A typical new car has about 10 million lines of code—compared to 8 million in a commercial jet—controlling everything from the windshield wipers to the air-bag system.
As a result, there is an increasing demand for engineers who have the skills and knowledge required to develop new automobile software. Prof. Jim Freudenberg, director of Automotive Engineering and professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan, believes that the key is to educate students in cross-disciplinary projects where they learn to both develop algorithms in software and implement them on hardware (MathWorks, 2009).
Prof. Freudenberg’s Embedded Control Systems course (EECS 461), which is part of ISD’s Automotive Engineering degree, does exactly that. Students use the knowledge gained in eight laboratory exercises over the course of a semester to design a driving simulator to steer a mathematical vehicle model along a virtual road. The goal is to implement adaptive cruise control to maintain a certain distance between other virtual cars on the road.
Graduates of the Embedded Control Systems course have gone on to work for leading automakers and suppliers, semiconductor companies, appliance manufacturers, and aerospace companies.
Embedded control systems are also discussed in ISD’s Certificate in Emerging Automotive Technologies.