Time was if you wanted a job in the auto industry, that meant building cars on an assembly line. Not any more. General Motors has released a list of the 10 best jobs of the future in the auto industry and not one of them involves getting grease under your fingernails.
The future of manufacturing will focus on technical issues, from designing new powertrains to creating “smarter” cars that talk to each other and keep you connected to the digital world.
“In the automotive industry we have the opportunity to make our technologies impact real change,” said Gary Smyth, executive director for global research and development at General Motors. “Not many other industries can embrace the future so holistically: We have battery chemists, electrical engineers, manufacturing experts, software developers and social media operators all in one industry, working at making our lives easier and more productive.” Here’s the list:
While its not time to write off the internal combustion engine just yet, demand for hybrid, plug in hybrid, and electric vehicles is expected to grow substantially in the future. GM will be on the lookout for talented engineers with expertise in electric propulsion from motors to batteries to the software that controls both.
Today’s cars already gather lots of data about themselves and the cars of tomorrow will collect even more. People who can devise systems to make sense of all that information and provide it to drivers in a useful way will be in demand. It could involve detecting mechanical issues and advising drivers to visit their dealer before those issues become problems. Or it could be helping drivers pick the best route to a destination.
GM and other car makers will need people who can make all the technology in tomorrow’s cars easy to use. It is important that controls be intuitive so drivers can keep both hands on the wheel. The goal is to keep all the technology that will be packed into tomorrow’s cars from leading to distracted driving.
No one knows how digital technology will develop in the future or what the next big digital breakthrough will be. Programmers will be needed who can help cars of the future work seamlessly with whatever is next in the world of digital communications. Coders and developers are going to be in demand.
GM envisions a world without crashes and a key step in that direction will be vehicle-to-vehicle technology that allows cars to “talk” to each other. Adaptive cruise control and other semi-autonomous driving systems will require sensor experts, radar developers and many other types of digital engineers.
Understanding and managing new technology will be daunting for many future drivers. Customer care experts will play an important role by providing friendly, informed support to help resolve the problems customers are experiencing. That sort of support can help make happy customers who stay customers for life.
Sustainability is a concept that is becoming a focus for many manufacturers. GM already has 122 plants and facilities that send no garbage to landfills. Whether its how to use alternative energy sources like solar and wind or just finding ways to use less of everything, GM will be looking for people who can help it meet its sustainability goals.
The best companies discover and apply the most efficient production techniques for their mass produced goods. In the future, talented engineers will be needed to find ways to build complex vehicles in sustainable and efficient ways.
Here’s an job description that didn’t even exist a few years ago. The use of 3D printing in the development, design and engineering is just beginning to be realized. A part mockup that once took weeks to create can now be printed in a matter of hours. Faster prototyping doesn’t just save time; it can lead to more options to be tested and better end products.
What will move the cars of tomorrow? Some people insists all future cars will use fuel cells. Others are certain they will be electric. Maybe tomorrow’s cars will use magnetic levitation, solar power or the wind. Chances are, though, the internal combustion engine will still be with us a while longer. There is no single answer to the future of propulsion. People who can refine existing mobility technologies or develop new ones will always be in demand.
Did you notice how many times the word “engineer” appeared in GM’s Top 10 list? That’s something to keep in mind when you are deciding whether to go into engineering or become an English major.