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Engineering Is Aerospace Engineering for me?

  1. Oct 7, 2012 #1
    I'll try to keep this brief and concise, but I do have quite a bit to discuss so please bear with me. To give you a backstory, I am a sophomore at a university pursuing a BS, and eventually an MS, in aerospace engineering. I was undecided upon a major until the end of my senior year of high school when I came to the decision that I would like to create things and make a lasting impression on the world after I depart. During my physics course my teacher made us watch various Neil deGrasse Tyson videos which inspired me to choose aerospace engineering. Since then I have completed my first year in this field and will soon finish my second. However, I am starting to doubt my choice and need some guidance on what I should do.

    So far the workload has been alright. I'm not struggling, and although the courses can be a challenge, it's all stuff I can do. I've had no real risk of bad grades (in fact, the only course i've gotten below an A in so far was Calculus 2 and that was a B). I want to stress this so nobody thinks that my doubting is coming from an inability to do the work. Rather, my doubt stems from the fact that I don't believe I am as passionate in my degree as I should be. I have several friends that are very passionate within their field of study, to the extent of studying and learning new material on their own. I have no desire to do this as far as mathematics and physics go, and in fact I dread going to my calculus and physics courses. I'm an intelligent guy, or I at least like to tell myself that haha, so I have no issues wrapping my mind around any subject. That does not change the fact that new math concepts, or physics concepts, completely bore me. The things I find interesting are when these concepts are actually applied. I love space travel and the idea of building propulsion systems, but I cannot stand my physics and math courses. Anytime I try to search the internet for a detailed explanation of what an aerospace engineer does on a daily basis, it's always the same generic "they build rockets using programs to test new designs." I'm honestly scared that I will graduate with this degree, get a job, and find out that the daily tasks of an aerospace engineer, of which I am not actually sure what they really do, are tasks that I find absolutely boring. If anybody here has ever seen the movie "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" it is a great example of somebody truly interested and passionate in his field. When I brought up my doubts of my degree to my friend he had me watch this. It really discouraged me even further because this was a guy that wanted to be absorbed in his career at all times of the day, whereas I can barely tolerate a few hours of courses a day.

    Now I apologize for that massive wall of text, but if you managed to read through my novel you understand that I am doubting my choice of a degree. I'd like to tell you my goal after graduation, and possible alternatives to aerospace engineering, and see what you all have to say. I had come to decide that upon graduating with an aerospace engineering BS I would attend graduate school and further enhance my skills, specifically in propulsion systems, and get a masters. After this I would go for a job related to my degree, but preferably one related to either space craft (preferred job here would be SpaceX) or missiles (DoD, CIA, etc). I would work until I understood how my career worked and then I would hope to start my own company centered around building weapons (mainly missiles) and contracting to the military. This would be a dream for me and my ultimate goal. While I would still love to design and build everything, my plan would be to have plenty of engineers and scientists in various fields researching and developing for the company, while I mostly oversaw the work and did most of the actual business. This has led me to believe that maybe pursuing a business degree with a minor in a field of science would be a better option. The way my friend put it is that he feels like I want to be involved in science but not actually doing the number crunching. I think that accurately describes me. Now if I went that route, I would probably use my credits from 2 years of aerospace engineering to get close to already having a minor in aerospace engineering, and then finish with a major in business (business administration maybe?). I would still go past undergraduate and get an MBA though. Now this obviously sounds like a better idea as far as opening my own business that contracts to the military. However my only concern with this is that the minor in aerospace engineering, or a minor in any science if I were to just choose another, would not give me enough of an understanding to open this business, simply because it seems like if I went the MBA route, I would have to immediately start that business without prior experience, whereas the MS in aerospace engineering route would give me some time to work in that field.

    Any guidance or advice would be highly appreciated. I'm very concerned for my future and want to make sure that the career I settle on is something that I am very passionate in and that I would be constantly wanting to learn more about to the point of learning ahead of the rest of my class.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 7, 2012 #2


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    Do you want to be an aerospace engineer, or a business manager in an aerospace company?

    So you want to build weapons or weapons systems, or perhaps something more productive? Warhead delivery systems - air-to-surface or surface-to-surface have different requirements than surface to orbit.

    Does one want to contribute to the aerospace industry or a limited segment?

    The math and physics are part of the program for a degree in Aerospace Engineering. One could develop propulsion and delivery systems for satellites and remote sensing systems.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2012
  4. Oct 7, 2012 #3
    I want to be an aerospace engineer, but I lack the passion to do independent study or have a general interest in physics and calculus. I'm afraid that not being highly interested in those two fields will be a major handicap and ultimately cause me to hate my job.
  5. Oct 8, 2012 #4
    If you are not interested in physics and/or math, get out of aerospace engineering. That's not saying you could never work in the aerospace field. There is always things on the business side of things (sales and marketing, management, etc). That might be were you will be better suited.
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