The Degrees That Built the BMW I3

Auto manufacturer BMW recently revealed two revolutionary electric car designs to be made available to the public in the coming years. The BMW i3 and i8, unlike previous electric models, have been conceived of as green cars from the beginning (as opposed to just switching an electric motor for a traditional one). What kind of education goes into designing such a machine?

car

Automotive Engineering Technology

Most students looking to get into car design may want to consider earning a degree in automotive engineering technology. These programs, available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, cover the entire spectrum of skills needed for building a typical automobile. Students here learn about topics like metallurgy, manufacturing processes and design specifications. Often these programs include opportunities for internships and other interactions with industry professionals, so students can make helpful early connections for post-college employment.

Electrical Engineering

While programs in automotive engineering technology will help students understand the nuts and bolts behind any car, so to speak, electric cars require some more extensive knowledge in other areas. Those interested in designing them could enroll in a degree program in electrical engineering. This is a common graduate and undergraduate program of study found at many schools where students learn about circuits, wiring, signal processing and more. A solid understanding of the concepts of electrical engineering could lead you not only to helping design an engine like those BMW's new cars require, but also to working on projects like developing communications or power systems.

Alternative and Renewable Energy

If you're just as interested in the philosophy behind the electric car as the specifications of designing it, you could take up a degree program in alternative and renewable energy. Although this isn't an especially common university offering yet, several schools do provide education focused on keeping energy green. Topics like fuel cells are covered here, as are hydroelectrical, geothermal and solar-power technologies and more. For designing an electric car, a degree in this field is probably just as valuable as one in electrical engineering, but if you'd like to continue your work in renewable energy after your time in the automotive industry, this degree could give you an edge.

Marketing

This may not be the most obvious academic path to mention, but if you've got a passion for electric cars but no engineering aptitude, maybe you should consider a path in marketing, advertising or another business-oriented program. After all, our culture's still at a place where electric cars are far from the norm; many motorists would consider them a 'hard sell.' No doubt BMW employs an ambitious sales staff that works to combat the public perception that electric cars aren't functional or even desirable. That career path could be a way for you to do green work but still develop marketable skills in a non-scientific discipline. If your school of choice has such programs, you could even take elective classes in alternative and renewable energy to better know that which you plan on marketing.

Interested in going green? Start small with these dorm room tips.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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