Nissan yesterday hosted a group of tertiary education students at the Nissan Technology Square, an environmental and safety technology exhibition which is currently running at Sandton City. Central to the exhibition is Nissan’s flagship electric vehicle, the LEAF (Leading Environmentally-Friendly Affordable Family car), which is poised for launch in Japan, the United States and Europe in December 2010, prior to a global rollout in 2012.
Visiting technology expert Takahiko Uchimura, from Nissan in Japan, said that engineering students were important for the future of automotive industry growth.
‚Nissan regards students as key in the development of a sustainable society for future generations,‚ stated Uchimura, who joined Nissan as a graduate from Yokohama National University, starting out in vehicle safety technology in 1981 and now in the Technology Development Division. ‚We are looking at a new generation of engineers to take Nissan into the future.‚
More than 15, 000 engineers are employed at Nissan’s global research and development centres, which develop technologies according to specific market needs.
Mishael Mashele, an engineering student from Pretoria University, is currently on Nissan South Africa’s student scheme. Employed in the company’s product planning department, which researches the suitability of vehicles for the South African market, Mashele was pleased at the opportunity to attend the exhibition and see elements of Nissan innovation, especially the electric vehicle.
‚It’s the direction that the world should be taking in terms of auto manufacture. We need to move away from fossil fuels and energy resources that are not renewable,‚ he said, in support of cleaner and renewable forms of energy to cut down on CO2 emissions.
Mikail Ansari, currently completing his masters in electrical engineering at Wits University, is doing research in electric vehicles. He hopes to enter the automotive industry on completion of his studies.
‚I’m amazed at what I’ve seen,‚ he enthused of the LEAF technology. ‚Innovation sets the benchmark and gets people thinking.‚
Nissan’s ‚smart house’ and ‚smart community’ concepts ‚ in terms of renewable energy and electric vehicle energy storage ‚ appealed to fellow masters student, Craig Carlson, whose current field of study is ‚smart goods’.
‚It’s a concept that’s catching on in all areas and it’s especially exciting to see the integration of electric vehicles into the system,‚ said Carlson, whose Eskom bursary will give him the opportunity to look at power generation challenges and the creation of more effective distribution.
Marlize Naud√©, another Wits masters student, is researching energy efficiency. ‚The exhibition is interesting and stimulating and makes me realise there is a future for electrical engineers.‚
‚We are hoping to increase our new electrical engineering graduate pool across all our operations,‚ encouraged Uchimura, adding that an average of 1,000 are hired annually.
The Nissan Technology Square is open to the public and runs until 30 October.