Automotive engineering is essentially a branch of engineering concerned with the application of a combination of principles of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering as well as materials engineering. Automotive engineers deal with diverse aspects of vehicles. Starting from design of a vehicle's body and basic features, several automotive engineering tasks such as brake system design, engine design, operational performance improvement, safety systems implementation in the vehicle, etc. are performed by automotive engineering specialists. Fuel technologies improvements and implementation of transmission systems design are some of the several routine functions of automotive engineers.
Mechanical engineering graduates take up automotive engineering as a specialization at master's level, while automotive engineering can also be taken as a graduate program. Typically automotive engineering graduate programs offer courses such as automobile dynamics, automotive electronics, engine parts and components, energy resources, fuel cell units, power train dynamics and analysis etc. as part of their curriculum. Basic knowledge of engineering fundamentals, materials science, mathematics, and analytical skills are essential for automotive engineering professionals.
Specialization in an automotive engineering course revolves around modules in design and manufacturing, energy and environment, materials, and noise and vibration studies of automobiles. Further options include electronics and computer software for control systems and ergonomic design. Considering the ever increasing volume of transportation vehicles, there is a broad scope for automotive engineering to have a great impact on the lives of people all across the planet.
Advancements in vehicle design tools, computer-aided simulation and analysis tools, coupled with the developments in materials science, have made automotive engineering very flexible. Specifically, concepts like hydrogen powered vehicles, regenerative braking systems, two-wheeler dual-disc braking systems, semi-active suspension systems, electronic stability programs, and turbo combustion engines have provided many new possibilities in the automotive engineering sector.
Thanks to a rapid growth in technology, innovations like novel energy generation techniques and energy storage mechanisms are continuously improving, and are directly contributing to improved automotive designs. The main challenge for automotive engineers is to deliver high performance vehicles with exceptional fuel economy, while also providing excellent aesthetics and designing for environmental friendliness.
A professional automotive engineer needs good technical synchronization with recent developments and should understand the standards and protocols involved in areas such as oil making, environmental compliance, safety and quality requirements, ergonomic developments, and regional and international transportation policies. In addition, special consideration to global needs such as green energy and energy consumption are expected.
Automotive engineers find jobs in vehicle manufacturing companies under operations, maintenance, R&D and other support services. Automotive engineers also find careers in academia and in government organizations involving policy-making and regulation in the transportation sector.
The Society of Automotive engineers (SAE) is one of the oldest and pioneering professional societies contributing to the interactions of automotive engineers world-wide. IJAE, JAE, IJAET, JAEA are some of the several online sources providing current trends and developments in the automotive engineering domain.