Mechanical engineers for aerospace companies?

In summary: I don't know. It depends on the offer. I'm starting to think that it's not a good idea to specialize in just one area. I think I should try to do a little bit of everything.In summary, you should take engineering classes now if you want to pursue a career in engineering, but you should also consider taking classes in other areas to broaden your spectrum.
  • #1
creepypasta13
375
0
I just got my BS in physics and am now taking 2 engineering classes: heat transfer and fluid mechanics. its only been a week so far, but I'm enjoying heat transfer a lot more than fluid mechanics. I want to take statics and dynamics in the future, since I liked doing those problems in my lower-div physics classes. I'm considering a MS or phD in mechanical engineering. I ultimately want to do modeling/computational work (since i would much rather do numerical analysis than experimental work) for an aerospace company/defense contractor doing work related to making weapons, tanks, and missiles. I may also consider just being a research scientist in academia. If I specialize in heat transfer/thermal analysis, what kind of stuff can I do for an aerospace company?

If I wish to switch to engineering, what's better: taking engineering classes and liking them, or working in industry full-time for a few years and then deciding to go into engineering?

as far as taking engineering classes to see if grad school in engineering is the right choice, I've heard various opinions, as some said its a good idea while others said its just a waste of time
 
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  • #2
anyone know?
 
  • #3
There is LOTS of thermal analysis done in aerospace. First of all, FEA is still not to a point where complete conjugate heat transfer is efficient. Because of that, heat transfer guys are very important. They come up with the heat transfer coefficients (and typically tables of coefficients) for various boundary conditions.

i.e. You might have a combustor that has a cycle temperature of 3000°F. Given the flow and temperature, you need to fairly accurately calculate the turbine inlet nozzle leading edge temperature to make sure it doesn't melt. OK, it's going to melt, how much impingment air needs to be bled off to cool it? Can we use some of that air to run through the turbine blades so they don't melt? etc, etc.

Heat transfer can lead itself into bearing design among other things.

As far as when to take classes. I would take them now. Get them out of the way otherwise you'll get busy at work and it'll just be a pain in the ***.
 
  • #4
minger said:
There is LOTS of thermal analysis done in aerospace. First of all, FEA is still not to a point where complete conjugate heat transfer is efficient. Because of that, heat transfer guys are very important. They come up with the heat transfer coefficients (and typically tables of coefficients) for various boundary conditions.

i.e. You might have a combustor that has a cycle temperature of 3000°F. Given the flow and temperature, you need to fairly accurately calculate the turbine inlet nozzle leading edge temperature to make sure it doesn't melt. OK, it's going to melt, how much impingment air needs to be bled off to cool it? Can we use some of that air to run through the turbine blades so they don't melt? etc, etc.

Heat transfer can lead itself into bearing design among other things.

As far as when to take classes. I would take them now. Get them out of the way otherwise you'll get busy at work and it'll just be a pain in the ***.

thanks for the response. you provided an example of how heat transfer is used for a combustor. So heat transfer used for combustors of tanks as well, in addition to weapons such as tanks and missiles, right?

Also, you said to take the engineering classes now. But what if i get offered a full-time job in the middle of the semester? Should i just reject that offer and take the classes? or vice-versa?
 
  • #5
creepypasta13 said:
Also, you said to take the engineering classes now. But what if i get offered a full-time job in the middle of the semester? Should i just reject that offer and take the classes? or vice-versa?

Depends on the offer.
 
  • #6
Heat transfer is used in almost every area of a missile and aircraft, ESPECIALLY high speed missiles and aircraft.
 
  • #7
minger said:
Depends on the offer.

i'm assuming that i should take the offer if its for an engineering position at a defense contractor. but what about if i get a offer that uses math/programming, but is not related to engineering? or i get an engineering offer that isn't related to ME or for the defense industry?

FredGarvin said:
Heat transfer is used in almost every area of a missile and aircraft, ESPECIALLY high speed missiles and aircraft.

great, that sounds exciting!
 
  • #8
creepypasta13 said:
i'm assuming that i should take the offer if its for an engineering position at a defense contractor. but what about if i get a offer that uses math/programming, but is not related to engineering? or i get an engineering offer that isn't related to ME or for the defense industry?

You would be surprised how feeble an offer from a defense contractor can be.

I mean, you really just need to establish what you want, what you're looking for, and what (if at all) you will settle for.

I was recently offered a position in a part of the country that I'd really like to live. However, the position was more of a maintenance position, with little design/analysis. The GS grade would have been great, the location was great, everything was great but the position. So I declined.

Each person is going to have their own weights and factors when considering a position. Coming straight out of college you have less bargaining power, so you're choices may be limited, but they're still there.
 
  • #9
minger said:
You would be surprised how feeble an offer from a defense contractor can be.

I mean, you really just need to establish what you want, what you're looking for, and what (if at all) you will settle for.

I was recently offered a position in a part of the country that I'd really like to live. However, the position was more of a maintenance position, with little design/analysis. The GS grade would have been great, the location was great, everything was great but the position. So I declined.

Each person is going to have their own weights and factors when considering a position. Coming straight out of college you have less bargaining power, so you're choices may be limited, but they're still there.

yeah, i really want to do engineering work (but absolutely not experimental) for a defense contractor or engineering company. But i know that's a lot to ask for with only a BS in math/physics. The interviews for jobs I've gotten didn't sound interesting at all: programming/analysis for consulting, econ/finance, and website design.

i'm just worried that taking more engineering classes still won't get me an engineering position, in which case I'll have to get an MS in engineering without a company reimbursing me for tuition
 
  • #10
You definitely need to get a masters or Ph.D in ME. I learned the hard way that a B.S. in physics won't qualify you for many engineering jobs. Someone with an engineering degree will simply have far more knowledge of topics such as heat transfer, control engineering, fluids, structures, etc.
 
  • #11
Brian_C said:
You definitely need to get a masters or Ph.D in ME. I learned the hard way that a B.S. in physics won't qualify you for many engineering jobs. Someone with an engineering degree will simply have far more knowledge of topics such as heat transfer, control engineering, fluids, structures, etc.

hmm, makes sense. I guess I'm just better off taking the classes and not wasting time applying for engineering position I have no chance at anyways. I guess i have to pay for the MS tuition instead of a company reimbursing it for me then...
 
  • #12
I recently landed a job at an aerospace company before getting terminated after working there for a little over a month due to a clearance issue. My interim was denied. Thus, my company let me go. I heard a lot of people get their interim denied, but still get granted the final clearance. Is this true for aerospace? Or does that still mean I will have a very hard time getting hired in aerospace/defense?

Anyways, for that job, I got some training with thermal analysis. At that company, they worked on missiles, but thermal analysis was used mostly just for analyzing the electronic components inside the missile. Very little analysis done on aeroheating of the missile.

Also, for most job listings and profiles I've seen on linkedin for thermal analysts at aerospace companies, it only seems that heat transfer is used for electronic components and a little bit for aeroheating and ablation. I'd much rather use it for the combustor, rocket nozzle section, warhead section of the missile, etc. Just not the electronic components. Is it common to see it used for those sections? Maybe I'm just not looking at the right jobs and engineers
 
  • #13
creepypasta13 said:
Anyways, for that job, I got some training with thermal analysis. At that company, they worked on missiles, but thermal analysis was used mostly just for analyzing the electronic components inside the missile. Very little analysis done on aeroheating of the missile.

Also, for most job listings and profiles I've seen on linkedin for thermal analysts at aerospace companies, it only seems that heat transfer is used for electronic components and a little bit for aeroheating and ablation. I'd much rather use it for the combustor, rocket nozzle section, warhead section of the missile, etc. Just not the electronic components. Is it common to see it used for those sections? Maybe I'm just not looking at the right jobs and engineers

That is probably because aerodynamic heating requires a lot more than just heat transfer knowledge, especially when you factor in ablation. You need to know quite a bit of fluid mechanics along with heat transfer to do those sorts of analyses, especially once you factor in ablation, which isn't even 100% understood. Models for ablation are still being developed, and it is a very active research area.

Combustors and rocket nozzles are certainly areas where heat transfer is important. Not so much the warhead though. There really is nothing in the warhead section that would get hot until you are detonating, and at that point, I doubt anyone cares how hot it gets as long as it takes down the target. As for those other parts, I would imagine you probably just didn't talk to the right people at your work, as they would be in a totally different department than the people doing electronic component cooling.
 
  • #14
boneh3ad said:
Combustors and rocket nozzles are certainly areas where heat transfer is important. Not so much the warhead though. There really is nothing in the warhead section that would get hot until you are detonating, and at that point, I doubt anyone cares how hot it gets as long as it takes down the target. As for those other parts, I would imagine you probably just didn't talk to the right people at your work, as they would be in a totally different department than the people doing electronic component cooling.

I see we've met before. Anyways, is it common to find positions at companies where they need thermal analysis for combustors and rocket nozzles? From what I heard, mostly propulsion guys but not thermal analysts do work there. Also, I heard that the large aerospace/defense companies are doing less work in propulsion anyways

At my previous work, our location just focused on the electronics and some aeroheating. The other locations did work on the warhead, rocket nozzle, etc, so I didn't get to see how thermal analysis was used for those
 
  • #15
creepypasta13 said:
From what I heard, mostly propulsion guys but not thermal analysts do work there.

Well the guys who do propulsion are certainly also well-versed in heat transfer, so who knows if they actually need anyone dedicated solely to heat transfer. I don't honestly remember from when I worked in propulsion.

creepypasta13 said:
Also, I heard that the large aerospace/defense companies are doing less work in propulsion anyways

That is true. For the most part, companies like GE, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney do the propulsion work for the major companies like Boeing and Lockheed (airframers). With small missiles, I don't know if they contract out their propulsion or do it in house, but I know that the propulsion was made separately from the body for larger missiles from the Tomahawk all the way up to the Trident.
 
  • #16
boneh3ad said:
With small missiles, I don't know if they contract out their propulsion or do it in house, but I know that the propulsion was made separately from the body for larger missiles from the Tomahawk all the way up to the Trident.

They don't contract their propulsion, typically the airframers will deal directly with a company who's specialty is small gas turbine engines. Most times, the small engines use centrifigual compressors, and employ techniques to keep packaging small that the 'Big 3' don't typically use.
 
  • #17
minger said:
They don't contract their propulsion, typically the airframers will deal directly with a company who's specialty is small gas turbine engines.

Maybe I am misreading it, but doesn't this sentence contradict itself?
 

Related to Mechanical engineers for aerospace companies?

1. What is the role of a mechanical engineer in an aerospace company?

A mechanical engineer in an aerospace company is responsible for designing, testing, and maintaining the mechanical components of aircraft and spacecraft. They work on various systems such as propulsion, structures, and control systems to ensure safe and efficient operation of the vehicles.

2. What skills are necessary for a mechanical engineer to work in the aerospace industry?

A mechanical engineer working in the aerospace industry must have a strong understanding of engineering principles, as well as knowledge of materials, thermodynamics, and control systems. They should also be proficient in computer-aided design (CAD) software and have strong problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

3. What types of projects do mechanical engineers in aerospace companies typically work on?

Mechanical engineers in aerospace companies work on a variety of projects, including designing and developing new aircraft or spacecraft, improving existing systems, and conducting research and testing on new technologies. They may also be involved in the maintenance and repair of aircraft and spacecraft.

4. Is a degree in mechanical engineering necessary to work for an aerospace company?

While a degree in mechanical engineering is typically required for a career in the aerospace industry, some companies may also consider candidates with a degree in a related field such as aerospace engineering or physics. However, a strong understanding of mechanical engineering principles and experience with CAD software is essential for this role.

5. What are some challenges that mechanical engineers face in the aerospace industry?

Mechanical engineers in the aerospace industry may face challenges such as strict regulations and safety standards, tight deadlines, and working with complex and advanced technologies. They may also need to collaborate with other engineers and specialists, requiring strong communication and teamwork skills.

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