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. Today, with automakers hard at work on alternative fuel and electric drive programs, they need engineers with new skill sets that many of the veterans lack.

Over the last several years, General Motors has been using student design competitions like ChallengeX and EcoCar to give students real-world experience and at the same time evaluate and recruit them. GM has supplied vehicles to university teams through both programs and then worked with them to design, develop and evaluate new powertrains over the course of four years. In that time, GM has hired 55 graduates from the ChallengeX program as permanent staff and another 16 from from the EcoCar competition.

Veteran engineers aren't being totally left in the cold. Many engineers have been sent back to school through collaborative programs with the University of Michigan and other institutions to learn more about motors, batteries and electronics because you never know when you're going to need an answer for some young whippersnapper's question.

[Source: BNet]

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