Driving your Career in Engineering
The world of automotive engineering is diverse, challenging and rewarding, and a successful career can be yours for the taking. Rebecca Barnes reports.
If you’re a petrol head, there’s no better sector to work in than the fast-paced world of automotive engineering. From manufacturing companies to tyre makers and motorsport teams, automotive engineers work on the development of ground-based vehicles and use the most advanced technologies to create products that enable the world to move around safely and comfortably.
A hugely popular job sector, the UK is recognised as a world leader in innovation in component manufacture and attracts considerable investment from international manufacturers.
With the major players mostly centred in the West Midlands, North West and East of England, there are, in addition, over 1000 automotive component suppliers manufacturing in the UK, plus a number of smaller producers serving specialist markets. The UK is also a world centre of excellence in the motorsport engineering industry.
As well as the traditional disciplines, automotive engineers now need to incorporate electronics, safety and software engineering into their skill-sets. There’s a lot to roll with as new technologies and innovations are being developed all the time, often in line with the Government’s strict environmental standards.
As well as the environmental issue which includes the challenge of reducing CO2 emissions, engineers are also under pressure to improve vehicle economy by minimising vehicle weight, and change the way they design and build vehicles due to factors such as the increasing impact of passenger and pedestrian safety.
Therefore, unsurprisingly, there is a growing demand for highly trained, skilled personnel who are able to meet the needs of the automotive industry - a student must have completed a bachelor’s degree in engineering to be an automotive engineer.
Graduate engineers often join an employer’s training scheme, and during this time will gain experience across a range of functions and disciplines, finally choosing a specialist area in which to progress their career.
Companies invest heavily in training their engineering staff and are keen to retain them for as long as possible; household names currently offering graduate programmes and opportunities include Prodrive, Rolls-Royce and Jaguar Land Rover.
And there are plenty of options when it comes to nurturing a long and rewarding career in automotive engineering, as with experience, it is possible to progress to senior engineer roles, project team management, general management and consultancy.
Some engineers may choose to move into a related area, for example environmental design, and even lecturing is a possibility for those with Masters and PhDs in mechanical engineering.
FISITA is the world body for automotive engineering, and a federation of the major engineering societies in 37 countries working together to exchange technical knowledge on all aspects of vehicle design and manufacture. Visit fisita.com
To find out about foundation degrees, HND’s and degrees, search the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website: ucas.ac.uk.
SEMTA is the Institute of the Motor Industry and Auto Industry, and can provide information about careers, qualifications and training in the automotive engineering industry. Visit semta.org.uk
Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) offers professional development courses that allow you to learn the skills and knowledge required by the industry. Visit imeche.org.uk
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