The world's finest automobiles are crafted not just in the factories at Detroit, Munich or Tokyo. They are first and foremost conceptualized, planned and executed by automotive engineers. Automotive engineering is a craft akin to mechanical engineering, although it gives focus on design and manufacture of cars.
If you are interested in automotive engineering, you need to ask yourself if you have the necessary skills and aptitudes to pursue a career in this field. It helps if you're a good driver and mechanic, but it is also an advantage if you are good with physics, design and the maths.
- Mechanical skills. Having good mechanical skills is a good starting point for automotive engineering. You should understand the parts of a car-both electrical and mechanical-how they work, and how they contribute to the operation of a vehicle. You should also be aware of the special needs of a car, and what makes them run well nor not run at all. Experience in maintaining or even replacing engines, underchassis and body work would be an advantage.
- Artistic and design skills. Automotive engineering involves being able to plan car designs in your head, on paper, and on the computer through various 3-dimensional design software. You should have the proficiency in these, for you to be able to come up with automobile designs that are functional and good looking, too.
Also, design skills are not only for a car's exterior, but also the interior. You should have aptitude in conceptualizing how a car will look from the inside-from the measurements, the placement of instruments, positioning of seats, the material and fabric, and the like.
- Creativity. Cars would definitely look drab and boring if they all looked the same, and they would have obsolete features, if it weren't for automotive engineering. An automotive engineer should have the vision and creativity to come up with good ideas for new cars. What new features are needed? How do we make cars more safe?
- Mathematical skills. Engineering is all about math, after all, and it's the same with automotive engineering. Here you would need the skills and abilities to design cars with numbers in mind. What will the engine's displacement be, and how much will the power output be? What about torque? How about power to weight ratio? When you design the body, what will the coefficient of drag be? You can test this in the wind tunnel, but you can also compute for this in your computer-aided designs.
Automotive engineering is a rich field of study, with many possible specializations to get into and choose from. If you think a career in planning, designing, building and even marketing cars is for you, then this will be a good start. Try to look under the hood of the car and ask yourself if this is what you want to do, and if this is what you want to build. With perseverance and study, one day your design and creation might fill the nation's highways and cities.