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Aerospace option cancelled, what now?

  1. Jul 21, 2012 #1
    I am in school for Mechanical Engineering and they offer a concentration in aerospace where instead of fluid mechanics you take aerodynamics and instead of applied thermo you take propulsion. Also the second required lab is replaced with an aerospace and propulsion lab as well as all the electives I would take would be related to aerospace (aircraft performance/aero structures/etc.) but I just received an email yesterday that the aerodynamics class I was signed up for in the fall was cancelled because there were not enough people registered.

    I am a little frustrated with it for a couple of reasons but I'll keep that out of this thread for now as I am just seeking advice on what I should do. I was really liking the idea of just a concentration because if I had a hard time finding a job in that industry I could always look to ME jobs as well. There is another school about 2-2.5 hours away from where I live that offers an aerospace engineering degree, but would it be harder to find ME jobs if I needed to with that degree? Plus, if I transferred there, it would cost much more as right now I'm at a relatively local university that I can commute to without having to pay rent and such so I am keeping my cost of school very low.

    Also, I was hoping to pursue a Masters in AE after obtaining my BSME that is offered online by the school that I was just talking about. This scares me more now because instead of having a decent intro into AE, I now will not have aerodynamics or propulsion. Is it a horrible idea to pursue a masters without having at least an introduction into the subject?

    I really hope I can get the class back, but for now I'm going to assume I can't and figure out what to do next. Thanks for the advice!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 21, 2012 #2
    IMO, I would stick with the BSME and then pursue the graduate degree in Aero if it is truly your calling. Don't worry about not having propulsion and aerodynamics. A) They are not that difficult to self-study and B) the concepts are fundamentally the same as those learned in thermo and fluids. If you study thermo and fluids well, you should be able to be dropped into a propulsion or aero class without missing a beat.

    As far as job marketability is concerned, I personally like this idea of BSME and then MS-aero. I know that you can get into many aero jobs with only a BSME but I am doubtful that you can get into as many ME jobs with a BS aero. The BSME is simply more versatile because it is more general.

    My advice would be to stay where you're at, save money, get the BSME and be sure to kick a$$ in all of your classes. But that's just my opinion. Also: Is there a graduate level aero course offered at your school? If so, use one of your electives (assuming you have to take those) to take the grad level course. If you show enough initiative, they should not have a problem letting you into it.

    Also, I did my BSME and then my MSME (neither in aero) and hold an aerospace engineering position.
  4. Jul 21, 2012 #3
    Thanks for the advice. My school does actually offer aero graduate level courses, and I do like that idea of taking one as an undergrad. Although aerodynamics and propulsion will not be able to be fulfilled, they will still offer the undergrad electives like flight vehicle performance/aero structures. I am still worried about taking fluids instead this fall though because I have heard bad things about the professors that teach it and the book they teach from. I guess I can suck it up and just be prepared to dedicate a lot of time to self studying from other resources.

    I do have one more question. I am planning on taking intro to applied mathmatics in the spring to see how I like it and if I do then making applied math my minor. Is it a good idea to minor in applied math as far as graduate AE courses might go and how it looks for getting a job in the industry? Because it will make it so that my planned last year at school being almost solely my senior project will now be clouded with other courses so if it really isn't a big deal I probably will not pursue it. Although I do believe I would really enjoy the courses. Thanks again for your advice.
  5. Jul 21, 2012 #4
    Bad teachers abound and universities are no exception. My fluids teacher was not so great either, mostly because of the language barrier, and in part due to laziness on his behalf. I then had him again as my graduate fluids professor. Doesn't matter. The most valuable thing you can learn in college is how to teach yourself a subject. Supplement with additional resources: texts, lectures, videos. The internet as made things much easier in this regard.

    One my better professors told us once "It doesn't matter if I am the best lecturer in the world, which I am not, and you are the best listeners in the world, which you are not; lectures only cover 5 percent, at best, of a subject. This rest is up to you and your text."

    As for the math minor: Don't do a minor just for the sake of saying the you have a minor. I don't think it really helps that much in the long run. When someone tells me that they have their BSME, it's already implied that they have taken a bunch of math. But on the other hand, I 100% encourage you to take more math courses than are required for your degree. What ever classes you are required to take, more can only help! To be a good engineer, you should have strong math skills. Many engineers get by without them are don't require them for the positions they've taken. But more math will not ever hurt and can only help. So if you are really motivated to take on the additional maths anyway, then might as well grab the minor while you're at it.

    If interested, a lovely math book that I highly recommend is "Advanced Engineering Mathematics" by Michael Greenburg. Link to Amazon. It is just the right combination of rigor and practicality IMO. And it is also a pleasure to read. You might not be ready for it now, but if you have taken Calculus (differential and integral) then you are ready. It can be a great supplement to course on diff EQs, linear algebra, PDEs, complex variables, etc.
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