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.
Chrysler is re-establishing a partnership with Kettering University in Flint, Michigan, for students in the automotive engineering program. This relationship was put on hold in 2008 when the automaker began its financial crisis.
Part rollercoaster, part futuristic transportation, Edward, or Electric Diwheel With Active Rotation Damping, is an engineering project with the potential to make it to the streets someday. And the best part is that Edward is entirely electric.
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.
Hoping to land a job at Ferrari after graduation? The company's been known to recruit straight out of college, but your best bet may be to enroll at the Enzo Ferrari Faculty of Engineering at the University of Modena e Reggio Emilia.
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.
If anyone were to come along and do an updated version of Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing," the could change the background vocal from "I want my MTV" to "I want my MPG" or "I want my low Cd." Coefficient of drag, that is. Carmakers are taking every step they can, starting with aerodynamics, to give cars better gas mileage right now while they wait for more substantial technologies to come online in the near future.
Audi has seen the future, and the future is exciting; at least in Ingolstadt. Engineers at Audi have cooked up the automotive equivalent of the Focusrite Liquid Mix. An A8L has been pressed into service as the basis for Audi's emulator, having been modified with extra hydraulics, an active steering system and hardware to steer the rear wheels, as well. Dubbed HORST, for Handling Online Research Simulation Tool, the car was initially developed to ape the dynamic responses of an E-Class Benz. More
Fun though it may be, racing is still an applied science. Perhaps this is most evident in the tech heavy F1 cars. BMW uses a very trick wind tunnel to test their Sauber F1 car in virtually all dynamic conditions to ensure that the aerodynamics give the desired result. This video has a bit of a Kubrick/2001 feel to it, but it's fascinating watching the car "drive" on this gigantic treadmill. As usual, the video does a much better job than a whole bagful of words, so check it out after the jump.
Don't go getting too excited, it probably won't mean a crate version of the S65 or N54 for Roundel fans. Running an automaker is expensive, especially a manufacturer that leans more toward niche status than casting a wide net. BMW is looking at all options for future revenue, and one of the thoughts that's occured to the well-respected manufacturer of cars with chutzpah is to bank on its engineering chops and sell engines to other carmakers. Lotus has pimped themselves out for years to other aut