The manufacturing of rockets, missiles, aircraft and spacecraft depends on the assistance of professionals known as aerospace engineers. They are involved in the design and analysis of new products and aerospace technologies are developed under their supervision. Aerospace engineering usually develops expertise in a specific field, including guidance systems, thermodynamics and aerodynamics. Aspiring aerospace professionals are expected to have an accredited college degree.
Associate in Arts – Aerospace Engineering
Aerospace engineering associate degree program concentrate on design and development of aerospace technology, including aircraft, missiles and spacecraft. Graduates from this two-year college program can transfer to a four-year college program. Individuals who are successful in the field possess skills in analysis and research, and they are able to conceptualize new technologies.
Students who want to apply for admission to an undergraduate aerospace program are expected to hold a General Educational Development (GED) or high school diploma; they are also required to submit standardized test scores and academic transcripts from any previous school.
AA in Aerospace Engineering Coursework
The program curriculum covers the thermal, propulsion and mechanical requirements of aerospace vehicles and projectiles. Students are required to take basic sciences overview courses.
•Introduction to Aerospace Engineering
Bachelor of Science – Aerospace Engineering
This four-year college program in aerospace engineering covers the analysis, operation and design of aircraft and spacecraft. Students can choose a specialization in astronautics or aeronautics. Aeronautics focuses on the construction and design aspects of aircraft, while astronautics covers the development of spacecraft. Graduates are mainly employed in transportation engineering, spacecraft engineering, space-based telecommunications, space exploration, and commercial or military aircraft engineering.
BS in Aerospace Engineering Coursework
College professors lecture on aerospace theories, practices and fundamentals. The school core curriculum is designing aeronautical vehicles. Courses can include:
•Introduction to Aerospace Design
•Guidance and Control
•Aerodynamics and Flight Performance
Master of Science – Aerospace Engineering
Graduates can assume leadership roles in the aerospace industry or choose to pursue continued education in a doctoral degree program by completing a master degree program in aerospace engineering. Students may become adept at creating preliminary designs of aerospace vehicles and conducting of flight vehicle analysis. They can choose to concentrate on areas such as nondestructive testing, aerospace structures, computational fluid dynamics, propulsion and aerodynamics. Other degree titles are Master of Aerospace Engineering and Master of Science in Aerospace Administration.
Potential graduate students need to possess bachelor degrees in engineering, physical science, aerospace engineering, or closely related fields. Admission prerequisites for master degree programs are relatively more competitive than those for undergraduate degree programs with Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score and a minimum grade point average (GPA) demanded by some schools. Academic transcripts from any previous schools are also required to be submitted, along with a personal essay and recommendation letters.
MS in Aerospace Engineering Coursework
College instructors lecture on the global structural matrices, energy methods, element stiffness matrices, and formulation of equivalent loads. A research-based thesis project is completed by students on a specialized aerospace topic. Courses can include:
•Space Vehicle Design
•High Speed Aircraft
•Aerospace Vehicle Design
•Flight Mechanics and Controls
•Aerodynamics and Fluid Mechanics
•Advanced Aerospace Engineering
Popular Career Options
An advanced college degree is required by employers for leadership positions in the aerospace industry. Aerospace engineers choose to specialize in a particular scientific or technology field, such as missiles, commercial aircraft, spacecraft, celestial mechanics, or aerodynamics. Career opportunities include:
•Field Service Engineer
•Aerospace Component Engineer
•Fluid Dynamics Manager
•Aeronautical Research Engineer
•Aerospace Systems Engineer for Vehicle Systems
•Aerospace Design Engineer
Doctor of Philosophy – Aerospace Engineering
It is possible to tailor aerospace engineering doctoral programs in accordance with a student’s career goals. Students gain in-depth understanding of aerospace technology, theory and practical application, with the research-based program tailored to meet the needs of students looking to enhance their perception of aerospace engineering technology. Graduates may specialize in areas such as aeroelasticity and structural dynamics, or systems design and optimization.
The admission process relating to a doctoral degree program is extremely competitive with aspiring students required to possess a master degree in engineering, physical science, mechanical engineering, or related fields. Students are also required to submit personal essays, recommendation letters and academic transcripts from any previous schools.
PhD in Aerospace Engineering Coursework
Scholarly dissertations contributing original research to the field are also included in the requirements of graduate schools. It takes two to three years to complete the program curriculum. Courses can include:
•Dissertation Preparation and Research
•Propulsion and Aerodynamics
•Materials and Structures
•Control and Dynamics
•Aerospace Engineering Research
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
In May 2008, aerospace engineers earned an average annual salary of $92,520 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Favorable job growth is projected for aerospace engineers over the next ten years.