What does an Aerospace Engineer do?

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What is an Aerospace Engineer?

Aerospace engineers design aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, missiles, and systems for national defense. In addition, they test prototypes to make sure that they function according to design. They are employed primarily in analysis and design, manufacturing, industries that perform research and development, and the federal government.

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What does an Aerospace Engineer do?

Aerospace engineers typically do the following:

  • Direct and coordinate the design, manufacture, and testing of aircraft and aerospace products
  • Assess proposals for projects to determine if they are technically and financially feasible
  • Determine if proposed projects will result in safe aircraft and parts
  • Evaluate designs to see that the products meet engineering principles, customer requirements, and environmental challenges
  • Develop acceptance criteria for design methods, quality standards, sustainment after delivery, and completion dates
  • Ensure that projects meet quality standards
  • Inspect malfunctioning or damaged products to identify sources of problems and possible solutions.

Aerospace engineers may develop new technologies for use in aviation, defense systems, and spacecraft. They often specialize in areas such as aerodynamic fluid flow; structural design; guidance, navigation, and control; instrumentation and communication; robotics; or propulsion and combustion. They can specialize in designing different types of aerospace products, such as commercial and military airplanes and helicopters; remotely piloted aircraft and rotorcraft; spacecraft, including launch vehicles and satellites; and military missiles and rockets. They often become experts in one or more related fields: aerodynamics, thermodynamics, celestial mechanics, flight mechanics, propulsion, acoustics, and guidance and control systems.

How to become an Aerospace Engineer

Entry-level aerospace engineers usually need a bachelor's degree. High school students interested in studying aerospace engineering should take courses in chemistry, physics, and mathematics, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. Bachelor degree programs are designed to take four years and include classroom, laboratory, and field studies in subjects such as general engineering principles, propulsion, stability and control, structures, mechanics, and aerodynamics (which is the study of how air interacts with moving objects). Some colleges and universities offer cooperative programs, in partnership with industry, that give students practical experience while they complete their education. Cooperative programs and internships allow students to get valuable experience and to finance part of their education. At some universities, a student can enroll in a five-year program that leads to both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree upon completion. A graduate degree will allow an engineer to work as an instructor at a university or to do research and development.

What is the workplace of an Aerospace Engineer like?

Aerospace engineers work in offices, laboratories, or manufacturing environments for either private companies or the federal government.

External Reading

  • Aerospace Engineering Careers Still Flying High www.todaysengineer.org

    Despite the tough economy, despite the uncertainty, and despite the changing environment for the industry, these may very well be good times for aerospace engineers.

  • What Are The Different Types Of Aerospace Engineering Programs? www.wisegeek.com

    The different types of aerospace engineering programs are general aerospace engineering programs, aeronautical engineering programs and astronautical engineering programs.

  • The Average Starting Salaries For Aerospace Engineers everydaylife.globalpost.com

    Aerospace engineers design equipment such as missiles, planes, helicopters, satellites and spacecraft. While a bachelor's of science in aerospace engineering commands a high starting salary, the prospects for those with graduate degrees can be even better.

  • Do Aerospace Engineers Go To Space? everydaylife.globalpost.com

    Aerospace engineers design machines that fly, from missiles and airplanes to space shuttles and satellites. They do not, however, travel to space. Instead, they use computer models to simulate space flight.

  • Aerospace Engineer - John Connolly www.lmci.state.tx.us

    "When people learn what I do for a living, they say 'I want your job!'" laughs John Connolly, an engineer at the Johnson Space Center.

  • Aerospace Engineer UK nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk

    Aerospace engineers design, build and maintain aircraft and the parts and instruments that go into them. They also work at the forefront of technology on space vehicles and satellites.