Automotive Engineering: Graduate Area of Work

As a graduate engineer working in the automotive industry, you must meet customer expectations as well as technical performance.
The gradsingapore Team

The automotive industry in Singapore is hardly in its fledging days, yet not as developed as the local public transportation and infrastructure sector. This trend is, however, seeing a change in recent days as the Singapore government promotes efforts to develop the industry beyond its current capacity.

Classified locally as an emerging industry, the motor industry in Singapore is populated by global automotive companies that are looking to found headquarters in the South-East Asia region in order to carry out HQ activities, regional distribution, as well as R&D.

This list includes major Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and Tier 1 automotive suppliers like Bosch, Delphi, and Continental. Singapore – with its position as an excellent trading hub that possesses a first-rate financial assistance and a ready supply of skilled labour from electronics, infocommunications, and mechanical engineering – is therefore a prime location for these organisations.

In response to this, the automotive engineering sector in Singapore is set to see a growth in development and career opportunities.

The responsibilities expected of employees working in the automotive engineering industry do not stop at just designing and manufacturing vehicles; but may also include a variety of people-oriented roles, such as distribution, marketing, sales, after-sales, regional procurement, and even compliance with local regulatory requirements.

Trends and developments in the automotive industry

The current automotive industry is heading in the direction of electronics and software systems, where manual checks of automotive parts are becoming less common and in-vehicle technology (e.g. car audio, “carputers”, Bluetooth technology, etc.) is on the rise.

This being a global trend, the automotive industry in Singapore, too, is affected; and it is reflected in the increase of demand for software and hardware engineering expertise.

Another significant development within the industry is the increase in environmental concerns, which leads to efforts to reduce carbon emissions. This usually starts in R&D, such as attempts at boosting fuel efficiency by manipulating the vehicle’s weight through its materials.

In these instances, then, automotive engineering must work to strike a proper balance between standard safety measures, efficient energy consumption, and environmental responsibility.

What it's like working in automotive engineering

While other engineering industries may possess long lead-in times, automotive engineering projects tend to end in a few years instead, due to the commoditised nature of the industry.

A car generally takes approximately four to five years to produce – from initial conception to the final product – and requires the collaboration of a large team of engineers in order to manufacture the complex parts and systems used in the vehicle. For this reason, you will need to be a good team worker if you intend to enter this area of work.

As an automotive engineer, you will also be expected to tend to matters that go beyond engineering and technical functions. It is within your job scope to communicate with various other people-oriented roles, such as suppliers, colleagues, and dealers in order to sort out monetary, management, and HR matters.

At other times, you may be requested to deal with vendors and third-party suppliers so as to educate them about the product.

Getting a graduate job in automotive engineering

The common entry point into this area of job is through graduate training schemes, which are particularly useful in that they give the graduates the chance to try out various different positions before they finally settle for a permanent position.

It is also important to note that this industry is populated by more than just automotive engineers – most companies also look forward to employing graduates from other engineering disciplines. Most graduate engineers may later opt to pursue a more specialised career path, where they are either absorbed into a specialist technical role or a people-oriented/management position.

Character-wise, enthusiasm, proactive adaptability, and an updated knowledge of the sector are key traits that will put you in good stead. With this industry being such a fast-paced one, you will always need to be on your toes, and be ready to react to every change that takes place.

The automotive industry is essentially an oligopoly, so technical developments by the few large companies at the top will cause notable repercussions that may affect most companies within the sector.

The highlights of a career in automotive engineering

One of the best experiences within this industry is the opportunity to work and learn from engineers across a variety of areas of study, since you will be working in large teams focused on one goal. You will also get the satisfaction of seeing creative automotive designs being incorporated into the engineering of cars, and the exhilaration of working in an industry that is always rapidly evolving.

The fast pace of the industry and the high expectations that come with your product’s brand may, however, sometimes put quite a quantity of pressure on the employees. Yet despite the pressure, job progression can sometimes be ironically slow, so you will need to harness quite a bit of patience and persistence while working in this field.

The automotive industry seeks graduates in

  • Aerospace/aeronautical engineering
  • Automotive engineering
  • Chemical engineering
  • Control engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Electronic engineering
  • Environmental engineering
  • Instruments engineering
  • Manufacturing
  • Materials engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Physics
  • Power systems
  • Software engineering
  • Telecommunications