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Aerospace Engineering major, is this the real deal?

  1. Jul 18, 2009 #1

    I am Nosayr Yassin, a 17 years old high school student living in Israel. I am highly interested in attending a U.S top ranked university. However, nothing intrigues me but Aerospace engineering major. I am kind of clueless now. Should I chase the dream or should I chase the money, which there is not plenty of if I go with aerospace.

    Plus, why do so few universities offer this major and does it have a future? If someone could please recommend this major or even not recommend it, that would be just great. Please note that I am in love with anything space related and is yet to be discovered. Medicine, law, or anything of that sort is not the right thing for me. Will this major fulfill my desire?

    On a quick note, I am now entering the 12th grade and I will be graduating on March, 2010. But I will get my "Israeli GPA" final scores on July. When is the best time to apply for a university such as MIT, Purdue, Princeton, Stanford?

    Thanks a lot,

    Nosayr Yassin
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 18, 2009 #2
    Go with software. That's where the money is. System Engineering (matlab, process control, signal processing, etc.) runs a good second, but the job market is more competitive there so you'd more need a master's. As a systems engineer you might get a job in flight simulation, weapons sim, for example. Also, I wouldn't hire an "Aerospace engineer" even if that was the closest description of what I was looking for, because the name is just too ambiguous. It could mean anything. That's the term I might use to describe some of these government paper-pushing "engineers" I've met that can't add two integers.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2009
  4. Jul 18, 2009 #3
    I would definitely recommend to peruse Aerospace engineering considering your strong interest and the fact that it is a very well paying job (in America at least, not sure about he market in Israel).

    However, I do recommend that you branch out a bit from only looking at "Top U.S ranked Universities" as your limiting the selection of schools you can go to. You do not have to go to a top ranked university to get a good degree in Aerospace engineering. I've heard some good things about the University of Maryland, although this university in particular is rather highly ranked (9th spot I believe) you should check it out.


    Oh and Aerospace engineers in America definitely make a very good salary, here are a couple examples.

  5. Jul 18, 2009 #4
    You'll notice that none of the job titles listed there are "Aerospace Engineer". My point is that getting a degree titled "Aerospace Engineering" is like getting a degree titled "Professional Person". The term "Aerospace Engineer" in the title of that article refers to different disciplines in aerospace engineering. "Aerospace engineer" is a general term. A resume' showing a degree in "Aerospace Engineering" would make me strongly suspect a watered-down education.
  6. Jul 18, 2009 #5

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    You must be kidding. Aerospace is amongst the toughest of engineering degrees.
  7. Jul 18, 2009 #6
    You'll also notice that in the qualifications area it says Aerospace engineering degree required for most of those jobs.

    The words "Physics degree" is also a general term, now does that mean I have a watered down education. The answer is no because in those four years I would have geared myself towards a particular subset (particle physics in my case to prepare for my Msc.), The OP will probably do the same kind of thing.

    Well apparently, to the good people of Workforceone a degree in Aerospace Engineering is worth 65,000-85,000 so they must not think it’s a watered-down education.
  8. Jul 18, 2009 #7


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    Are you serious ? AEs are simply highly specialized mechanical engineering. Also if you believe AE is too general and watered down, how about mechanical engineers? The ME degree is quite broad also isn't it?

    Listen, every degree is broad until you choose to specialize in a particular area.

    I can tell you first hand that an AE degree is quite a rigorous one and there is nothing watered down about it. If you were an employer you would lose many valuable assets with specialized knowledge...

    To Nosayr: If you have such a strong interest in space I suggest you take an aerospace engineering degree and focus on astronautics. OR you may want to consider a degree in engineering physics. Those guys also deal with space vehicles and such, however, they do so quite differently. I do not think you will be dissatisfied with either choice. But its your job to do research to find out exactly what they do.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2009
  9. Jul 18, 2009 #8
    How about space engineer?
  10. Jul 18, 2009 #9

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    While that is where aerospace got its start, there is a lot more to it than that now. There isn't a whole lot in common between good old mechanical engineering and aerospace engineers who specialize in trajectory planning, guidance, or navigation, for example.

    Aerospace engineering has a very broad discipline. A student has to choose a specialty within aerospace engineering nowadays -- and so do professionals who work in the field.

    Now what kind of watered down education is that? :rolleyes:

    (I'm an engineering physicist by education but am employed as an aerospace engineer.)
  11. Jul 18, 2009 #10


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    I hope that was good sarcasm because I do know an EP who only fies in private jets and makes a pretty penny. He takes his family on trips to europe and so forth.

    I also know an AE who takes trips to dubai on occasion and spends every weekend with his wife who lives in a Caribbean island.

    Oh and they both work within their field of interest currently.

    So you decide for yourself what kind of watered down education is that. :)
  12. Jul 18, 2009 #11
    Do what you think you like the most. If you're really good at your job you'll make the money. You don't want to be miserable in law or medicine if it's not for you. I'm sure you can make a good, if not great, salary if you're a good aerospace engineer. Also, it isn't like once you start out in engineering as a major you can't change it. If it's not what you think you want to do, then jump into another field. Engineers are always wanted, but if you want to work in the US and the economy is still the same way when you graduate, you'll want to have distinguished yourself. I don't know what the job prospects in Israel are, but the IDF is probably always looking for some AEs?
    If you want to make really good money you'll probably want to end up being a consultant or own your own firm.
  13. Jul 18, 2009 #12

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    Pure sarcasm. My education in applied & engineering physics was anything but a waste. It prepared me both for working as an engineer in general and specifically in aerospace. I love my job. Hmm. I usually love my job. I am procrastinating right now; I should be writing a proposal.

    One exception to the applicability of engineering physics to the aerospace field: Quantum mechanics. A&EP educatin involves a lot of quantum mechanics. Aero is pretty much applied classical physics. Most aerospace engineers are pretty much clueless when it comes to quantum mechanics. That said, the Hilbert spaces used through quantum mechanics are quite useful in aerospace engineering. For example, the most widely used approach for modeling complex gravity fields is via spherical harmonics.
  14. Jul 18, 2009 #13
    I think your best suited to go for Mechanical Engineering and then Specializing in Aerospace engineering. I think being an ME could give you more flexibility when the aerospace business is down.
  15. Jul 18, 2009 #14
    Oh thanks for this massive interest in my topic. I have to say that I am really pleased to hear such positive feedback about the career of my dreams.

    Now, those who learn aerospace engineering, what is the most suitable minor a person can choose for this major ?

    I am trying to incorporate business with AE, how is that possible? Any ideas?

    Also, is there a list for the universities that offer AE Major? Can you please tell me why so few offer this major as well?

    Thanks a lot!
  16. Jul 18, 2009 #15
  17. Jul 18, 2009 #16


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    Almost anything you want or anything that would help you accomplish your dreams. Business is fine. I have a colleague who is only doing AE to supplement his calling to a career in business.

    Minors are usually just a personal calling and a desire to learn about an additional subject...so anything you choose will be fine...
  18. Jul 18, 2009 #17
    I think that relatively few universities offer the major because it *is* so specialized. And when you get down to it, the need for electrical engineers dwarfs the need for aerospace engineers... so it's not surprising that electrical engineering is a more common major.

    As for minors... I agree with djeitnstine, they are a personal calling. No one cares about what you minor in. The individual classes may help you later on, but calling them a minor is no use. Study what you are interested in.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2009
  19. Jul 18, 2009 #18
    In my school, The Mechanical Engineering program offers a minor in Aerospace Engineering which iMO is the best combination. If your really interested, in opens your chances for a graduate degree in AE while still mantaining your options open with the ME degree.
  20. Jul 19, 2009 #19
    Can you please tell me when is the best time to apply for universities? Please read my first thread.
  21. Jul 19, 2009 #20


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    About now.
  22. Jul 19, 2009 #21


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    At some universities, AE is embedded in ME, so one might receive an ME with specialty in AE. The list provided by anubis01 shows a number of AE programs in the US. One should look for a program that emphasizes the AE discipline of interest, e.g. vehicle structure, propulsion, guidance, . . . .

    Taking some business courses would be advantageous.

    Suitable minors would include Mech E, Strucutural Eng, Eng. Phys and Materials Sci/Eng.

    I strongly recommend student membership in AIAA. Here is a page with the numerous technical committees:
    http://www.aiaa.org/content.cfm?pageid=192 [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  23. Jul 19, 2009 #22

    You haven't stated what your scores are (all research universities in the US require either the SAT or ACT), but if they're excellent you may also want to look into Georgia Tech and Caltech. Attached to Caltech is Jet Propulsion Lab which does a LOT of space research.
  24. Jul 20, 2009 #23

    I still haven't taken the SAT Test because I live in Israel. However, I have taken the Israeli version of SAT and the score is pretty decent.

    Do SAT's determine everything?
  25. Jul 22, 2009 #24
    Yes. The SAT will largely determine what caliber of school you can expect admission from. I'm sure the "Israel SAT" gives percentiles, and so for Caltech you'd most likely need to score in the 99th percentile, whereas Georgia Tech you would probably only need to score in the 90th or 95th.
  26. Jul 22, 2009 #25
    Are you saying that I can refrain from taking the SAT and convert my Israeli SAT to percentiles?! Please say yes.
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