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Automotive Engineering Technicians

The Job

Today's new car models are faster, more powerful, and sleeker than cars in the past. They now feature digital technology and are loaded with a wide variety of upgrade options. Automotive engineering technicians help to make these new car designs and improvements happen. They are responsible for assisting automotive engineers in conducting research and tests on the automotive vehicle design, development, and manufacturing processes. They are familiar with various aspects of mechanical, industrial, safety, materials, chemical, and electrical engineering. Automotive engineering technicians provide assistance in the building, modification, and testing of vehicles or components.

Automotive engineering technicians help research, design, and test entire systems or single components needed for cars to function. Those who work at Ford Motor Company, for example, may be tasked with creating a better suspension system for a new sports utility model, to allow for as smooth a ride as that of a sedan. Large automotive manufacturers, as well as independent engineering firms specializing in automotive components or systems, employ automotive engineering technicians. They may work at such companies as Hunter Engineering Company, which designed and patented under-car service equipment and systems used by Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors, among others.

Automotive engineering technicians work closely with engineers to test and validate specific automotive systems or parts after they have been designed. They usually work with a prototype, coordinating with other engineers, technicians, and suppliers to make alterations in the original plan or material, as needed.

Among the tasks that automotive engineering technicians are involved in are documenting test results, using cameras, spreadsheets, and other tools; setting up mechanical, hydraulic, or electric test equipment based on engineering specifications; reading and interpreting blueprints and schematics; inspecting and testing parts to determine reasons for defects or malfunctions; and monitoring computer-controlled test equipment, per written or verbal instructions.

Automotive engineering technicians who work in the development field help coordinate delivery of a complete automobile to meet manufacturer, government, and consumer standards. The battery of tests they run ensure safe, reliable interaction of all systems and components; they implement necessary changes in the design, structure, or materials used. For instance, they may test and change a new engine's design to enhance the car's power and acceleration, while maintaining good mileage and fuel efficiency. Development engineering technicians may also focus on the vehicle's weight, aerodynamic drag, transmission systems, and more. They also conduct research on the car's ergonomic design; for example, making sure the heating and cooling systems work efficiently, with easy-to-use controls that are well placed on the instrument panel. Development engineering technicians also work with alternative fuel cars, such as hybrid vehicles.

Engineering technicians who work for automotive manufacturers help in planning and assembling the entire vehicle, and those technicians employed by automotive suppliers work with individual parts or systems. For auto manufacturers, engineering technicians work closely with engineers to conduct research and tests to make sure vehicle systems and components keep high quality during normal wear and tear; they make changes to designs as needed. Engineering technicians may also be involved in vehicle parts manufacturing and installation, such as interior and exterior trim, seat materials, and body panels. The ability to communicate clearly and work well with others is key to this type of work, as they often collaborate with other engineers, technicians, and test drivers.

Automotive engineering technicians use analytic or scientific software in their work, including computer-aided CAD software, development environment software, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, spreadsheet software, graphics or photo imaging, and robotics.  Their work helps automotive designers create new and enhanced designs for vehicle structural members, battery-powered electrical and internal combustion engines, transmissions, and other vehicle systems. 

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