DETROIT – If Dustin Hoffman were hanging around the SAE World Congress here, wondering what career path to take, Shawn Slusser, vice president-Automotive Business, Infineon Technologies NA Corp. would have one word for him, and it would not be “plastics.”

In fact, it would be two words: “high voltage.”

“There are not enough people out there in high voltage,” Slusser says, meaning there are not enough engineers who understand the high-voltage, high-power electronics systems necessary for a growing number of hybrid and dedicated electric vehicles in development.

Just as vehicles and propulsion systems are changing dramatically, Slusser and his mates on the “Electronics in the Green Space” panel say engineers and their education must change.

Young engineers today still are too highly focused on a single discipline, such as mechanical or electrical engineering. Tomorrow’s students should be trained to take a more holistic, analytical view that combines mechanical, electrical and environmental engineering, the panelists say.

They also recommend young engineers learn to apply their skills in using social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, to collaborate and leverage new technologies in the future.

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dwinter@wardsauto.com