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Aerospace Mechanical engineers for aerospace companies?

  1. Jan 11, 2010 #1
    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 alot 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
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 15, 2010 #2
    anyone know?
     
  4. Jan 15, 2010 #3

    minger

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    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 ***.
     
  5. Jan 19, 2010 #4
    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?
     
  6. Jan 19, 2010 #5

    minger

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    Depends on the offer.
     
  7. Jan 19, 2010 #6

    FredGarvin

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    Heat transfer is used in almost every area of a missile and aircraft, ESPECIALLY high speed missiles and aircraft.
     
  8. Jan 19, 2010 #7
    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 isnt related to ME or for the defense industry?

    great, that sounds exciting!
     
  9. Jan 20, 2010 #8

    minger

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    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.
     
  10. Jan 23, 2010 #9
    yeah, i really want to do engineering work (but absolutely not experimental) for a defense contractor or engineering company. But i know thats alot 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
     
  11. Jan 23, 2010 #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.
     
  12. Jan 23, 2010 #11
    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...
     
  13. Sep 7, 2010 #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 alot 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
     
  14. Sep 8, 2010 #13

    boneh3ad

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    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.
     
  15. Sep 8, 2010 #14
    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
     
  16. Sep 8, 2010 #15

    boneh3ad

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    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.

    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.
     
  17. Sep 9, 2010 #16

    minger

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    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.
     
  18. Sep 9, 2010 #17

    boneh3ad

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