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Automotive vs. Mechanical Engineering Degree

AEHQ Essential Non-Technical Advice for Engineers, Introduction to Automotive Engineering 14 Comments

You’ve grown up working on your own vehicle and wouldn’t think of taking it to a mechanic for repairs. Your neighbors come to you first when there’s something wrong with their car. When people come to visit you they don’t go to the front door but instead head straight to the garage to save time. If any of these situations sound familiar then a career in automotive engineering just might be in your future. When you’re choosing how to get started in the field how do you choose where to start? What degree will prepare you best for your future? When you have grown up under the hood of a vehicle there are two degrees that will be obvious choices to match with your interests: Automotive Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. These two degrees have many similarities but provide many different options that must be considered when selecting the degree path that is right for you.

Mechanical Engineering Degree

A Mechanical Engineering Degree is the engineering discipline that focuses on the physical interactions and relationships of materials and their material properties.   The core mechanical engineering classes including: statics, solids, thermodynamics, kinematics, materials science, physics and structural analysis. Even though, it is not specialized to automotive, some of the most important classes for automotive engineers are included in this major.   This path provides a very detailed theoretical knowledge of these subjects and the basics to apply them in a variety of engineering fields. The Mechanical Engineering Degree is one of the most popular engineering degrees and is offered by almost every school that has an engineering program.

Automotive Engineering Degree

An automotive engineering degree, or sometimes called a automotive mechanical engineering degree, is a highly specialized degree that teaches many of the same concepts as mechanical engineering but focuses specifically on automotive applications. When you earn an Automotive Engineering Degree you will study topics such as powertrain and chassis design, electronic components, aerodynamics and safety components. This highly specialized degree is intended to prepare students for the specific needs of the automotive industry and help them be better prepared to begin work in their specialized field. The Automotive Engineering major is a highly specialized degree that is only offered by select schools so it may be difficult to find a university that offers this degree. Most automotive engineering degrees are actually offered as masters programs.

Picking the right degree for your career

career potential conceptual meterBoth the Automotive Engineering and Mechanical Engineering Degrees will provide you with a strong foundation in mechanics and the basic concepts needed to be successful in the automotive field but there are some differences. The Mechanical Engineering path provides a solid foundation in mechanical design theory and statics, thermodynamics and dynamics that can be applied to a variety of engineering fields. The advantage of this degree is that if you are unable to find a job in the automotive industry the skills you have gained with a Mechanical Engineering Degree can be applied to other specialties so you will be more likely to find work. The Automotive Engineering degree does have some advantages as well. When you use your time in college to focus on Automotive Mechanical Engineering related topics you will complete your degree with the specialized knowledge you need to begin your career immediately and the on the job learning curve will be quicker. Additionally, there are specialized jobs available where your skills will be the only ones qualified for the job which will give you an edge over the competition. However, if you are looking for the path to take to ensure you have the best opportunities after school, there is one best option.

The Best of Both Worlds

I can tell you, without a doubt, that those with a mechanical engineering degree and a masters in automotive engineering are golden and will never have a problem finding a job.

Stuck in your decision? Consider this: There are two accredited automotive engineering bachelors programs in the US as of today. There are roughly 500 accredited Mechanical engineering programs. Why? well a mechanical engineering degree covers most of the same elements that an automotive engineering degree does, except it lays a much better foundation in the fundamentals of engineering. Mechanical engineering will lay out all the basics that you need to understand before you can ever comprehend the specialized automotive subjects. The mechanical engineering degree will be your best option for learning a full foundation in engineering principals while allowing you flexibility to focus on automotive elements in electives and outside of school.

However for the best effect do not just stop there. Once you get your mechanical engineering degree you should start looking for an automotive masters degree to make you an automotive expert. There are many universities that offer automotive engineering as a masters program and this is where you will be above 90% of all other automotive engineers. The masters program will allow you to activity apply your mechanical foundation you learned in your bachelors degree. I can tell you without a doubt that those with a mechanical engineering degree and a masters in automotive engineering are golden and will never have a problem finding a job. More OEM’s and top suppliers will be begging you to come work for them than if you had only one degree or the other. This may take longer in time and will of course cost more money, but the financial and career rewards of this choice will occur immediately upon graduation. If your dream is to be an automotive engineer  and be successful right out of school this is your best bet.

No matter which degree you choose to begin your automotive engineering career, you will gain the skills you need to be successful in the automotive field. Be sure to choose the best fit for your career path which works best for you and what you want to do.

Good Luck!

Comments 14

  1. patrick k peter

    I am pursuing a diploma in automotive engineering in Kenya am gland for great world we are in thankw for d great insipiration ..

  2. aman

    Dear sir i am working 16 years mechanic and supervise but i have iti on diesal mechanic.but is good for me mmechanical eng but automotive eng .

  3. Sahil heer

    Well i opted for bachelor degree in mechanical and after reading this article, it feels great that i always wanted to become an automotive engineer and u make me feel better…
    Thank you

  4. Ebukut Joseph

    I am in first year taking bachelor of technology in mechanical and automobile engineering in kenya , tganks fir your inspirational advice

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