An 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.
Starting salaries in retail are from £25-£30,000 depending on degree grade and area of specialisation. Salaries rise with experience, and after four years should be around the £50,000 mark. Salaries for those working in motorsport may be considerably higher. There is the potential for overseas travel in both sectors.