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Whats a good college to get into for automotive engineering

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5 answers

George’s Answer

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Whichever college you end up in, if they have a Formula SAE club, join it!

That will be very beneficial for you to find a job in the automotive field. My mechanical engineer classmate got a job at Honda, his FSAE experience was a big factor on him getting the job.



Here is a list of college teams involved in FSAE
https://www.sae.org/attend/student-events/formula-sae-michigan/teams
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Dennis’s Answer

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Hi Clayton - My reply may closely echo what Chris said. Not all colleges offer "Automotive" engineering degrees. You might want to consider pursuing a degree in Mechanical, Electrical or Industrial Engineering if the schools you prefer don't offer Automotive. Each of these disciplines deal with some aspects of the automotive world. Modern vehicles still have mechanical components, but a major portion of the design work involves electrical engineering and software. And, all vehicles must be manufactured, so industrial or manufacturing engineers are hired by the automotive companies.
Another perspective - "automotive" may include things like Commercial Trucks, Construction Equipment, Aircraft, etc. There are interesting and exciting things going on in all of these industries. And the companies in these businesses recruit graduate engineers from pretty much all over the country. Don't forget about engineering opportunities in government. NASA comes to mind.

Dennis recommends the following next steps:

  • Figure out what kind of engineering interests you
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Sara’s Answer

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Hi Clayton!

There are many different factors for choosing a good college besides the major. It is important for a college campus to be somewhere you can imagine yourself spending four years of your life. So ask yourself, do I want to go to a school with a large student body or small? Suburban or Urban? Collaborative environment? Overall the schools that are "good" for engineering include: Rice University, UT Austin, University of Illinois, Perdue, Cornell University, University of Michigan, and Virginia Tech.

These colleges are all very different in campus and student body, so when looking into colleges make sure to tour if you can or see if you can ask current students there questions. Big tens have a larger student body and a large sports culture, similar with UT Austin and Virginia Tech. Whereas Cornell University is more suburban in rural Ithaca. City schools like Northeastern University, my school, are also good for engineering if you are looking for an urban environment!
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Michael’s Answer

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A great university for automotive engineering is University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. However, you can learn mechanical engineering at many good schools such as Texas A&M and University of Texas at Austin right here in Texas. Just know that usually, car companies usually hire where they have factories and engineering offices. So if you want to join an automaker then go to a school where they work and from where they hire.
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Chris’s Answer

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This may depend upon what you consider an 'automotive engineer'. The supply chain and complexity of this task are so enormous, there are several different roles that may fall into 'automotive engineering'. For example, if you like 'working on cars', as in, getting one's hands dirty, taking things apart and putting them back together, then you are not looking for 'engineering'. Very few engineers get to directly interact with the products that they design for automotive.

Furthermore, if you wanted to work on testing and validating subsystems, you could become an engineering tech. Texas State technical college will be one of your best bets (and I'm sure there are equivalent 2 or 3 year technician programs in El Paso if you care to stay near home and save some money). This degree would be an Engineering Technician or Electrical Technician.

Now, the engineering programs for automotive may be best near the places where cars are designed - which would be in the north in Indiana (lots of Aerospace), Michigan and Wisconsin. The reason is that Ford is in Deerborn, MI and GM is in Detroit and so schools in those areas will receive money and expertise from those companies. In Fact, Minnesota State University, Ferris State University (also in Michigan), Indiana State University, and Southern Illinois university all have good programs. University of Texas in Arlington is on the top 10 list. This article details it further:

https://www.cappex.com/articles/match-and-fit/2020-best-colleges-automotive-degrees

In truth, any Mechanical engineering degree from any good engineering university will generally prepare you for most anything in the automotive engineering industry in a general sense. Mechanical engineers make drawing and 3D models of parts and you and a host of other similarly trained engineers 'virtually assemble' the parts utilizing 3 dimensional modeling software. A car is an enormous 3D model long before it hits the assembly line.

Other types of engineering are utilized in the car manufacturing business if you don't want to 'sit and stare at the computer all day' that are useful in manufacturing:
Manufacturing Engineers take the designs and help them be realized on the manufacturing floor by choosing toolling, reviewing drawings, creating work instructions for operators that assemble them,etc.
Quality Engineers make sure that people are compliant, that the components meet the specifications and work with customers (like GM) on issues that may arise during assembly.
Automation Engineers actually program the robots that bulk assemble the cars (this has been done in Detroit for GM and increasingly in South Carolina, where Toyota has some assembly)

While an automotive engineering degree may be interesting, it is a specific application of the more general fields of Mechanical engineering, Electrical Engineering (and with so many computers in cars - Computer and Embedded Software Engineering). However, you may consider that these other fields will provide you with more general capabilities and be easier to find jobs. For example, an electrical or mechanical engineer can work in any field - but an automotive engineer will ONLY work in automotive. If you decide that you don't like Deerborn, MI (its cold... no - I mean COLD and the economy is iffy), or if you don't like the remote charm of South Carolina - or maybe you have trouble getting a job in either company, then its better to have a fallback plan of a more generic degree. I am an electrical engineer, and with a generic Electrical and Computer Engineering degree, I have worked in all stages of manufacturing for an enormous variety of products and devices(even automotive ones - I tore down ABS breaking controllers down to a chip level and figured out what was wrong with them using a Scanning Electron Microscope). The possibilities and opportunities in engineering are endless - so thoughtfully consider what it is you really want to do - and go for it. Sometimes, that takes trying a degree program and seeing if you like the subject matter before you make a decision.

Chris recommends the following next steps:

  • Consider faithfully what you really want to do and what environment you want to work in.
  • Find a good school with multiple engineering discipline programs and go!
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