First impressions can mean a lot. Last week I attended the SAE Congress in Detroit. Before even entering the exhibit hall or any of the technical sessions, what struck me most was the massive job fair taking place in the lobby.
Traffic was brisk among the more than 40 companies and concerns recruiting there—from Detroit area firms to the noticeable push by Volkswagen to staff its facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
While such activity is good for individual automotive engineers, that situation has a flip side for the industry. For instance, during a session on future powerplant developments, which heavily emphasized hybrid electric powertrains, more than one panel member noted the lack of engineers being graduated from U.S. universities, especially those with the skills needed to advance powertrain electrification.
As to how to address such problems, ideas mentioned included further cooperation with universities, increased interest in startup companies, use of advanced software development tools, and greater collaboration in industry.
We do indeed live in interesting times.
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