Ford Motor Company is not only one of the most recognized brands in the world, they also have a long, rich history of innovation – beginning with founder Henry Ford’s 161 patents to the 20% improvement in fuel efficiency and 15% reduced greenhouse gases in their EcoBoost® engine today.
And where there is innovation, there are engineers.
In our first “Where the Engineering Jobs Are (USA)” article, we were surprised to learn just how strong the demand for both electrical and mechanical engineers was in Livonia, MI (home of Ford’s Livonia Transmission Plant, among other things). And in June, Ford announced they would increase their hiring by 36%, targeting engineers and computer workers specifically.
To learn more about what an engineering career at Ford Motor Company looks like (and how to land a job there), we interviewed Laura Kurtz, Manager of US Recruiting and David Filipe, Director for Transmission and Driveline Engineering (based in Livonia, MI) at Ford Motor Company.
What engineering disciplines, skills and experience levels are in demand at Ford Motor Company?
“Ford is hiring engineers across many functional areas. Engineers are not just a Product Development need – they are needed in Manufacturing, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering and Purchasing in the Supplier Technical Assistance area.
We are hiring both experienced and inexperienced engineers. Right now we’re also looking particularly for people with computer science, acoustics, and hybrid technology degrees and experience.”
“The hybrid area is a great example of the systems engineering within our technologies… we’re getting more and more into set-up bundle technologies.
[Beyond Mechanical and Electrical engineering] “Systems integration and knowledge of control systems are good skill sets we actively look for in students.”
How many engineers does Ford plan to hire this year?
In 2013, “Ford is hiring 3,000 employees, including experienced hires, college students, as well as summer internships.
We’re on our way to meeting that target. We’ve hired slightly over 2200 employees as of last week, so we’re doing well. Of that 3,000, the vast majority are technical positions in the different functional areas.
This is the highest hiring volume Ford has had in over a decade. And we anticipate the hiring volumes to remain constant in 2014.”
What makes Ford a unique career experience for engineers?
“Ford offers great development opportunities for all employees – whether you are an experienced engineer or a new college graduate, you will have an opportunity to have a one-on-one discussion with your supervisor to discuss your development. An individualized plan with development actions will be created and may include classroom training, online training and mentoring.
Our other focus at Ford is Creating Leaders at All Levels.
We want to make sure that people recognize they can be a leader at whatever level they’re at.”
“I’ve been with Ford Powertrain for over 20 years and this is the first time I’ve seen Ford really try to establish itself as a technology leader. We are offering ‘power of choice’ in our powertrain – we offer the customer hybrid, diesel, gasoline engine –options involving many different technologies.
There are just so many opportunities as an engineer to work on all of these different technologies at some point. And as a global company we can leverage scale and make these technologies affordable to our customers.
It’s just a tremendous time period right now; we’re doing so much and working on very challenging technical systems… as well as delivering leadership in fuel economy and emissions. Engineers that come into Ford have so many opportunities and such a wide variety of projects they can work on and gain expertise in.
The other thing about Ford, we are global. And there are plenty of opportunities for our team members to have jobs across the globe. Ford has common vehicles and common platforms; our strategy is to be a clear leader in each of our markets globally.
Plenty of our team members have rotational assignments around the world. So we’re always looking for people interested in those global opportunities.”
How has the refocus on low-emission and alternative fuels changed the kind of engineer Ford is looking for?
“We are looking at some of the emerging technologies and identifying niche areas where we have specific hiring needs. Hybrid technology is one such area and we are seeking experienced candidates who have worked in that space or have an interest.
We’re seeing also a lot of hiring in information technology. Cars are becoming so much more sophisticated. Information technology isn’t confined to the MyFord Touch® system (Ford’s in-dash navigation and entertainment system), either. Computer science grads have a place at Ford Motor Company in so many areas, including Product Development.”
“We’re also looking for people who have more of an environmental engineering background as well – they’ve been adding some good value to the projects that they’ve come on board with so far. This type of area is so important, and individuals with a little more specialization can help us get these vehicles to be leaders in the field – and the customer is seeing that within Ford.
[For example] what we’ve done with our EcoBoost engines… we’ve downsized our engines but still deliver great torque.”
Does Ford typically recruit from a set of specific engineering programs/ schools?
“We have an established relationship with about 50 colleges and universities – these are long-standing relationships we’ve developed over the years. At these schools, we have executive sponsors, do classroom presentations/lectures and information sessions. We’re also involved in the more traditional type of recruiting such as career fairs.
However, students who do not attend one of our schools but are interested in Ford opportunities can apply online at Ford Careers for consideration.”
“That includes schools like Drexel University – I received both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Drexel. Originally from Philadelphia, I moved after graduation for my first job at Ford motor company when I was 25.
We look for individuals who really demonstrate their engineering prowess. We like to look for people that work well within teams. We also look for engineers who have been a part of good projects through extracurricular programs or organizations. An example would be like the SAE Formula SAE® Series or other vehicle development events.”
What advice can you give a near-graduate on how to ‘get noticed’ in the applicant pool?
“We look for students who have a genuine interest in our industry, people who have a passion for designing and engineering great vehicles. If a student indicates they really have a passion for automobiles, this will get our attention.”
“We’re primarily focused on mechanical engineers, electrical engineers – but the additional skill sets we are increasingly looking for include controls and systems engineering. Going back to what I was saying earlier, we are putting together more and more technologies that are getting bundled together. It is really important that we have engineers who understand how these technologies can best be integrated into systems.
Our goal is to offer value to the customer with good quality at an affordable price.”
What advice do you have for young engineers weighing their career options?
“The best advice we can give is to look for a company that’s aligned to your passion. If you have a real deep interest in what that company’s products and services are, you’ll have a more satisfying career.
Also be sure to look for a company that’s going to offer developmental opportunities and challenging work assignments.”
“For me it’s most important to choose a place where you get the opportunities. The opportunities are really going to be around the ability to contribute – Ford definitely offers that. You can see how you contributed to whatever subsystem you were working on driving down the road everyday.
Can you develop and get greater experience?
Can you make an impact and contribute?
Can you always continue to learn?
The last piece – you want to have fun while you’re doing it. At Ford you can work on the truck side of the business, car side, Ford racing, hybrid technologies – there are just so many great opportunities to build a career doing something you enjoy.”
For more information and to stay connected with Ford:
- Ford Careers
- Ford Careers on Twitter
- Ford Careers on Facebook
- Engineering Jobs at Ford Motor Company
Ford provides valuable information about how to approach a job search, ways to improve yourself as a candidate and your resume, among many other things.