Automotive engineering is the field of engineering that deals with the production, manufacture, design, research and development pertaining to vehicles such as cars, trucks, etc. The career field for this section of engineering is broken up into three broad categories, namely – production, development and manufacturing. The production field deals with the designing and testing of the engines, transmission related parts and other portions that will help to assure safety, reliability and performance. The development field deals with the coordination of the overall design and the setting of the specifications of various individual parts is done in this specialization category. The manufacturing of various parts as well as the final assembly of the entire machine is done in the manufacturing field.
There are two paths that you can take if you want to be an automotive engineer – mechanical engineering and automotive engineering technology. Since the result of both the courses is more or less the same the basic requirements for both the courses are not too different from each other. You are required to have a background of physics, chemistry and mathematics in your early academic career but, since automotive engineering does require computer usage in the form of Computer Assisted Design and Modeling you will have to incorporate computer courses in your educationally formative years.
If you are looking into the production field and want to be a production engineer then you will need to take up courses in BSc in automotive engineering technology. This degree will help you to work on the designing and testing of specific components and safety measures. The study course will give most importance to applied design and testing. The schools with the best records for this degree are the Ferris State University in Michigan and the Arizona State University. The schools are also known to give internship programs that allow you to learn while on the job.
Getting a BSc degree in mechanical engineering will provide you with work related to the broader dimensions in terms of the design and manufacture of automobiles. The basic courses will give due credence to physics, chemistry and mathematics as they are the backbone courses of any engineering degree. Apart from this the school will also provide courses in analysis, design and the theory of the engineering involved by means of extensive laboratory work. Along this path you will find that the specialization in this field will be quite limited at the undergraduate level. Aspirants for automotive engineering have been known to basically focus on the preparation for graduate school. At the Master’s level most courses are focused on the study of electrical and mechanical engineering aspects that are applicable to vehicles, the systems design and methods of analysis on an advanced level. The course generally takes approximately two years and in most universities like the one in Michigan the courses that are offered require about 30 semester hours of study time.