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My two pence

2 years ago

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David Twohig | Engineer


15 July 2022

What do automotive engineers actually do? It’s a question I’ve been asked many times, and not just by my wife.

The honest answer is that, mostly, we make minor modifications to minor components. It’s a rare day indeed that a product design engineer gets to sit down at their (digital) drawing board, fire up a blank screen and draft out a new glamorous part like a delicate forged wishbone for a supercar, or a beautiful steering wheel for some luxury road-yacht. Most engineers, most of the time, are making tiny adjustments to relatively mundane components of the car – changes the customer will almost certainly never notice.

But even the smallest changes are far from simple. Even the most trivial modification involves verifications that might strike you as obsessive in their attention to the minutest detail.

So let’s drop down into the shoes of the typical engineer in a typical OEM. You are the responsible engineer or ‘product owner’ of the little key fob, card or token that opens the doors of your employer’s mid-range models. It’s a small part costing only a few dollars, euros, pounds, yen or won, even though it cost many millions in R&D, tooling and testing to create.

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