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Automotive Engineering – Pays to be Green

September 14th, 2012

When an economy suffers, sometimes car purchases are the first thing to go off of the budget. For the first time since 1950, Toyota will be reporting its first major operating loss. And as a whole, North American auto production dropped 62.2% in January, the lowest monthly total in 18 years.

So what is an automotive engineer to do? What industries should they be keeping on their radar?

Go green.

While automotive sales as a whole dropped 3%, the hybrid market sales continue to increase. New hybrid vehicle registrations rose 38% in 2007 according to data released by R.L. Polk & Co., an automotive marketing research company. And that was five years ago.

With gas prices climbing steadily over the past few years, more car buyers are looking for more miles per gallon for their buck. Long gone are the days of carefree gas-chugging Hummer driving and production. Today consumers are looking for safe, reliable gas sipping vehicles.

Terry Woychowski, a General Motors executive, believes that the car needs to be reinvented through green design, removing automobiles out of any environmental equation. Instead of traditional internal combustion systems, vehicles are being moved by electricity, through highly technological and economic systems.

For those looking into the engineering field, this could be another golden era of invention, changing the automotive culture. Companies will be looking for engineers with strong backgrounds in electronic control systems, battery technologies and lightweight materials.

For many potential automotive and environmental engineers, this could be considered their dream job. Not only is it a great engineering challenge, but it’s also providing a better outlook for the future of the environment and economy. Designing a car that lowers family gas prices can truly help those struggling to make ends meet.

General Motor’s E-Flex Performance Engineer, Nina Tortosa, deals with a lot of pressure in her emerging field. But she knows the benefits outweigh the stressors. Tortosa is focused on developing the next plug-in car, which will run 40 miles without using any gas. She is working on perfecting the Chevy Volt, a car released this fall, which is getting a huge buzz. The Volt is powered by an electric motor, which draws power from batteries. The batteries are recharged by a very small internal combustion engine.

Tortosa acknowledges the importance of the engine, but also reminds engineers to take another look at aerodynamic design. She spends up to eight hours a day in a wind tunnel, trying out different concepts to reduce drag on a vehicle. The reduction in drag results in a better fuel economy.

Contact The Talley Group for the best positions in new green technology, and you may be able to be a part of the next great automobile invention.

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