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The latest installment in Nissan's video development series about the next-gen Titan doesn't provide many new hard details about the truck. However, it does drop a few hints about the pickup's Cummins diesel V8, and also provides some the best looks yet at the new model's styling, even if it is covered in camouflage. The debut is less than a week away at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.
Anyone who's bought one of those old school metal shift knobs knows they're really cool until they sit in a parking lot in the sun for a few hours. Then they're not cool at all. Likewise, features such as the aluminum dash on the 2015 Ford Mustang can be all kinds of neat right up until the sun hits it just the right way and sends shards of blinding light through the cabin. The Ford Visual Performance and Evaluation Lab is where engineers figure out how to make sure that doesn't happen.
Volkswagen has spent another $27 million of the $4 billion it has earmarked to advance its plans for U.S. market growth. The money went toward a 64,000-square-foot development and emissions lab called the Test Center California in Oxnard, about 45 miles north of Los Angeles. There, 50 permanent engineers and instructors will work on government compliance, powertrain, parts analysis, dealer service and training, and emissions and quality testing.
A recent workshop in Los Angeles offers something special for interested children: a class on the mechanics of car theft. Created by the non-profit organization Machine Project, the workshop is entitled "The Good Kids' Guide to Being a Bit Bad: Cars edition." It covers the topics of hot wiring, opening a locked door and getting out of a locked trunk... and we fully support the class.
Hiring new engineers in the auto industry is always something of a gamble. Just because someone coming out of school has a 4.0 GPA, it doesn't mean that they are well suited to the day-to-day problem solving and innovation required of a modern engineer. In the past, a lot of new engineers were recruited through co-operative education programs or internships where companies got see students work first hand. However, cost cutting efforts in recent years have caused these programs to be curtailed.
It was to be expected, but the rapidly changing auto industry is experiencing a shortage of mechatronic engineers to assist with the development of EV cars and systems. As it is, there are plenty of electrical engineers and mechanical engineers, but those who are adept at integrating mechanics and electronics – in areas like battery management and algorithms – are desperately needed.
If working on high-tech batteries like the units pictured above or developing complex hybrid powertrains is your cup of tea, then boy are you a lucky one. As countless automakers turn their attention towards a future filled with electric and hybrid vehicles, the demand for mechatronics engineers will only continue to grow.
This fall, Wayne State University (WSU) in Detroit will become the first university in the United States to offer a full graduate engineering degree program in electric drive systems. Wayne joins the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and other schools in developing programs that aim to provide engineers with the expertise needed to develop the next generation of vehicles that don't rely on internal combustion engines for propulsion.
For over a century, the training of automotive engineers has focused on creating vehicles propelled by internal combustion engines. Electrical and mechanical engineers have worked on piston engines, transmissions and all manner of related systems. The future holds new directions for transportation, much of which revolves around electric drive systems. That means veterans and upcoming engineers need new skill sets.
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