Automotive engineering

UT Announces Plan to Begin Automotive Engineering Concentration

In response to the growing importance of automotive manufacturing in the state of Tennessee, UT College of Engineering announced that it is developing a graduate-level automotive engineering concentration that will begin in the fall of 2016.

“This is an important milestone for both our university and our college,” said Wayne Davis, dean of the College of Engineering. “This provides us with the opportunity to play an even greater role in preparing students for the ever-changing workforce and solidifying our place in the state’s economic development.”

This map, made available by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, shows the location of industries and businesses in the state dedicated to automotive manufacturing or supply. The industry is present in 80 of the state’s 95 counties.

While many classes, both at the masters and doctoral level, will be housed in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineeringthe Department of Materials Science and Engineeringand the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science also plan to begin automotive-focused graduate-level concentrations.

In addition, significant prices in support of these concentrations will come from the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineeringamong other things, by spreading the impact of new offerings across the college.

“Obviously, this is not just about preparing our engineers for the workforce after graduation, but also a response to the major role the automotive industry plays in our state” , said Matthew Mench, head of the mechanical department. , aerospace and biomedical engineering. “As Tennessee’s flagship university, part of our mission is to help the state succeed.

“By serving both our students and our industries with this focus, we can better fulfill this mission.”

It is planned to include courses in the Haslam College of Commerce in concentration, while UT Chattanooga is also in talks to be part of the program.

The importance of the auto industry is underscored by a study conducted by the Brookings Institution, a Washington, DC think tank, which analyzed the auto production climate in Tennessee in 2013.

This study finds that the state’s share of motor vehicle manufacturing employment in North America, which held up through the Great Recession, is nearly equal to that of the rest of the South combined, and is in fact now well ahead of the Midwest, Canada and other parts of the United States.

In fact, with over 900 auto-related manufacturers, Tennessee trails only Mexico in North America.

The recent expansion of Alcoa’s facilities in Blount County to include a $300 million automotive production facility underscores the importance of the industry to the state and the need for knowledge within this industry.

The Brookings report, titled “Drive! Moving Tennessee’s Automotive Sector Up the Value Chain” highlights some aspects of the auto industry in the state:

  • Statewide, 82,000 jobs are tied in some way to auto manufacturing.
  • Eighty of the state’s ninety-five counties have at least one automotive-related manufacturer.
  • Ongoing work on energy efficiency and design within the state bodes well for the future growth of the industry.

“As a state, we are well positioned as a leader in automotive manufacturing, and we have a number of alumni already working in this field across the state and surrounding areas. As a university, we need to ensure that we remain relevant to industry within the state,” Davis said.

The report specifically mentions “lightweight materials (especially carbon fiber)” as a key to future production, playing directly into one of the university and college’s strengths: advanced manufacturing.

A sign of this strength came when the university, along with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, was selected to serve as the lead institution for the Composites Institute (formerly known as the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, or IACMI), a $259 million research institute. spread across thirty-seven states, with a particular focus on reducing the cost of fiber composites. Professors and researchers from both institutions, along with many other partner universities and companies, began this effort in June.

“This directed effort to develop automotive engineering at UT is so timely and critical,” said Taylor Eighmy, Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement. “I look at our growing research and development relationships with Volkswagen, Nissan, General Motors, Ford and the automotive supply chain, I look at our new Institute of Composites and I see the focus on innovative automotive research and development at the ORNL and this new focus just makes sense.

By the Numbers: The Automotive Industry in Tennessee:

1—The state’s ranking in terms of automotive manufacturing strength and number of certified sites, per business equipment magazines and Area development magazine, respectively

3—The number of automotive original equipment manufacturers located in Tennessee:

  • General Motors–Spring Hill (Spring Hill)
  • Nissan North America (Smyrna and Decherd)
  • Volkswagen Group of America (Chattanooga)

76—The percentage of U.S. markets within a day’s drive of the state

85 – The percentage of counties in the state with automotive-related manufacturing

1,000—The number of auto suppliers in the state

100,000—Tennessians employed in automotive manufacturing jobs

6 billion – The annual payroll, in dollars, of the Tennessee auto industry


David Goddard (865-974-0683, [email protected])