship recipient, Shane Patrarungrong, said he’s looking forward to seeing what the future holds.
“I think Michigan has a very great outlook on the EV industry,” Patrarungrong said. “And we have a lot of students and very talented people. It will go very strongly in the future.”
Officials added this year is only the beginning.
“Eventually, what we want to have is an entire community of scholars to really build the whole community around the buzz of EV,” Motschenbacher said.
The initiative is part of an effort to support the Biden administration’s goal for EVs to make up half of new vehicle sales by 2030.