Study Automotive Engineering

The Needs

Study Automotive Engineering

The term “global influence” may be applied to only a few industries. Of those the automotive industry should be very near the top of that list, if not the top. There are few countries that are not touched by the industry in one way or another – that is why “global influence” is so fitting. Despite its impact on the economy of some countries, the direct education of automotive engineers generally still follows the “traditional” path of mechanical engineering education, but with the “flavour” of automotive engineering in some subject areas. This cannot be seen as satisfactory when senior engineers are expected to travel the World to discuss issues that transcend cultural differences, differing local business aims and objectives, from “state of the art” to “appropriate” technology and from engineering to financial issues. Manufacture alone sees the World as a potential supplier and as such purchasing becomes a significant activity in the production of cars – some organisations seeing such activity as a major step in their management spine. In addition the use of modern technology, test facilities, computational packages and material applications are now at the forefront of activities more than any other engineering discipline. It is such advanced activities which demand that educational institutions must recognise if they are to keep pace with the ever increasing teaching and training needs of the automotive engineering graduate.

 

Automotive EngineeringThe Vision
Universities play a very significant role in the areas of research and development and it is this post-graduate research collaboration that allows automotive engineering to be at the forefront of technology. In some instances these activities lead to the supply of highly qualified “specialist” engineers which industry use to continue the process of development. Such binding and wholehearted co-operation is not seen at undergraduate level and as such the automotive industry accepts the “output” from university with the knowledge that they have to complete the training process through inhouse training programmes. That “status quo” is not acceptable and educational institutions in the UK are responding accordingly. The training of automotive engineers to meet the global market of the 21st century demands increased collaboration between industry and academia - and matching facilities. There is now an increasing need for industrial contributions towards the development of automotive specific courses. The education of engineers to meet the demands of such an important, and focussed, industry requires recognised educational standards to meet such needs - the UK can provide that. Professional Institution accreditation of any course is a prerequisite for selection; there should be centres of excellence in teaching and dedicated facilities, worldwide collaboration in the work placement of students, positive inter-university collaboration, and the opportunity to experience “state of the art” testing facilities for both projects and research. Industry is tending to accept their role in the educational process and offer scholarship schemes and inter-country educational & industrial exchanges. Such moves forward could eventually lead to possible globalisation of the educational process of the automotive engineer. Educational institution in the UK are driving that vision forward.

 

The educational vision recognises the increasing importance placed on, and the move towards, the “Xby wire” control and vehicle management systems of high volume production cars. The integrated use of software and the validation of modelling for both the sciences and businesses. To understand the business scene disciplines such as marketing, sales, procurement, planning, concurrency, sequencing, design, sustainability, appropriate technology, development and testing are a few topics that should be embraced in the integrated approach to educating automotive specific engineers. UK educational institutions recognise that engineering is “applied science” and design their courses accordingly. Automotive engineering goes even further with the need for analysis and validation running hand in hand.

 

The Reality
Automotive courses in the UK, such as those at the University of Huddersfield, will be seen to have a high element of “hands on” facilities, typically engine test dynamometers. The education of automotive engineering goes further than that with some institutions investing in industry standard facilities – typically the 4-post ride simulator for dynamic analysis of a complete vehicle – suspension performance and wheel-loads; transmission dynamometers with programmable robotic control of gear shift, throttle and clutch to allow continuous circuit testing of a transmission for acceleration, fuel and emissions investigations; steady state engine testing to determine engine characteristics of power torque and fuel consumption and transient engine testing for engine characteristic performance under transient conditions. The “carbon footprint” of any activity is of concern to the industry so exhaust emissions analysis form an extremely important part in any automotive engineer’s education along with bio fuels and alternative energy. Vehicle aerodynamic analysis is complex but may be integrated through the design of a car form in a high level CAD system, aerodynamic analysis using a software package such as Fluent, realisation of a scale model using rapid prototyping techniques and subsequent wind tunnel testing and validation of the computer simulation. It is such an approach that allows UK educational institutions to lead the World in automotive education. In addition advanced research facilities are often used for undergraduate and postgraduate studies. These may be seen on the research websites of all institutions and may include such facilities as brake testing, thermal imaging and the use of holographic interferometry.

 

The Individual
The car is a complex engineering product and as such is not created by an individual, but through effective teamwork. Each member must have absolute confidence in the abilities and dedication of the other team members. It will be seen that most courses will include group activities to encourage effective and cooperative collaboration and it is this activity that prepares individuals for the reality of industry. Independence in independent thinking is again an essential element of any professional engineer and so courses will be seen to be designed to develop such maturity in their junior engineers. Confidence allows you to sell yourself and your ideas and this is generally realised through formal presentations and interrogation of your work, presentational skills being demanded of all graduates entering industry, after all that is how they communicate their work to groups of colleagues. Self motivation is also an essential characteristic needed of the individual - “a self motivated seeker of knowledge”. These are characteristics that allow you to emerge from a UK educational institution not only qualified but a professional engineer in all senses of the term.

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