Automotive Engineers Help Save Lives

It turns out all those fancy automotive safety devices cannot only help save lives, they can also save cash. According to The Economic Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, roughly $230.6 billion was exhausted on motor vehicle crashes in 2000 in the U.S. Nearly 42 thousand people perished that year, and 28 million vehicles were damaged.

The same government report also revealed that 5.3 million individuals suffered non-fatal injuries, 39% of all traffic-related deaths were attributed to alcohol and such substance-induced accidents cost about $51 billion. Public tax revenues, amounting to $21 billion, paid the costs incurred by 9% of crashes. That’s $200 for each household in America.

But wait. There’s more. Lost market productivity was estimated at $61 billion, property damage at $59 billion, medical expenses at $32.6 billion and the cost of travel delays at $25.6 billion. Each fatality produced a discounted lifetime cost of approximately $977,000.

Active and passive safety systems developed by automotive engineers and their colleagues may be a bigger part of the answer than we might suspect. Systems currently being developed are addressing both the monetary and safety concerns of our roadways through devices that have automatic responses to dangerous conditions or events. For instance, adaptive cruise control adjusts the speed of the vehicle to maintain a preset time gap from the vehicle ahead. Active night vision uses infrared illuminators to help drivers to see better when driving at night and electronic stability control improves the safety of a vehicle’s handling, helping the driver maintain control of the vehicle.

Surprisingly, perhaps, these are just basic safety features – ranking amongst car navigation systems, keyless entry and hybrid cars as, yes, technological innovations, but old news to vehicle manufacturers. Lane departure and forward collision warning, pre-crash mitigation systems, side alert, pedestrian and road sign recognition systems are part of the new wave. These systems “read” the road using electronics, cameras and sensors. They alert drivers when they are drifting out of the intended lane, have another vehicle in their blind spots, are in danger of crashing or are distracted. These technological gems even respond to unavoidable crashes by enacting safety precautions, such as pretensioning motorized seat belts and applying brakes during the last 400 to 500 milliseconds before a crash, when there is little a driver can do to stop it.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 50% of all crashes involve “driver inattention.” It’s impossible to pinpoint how many crashes could have been avoided if there had only been some alert system warning drivers to pay more attention during critical moments. How many crashes could have been avoided by a single alert, some notification that another vehicle was in a driver’s blind spot? By shaving off four or five miles per hour before a crash by applying the brakes?

And while saving lives and preventing injuries is of the most concern, we cannot, in all reality, ignore the financial repercussions of roadway accidents. Billions upon billions of dollars are lost every year because of these crashes. Medical expenses, property damage and lost productivity are passed on to the average citizen in the form of higher taxes and insurance premiums. What if some percentage of this cost – even if slight – could be lessened by safety systems? One percent of hundreds of billions of dollars, after all, is nothing to scoff at.

Automotive engineers are critical contributors to advancing projects with aspirations of making roads safer. Without their expertise, none of the technology currently available would have been possible and neither would future innovations. What’s more, these talented individuals are integrating these devices so they are more affordable and, thus, more accessible to the masses.

In the near future, a modestly priced vehicle could have a myriad of safety features – forward collision and lane departure warning, road sign and pedestrian recognition, adaptive cruise control, pre-crash mitigation, electronic stability control, side alert. All of it. So kiss some automotive engineers today – hiding in their offices – and tell them you’re proud. They could just save your life…and at least a few bucks on your insurance policy.

A Technology Guru With Connectivity Solutions

Technology gurus are hiding in a variety of places these days. Say, for instance, the automotive industry.

The automotive industry has produced some of the most advanced and user-friendly technologies publicly marketed in recent years. We can now not only operate our cars without keys, but we can also map our next trip, download information from our desktops onto a “carputer,” assess the state of the vehicle, watch movies, arm a security system inside and out and be alerted when others are in our blind spots.

Take, for instance, an entry-level map-based integrated navigation radio, which uses a flash-based secure digital card color map database to provide high-performance navigation. A single, state-of-the-art navigation kernel and map data compiler used in the European market help shorten Original Equipment (OE) innovation cycles, and a range of options allows for entertainment and ease-of-use features. Integrated into a single unit, a map navigation system can be used in parallel to the audio system.

Such a system can include AM/FM radio, navigation tools, playback mechanisms like compact discs and MP3s, and connectivity options for portable electronic devices. Of course, customers can add nearly anything a techy heart could desire, like a digital tuner, USB, touch-screen interface, voice recognition, steering wheel control and audio codec options.

And that’s just the basic model. Touch-screen navigation radios are full-featured audio and navigation systems in one unit, using onboard computers that interact with the Global Positioning System (GPS), vehicle sensors and a DVD-map database. Such personal travel assistants minimize travel time, make travel more convenient and increase peace of mind. Benefits include multiple functions in one compact unit, the ease of a touch screen, voice prompts, entertainment options, state-of-the-art navigation, the ability to remap locations if the driver misses a turn and intersection views for detailed maneuvering guidance.

Active safety systems, like active night vision, lane departure warning systems and infrared side (blind spot) alerts, are other excellent examples of automotive engineers’ ability to connect advanced technologies in a manner that makes the driving experience both safer and more enjoyable.

Active night vision uses near-infrared headlamps to illuminate the road scene ahead and displays an enhanced image in the vehicle. This system provides high-beam visibility without blinding oncoming traffic. Components of the active night vision system can be shared with other safety features, such as a lane departure warning system.

When lane departure warning systems utilize a camera, the camera can also be used for multiple features, such as active night vision, pedestrian recognition, rain sensing and intelligent headlight control. The lane departure warning system uses a monocular camera mounted behind the windshield to track lanes in front of the vehicle. Accompanying software estimates lane width and road curvature, and determines the vehicle’s heading and lateral position within the lane. When the driver strays from his or her own “dotted lines,” an audible, tactile or visual alert is issued. According to an automotive magazine, ninety-five percent of all vehicular accidents involve some degree of driver behavior — such as swerving. Systems like lane departure warning provide hope of reducing the approximately one hundred deaths that occur every day on American roadways, as reported by the Public Broadcasting Service in 1995.

Side (blind spot) alerts provide the same hope. These systems help drivers be aware of vehicles in side blind spots when changing lanes and making turns. Sensors integrated into mirrors, taillights and side fascia measure the adjacent lane temperature over time to detect if vehicles are entering the side blind spot. If detected, the system provides visual indications within the mirrors. If this proves ineffective and a turn signal is activated anyway, an audible alert follows. These warnings give drivers more time to react and, hopefully, help avoid the more than 200,000 lane change accidents that occur every year according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

It’s amazing how easily they hide those geniuses of technology. We never hear their names, see their faces, or even, in most cases, acknowledge they exist. Yet it is the knowledge, safety and connectivity solutions of automotive engineers that are helping save lives and helping make sure the rest of us don’t get hopelessly lost on the way to that next great adventure — at least not too often.

Automotive Engineer

at3An automotive engineer helps design, adapt and develop vehicles either for retail or for motorsport. He or she may specialise in a particular area e.g. in the development of parts such as the chassis, or may be an expert on electrical technology or aerodynamics or fuel consumption or thermodynamics. They usually work as part of a multidisciplinary team with members both in the UK and abroad.

Tasks undertaken by an automotive engineer include

o Using technical skills and computer design technology to find ways of building new systems and parts for vehicles, whilst being aware of environmental issues affecting the new designs

o Creating prototypes and find ways of testing new products both using computer software and physically testing them

o Managing and leading projects, including the work of other staff, and overseeing the budget during the production process, and being responsible for all quality control issues

o Attending meetings in order to discuss new technology and take into account others’ concerns or suggestions

o Keeping up to date with new processes and technology, and developing new ways of designing and creating change

o Solving engineering problems in all areas of vehicle construction including electrical, thermodynamic, fuselage, and aerodynamics

Automotive engineers in the retail industry are still primarily based in the Midlands which is where most car manufacturing takes place. Those working in motorsport may be based in the South East however in what is known as Motorsport Valley, which is where they tend to have their research, design and production facilities. Other smaller specialist firms are dotted around the UK and it is possible to find work with one of these.
The hours worked by automotive engineers is usually 9-5 in the retail industry, but will vary for those working in motorsport where weekend and evening work is the norm.

Some Wonderful History of the Mighty V8 Automotive Engine

Have you read the latest Wheel’s magazine? The January 2010 edition has a wonderful section on the wonderful history of the V8 engine that we know and love today. I will share some of the hi-lights from the magazine as well as my own personal comments, so read on…

The automotive vee-eight as we know it had its birth with our friend Henry Ford with the arrival of the ‘L-Head’ flat head vee eight of 1932. We must remember that he was not responsible for inventing the 8 cylinder engine in the V format as we know and love. But he was responsible for ensuring that it was available to the masses, ie the likes of you and me! It was pretty basic and simple, no complicated overhead valves or the like, hence the term ‘flathead’.

A company called Duesenberg, back in the 20’s had a straight 8 cylinder engine and this was probably the first mass produced 8 cylinder automotive engine (it also had fancy overhead cams and multi-valves!). Unfortunately the company did not stand the test of time.

Some suggest that the longest ‘living’ V8 engine is the 6.75 litre V8 belonging to our British friends Roll-Royce and Bentley. Based on an American design it was released in the 1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud (as a 6.2 litre with OHV and 90 degrees V angle). Later it was enlarged to its current size of 6.75 litres and continues in production today inspiring Bentleys.

Of course technology has allowed the V8 to develop just like all things automotive and we now have every V8 arrangement possible across the automotive spectrum. Usually only limited by our imagination (and our wallet). Turbocharging/supercharging, direct injection, mulit-variable valve technology along with massaging of the engine ancillaries are all available on your Ferrari down to your humble home grown Falcon or Commodore.

All of this of course means that you can be kind to the environment and own a V8. I drive 350K’s to my daughters farm from Kwinana south of Perth and get better than 11l/100kms cruising at 110 with the safety of better braking and handling and the ability to safely overtake slower vehicles. So it is V8’s til 2028 at least. Enjoy your V8!

Automotive Engine Repair Process

As vehicle engines become old, or improperly maintained, internal engine component failure can occur. While some vehicle owners may choose to simply buy a new car, there are many people that want to repair their engines so that they do not have to take on a car payment for a new car. Especially in this economy, it is understandable how people want to stretch their money as far as it can go. In many cases, rebuilding a damaged engine is more cost effective then buying a new car in the long run.

When an engine has failed, a skilled automotive technician will remove it from the vehicle. This is a laborious process and can often cost around seven hundred dollars to remove and reinstall automotive engines. Once the engine is out of the vehicle, it normally is given to a skilled engine builder for further assessment.

Once the engine builder has the engine, it will be carefully disassembled. Notes will be taken during this process to document the damage found. Once the engine is completely disassembled, all of the components are chemically cleaned to remove the oil, carbon and any contaminates. At this point, the engine builder can use specialized measuring tools to determine whether or not the internal engine parts are within acceptable tolerances. After a full assessment is made, the engine builder will then quote out the parts and labor necessary to repair the engine.

The labor to repair an engine is the largest component of the overall engine repair bill. In many cases the cylinder block must be bored, new pistons installed on the connecting rods and the cylinder heads reconditioned. Another labor intensive process is repairing the crankshaft.

When you hear people saying that their engine has a “spun bearing,” this simply means that one of their crankshaft bearings has failed. Bearing and crankshaft failure, by most accounts, are the leading cause of failed engines being removed from vehicles. When the crankshaft must be reconditioned, the process is completed in a crankshaft grinding machine. The equipment to perform this task can cost well over $50,000, which is why repairing crankshafts is not inexpensive.

After all of the engine components have been repaired or replaced, an engine builder will thoroughly clean all of the components before assembly. This is needed to remove any contaminates from the internal engine parts. With clean parts in hand, the engine builder may assemble the engine in a clean environment so that it is ready for the automotive technician to install.

After the automotive technician has installed the rebuilt engine, in most cases they will offer a limited warranty of one to three years. This warranty assures vehicle owners that the investment they made in repairing their engine is protected by a contract. With a typical car payment being $300 or more each month, vehicle owners can often save nearly $10,000 when they repair a failed engine instead of buying new. In these tight economic times, those savings can allow consumers the opportunity to save a significant amount of money over just a few years.

How To Have A Career In Automotive

Many students these days are looking for education to sustain a good career. Usually, the education that a person has will lead to his future work. In this case, it is best if you could get a degree that you like. In the future, you will have a career where you can use your knowledge and be happy with it. One of the most popular degrees is the automotive engineering degree. This means a student needs to learn the basics of automotives as well as its application to our lives. If the person is interested in pursuing this career, then he should have quality education. Although there are many other courses available, such a degree can be an exciting one for students. This is true with those who are car enthusiasts themselves.

How do I start a career in automotive engineering? There are many schools that you can enroll in. First, you need to search for a good one that can teach you things. The school is the very foundation of your degree. Therefore, it is best that you have quality education from a reputable school. Usually, you can find them offering automotive engineering courses. However, it is also better if they can offer more related degrees. Some of the common ones are mechanical engineering or even a degree in fluid mechanics. If the school has a great facility, then you can enroll in it. Moreover, it may help if you can find many feedbacks for the school. Of course, you need to know if they can really provide you quality education. This will serve as your training ground for your future career.

How to be successful in getting an automotive engineering degree? There are many ways to have a better career in this industry. Of course, it will all start with good learning habits. At school, you need to know the basics in order to survive your education. First, you need to be very attentive to the lessons in class. This is very important because you should have an idea about engineering matters. Second, it is best if you could participate in hands on training sessions. Automotive engineering is not all about pen and paper. You also need to apply your skills in actual activities. Therefore, you should also do well in laboratory skills.

There are many types of careers waiting for you in this segment. Usually, the careers involve cars and pother vehicle mechanics. You can be an engineer for car manufacturers. You can easily become a consultant for safety and vehicle integrity. Or, you can also become a part of an organization that promotes automotive safety awareness. As you can see, there are many possibilities for you to have a career in this field. All you need to have is a good set of education and experience. You can easily land on a job that you will love. In any case, you should start building your credentials today. So looking for a good school is your primary concern as of the moment.

Automotive Engineering

One of the best courses nowadays is automotive engineering. It involves examining the operating standards of vehicles. It may also comprise of proficiency management, mechanical system, hydraulic system and electrical processes. Since the industry of automotive is quickly growing, there are several people who want to have a degree program in automotive courses.

Some of the degree programs of automotive engineering offer lots of courses in mechanical engineering and automotive design engineering. The colleges that offer this kind of course give direct application and hands-on training for an array of careers in the industry. This course specializes in the field of vehicle engineering and it can be divided into three main fields of study. The three main fields of this course are manufacturing, development and production.

Manufacturing engineers are those involved in making and building different automobiles, while development engineers are those who were involved on the different attributes of a sedan that includes speed, durability and performance. On the other hand, production engineers focus more on the design systems and components of a vehicle. It also involves designing and testing of the vehicles’ parts and includes coordinating tests to make sure that all automobiles meet the national standards set by the government.

Automotive engineers have several responsibilities and job description that they need to comply with after completing all their trainings. As they finished the degree program of this course, engineers can now design the car’s systems and components. They also need to determine the best attributes for a specific sedan or for a future vehicle.

They also need to develop codes and standards for a well-organized manufacturing. Automotive engineers must determine the costs and implement the procedures to lessen the production costs. They are also expected to introduce and develop new strategies and systems for the production of automotives. In addition, they also need to make sure that they follow the government regulations during the process of the making a vehicle.

Aside from developing and designing, they also need to determine the drive ability of the each vehicle. They also need to implement quality procedures and control strategies. When there is a problem, they also need to solve all the troubles in automotive engineering. Lastly, they must conduct statistical analysis as required. All the graduates from this course can have several career options like vehicle manufacturing engineer, operations research, systems engineer, vehicle dynamics controller, performance engineer, noise, vibration and harshness engineer (NVH), emissions controller or research and safety engineering.

Automotive Engineering Jobs

Knowledge Requirements
Automotive engineering encompasses mechanical and structural engineering and requires those working within the field to apply the principles of several scientific disciplines. These include physics, structural design, and materials analysis. Automotive engineering jobs also require a strong understanding of manufacturing principles and mechanical system design and operation methods.

These engineers may also need to be knowledgeable in several other areas of engineering, including safety, power, electronics, and software. Many engineers working in the automotive field will specialize in a particular area, allowing them to become experts in their realm. This often results in higher pay and better job security.

Project Leaders
Some of the most well educated, experiences, and skilled automotive engineers are those who are able to oversee projects in new business or product development. These automotive engineering jobs are responsible to leading a design, engineering and manufacturing team that take new products from conceptualization through production. Such engineering roles are highly compensated in the marketplace and also require candidates to have strong “soft” skills in addition to technical know-how.

Communication and leadership are among the soft skills necessary for engineers to be successful in overseeing team-based automotive engineering development projects. While the job market is jam packed with highly skilled technical engineers, it is a wide open playing field for those with a more well-rounded skill set.

Specialties in the Field
There are a number of specialized automotive engineering jobs to be found in the field. These positions may focus on a particular kind of system, structure or function of vehicles, or it may be a certain subset of vehicles.

For example, an automotive engineer may specialize in the design of vehicle bodies, in which case he or she would be required to possess superior knowledge of structural design principles. Or, the engineer may specialize in the development of guidance or navigation systems, in which case he or she would need to be quite knowledgeable in computer science and software applications.

Those engineering jobs that specialize in vehicle subsets may include the design, development, and manufacture of passenger or commercial, land-based transportation vehicles. The engineer may be an expert on passenger or transportation trains, motorcycles, school or public transit buses, passenger cars, or military transport vehicles.

Regardless of the area in which the engineer specializes, he or she may also be an expert within that particular subsector of the automotive engineering field. This means that there are highly knowledgeable engineers who are able to design and develop new components, structures and systems for a specific kind of vehicle. For example, there are automotive engineering jobs that work only with the guidance systems found in military transport vehicles.

A Career in Automotive

Would you like to make “I’m a rambling wreck from Georgia Tech and a heck of an engineer” a reality in your life? Have you always enjoyed tinkering around with cars and figuring out what made stuff work? Does being a team player developing products that are the cutting edge of technology appeal to you? Then automotive engineering might be the career for you.

Generally, an automotive engineer is one who works on the design or manufacture of automobiles. The word design is slightly misleading since an automotive designer is a stylist basically concerned with the appearance of the automobile while the engineer specializes in the performance of the automobile and its components.

The engineer works on developing new or improved structural parts, engines, transmissions and suspension systems. The engineer is involved in production cost estimation, reduction of production costs and implementing cost/quality control improvements. The engineer must be sure that the product meets all federal regulations. In the case of new designs, it is the engineer who determines driveability.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Dictionary of Occupational Titles, automotive engineering is a sub-specialty of mechanical engineering.

Even though the automotive manufacturing industry is in a slump at this time, there is still a demand for engineers due to the current focus on fuel economy and alternate fueled vehicles. The field is expected to grow as fast as average through 2014.

While there are global opportunities for automotive engineers in countries as far flung as Malaysia and the United Kingdom, most jobs within the US are centered in the Midwest since that is the major location of the auto industry. The big three employers in the United States are Ford, General Motors and Daimler-Chrysler.

The working environment is a combination of office and on site. The entry-level salary starts at around $48,000 annually and a Bachelor of Science degree is required. In addition to the degree, the engineer should have excellent communication skills, strong troubleshooting skills and the ability to work as part of a team.

Automotive Engineers Innovate

Recent innovations in automotive engineering have produced active safety systems ranging from side alert, often called blind spot warning, to adaptive cruise control, to collision detection and warning. What this means to the average consumer will change over time as these products become increasingly available. What this means to the automotive engineer is increased attention to safe technology.

Many impressive innovations beyond the now customary car navigation system have existed – and even been on the market – for years now. Adaptive cruise control has been available since the early ’90s. Electronic stability control has been an option for many vehicles since 1995. Scanning radars, crash sensors, pre-crash mitigation and vehicle and occupant safety systems are also emerging. Such systems offer insights into how roads can be made safer in generations to come and where automotive technology is heading. In other words, as cars become “carputers,” automotive engineers are driving shifting technologies.

The myriad of promising innovations includes vehicle occupant safety systems. For example, a crash sensor generates a signal based upon a potential crash or one already transpired via a continuously variable severity output signal. If an accident has occurred, sensors signal certain actions like deployment of airbags. If an accident is likely to occur, sensors can alert the driver in various ways so that she or he can try to take necessary actions to avoid an accident and/or the sensors can take action themselves by pretensioning seatbelts or initiating automatic braking. In many ways, this process is not dissimilar to the functioning of the human brain: The brain sends a signal to the body to complete an action, often in response to stimuli received from the outside world. Who knew humanity would serve as its own model for creating devices designed for our safety?

Often, though, such examples of automotive technology are integrated into high-end, expensive cars first, due to high pricing. As the benefits of these products become more widely known and their popularity expands, costs decrease due to economies of scale and advancing technology. As research and development pay off, these advanced products become more widely distributed. The advantages of automotive system and component integration expertise will continue to increase over time. Such knowledge may be paramount to an industry focused on better fuel economy, safety advancements and financially feasible products. Engineers versed in not only the basics of these systems but also in how to integrate them is only the beginning. Savvy engineers who are engaging in up-integration – adding software that makes one electronic module do many things – and sensor fusion – using complementary technologies to enhance object detection and classification – may have an edge in an ever-competitive job market.

In the rush to meet consumer demand and stay competitive, suppliers tend to be increasingly eager to develop ways to integrate safety and other technology systems. Many vehicles currently come with automatic on/off, high/low beam and rain sensor technology for instance. A separate camera, of course, is not necessary for this. Install a camera for a lane departure warning system, and suddenly a world of possibilities opens up. Intelligent headlight plus pedestrian and sign recognition programs can also be added, to name a few, without the need for additional cameras. Separate module manufacturing for each technological innovation becomes unnecessary. Multiple functions and features on the same apparatus decrease cost and increase functionality.

So, what’s next? It seems to be the perpetual question that automotive engineers ask – no matter how far we advance. Perhaps an entirely self-driving car. Perhaps hover vehicles on highways, following designated pathways and communicating with surrounding vehicles to avoid crashes. What do consumers want? The evolution of technology. Inventions born of new ideas. And, ultimately, innovative products that can even make us all safer. It’s the engineers, though – the technological innovators themselves – who make it possible.