In an exclusive interview, we spoke to Friederike Philipsenburg, Vehicle Architecture Engineer at Ford Motor Company, a FISITA Corporate Member.

Tell us about your current role at Ford, what are you focusing on?
I started my career with Ford a year ago as a Vehicle Architecture Engineer, responsible for the driver´s visibility and new technologies regarding vision on B-cars and Commercial Vehicles. Today I am working in Innovation Management, where I am investigating new advanced vehicle concepts.

Did you always want to be an automotive engineer/what inspired you?
Ever since I was a little girl, I loved cars and I was sure that one day I would work in the field of automotive engineering. As a young girl, I had the chance to attend several family days at the Ford Product Development Center and I was offered a wider understanding of the automotive industry during the so-called Girls Days, which I loved participating in. The possibility to create, shape and define future vehicles is the most inspiring motivation I could dream of. Being able to work in a global team in different work fields makes your everyday life exciting and interesting. Nowadays young people have a great chance to develop as an automotive engineer - I highly recommend taking this path!

In 3 words how do you see the current automotive engineering industry? 

  • Exciting: there are a lot of major changes in the automotive industry like electrification, autonomous driving and vehicle connectivity.
  • Challenging: these major changes result in an increased number of variants and therefore in a growing engineering effort, which must be handled by highly-skilled engineers - male and female!
  • Motivating: the mobility of the future will be more flexible and more individual. We are sure that mobility of the future must focus strongly on the customer’s/user´s needs. Working on these themes is inspiring and encouraging.

Read the full interview with Friederike here.

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Tips from leading industry figures

Chris Mason, CEO, FISITA

If you’re lucky enough to be considering your career options and you’re looking at the automotive sector, I’d highly recommend taking a closer look. The automotive sector is undergoing a transformation more exciting than its original inception as it becomes the mobility sector of tomorrow. Your skills could contribute to this evolution, in the same way, that Henry Ford’s did all those years ago. As technologies collide within this exciting space, you could become an innovation leader in any number of areas as cars become autonomous, connected platforms supporting the personal mobility of your generation and beyond. Here at FISITA, we ask one question of you ‘where will you take us next?’

Dan Nicholson, VP  Global Propulsion Systems, General Motors / FISITA President 2016-2018

The automotive industry offers some of the most dynamic and challenging careers and this is also one of the most competitive. To be successful my quick advice is to not look for shortcuts but instead, do the hard work. This alone will help set you apart from the many who try to get there the “easy way”, and it will show. In addition, aggressively build your network. Interconnectivity is everywhere and it certainly goes together with careers and making your personal brand known so that you are at the top of the list to be considered for opportunities.  Lastly,  go for the opportunities when they present themselves. When it comes to being hired, your extracurricular activities on your resume stand a good chance of giving you the edge over your competitor. Stay positive and good luck!

Paul Mascarenas, OBE, FISITA President 2014-2016

Since the pioneering days of our industry, there’s probably never been a more exciting time to be an automotive engineer.  There's so much happening; from sustainability to advanced safety systems, autonomy, and next-generation mobility, engineers of all disciplines have the opportunity to contribute in a way that will have a significant impact on society and be personally rewarding.  FISITA offers a number of programmes to help students and young engineers get started in automotive engineering, so come and get involved and good luck in your future career!

Prof. Adrian Clenci, President SIAR, Romania / Director of the Department Automobiles and Transport University of Pitesti, Romania

Automotive Engineering is a wonderful profession. It is thought-provoking, very challenging, dynamic and complex. Its result is mobility which is the ultimate expression of freedom and I don’t think we can find something else more dear to us than freedom. Now, I believe that Automotive Engineering is at a turning point. Multi- and inter-disciplinary skills are needed in order to cope with the challenges of this profession. Students, you are expected to solve the future problems of the industry/society. So, get involved! Do not just wait for things to happen, be part of the change we need in the world. Sustainable mobility should not be just a slogan/line. As a professor, I expect my students to be self-aware, dynamic, open-minded, autonomous - in other words, to know what their role is and to take action. I urge my students to dream, think, explore, plan and work towards achieving their ideals. In the end, all that counts is what we really did with our life. So, make it count.

Dr. Luděk Hynčík, FISITA VP Education 2016-2018 / Director, New Technologies - Research Centre / Associate Professor, Faculty of Applied Sciences, University of West Bohemia, Czech Republic 

Working at a university research centre in relation to the automotive industry allows me to gain excellent experience from contacts with the automotive industry. This motivates me to open new challenges and joint projects in the automotive field. The automotive field is not just about cars, it is also the driver and passengers as well as the areas of biomechanics and safety, which makes the research life highly multidisciplinary and exciting.

Dr. Karl Siebertz, Head of External Alliances, Europe, Ford Research & Advanced Engineering 

Starting a new job is the result of a decision process, which goes in two directions. The company selects the candidate, but also the candidate selects the company. Now they need to get along.  

1. Motivation

  • Do I like this job? (task, people, environment)
  • Can I be the person, that I want to be?
  • Is there enough room to move, when I develop new skills and interests

2. Demand

  • What is the long-term demand for this type of work?
  • Does it pay for the rent?

3. Qualification

  • Do the job requirements fit my education?
  • Do I as a person fulfill the requirements of the job? (mentally, physically, work-life balance)

When the three aspects come together in the right way, there is a high chance of a good life in business. After being 22 years in the same company, I can retrospectively say, that it has been the right decision for me.“

Join the FISITA International Engineering Community to find out more, network and engage with students, academia and industry


FISITA Support for Students

FISITA has a range of initiatives and events for students and aspiring engineers right through to industry executives who have been in the profession for years. Get involved with our Discussion Forum, apply for the Travel Bursary or submit your abstract for the Student Congress at FISITA 2020 World Congress, taking place in Prague, Czech Republic, between 14-18 September 2020.  

Through FIEC, FISITA will open up opportunities for students and young engineers to progress and have access to people and information that they may not otherwise have had access to. Sign up now!

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