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Training car engineers as dev't tool experts seen as a must

Posted: 04 Dec 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:automotive engineer  Synopsys  development tool  embedded software 

Universities and colleges need to churn out automotive engineers that are equipped with adequate knowledge on how to use new and emerging development tools. The reason behind this is the remarkable rise in the electronic content of automotive systems, which includes both hardware and software.

In 2013, the Aberdeen group conducted a survey that highlighted embedded software development trends in automotive. For example, 18 per cent of the respondents indicated that the greater use of embedded software will be the most significant change to the automotive industry within the coming years.

When asked "What are you doing to achieve required fuel efficiency and emission standards?," more than 40 per cent of respondents at OEM and tier 1 companies highlighted the greater reliance on embedded software to control systems.

The direction towards autonomous driving is putting even more emphasis on the use of embedded software.

IHS, a global information firm, highlighted at an ADAS conference the following requirements as the key technology needs for autonomous driving: sensors, software to interpret sensor data, software and hardware enabling the control of the vehicle, and algorithms/software implementing the behaviour of a skilled driver.

Although there are technical challenges associated with these developments, everyone believes that they can be solved, but at what cost?

Here, I would like to focus specifically on the brain power required to solve and implement these systems.

Since 2012, the automotive industry has seen an increasing demand for automotive engineers. An article from Bloomberg on August 14, 2012 stated that the shelf life of an auto engineer looking for a job in Michigan was three days; that additional pay and bonuses were required and that automotive companies were recruiting across the entire country.

In addition, we should notice that when it comes to electronic hardware and software, the automotive industry needs to compete with a broader range of industries that are often perceived as more attractive (and hip) to the younger crowds of engineers hitting the labour market.

The trends highlighted above were reflected in a recent presentation I attended from General Motors stating that the gap in development for Electric/Electromechanical (E/E) architecture and implementation simply cannot be filled with more human power.

It also needs to be filled with better development methodologies and tools. For example, today the software architecture in a vehicle handles more than 200 software tasks and 500 bus signals; the hardware topology cover more than 60 electronic control units (ECU) and more than 10 serial data buses.

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