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Need Help - A step towards Aerospace Engineering

  1. Jun 18, 2006 #1
    I have completed my High school junior year recently. I have selected Aerospace Engineering as my career. So, I hope that based upon their own experience, someone will help me to know what things to take into consideration during the following years and specially this year, which will be my senior year.
    Also, I need some info related to colleges entrance etc.
    Is there any info that u wanna share, which u think u missed to take care of during your time?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 19, 2006 #2


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    The fact is you won't be doing anything aerospace-specific until your junior year of college. The first two years of college will be pretty similar to other engineering majors (Civil, Mechanical, Aerospace, Systems?, Industrial?): general electives, english, math, physics, etc. In high school, you just have to make sure to take as much physics and math as you can, through AP Physics and AP Calc. Also, consider advanced english, it will help you in technical writing classes and college english later.

    I originally was an aerospace major back in the day, but decided to change to mechanical after my sophomore year in university due to broader career options. Fortunately, up to that point the two majors were exactly the same (and a semester afterward actually).

    Anything in particular that has made you firmly decide on aero? You should probably keep you options fairly open until you have taken some more technical classes in college.

    My opinion...
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2006
  4. Jun 19, 2006 #3


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    Complementing Mech_Engineers comments, if one is serious about Aerospace Engineering then I recommend membership in AIAA (www.aiaa.org) which provides access to many resources in aeronautical and astronautical science and engineering.

    Also see -

    Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics: Foundation for the Future


    Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB).
    http://www7.nationalacademies.org/aseb/ [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  5. Jun 19, 2006 #4
    Hi Mech_Engineer,
    I'd have to say that this depends upon which program you enter. The program that I graduated from & teach for (Cal Poly, Pomona) starts students in the wind tunnel in the first quarter of freshman year, and winds-up with an intro to propulsion course (Otto cycle, Brayton cycle, and rocket equation) rounding out the last quarter of the freshman year. By mid sophomore year they are solving problems in aircraft performance and programming entire 3-DOF flight simulations.

    To add to Mech_Engineer's and Astronuc's comments, I would suggest that you make sure you have a solid grasp on trigonometry, that you have taken any pre-calculus, introductory calculus, and/or any analytic geometry courses that may be offered as part of the math curriculum in your high school. Any one of these courses will be a BIG headstart in the long road of math you will have to complete in order to earn your ARO degree.

    Good luck, keep the faith, stay focused, and above all remember what my old man told me about the value of an engineering education: "It is not that you are learning specific formulas, equations, or techniques that is valueable about an engineering education. Rather, you are learning how to teach yourself anything and figure anything out from first principles."

  6. Jun 24, 2006 #5
    I always wanted to go for flight related fields. So, when I decided the type of engineering, I selected aerospace engin. over others. I think that it is the field that can take me to space shuttles. Also, wages are good.
    However, by looking at the opportunities, I am thinking to do Aero + Mech.
    Is it beneficial?
    Basically, the reason to choose aero is just my big intentions!
    Thank you guys.
  7. Jun 24, 2006 #6
    Hi PhysMaster,
    You sound exactly like my niece, who is thinking about doing the same thing. I'll tell you the same thing I told her: It is a tradeoff. It can be beneficial, but it can also be a LOT of extra work. It also makes a difficult course of study (a single engineering curriculum) into a more difficult task. Both ARO and ME allow you to choose a path of speciality. Mine was stability & control systems and systems engineering. If you choose to specialize in structural analysis and design, the benefits of doing both ARO and ME would be small. If you choose to specialize in a more classically aero-focused area (controls, aerodynamics, astronautics/orbital mechanics) then the benefit of having a more generalized ME degree to go with it (with possibly a different focus area) would be large. But just imagine how much more difficult you have made your undergrad program by doing this!

    I will also point out another option to you, for purposes of comparision: Which do you think would be more valuable in the long run: Having two undergrad degree areas, or having a BS in one undergrad area and adding an MS degree to that afterwards? In many (but not all) cases, the BS+MS is seen as more valuable by potential employers. In addition, after completing the BS and starting work with an engineering employer, all of the large engineering companies will pay for some, if not all, of your MS tuition via a tuition reimbursement program.

    After all of the above considerations, I'd offer my personal recommendation as to suggest you focus on one undergrad area. If ARO is your passion, then embrace your passion and commit yourself to achieving a 4.0 GPA if you can. If you can do that, it might be better for your future than achieving a 3.0 in ARO and ME.

    Them's my thoughts...
  8. Jun 25, 2006 #7
    How about completing Aerospace master and then doing Mech just to increase the opportunities?
    I think that after completing MS in Aero, Mech will not be difficult because much of the required classes would get covered in aero.
    I am not committed to do Mech but I think I should do it in case of lack of opportunity in Aero!
  9. Jun 26, 2006 #8


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    I think you should get a bachelor's degree and then go into industry to get some experience and see what it is you are most interested in. I don't think these decisions can be effectively made until you have some real-world experience (or at least an internship or two). Knowing what is useful in industry and how skill sets are implemented can be invaluable. This also depends on figuring out where you are interested in going in your career; which is most effectively done with the help of some time in the grind...

    Doing a degree even though you are "not committed to it" is a bad idea IMO. This will probably lead to waning interest, and suffering grades. If you want, take some extra technical electives for a broader skill set. Getting a whole extra degree can be an expensive and time-consuming proposition. Plus, if you get a job in Mechanical engineering, what happens to the B.S. and M.S in Aero? You're more likely to get a job if you have good grades and a Masters in Aero than a half-hearted Bachelors in Mechanical "because you aren't committed."

    I'm just not sure that getting three degrees before a real job is the best idea before you have worked some to see what you can use most effectively. Getting so much education will take a lot of time, and be very expensive. You'll probably only use specific subjects you have learned about, and the rest of those 7-10 years in college will go down the drain... Learning how every system in an airplane works is an excellent idea (and can be a definite requisite for systems integration), but just because you know how to design every part doesn't mean you will (at least at the same time). Instead, you will be on a team designing one section of the fuselage, or the wing, or... you get the idea. Working on a team is the most important function of an engineer, especially for large projects like the aerospace industry works on.

    Have I made any sense here at all? Moral of this rambling: getting a job in industry for six months can save you from wasting 2-5 years in college.
  10. Jun 26, 2006 #9


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    IMO, getting 3 degrees and having no experince would have you labeled as a career student. I agree that you should look at getting a BS and then getting some real world experience. Then, when you are in a position to do it, go for an MS. This works well especially because you will have a much better idea as to what you really want in a professional career. Right now you only have guess work as to what you want to do. What you think might be your dream job may be your least favorite when it comes time to actually doing it.
  11. Jun 26, 2006 #10
    Does that mean I should just apply for 2-year college rather than 4-year which I always thought of? I get the point of what you guys are saying here. But, it is said that once you come out of study it is hard to go back. You know what I mean? The other stuff that goes on, tries to restrict you from going back to college. Like, the routine, life style, etc. Of course, a strong will can help me achieve my goal but, I fear of getting entangled into other difficulties. Bcoz I know people who decided to go for masters after doing some job for a year but always remained bachelors.
    Any idea over that?
  12. Jun 26, 2006 #11
    Hi again,
    For the most part, I agree with what Mech_E and Fred have said. First to answer your question: An engineering degree that is worth anything at all (esp. ARO) must come from a 4-year nationally ACCREDITED program. There are no 2-year accredited engineering programs that I know of. If you can afford doing all 4 of your years in the same, accredited program, that is certainly the best way to go. I see lots of students come into our ARO program after taking 2 years at a junior college. Because they are not already "in the ARO sequence" of classes, it is more difficult for them, and it often results in their degree taking more than 4 years total.

    Now on the other issues: Pay attention to what Mech_E, Fred, and myself are pointing out: FOCUS ON YOUR 4-YEAR DEGREE for now. Keep it "simple" (as simple as engineering can be) and just go for ARO. Believe me, there WILL be moments (usually in JR or SR year) where things seem SO difficult, and there is SO much work, you will question your initial decision to do this. It happens all the time (unless you are the type who can get 4.0s standing on your head, which are few). DON'T worry about other decisions down the road right now, as once you get past sophomore year in your ARO curriculum, you will have a better idea of what you like, what you want to do, and where you want to take the rest of your life. ENJOY it while you go through it... remember to HAVE FUN, because there will be enough homework, and difficult problems to solve, to keep you grounded in reality. :eek:

    Your comments about it being "hard to go back" can be true, but most often this is when someone has been away for 4 or more years. Much like Mech_E and Fred have suggested, I would also suggest you go RIGHT into a job after you get your diploma. Just because you have that diploma does not mean you really "know your craft"... you are still a bit of a neophyte, and real, on-the-job experience will not only reinforce what you learned in school, but it will also expose you to advanced topics and techniques that you may wish to study in grad school.

    Where I may differ with the other guys is to encourage you to enroll in a grad school WITHIN one year after starting a job. And then work your 40 hours/week and take Master's courses (maybe two per term) after work. A LOT of people do it this way... that is how I got my Master's in Systems Engineering. This allows you to enjoy the fruit$ of your labor in getting your BS by working for a good wage, AND work towards your Master's while your employer reimburses you for tuition! HOW GREAT IS THAT?

    Trust us... we are not "old fart" engineers for nothing...We've been there, done that, and have the T-shirt & experiences to boot! :cool:

    Again: STAY FOCUSED ON THE IMMEDIATE GOAL! Get the 4-year piece of paper! Everything will fall into place when the time is right. Good luck,

  13. Jun 27, 2006 #12


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    Well said Rainman.

    The only thing I would like to add to the discussion is in regards to the "going back to school" aspect. Personally, I have found that if you truly are interested in your profession and really enjoy what you are doing, going back for an advanced degree is not a difficult task. You will want to go and learn more about what you are doing. You will make the time because it is important to you.
  14. Jul 1, 2006 #13
    Thank you guys.
    Now I have some idea about my next few years!
    And yes Rainman, I trust you all. That's why I posts in this forum! :smile:
    I'll do my best!
  15. Jul 3, 2006 #14


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    Caveat - if one is single or without kids, it is much easier to return to school. With a family to support, it is difficult to return to school.

    On the other hand, my company encourages people to obtain advanced degrees (preferable relevant to the company's business) and makes is possible for employees to return to school. It helps that a major university is about 10 minutes away from the office.

    I would recommend checking out Aeros and Mech Engineering programs. For example -

    http://ae.engr.uiuc.edu/ [Broken] - overview of Aerospace Eng.

    http://www.csar.uiuc.edu/ - Center for Simulation of Advanced Rockets :cool:

    Many state universities have Aero and Mech Eng programs, and private uni's like MIT, Stanford, RPI, Cornell, . . . . also have excellent programs.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
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