If you want to build a technical career in the automotive industry, picking the right automotive college or university to study mechanical engineering is the first step. The best degree programs don’t just teach you the technical skills you need to enter the industry, but give you the chance to build your business knowledge, take part in extra-curricular competitions and get relevant work experience.
As well as internships, some colleges offer co-op programs, where you rotate a term of college with a term doing fully-paid work.
These are 10 of the best schools for engineering programs.
Kettering University – Flint, MI
This STEM specialist college has to be a serious contender for anyone considering a career as an automotive engineer.
Their bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering stands out for:
- Concentration in Mechanical Engineering
- Consistently rated number 1 among non-PhD granting universities by U.S. News & World Report
- 5 co-op terms, with placements at some of the biggest car manufacturers: Chrysler, Daimler Trucks, Honda, Trelleborg Automotive
They also provide a focused Masters of Science in Automotive Engineering, including electives in fuel cell science, occupant safety and financial management.
Clemson University – Clemson, SC
Becoming a Clemson “Tiger” can get your career off to a roaring start, as it has strong mechanical engineering programs with an emphasis on creativity, innovation and business skills at all levels.
The school is rated number 21 among all public universities by U.S. News & World Report. Mechanical Engineering majors who want to specialize in the auto sector should get involved in the high performing Formula and Baja Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) competition teams.
Their specialist automotive department offers Masters of Science and PhDs:
- Technical electives include specialisms in vehicle manufacturing and materials, vehicle performance, powertrains and drivelines, and electronics
- Business courses are compulsory, with the aim to prepare graduates to take on high-level managerial roles in top companies
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI
This school builds on a 140-year history of mechanical engineering teaching and research. Mechanical engineering students benefit from opportunities to:
- Take courses in cutting edge emerging areas like energy and environment and biomechanics
- Get involved in the Solar Car and Formula SAE racing teams
- Choose from a variety of internship and co-ops
- Take part in summer research programs
Michigan Technical University – Houghton, MI
The Mitten State continues its domination of this list with Michigan Tech’s outstanding Engineering department, which has ranked in the top 13 nationwide for the last 29 years.
Mechanical Engineering undergraduates are drawn here by:
- Industry funded capstone projects during senior year
- Teams in Clean Snowmobile, Baja, Formula SAE and EcoCAR competitions
- Specialist advanced automotive engine laboratory
- Ability to top-up to Masters level with only one year’s extra study
Purdue University Indianapolis – Indianapolis, IA
Purdue’s College of Engineering is one of the largest in the country with an interdisciplinary ethos, which gives its students the chance to pursue a broad course of study. The college is ranked in the top 15 nationally by U.S News & World Report at graduate and undergraduate levels.
Some of the biggest plus points for Mechanical Engineering majors are:
- Solar Car, Formula SAE racing and EcoCAR teams
- Two large satellite research labs
- Internships and co-ops with companies such as Honda
Texas A & M University – College Station, TX
Currently rated 10th by U.S News & World Report for its Mechanical Engineering bachelor’s degree, TAMU’s Dwight Look College of Engineering is the biggest on-campus department.
In 2010, TAMU graduates came second in a The Wall Street Journal poll which asked major companies, non-profits and government bodies to rate colleges according whose alumni were considered best prepared and most able to succeed in the working world.
Mechanical Engineering majors also have opportunities to:
- Join the Formula SAE racing team
- Minor in business
- Take a fast track program to get a BS and MS in just 5 years
University of California, Davis – Davis, CA
This school’s engineering program is known for its strong practical focus, with opportunities to develop cutting-edge projects.
UC Davisprovides their mechanical engineering students with:
- Student start-up center for budding entrepreneurs
- Design clinic where students can advise on real-world industry projects
- Ability to focus studies on automotive-industry relevant fields
Georgia Institute of Technology – Atlanta, GA
In 2012, Georgia Tech’s George W Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering overhauled its curriculum to offer exceptional flexibility. Students can now choose to take a multidisciplinary path or concentrate in one specialized area. This program is now ranked 3rd nationally by U.S News & World Report.
Mechanical Engineering majors can take part in:
- Formula SAE, Baja, Solar Car, HyTech and Wreck Racing teams
- Undergraduate research programs
- Co-op scheme, ranked 10th in the country
California Tech – Pasadena, CA
Cal Tech is another college with an interdisciplinary focus, developed in response to new technical developments within Mechanical Engineering. The college is ranked at the world’s top university by Times Higher Education.
Michigan State – East Lansing, MI
Spartans who choose to major in Mechanical Engineering experience a curriculum with a strong focus on design-build-test projects. This includes:
- 4 intensive design courses
- Industry sponsored capstone course
- Optional humanitarian projects
- Baja, Formula SAE and Solar Car racing teams
Which program features do you think are most important for prospective automotive engineers?