The application of new materials, lightweight structures, vehicle safety and environmental regulations, hybrid vehicles, energy systems such as fuel cells, intelligent control systems, telematics, human-machine interactions, global manufacturing logistics, etc. is changing the automotive industry into a complex interdisciplinary system. Rapid changes in technology and the increasing technological sophistication needed to maintain global competitiveness are causing the automotive industry to encourage its workforce to advance their knowledge, skills, and expertise through graduate-level education and training. For many engineers, this means education beyond the master's degree and, more specifically, in the niche or specialized areas of emerging technologies that can best be offered through doctoral programs. This will allow the engineers to acquire advanced knowledge, enabling them to become technical leaders and technology developers in their own companies. The automotive industry currently employs a large number of Ph.D.s, but the need for more Ph.D.s will grow as the industry develops advanced technologies for safer, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
The Ph.D. program in Automotive Systems Engineering is designed to meet the need of engineers who intend to follow a career of technical specialists and serve as technical leaders, innovators and research mentors. It is a 50 credit hour postgraduate program and can be pursued either on a full-time or a part-time basis. The classes are held in the evenings for the convenience of working engineers. The areas of specialization available in the program include materials and materials processing, energy systems and thermal management, dynamics and controls, power electronics, vehicle design, manufacturing and systems integration, and vehicle informatics and communication.