Contributed by Mike Gromosiak, Chief Engineer, Mobile Application Engineering, The Timken Company
Every day, Timken products keep the world in motion, including countless motor vehicles equipped with Timken® bearings. And while our goal is to build stronger friction management solutions, we also have a responsibility to keep the wheels turning in the minds of the next generation of automotive engineers and maintenance professionals.
Timken has amassed a wealth of engineering knowledge over more than a century and believes that sharing this knowledge helps build a future workforce capable of delivering more efficient, effective technologies. Whether it is sparking young imaginations or providing aspiring auto techs with the resources they need to succeed, we are striving to set the industry up for continued excellence.
From improving drivetrain performance to making cars more aerodynamic to researching possible new fuels, auto engineers enable us to reach the places we want to go. According to Recruiter.com, the overall job outlook for automotive engineering careers has been positive since 2004, while the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates strong career prospects for manufacturing engineers who will play key roles in improving the performance of hybrid and electric cars. Across all industries, the Bureau projects 9% growth for mechanical engineering careers between 2016 and 2026.
Meanwhile, as the number of motor vehicles in use continues to rise, more automotive technicians and mechanics will be needed to perform basic maintenance. Employment is expected to grow 6% between 2016 and 2026 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics—about as fast as the average for all occupations. Whether qualified applicants obtain their knowledge through education or experience, job opportunities should be very good for the foreseeable future says the Bureau.
A Car Adventure
Creating educational experiences is one way that Timken encourages the next generation of auto enthusiasts to pursue their dreams, including hands-on learning that introduces adolescents to engineering concepts.
Recently, the Great Lakes Science Center (GLSC) in Cleveland, Ohio, hosted a new exhibit that drives at the heart of curiosity by exploring the science and engineering that make vehicles go. “Vroom! A Car Adventure” opened in March and continued through Labor Day, giving nearly 70,000 attendees the opportunity to take a glimpse under the hood at how automobiles can take them from point A to point B and all the stops in between.
For its part, Timken played a key role in the development of the exhibit, with much of our bearing technology on display to explain how vehicles can move from gear to gear more easily and quietly than ever before. And while entertaining visitors was a special privilege, our aim was to help STEM come alive in the minds of children who can become tomorrow’s critical thinkers and problem solvers.
Future mechanics get their start at the Great Lakes Science Center where auto engineering comes to life
From swapping out engine parts to learning how autonomous vehicles can become the future of driving, there was something for everyone who visited Vroom! to enjoy. And by understanding how bearings make it possible to move the biggest objects with ease, guests of all ages left with greater sense of the role engineers play in moving our world forward.
I encourage you to check out “Vroom!” online and to consider ways that your company can share its knowledge with local communities. Together as manufacturers, we can bring attention to a range of rewarding career paths that are sure to be in demand decades from now.
Timken bearing technology was on display at “Vroom!” to help youngsters visualize the different aspects of car design and servicing.
Training for Techs
Whether the first day of school or first day on the job, learning is a lifelong pursuit and that is why Timken offers technical training to newly minted auto service pros (or even experienced mechanics who want to brush up on the basics).
The Timken Tech Series Training Program is a free online resource for light and commercial vehicles that can help entry-level employees stand out as experts. Developed by certified technicians and Timken engineers, program topics include bearings, lubricants, seals and much more. To date, students from 52 countries have completed the program while over 100 technical schools across the U.S. and Canada have made Timken training part of their curriculum.
Auto pros can also access Timken Tech Tips to learn how to pack a roller bearing with grease, replace cups and cones or assess parts for damage. Bulletins are free to download and provide step-by-step instruction for installing wheel ends, adjusting bearings and inspecting hub assemblies—everything there is to know about proper vehicle maintenance.
Timken has designed and developed wheel end solutions for over a century and today works closely with global automotive leaders and commercial fleet owners to balance power and efficiency in their driveline systems. Timken Tricks of the Trade videos capture the best of this knowledge and are another valuable resource for technicians who want to maximize vehicle performance and reliability. There are videos for light and commercial vehicle training that can answer the most frequently asked bearing questions.
Know-how that helps pros do the job right can minimize comebacks and inspire customer confidence. For those who work for a team, at the counter or in their own shop, ongoing training can fuel their success. Timken has even created a video to help shop owners explain to customers the importance of using quality parts in their vehicles.
For every bearing challenge Timken solves, there is equal satisfaction in connecting a young person to their life’s passion. Learning initiatives like Vroom! remind us of the importance of inspiring children to develop an interest in science and technology so that we can accelerate innovation for future generations. At the same time, we must develop the tools they need to fine-tune their skills.
As a new decade approaches, the demand for auto specialists is as strong as ever, and by engaging tomorrow’s experts, we can shift excitement for engineering into high gear. From the classroom to the shop floor, we can all help to ensure a thriving industry.