The high-quality technical schools and universities of Nuevo León in Mexico and the government’s commitment to education are important factors that should help the state attract an original equipment manufacturer in the aerospace sector.

Last year, 11,830 students were admitted to post-graduate programmes in the state and some 3700 graduated in those programmes. Nuevo León produces 10% of all Mexico’s engineers. Last year, it had 548 researchers who belong to the National System of Researchers, part of the National Council for Science and Technology, and 30 patents were filed and scientific publications released in the state.

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Knowledge drive

The state university, the Autonomous University of Nuevo León (UANL), is one of the most prestigious state universities in Mexico and has a total of 22 research centres. It has a total of 115,300 students, including those at affiliated technical high schools. At undergraduate level, there are 61,000 students and at post-graduate level 4170.

Nuevo León’s highly esteemed Faculty of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (FIME) – which has a total of 12,100 students at degree level – already has a degree course in aeronautical engineering and is setting up an important research centre in aerospace – the Centre for Aeronautical Engineering Research and Innovation (CIIIA) at the International Airport of Del Norte, a private airport 20 kilometres from the centre of Monterrey.

 

Engineering ambition

Patricia Zambrano, the administrative co-ordinator of innovation and project development at FIME, says: “CIIIA’s aim is to be the most important centre of engineering with the highest technological standards of Mexico. It is being funded by UANL and the state and federal governments. It will have 7000 square metres of space in total and the budget for the building alone is $6m, and for equipment $2.4m. We opted for this location as the airport already has technical schools for aeronautics, aircraft hangars and maintenance workshops. The centre will start with three researchers and eventually have a total of 15.”

 

Technical support

CIIIA – whose principal structure, laboratories and hangar bay will be completed between April and December this year – aims to provide the technological support for the aerospace and aeronautical industries of northern Mexico. It will promote projects of high value in the supply chain, develop advanced engineering solutions and carry out R&D in all areas of aerospace. Its 13 laboratories will be dedicated to fields including combustion, aerodynamics, propulsion, avionics, hydraulic systems for aircraft and aerospace materials.

Companies that have expressed an interest in involvement in the centre include aviation giant Boeing and Canadian flight simulators producer CAE.

FIME’s aeronautical engineering degree is now into its third semester and has some 85 students enrolled. The course will last a total of eight to nine semesters and eventually FIME aims to have up to 400 students taking part in the degree programme.

 

Meeting demand

Esteban Báez Villarreal, director of FIME, says: “Setting up this degree programme will help Nuevo León to attract inward FDI in the aerospace sector. There has been a boom in demand for aeronautical engineers globally and there is now a big deficit in the number of them.

“There are many students who want to enrol on this degree programme but we are controlling the intake, being very selective. Only the ones with the best grades for the entrance exam will be able to study the degree. It is one of our most sophisticated and technical courses.”

He adds that Mexico has a total of 190 companies involved in some stage of the aerospace manufacturing process and about 120 of the firms are located in the north of the country, near to Nuevo León. The faculty is ideally located to provide aeronautical engineers for the industry in the area.

Furthermore, the private university, Monterrey Tech (ITESM), which is regarded as one of the best technical universities in the Americas, has 19 research centres and has set up the Centre for the Development of the Aerospace Industry (Cedia) in the state of Nuevo León. ITESM has a total of 33 campuses throughout Mexico but was originally set up in Monterrey City by graduates of Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education 65 years ago, and its most important campus remains in the city. Some 17,000 students are based at the Monterrey campus.

 

Research focus

Luis Cabeza, director of Cedia, says: “Essentially, today ITESM is a research university – it has 20 chairs – with an average of 14 professors – related to research in mechanical engineering and mechatronics. We have identified five chairs that are directly related to the aerospace industry, including ones in intelligent machines and mechatronics and supply chain and logistics.

“We have started programmes that have supported the development of operations by companies such as Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Gulfstream and Bombardier. We have students at Boeing and Airbus plants.”

Some 40 students are following a ‘special track’ programme that focuses on aerospace engineering – and this includes spending at least one semester away from Mexico. A total of 30 students are currently doing internships with aerospace companies in Europe and the US.

Furthermore, Monterrey Tech’s business school, EGADE, is developing a Master of Business Administration programme in aerospace with the Toulouse Business School.

 

Specialist courses

Cedia can offer specialist aerospace courses in product engineering and process engineering, which will improve the existing manufacturing systems of aerospace companies in Mexico. It can also verify components’ specifications following ANSI, ASTM, MIL, IPC and JEDEC standards, and is working on a proposal to establish a certifications programme in AS 9100 B and Nadcap.

As well as the development of Cedia and CIIIA, Nuevo León has cemented its reputation for being at the forefront of technological advances in Mexico by establishing Latin America’s first research and innovation technology park. This is a 700,000-square metre site, close to Mariano Escobedo International Airport in the City of Monterrey, which will be home to 30 research centres.

The state also benefits from a large number of high-quality technical secondary schools and technical tertiary institutions. For example, within Nuevo León, more than 12,000 students – with an average age of 16 to 17 years old – are currently enrolled in 14 state-backed National Colleges of Professional Technical Education.

Some 154 of the students at one of the institutions in Apodaca, a municipality of Nuevo León, are following a three-year aerospace technical diploma which focuses on the maintenance of jet engines.

 

Resource pool

The technical school Alvaro Obregon, which is a tertiary college under the auspices of UANL, plans to start the same three-year aerospace technical diploma course in August and initially has plans to enrol a total of 30 students. This school puts great emphasis on a second language and all the students who enrol on the programme will be expected to become fluent in English.

At all levels of education, Nuevo León is focused on the aerospace sector. Therefore, any aircraft manufacturers that set up plants in the state are guaranteed to have a readily available pool of highly qualified engineers and technicians.

 

The cost of this report was underwritten by the government of Nuevo León. Reporting was carried out independently by fDi.