Technology in Cars

Vehicles on the road and on the racetrack today are nothing like what they used to be.

In the old days, you'd get into your car and it would smell like gasoline from the carburetor, you wouldn't have power steering so it was difficult to steer, obviously no navigation system, Bluetooth, USB, or AUX for your music, or anything like you experience today.


Cars were purpose built for one thing: driving.


While that's all well and good, change is important, and cars have definitely changed -- for the better.

Today we have a plethora of advanced driver technology systems, like you saw in the Advertisement above, that help make driving a much easier and enjoyable task.

What kinds of technology have you noticed in cars today?

Engine Management

It's not all about driver comfort! Cars today have become even more advanced when it comes to engine management. What does that mean?


Well if you remember when we talked about internal combustion, engines need 3 things to work: fuel, air, and spark. While it's a relatively simple process, that has been used for decades, engineers have found ways to make it more efficient with devices called Engine Control Units or ECU's. All modern cars today use them.

They are small computers with custom code that tell the engine what to do. It's connected to all the critical components in the engine and basically tells those components what to do based on it's current situation.

It will tell the fuel injectors how much fuel they should be supplying and at the same time communicate with the spark plugs to get them in sync. Making the 4-stroke internal combustion "ballet" as perfect as possible.

This technology is finely "tuned" by car manufacturers to get better fuel economy, reduce environmentally damaging pollution, and make the car more reliable, easy-to-use, and efficient for the driver.

When it comes to sports car racing and high performance driving, race teams and individuals will take these factory units out and replace them with their own custom or aftermarket ECUs that are set-up to be much more aggressive for their cars to be as fast as possible.

Case Study

Leena Gade

Leena Gade, an engineer and daughter of Indian immigrant parents, became the first female race engineer to ever win the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France in 2011.

Gade grew up in England with her 2 sisters in a working class family. She became interested in engineering at a young age, along with her sister, Teena. In their spare time, they would take household items, take them apart, and put them back together again – just to understand how they worked and functioned. Both sisters became enthralled with the wonders of Formula One racing, not as much with the sport itself, but amazed at what the cars themselves were capable of, which are technological marvels. Her interest in watching Formula One racing, as well as her natural curiosity into figuring out “how things work” led her to a education and career path in engineering.


Gade graduated from the University of Manchester in England with a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering, then became an engineer for Jaguar Cars in England. She then began working part-time for various race teams as an engineer, which has been a heavily male-dominated occupation in motorsports.


In 2007, Gade was hired by Audi’s racing team as an assistant, where she worked her way up to a full-time position as a race engineer, leading her team to 24 Hours of Le Mans race wins in 2011, 2012 and 2014. Gade became the first female race engineer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and won several other accolades for her accomplishments as an engineer, including

Leena Gade


So why was Leena Gade so successful? What attributes made her a great engineer and successful in life?

  • Dedication & passion – she worked her way up from an assistant to managing the race team for her car

  • Beyond her education and knowledge, she had a strong passion for motorsports.

  • She looked beyond the role being male dominated, and paved her own path to the top as one of the most well-known race engineers in the world.

Career Path & Opportunities

In The Automotive Industry









Career Opportunity Highlight

BMW North America Co-Op (Spartanburg, SC)

BMW North America

Spartanburg, South Carolina

  • Eligible to students who are full time in a 4 year degree program with a 3.0 GPA or higher, pursing a Bachelor’s of Science or Graduate degree, and have completed 3 semesters in that program

  • 3 semester rotation between full-time work and study, with responsibilities at BMW growing as the program continues, and the opportunity to travel and work at BMW’s facilities in Germany.

  • Co-ops available for many different roles:

    • Engineering, Manufacturing Support, Quality Management, Logistics, Procurement, Information Technology, Human Resources, Communications, and Finance and Controlling.