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Automotive engineers apply their knowledge of electronic, electrical, mechanic, safety and software engineering to design and manufacture these vehicles and their components, as well as engineering subsystems.
They can specialize in a number of fields within the branch, from safety engineering, fuel economy, NHV engineering, and vehicle dynamics to assembly feasibility, durability, performance, and drivability. Quality management is an important element of their work, as they must ensure that high quality standards are met during the production process in order to avoid recalls and meet consumer requirements.
Development engineers within the automotive engineering branch are typically in charge of ensuring that all the engineering attributes of a complete vehicle, as determined by legal regulations and the manufacturer, are in place. They make sure that all the systems and components in a vehicle interact properly and function as designed.
Another aspect of an automotive engineer’s job is to make decisions regarding opposing requirements, for instance fuel economy and engine performance. One of these is usually a priority, but the other needs to deliver at an acceptable level too, and it is the automotive engineer’s job to strike the right balance.
Automotive engineers typically arrange automobile testing, validation and certification. If they specialize in aerodynamics engineering, they will frequently provide styling studios with guidelines on automobile shapes, and if they work in body engineering, they will usually collaborate with studios on the design.
Automotive engineers must have both strong engineering skills and a commercial awareness. They need to know how to use computer-aided design software for producing vehicle design. They must have excellent IT skills in general and be good at math and data analysis.
Along with technical skills, automotive engineers must be team players and they must be able to work within strict deadlines and budgets.
Automotive engineers usually have a degree in automotive engineering or one of the related subjects: production engineering, manufacturing engineering, mechanical engineering, or electrical or electronic engineering. Candidates can enter the field with HNDs and foundation degrees, but their options are limited to technical jobs.
Automotive engineers usually work in one of these three areas: design, research & development, or production. They are typically involved in the product design lifecycle from start to finish. Their day-to-day duties include designing automobiles and their components, selecting materials for various components, creating prototypes and conducting tests, researching automobile systems and safety aspects of the work ahead, forecasting costs and creating schedules, and overseeing installation of mechanical systems in industrial plants. When they are not working on new automobile designs, they can be in charge of investigating failures, resolving any maintenance issues that arise, inspecting vehicles, and occasionally giving them a test drive to check them for faults.