UM-Dearborn’s Automotive Systems Engineering master’s program was launched way back in 1996, and since then, it’s grown to become one of the College of Engineering and Computer Science’s most popular graduate programs — including being a big draw for international students. But automotive engineering is quickly becoming a much different discipline than it was 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago, says Mechanical Engineering Professor and program director Taehyun Shim. “We’re seeing the paradigm shifting from the internal combustion engine to electric-powered vehicles. And at the same time, we’re seeing a proliferation of electronics-based systems, whether it’s driver experience systems or autonomous driver assist technologies. So in order to serve our students better, we wanted to make some modifications to the program that would give them opportunities to learn about these compelling technologies,” Shim says.
So what’s new? For starters, the name. The new Automotive and Mobility Systems Engineering program name reflects the broader scope of today’s transportation engineering ecosystem. In addition, the areas of study have been reorganized to focus on four multi-disciplinary concentrations. The Vehicle Powertrain and Performance concentration emphasizes core vehicle technologies that are critical regardless of the propulsion method, like vehicle stability or energy management, with additional advanced coursework in combustion engines and electric batteries. The Vehicle Design and Manufacturing concentration gives students training in topics like manufacturing processes, materials, safety testing and human-computer interactions. Two more concentrations are a more direct response to the paradigm shifts Shim identifies above. The Vehicle Electrification concentration dives into the study of electric motors and batteries, as well as the expanding universe of electronic controls that are critical to today’s cars. Finally, the Intelligent Vehicles Systems concentration focuses on technologies critical to autonomous vehicles, including semi-autonomous driver assist technologies. There’s also a general concentration for students who want to experience courses from multiple areas.
Shim says this likely isn’t the end of the program’s evolution. In the coming years, he says they expect to add more coursework in emerging areas like vehicle cybersecurity, connected vehicle infrastructure, pedestrian-vehicle interactions and smartphone technologies. “I think what we’re seeing is that automotive engineering is no longer just a mechanical engineering-based field,” Shim says. “For example, we have very talented faculty in electrical and computer engineering who are working in machine learning or robotics or cybersecurity, all of which have direct applications to vehicle and mobility technologies. So we think this is an opportunity to be more collaborative across the college and make the program even more interdisciplinary.”
Are you interested in learning more about the new Master of Science in Automotive and Mobility Systems Engineering? You can request more information or apply today on the program page. Story by Lou Blouin.