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GM helps high-school grads with career paths

Recent advancements in auto technology signal a need for more specialists in the industry

Published: May 10, 2015, 8:00 PM
Updated: May 13, 2015, 5:53 PM

computer aided design

As high-school graduates get set to head off on their career development streams, some of them are still unsure of what they want to do four or five years down the road. And those who think they do right now, will find a year or two down the road that their paths may have changed.

General Motors is trying to help some of them investigate future opportunities by asking employees from varied backgrounds and levels of education and experience to predict what they see as the automotive industry jobs to have in 2025.

One thing is certain - technology will continue to be a big factor in the auto industry and technology graduates will be in high-demand.

“Not many other industries can embrace the future so holistically,” said Gary Smyth, executive director, global research and development at General Motors. “We have battery chemists, electrical engineers, manufacturing experts, software developers and social media operators all in one industry, working at making our lives easier and more productive.”

And what will be most in demand?

Electrical engineers – Battery, hybrid and plug-in vehicles are becoming mainstream. As more customers try these alternatives, demand for people who can promote that quick progress will grow.

Alternative propulsion engineer – And outside of electrification, there are diesels and fuel cells that are going to need attention. Refining and developing new ways for cars to move will also drive job creation.

Analytics experts – There is so much data available and so few people who can interpret what needs to be interpreted in all the different areas that impact transportation. With smart data, the car and the driver will work together for a more efficient driving experience and analysts will need to know how the data can best help drivers.

Interaction designers - All those on-board systems need to not only work optimally but driver have to be able to use them without diverting their attention from the road ahead.

Autonomous driving engineer – seemingly contrary to the above, cars are destined to need less human interaction to navigate roads more safely, and that means sensor experts, radar developers and all sorts of engineers are going to be needed to make cars work most effectively with other road users and the traffic infrastructure.

Web programmer – A vehicle may not be a Smartphone, a tablet or eyeglasses or wrist-watch, but it will need to be an extension of those technologies to easily connect the vehicle and its occupants.

3D Printing engineer – But vehicles will remain mostly mechanical things and today’s 3D printing technology is already proving useful in creating parts mock-ups considerably quicker than even two years ago. Faster prototyping means quicker testing, which will eventually reduce development times to bring vehicles to market.

Industrial engineer – And following up on prototyping, production will also need to be more efficient and faster, but they also need to look at ways to reuse materials and resources. Sustainability will become increasingly more important in the mass-production of vehicles.

Sustainability integration expert – Already important environmentally friendly programs, such as zero garbage to landfills and alternative energy sources like wind and sun, are going to be more in demand as manufacturers look to leave less of a footprint on the Earth.

And last but not least are customer care experts – These are likely to be social media care experts, as evidenced in today’s trend toward direct interaction with companies and word of mouth spreading through internet social media portals more quickly than a nasty computer virus.