Vehicle engineers dedicate themselves to the design, creation and functionality of vehicles and their components, including automobiles, trucks, buses, and motorcycles. Traditionally, they work in the entire product life cycle from the initial design through production, distribution and marketing, though often specialize in design, research and development or manufacturing. Take some time to request information from schools in our directory that can help you become a vehicle engineer. We recommend contacting multiple schools to be sure you start out on the right track!
Vehicle engineers are professionals who integrate engineering and business acumen to ensure vehicles are developed within cost requirements. Engineers in this field utilize a bevy of scientific principles including thermodynamic and mechanical inquiry to enhance operation and developing solutions for design flaws. Upon realizing a specialty, a vehicle engineer may be asked to execute a bevy of duties and responsibilities. Some undertake the design and creation of visual models for various vehicles and their accompanying parts and features with the assistance of digital applications, enabling them to determine the best source materials to employ.
A medley of companies compete for the expertise and skills of these scientific professionals. Producers of automobiles and commercial vehicles as well as component manufacturers employ these types of engineers to work on luxury, sport and utility vehicles and their supporting parts. In addition to the auto industry, design firms, industrial equipment manufacturers, energy firms, and competitive racing teams endeavor to secure the services of vehicle engineers. With these types of firms, these professionals dedicate their efforts to constructing prototypes and models of parts, the application of evaluation processes, computer software, and physical integrity measurements. Along these lines, professionals may endeavor in developing equipment and parts that meet evolving market conditions, customer tastes, and government safety and health requirements. In addition, they may refine design specifications, examine the environmental implications of a project, oversee the installation of new or enhanced assets into production facility, and/or investigate realized or potential failures in an engineering system. From a business executive perspective, vehicle engineers may negotiate with suppliers in managing contracts, delivery schedules, and logistics as well as track project budgets. Global companies such as General Motors, Tesla, Chevron, Johnson Controls, and Toyota serve as a sample of the firms in the market for these types of employees.
Earning Your Vehicle Engineering Degree
Very few U.S. universities offer official degrees in vehicle engineering, and thus most practitioners in the field elect to study mechanical engineering. A Bachelor’s Degree is required as a minimum qualification for securing employment in the field. Many mechanical engineering programs integrate courses in automotive electronics and power systems into their curriculum. Students aspiring for the academic certification should demonstrate a strong interest and capacity in math and science courses such as calculus, physics, and more importantly computer science, as most vehicles and systems are based on digital platforms. Students who embark upon advanced education at the graduate level have the skills and training to thrive in the global marketplace. Professionals with Master’s degrees and/or Ph.D.’s have focused their efforts on hybrid electric automotive technology and systems cases. Furthermore, they have the ability to assume senior executive positions within their firms, while others branch out to begin their own ventures. Engineers with this level of academic and professional experience also teach college students. Other skills that have proven to serve aspiring candidates well include strong problem solving skills, superb written and oral communication capacities, multitasking, budget management, team-building and social skills, as well as independent judgment.
Professional Outlook and Salary for Vehicle Engineers
Professionals in this field have been integral in developing the hybrid electric car technology that has transformed the automotive industry. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) provides a bevy of resources for current and aspiring engineers in the field. Moreover, the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), furnish professionals and students with transformative knowledge and tools to embolden their ability to thrive as technology and techniques evolve. There are regular updates on news in the industry, events, seminars and educational conferences to enhance and develop the skills of the community. In addition, professionals capitalize on networking and mentoring opportunities as well as recruiting efforts from major corporations like Ford Motor Co. and General Electric. Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment opportunities for these engineers is expected to grow through the year 2020 by 9 percent. The U.S. cities with the most opportunities and highest salaries for these professionals are Detroit and Auburn Hills, Michigan. The states of California and Texas are the next two locations with the greatest career prospects. According to statistics at O*Net salary data, these engineers earned a median salary of $82,100.
Be a Valuable Member of an Automotive Team!
Ford Motor Company is one of many companies that value and actively recruit vehicle engineering professionals to their organization. In a Detroit News profile of Alana Strager, a Ford program manager with a background in the field, the executive illuminated the various duties and responsibilities she performs daily in their work producing the Ford F-150 truck. Her background enabled her to seamlessly lead a team of engineers and product developers in refining a product that served their customers’ needs while featuring the latest technological features. Known as the “Queen of Innovation”, Strager helped assemble a team of insightful marketers, astute engineers, and expert designers in developing a product coveted by a range of consumers. Her work on the truck’s BoxLink technology particularly illustrated the medley of skills demanded and refined by the engineering profession. The system consists of four slots located in the interior of the truck’s bed that enable users to fasten supplies, materials, and other objects to the truck. Though the bed features fixed mounting slots, the metallic cleats may be removed, enabling the feature to be customized based on the flexible needs of customers. In Strager’s view, people purchase vehicles like the Ford F-150 to help each other, thereby underscoring not only the practical utility of the truck but its social community component as well. Her career at Ford illuminates the importance in vehicle engineering of developing well-rounded skills to execute technological initiatives that address consumer needs in the global marketplace.
If you want to learn more about becoming a vehicle engineer, contact the colleges in our directory listings that can help you prepare for success!