What is a vehicle crash test engineer?
A vehicle crash test engineer is someone who uses maths and science principles to design and evaluate vehicle safety tests. When an automobile company designs a car (or if an already released vehicle needs to be re-assessed), vehicle crash test engineers design customised experiments to test the vehicle’s safety. Factors they test for include: how long the car takes to stop, the extent of damage on the vehicle, and the level of damage to the passengers (test dummies). Given how destructive crash tests are, the engineers design and run a number of computer simulations before performing an actual crash test. They can work with any vehicle: from cars to helicopters.
What are the responsibilities of a vehicle crash test engineer?
Day to day responsibilities include:
- Working with the manufacturing team to design safety experiments
- Utilising specialised software to conduct computer-based crash tests
- Placing sensors and test dummies in the car to ensure that the data is captured accurately during the crash test.
- Summarising the data and coming up with safety improvements for the production team.
What skills do I need to be a successful vehicle crash test engineer?
Firstly, technology proficiency is key. The expense of doing crash tests over and over again means many companies carry out simulated crash tests on the computer beforehand. While you’ll receive training for the specific software you’ll use on the job, it’s worth familiarising yourself with different software tools, such as computer-aided design (CAD).
Team working skills are also important. In this role, you’ll work with a number of different teams (manufacturing, design, marketing) to design safety experiments and troubleshoot any issues. You’ll need to communicate with these teams effectively to ensure that the vehicle can be released safely and on time.
Accuracy and attention to detail is also valuable. Making sure your data is accurate is vital for the vehicle’s safety, so you’ll need to make sure all your calculations are accurate and your sensors are positioned correctly.
How do I become a vehicle crash test engineer?
Many engineers start as a crash test technician (this role focuses more on maintenance) and work their way up. For this, you’ll need a Level three qualification (NVQ, advanced apprenticeship, certificate) in automotive engineering.
If you’d like to start off as an engineer, you’ll need a degree in engineering, automotive engineering, physics, or another related subject.