Mathematics in Aerospace Engineering

  1. I'm planning on going into aerospace engineering when my wife finishes school. At the University of Minnesota, the only mathematics that are required for the program are 3 courses in calculus, and one course in linear algebra and differential equations. As I already have a degree and will have some extra slots to fill in the coming semesters I was thinking about taking extra mathematics. What areas of mathematics are most useful in aerospace engineering?
  2. jcsd
  3. Since computational fluid dynamics is one of the most important aspects of aerospace engineering, I would say that numerical solutions of partial differential equations would be atleast one of the most useful parts of mathematics.
  4. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    Yeah, I'd go with the partial differential equations, and particularly applied mathematics and numerical analysis, and anything to do with Finite Element Analysis, which is the basis of structural analysis and CFD - both hot areas now and in the future.

    Also - look for good courses on materials.
  5. So you would recommend more than just the required Into to Materials Science?
  6. Astronuc

    Staff: Mentor

    Yes, especially if there is a Mechanics of Materials. The basic intro to Material Science is way too basic, IMO.

    In grad school, I took advanced courses in High Temperature Materials, Corrosion, and Fracture Mechanics.

    I think in the Nuclear Engineering Forum in the thread on ROI of grad school, the three areas I emphasized are Structural Analysis (FEM or FEA), CFD and Materials. With a good grounding in those 3 areas, one will maximize opportunity and probably have a choice of jobs, or even better, job security!

    Also, I highly recommend joining a few engineering or technical socities as a student member. For Aerospace Engineering, I recommend AIAA and SAE. SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) has a group involved in materials. Then there is ASM International and TMS which have an inexpensive joint student membership. Societies provide networks to jobs and research opportunities, and open doors!
  7. FredGarvin

    FredGarvin 5,084
    Science Advisor

    For new aerospace folk, especially anyone vauguely interested in structures, materials classes are a must, but definitely look into courses that cover composites.
  8. enigma

    enigma 1,809
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Most specialized materials courses like that are saved for grad school, or senior year at the earliest. Definitely worth it if you have a free tech or aero elective come that time.

    To respond to the OP, I'd make sure you either take a course on numerical methods or at least make sure that they roll it into one of the other courses (mine was taught along with MATLAB and Pro-E in one course).
  9. Clausius2

    Clausius2 1,467
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    As far as I am concerned I would say take as more mathematics as possible. But what kind of mathematics?. Well, for undergraduate level you will avoid further problems if you have an STRONG background in Ordinary Differential Equations and Partial Differential Equations. These two are the keypoints of almost any study of engineering in an university. If you can deal with Matlab and coding some small simulations, the better.

    Unfortunately, when you go into the Ph.D. program, that's supposed to be as basic maths for you, and the requirements are centered into advanced analysis tools for those two areas, such as Asymptotic Analysis and Perturbation Theory (by the way these are going to be the main math tools of my thesis).
  10. Thanks guys. A few of you mentioned MATLab. I've been using Mathematica in my current math course. Is MATLab a similar product?
  11. enigma

    enigma 1,809
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Similar, yes.

    Mathematica is better for doing algebraic manipulations and calculations.
    Matlab is better for doing matrix and numerical computations.

    I've used both, and prefer Matlab. Mathematica does have its uses, though.
  12. Math is math honestly. I think once you hit Partial and Ordinary differential equations. (both are taught in 1 class here).. and you do something with Finite Element Analysis..
    move onto the applications of math.. here Engineering Statstics is a Stat380 course.. great for engineering productivity.. etc.. and take extra Mechanics of Materials, and so on types of classes.. math is nothing but a tool for an engineer.... youve got to be able to use that tool and do other things..
    im a mechanical engineer.. and im taking extra electives like Heat Engines, Internal Combustion Engines, Vibrations, etc.
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