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Demand for mechanical engineers rising as autonomous vehicles disrupt the transportation industry

"Autonomous vehicles are proving to be an attractive option as they can increase delivery capacity and keep costs down, while complying with the necessity for social distancing."Transportation in the next decade is poised to undergo a dramatic transformation with the mass deployment not only of electric vehicles but of autonomous transportation systems of all types. This is certain to create a demand for engineers versed in the new framework and capable of working on these types of vehicles and systems as well as the infrastructure needed to support them. 

The transportation industry was headed in this direction even before COVID-19 and the global pandemic has only accelerated the process. Consumers have switched in droves to e-commerce amid lockdowns and other social distancing measures. This shift in consumer behavior drives increased demand for delivery services, leaving delivery companies in need of increased operating capacity. Autonomous vehicles are proving to be an attractive option as they can increase delivery capacity and keep costs down, while complying with the necessity for social distancing. Even after the pandemic, the capacity and cost advantages of autonomous vehicles will remain, prompting their rapid adoption as the technology continues to mature.

Autonomous vehicles require a range of technologies such as special sensors and computer controls to ensure that the vehicles understand the surrounding environment and operate safely within it. This involves engineering, managing, and monitoring sensors and other systems, which requires relevant mechanical engineering and programming expertise. 

Purdue’s online Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering includes a curriculum in Transportation, Human-Machine Interaction, and Robotics to help train engineers to address these new challenges and develop solutions.

The evolving transportation industry is a career opportunity for mechanical engineers, not only to make a giant leap personally but also to be involved in building the increasingly autonomous vehicles, transportation systems, and infrastructure of the future. The online master's program in mechanical engineering from Purdue can help engineers leverage this opportunity.

Learn more about Purdue’s online Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering.