AU offers Southeast’s first automotive engineering and manufacturing curriculum

High-res photo: An Auburn engineering student grinds frame rails during the construction phase of Auburn's 2008 Formula SAE car team project.
AUBURN – Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering is now offering a curriculum in automotive engineering and manufacturing, the first of its kind in the Southeast.

To better prepare engineers for jobs in the region’s growing automotive manufacturing industry, the 15 credit-hour minor will focus on vehicle quality, logistics, design and planning. This program will provide Alabama’s automotive factories with much-needed employees for mid- and upper-management roles, developing the state’s economy by allowing the plants to become more efficient.

“The minor is designed to enhance students’ preparation for careers in the automotive manufacturing industry,” said John Evans, faculty member in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. “These well-educated graduates will be ready to join the workforce and fill positions that support production processes and improve assembly.”

Coursework is taken during students’ junior and senior years and includes the study of lean manufacturing systems, vehicle trends and technologies, vehicle dynamics and data decision making using Six Sigma. The Six Sigma strategy identifies and removes the causes of defects and errors in manufacturing and business processes.

Participating students can earn course credit for involvement in student vehicle teams, such as Formula SAE and Baja SAE, which are part of Auburn’s War Eagle Motor Sports program. Aside from the design process, the teams conduct planning and manufacturing tasks utilized when introducing a new product to the consumer industrial market.

“The teams apply this kind of classroom training to real life by challenging students to design, build and test the performance of their vehicle in a competitive environment,” said Peter Jones, faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and academic advisor for Auburn’s Baja and Formula SAE teams.

Additionally, a master’s degree program in automotive engineering and manufacturing will soon offer a structured course of study and further research opportunities related to automotive engineering fields.

“From the basics of mechanics governing vehicle performance to the history of automotive manufacturing, students will be educated to better coordinate manufacturing practices as we continue to see advances in automotive design and technology here at home in Alabama and far across the globe,” said Evans.

During the 2009-2010 academic year, the college plans to send a student group to Korea to interact with automotive industry professionals working with Kia on an international stage.

Contact: Sally Credille, src0007@auburn.edu, (334) 844-3447, or
Charles Martin, marticd@auburn.edu, (334) 844-9986