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Automotive Engineering: An Overview
Automotive engineering involves the study of how all the systems – be they electrical, hydraulic, mechanical, electronic and software – of cars, buses, motorcycles and other automobiles work. Automotive engineering also involves safety engineering, fuel emissions and fuel efficiency, vehicle dynamics, performance, shift quality, durability, climate control, drivability and assembly feasibility. To build a career in automotive engineering you can pursue the subject as a major in college, by learning about the colleges that offer automotive engineering . You can study one of the engineering disciplines such as mechanical engineering and pursue automotive engineering work experience, or get any engineering or related science undergraduate degree and an automotive engineering graduate degree.
According to the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), the median income for automotive engineers in 2009 was $37.03 hourly, and $77,020 annually. The occupation is expected to experience a slower than average growth of 3 to 6 percent between 2008 and 2018.
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Automotive Engineering Programs
According to Princeton Review there are only 12 colleges in the United States that offer an automotive engineering undergraduate major, so narrowing your search should be pretty easy. The downside is that you have only a few options. But again remember, if you do not want to narrow yourself down too early or are not sure if this is the major you want, going to a school with a strong engineering program in general or looking at schools that are strong in other branches of engineering such as mechanical or electrical in addition to automotive may help. Here are the 12 schools that offer automotive engineering in the U.S. in alphabetical order.
- Boise State University
- Central Michigan University
- Colorado State University-Pueblo
- Ferris State University
- Indiana State University
- Minnesota State University
- Southern Illinois University Carbondale
- The University of Akron
- University of Central Missouri
- Weber State University
- West Virginia University Institute of Technology
- Western Michigan University
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Choosing the Automotive Engineering Program for you
While a lot of people pay a considerable amount of attention to college rankings, it is always a good idea to find the best college for you based on a lot of other immeasurable factors like how comfortable you feel in a college environment and how supportive the campus might be to your growth. That being said, automotive engineering is less affected by the excessive focus on rankings than other courses just because there are few colleges that offer automotive engineering to begin with.
It is important though that when you are making your list of schools to which you will apply, find out as much information about how you and the school will be a good fit as possible. Visit the campus, the automotive engineering departments and take a look at the labs. Talk to students and faculty members. Find out if they support experiential learning in the form of internships and undergraduate research opportunities. Do employers come to recruit on campus and therefore would you have good job prospects when you graduate? These are the more nuanced often ignored factors to pay attention to before you finally decide on a program.