An aerospace (or aeronautical) engineer, is someone who designs aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, missiles, and systems for national defense. In addition, they test prototypes to make sure 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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An aerospace engineer typically does the following:
An aerospace engineer 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.
Aerospace engineers work in offices, laboratories, or manufacturing environments for either private companies or the federal government.
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.
The different types of aerospace engineering programs are general aerospace engineering programs, aeronautical engineering programs and astronautical engineering programs.
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.
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.
"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 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.