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Help making decision on what to study to work on spacecraft

  1. Apr 7, 2015 #1
    I need help picking the best route to a careers to do with propulsion systems in space and launch vehicles. Initially, I would have pick the obvious course for this which is aerospace engineering, which most jobs want as basic requirement. But now I understand that the electronics course at this university that I'm going to is more associated with space technology. Now I'm going to University of Surrey and I have two offers for both electronic engineering and aerospace engineering. The electronic engineering course offer more to do with spacecraft and having access to the facilities that deals with spacecraft where as the aerospace course not so much happens with spacecraft until masters. There is a masters course that deals with space systems separately but when I ask them about doing that course with an aerospace degree they where very vague about it, saying it possible but less change of getting in against people with an electronics degree.
    So I'm asking is there anyone who has either in the aerospace industry working on spacecraft or launch systems or someone who has study these courses at the University of Surrey and tell me how they are in terms of astronautical engineering how they are? I have been to the open day, talk to people there but it still very vague. Would an employer care if I had an electronics degree specializing space systems rather than a mechanical aerospace degree? sorry for any grammatical or spelling errors and mile long sentences.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 7, 2015 #2

    donpacino

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    Spacecraft have a lot of mechanical aspects as well as electrical aspects. As a result there is a WIDE variety of engineering disciplines that work on them. So what do you want to do with the spacecraft in particular?
    If you want to do propulsion systems there will be the mechanical design, thermal design, fluid layout, control techniques, electronics to implement the controls, etc
     
  4. Apr 7, 2015 #3
    I understand that, but for some reason it sounds like the electronics course is offering more of those things to do with spacecraft at lease I assume. It must do because they have classes on mission design, propulsion, structure and mechanisms. This sounds like something that should be aerospace course but is in the electronics course. I want to know can I study this and still have a chance with jobs similar to http://www.spacex.com/careers/position/6942 [Broken] for example.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  5. Apr 7, 2015 #4

    donpacino

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    that jobs posting is 100% for a mechanical position. If your electronics major offers courses on structures and propulsion and your aerospace/mechanical program doesn't, then I would rethink going to that school.

    That being said, I think you are misreading/understanding what that electronics and aerospace program entails.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  6. Apr 7, 2015 #5
    I mean if I'm not understanding(which I think I'm not understanding) then what do those courses entail then? what does an propulsion, structure and mechanisms classes entail on an electronic course then? I really don't know. The course structure is here: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/undergraduate/electronic-engineering-space-systems. Like I said I have been to the university, it the best place in the UK for this type of stuff but I cloud not get I clear answer on these problems. If there is anyone who done this course could you tell me if it's worth doing. Thank you for your reply.
     
  7. Apr 7, 2015 #6

    donpacino

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    ok. first off that looks like a very good EE program.

    Like i said in one of my previous posts there is a lot that goes into spacecraft design. The EE aspect is only one small part of it.

    I do see that there is a structure and mechanisms class offered in your later years, however that is not the empshesis of this course, and therefore it most likely will not be your strength. If you want to deal primarily in the STRUCTURE of the spacecraft you may want to consider other options. I will be back in one hour and will elaborate
     
  8. Apr 7, 2015 #7
    thank you :)
     
  9. Apr 7, 2015 #8

    donpacino

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    http://www.surrey.ac.uk/undergraduate/aerospace-engineering

    so above is the link to the aerospace program you were talking about (I think). There are space classes available, however fewer are listed. This either means there are less classes offered (due to the programe being smaller or crosslisting) or they simply arent listed on the website. Now as far as taking classes. Most programs will allow you to take classes offered by other majors providing you meet the requirements.

    that brings me to my next point
    the below is extracted from the space structures research group at the college. http://www.surrey.ac.uk/ssc/research/index.htm

    Astrodynamics The study of the dynamics of spacecraft. This subject includes mission analysis, satellite orbital motions; spacecraft attitude, guidance, navigation and control and estimation.
    Autonomy & Robotics (STAR Lab) Autonomy & modelling, visual navigation, modern control theories, robot-soil interaction and biomimetic mechanisms, with applications to various space systems including rovers, manipulators, drills and penetrators.
    Control Systems Design and implementation of control algorithms for a variety of industries, including robotics, aerospace and animation. The group has experience in the design of hardware and mechatronic systems and actuators based on electromagnetic levitation.
    On Board Data Handling FPGAs, hardware accelerated compression and signal processing.
    Environments & Instrumentation Space science, magnetospheric models, radiation effects on electronics.
    Plasma Dynamics Applied plasma physics research, particularly development of novel plasma thruster technologies for small spacecraft.
    Propulsion Bipropellant engines, solar thermal, green propellants.
    Space Vehicle Control Group Debris removal mission and concepts, CMGs and inertial actuation, deorbit sails, solar sails, spherical air-bearing testbed design, UAV flight control systems for quadrotors, helicopters and tailsitters.
    Spacecraft Structures, Materials and Mechanisms Spacecraft microvibrations, multifunctional and stable structures, electronics for space applications, validation of FEM.

    Astrodynamics: This can be done by aerospace or electrical engineering. That being said electrical will typically have less experince with the dynamics and Both can be equal depending on classes taken
    Autonomy & Robotics (STAR Lab) Very similar to above. electrical will have more experience with the actual hardware and software implementations.
    Control Systems same as above
    On Board Data Handling: electrical
    Environments & Instrumentation: depends
    Plasma Dynamics: no idea
    Propulsion: aerospace for the actual propulsion, electrical for the controlling hardware
    Space Vehicle Control Group: equal if classes are taken. again ee might lack in dynamics
    Spacecraft Structures, Materials and Mechanisms: aerospace
     
  10. Apr 7, 2015 #9

    donpacino

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    as you can see it kind of depends on what you want to do. typically something like controls is a field that split between the two, with EEs being better at the implantation, but not knowing the platforms or dynamics. anything structual or mechanical goes to the aerospace, anything electrical goes to the EEs.


    That being said, this EE program is strongly based on space systems, so im sure you would get the exposure to the dynamics
    so similar to what I said before, what do you want to do withspacecraft???

    that EE program looks good, if you want to do anything with GNC or electronics, going with EE would be a good choice.
    What you wont get with that EE program is the strong mechanical/structural analysis. That being said, there are MANY MANY systems/GNC engineers with EE backrounds, as it is an interdisciplinary field.

    so as an ee you might get to do guidance work and look at how your communication system will interface with the base system, or look at where u want the spacecraft to fly, or how you want the spacecraft to fly. Then determining the amount of thrust you need is a gray area between the two disciplines.. But determining what thrust will be generated by the rocket, and how to generate that thrust will be out of your element (note you could move to that field as an ee, anything is possible).
     
  11. Apr 7, 2015 #10
    Thank you for taking the time to helping me. My end propulsion in space and launch vehicle. So its looking to be mechanical course for this one. One again thankfully for your help. Sorry for not replying earlier having problems with my machine.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2015
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