The 10 Best Automotive Engineering Schools in the US

For students who enjoy hands-on work and have dreamed of working at companies like Ford, General Motors, or Harley Davidson, automotive engineering is an excellent choice. These workers are responsible for the design and development of new vehicles. Automotive engineers apply their engineering knowledge to innovate new cars, trucks, buses, or motorcycles.

As part of a challenging and rewarding field, automotive engineers can work with exciting new technologies instead of sitting in an office all day. Along with manufacturing, they can also research new breakthroughs in fuel efficiency, safety, and design. 

Automotive engineering is a specialty of mechanical engineering, with some universities offering automotive-specific degrees. Like most engineers, students need a strong background in calculus, physics, and chemistry to succeed. As today’s vehicles grow more and more technically advanced, a thorough understanding of computer science is also essential. Schools with Automotive Engineering Technology degrees or concentrations will also have technical courses in engine theory, automotive electronics, power systems, and many more.

Automotive engineers must have strong analytical abilities and be able to solve problems as part of a team. These skills are developed through hands-on opportunities inside and out of the classroom. Organizations and competitions dedicated to automotive design help students build a network and apply the knowledge learned in the classroom. Similarly, many top universities will have internship or research positions for students to gain firsthand experience in real-world situations.

Engineers graduate in high demand by automotive manufacturers and suppliers. Electric cars and new vehicle systems continue to be improved in an ever-changing automotive world. Due to a need for the next generation of vehicles, this profession will remain necessary and have openings for new graduates. Automotive engineers earn an average annual salary of $79,000.

10. Brigham Young University, Idaho (Rexburg, ID)

BYU Idaho
Eustress, John Taylor building, marked as public domain

BYUI’s degree in Automotive Engineering Technology includes hands-on, practical experiences in every class. The coursework focuses on taking vehicles from the design to manufacturing stage, with a host of automobiles for students to diagnose and repair. By working in a group, undergraduates develop problem-solving and teamwork skills necessary for their future careers.

Through the rigorous curriculum and highly qualified instructors, BYUI graduates are prepared to go on to work in a variety of fields. Automotive Engineering Technology alumni work as service engineers, test engineers, engineering technicians, and product engineers. 

Undergraduates gain hands-on experience through internships and extracurricular activities. BYUI engineers consistently rank among the top in the nation in various skills competitions. The BYU-Idaho Supermileage team had the first successful run of the competition and ranked #2 out of 33 global teams for the reliability and endurance of their vehicle.

9. University of Tennessee, Chattanooga (Chattanooga, TN)

University of Tennessee Chattanooga
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Students can deepen their knowledge in automotive engineering through UTC’s Engineering Automotive Systems concentration. Chattanooga is recognized for the role the community plays in the national automotive industry. The surrounding area houses over 900 manufacturers and suppliers, with university endeavors leading to thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in capital investments. Automotive engineering students can take advantage of the environment through research and internships.

The degree at UTC is developed alongside automotive partners to meet the demands of the automotive industry. Through classes like engineering analysis, mechatronics, applied mechanics, advanced simulation, and modelling, students have a strong foundational base. Each student’s program is developed individually to meet their needs and interests. With industry needs in mind, the Automotive Systems concentration emphasizes advanced manufacturing, systems approach to design, simulation, and project management. 

8. Indiana State University (Terre Haute, IN)

Indiana State University
Tcampbell, Rankin Hall, marked as public domain

Indiana State University focuses on educating professionals who employ strong management practices and an in-depth understanding of automobile technology. The university’s Foundational Studies Program provides critical thinking, leadership, and communication skills. Accompanying coursework in automotive operations and managerial abilities, these qualities are essential for success as an engineer.

Many automotive engineers at Indiana State University pursue a minor in a related interest area to strengthen their understanding of the field. This includes subjects like business, manufacturing, mechanical engineering, and safety. Additional knowledge and abilities make students well-rounded engineers and increase their hirable skills post-graduation.

Automotive engineers gain hands-experience in testing, diagnosing, and repairing vehicles at the John T. Myers Technology Center. Including instruments from chassis to engine dynamometers, students optimize engine performance in over 20 state-of-the-art laboratories.

7. Ferris State University (Big Rapids, MI)

Ferris State University
Michael Barera, Ferris State University (FLITE), CC BY-SA 4.0

Ferris State University is home to one of the largest and nationally renowned Automotive Engineering Technology programs. As a result of educating automotive students for over 50 years, graduates are found throughout the automotive service and engineering industries. In the FSU community, automotive engineers are among the highest-paid and most sought-after college graduates. 

As a part of the curriculum, students complete more than 1000 hours of instruction to learn the theory and practice of automotive engineering. Undergraduates can apply their knowledge on a fleet of over 100 manufacturer donated vehicles.

Along with the degrees offered in Automotive Engineering Technology, certificate programs are available in Performance Motor Sports and Performance Machining. Undergraduates study everything about engines, including design, disassembly, precision rebuilding, and performance modifications. In the hands-on laboratories, students learn how to use various tools from lathes to milling machines.

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