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New university student in aerospace engineering program

  1. Aug 1, 2005 #1
    Hello, I have enrolled in aerospace engineering at university and I am trying to figure out what kind of jobs I'm going to be training for specifically. Does anyone have a hint?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 1, 2005 #2
    Instead of asking a question like that, you should be asking yourself what job do you want? (Don't passively just prepare yourself for whatever training you might get. )

    What gets you excited?
    What kinds of posters hang on your walls?
    Do you build models? If so, what kinds?
    What Internet sites do you have bookmarked?

    If you don't have posters of the F-22 on your walls and airplane models in your room, and if you don't have space.com (and similar sites) bookmarked, I would tend to wonder if you are genuinely interested in the field of aerospace engineering. Don't do it just because it sounds impressive. You are going to have classmates who eat, sleep, and breathe aerospace, and their enthusiasm will help them throw themselves wholeheartedly into their studies.

    If you, indeed, are one of those people, you still have many choices to make within the field of aerospace. Do you want to work on aerodynamics, propulsion, celestial mechanics, human physiology, etc. There are so MANY aspects of research relevant to the aerospace field, it is up to you to decide what role you want to play to move forward humanity's steps into space.

    What do YOU want?


  4. Aug 2, 2005 #3
    But employers are so rare that it's hard to figure out what THEY want!
  5. Aug 2, 2005 #4


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    You're not going to be training for a specific job. You are going to be taking a bunch of classes in engineering and then more specific to your area of interest. It will give you a broad background and general understanding of the field you wish to go into. The majority of your real learning will be once you get a job. Of course there's no gaurantees that you will end up working in your chosen major field of study. It all depends on you.

    You'll hopefully have some good guidance from profs and such during your stay at the university. Use them. IMO, the best you can do for yourself is to be a good student, get good grades, and in your senior year, be a part of a great project.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2005
  6. Aug 2, 2005 #5
    But there must be a specific job, otherwise there wouldn't be a profession called "Aerospace Engineer". It's got a National Occupation Code and everything. Such a job must exist. Or.... maybe it's the university program that still exists, while the profession has become obsolete. I can't find a job ad for aerospace engineers requiring less than 10 years experience. Why is that? Maybe I should switch to something else.
  7. Aug 2, 2005 #6


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    What country do you live in?
  8. Aug 2, 2005 #7
    I live in Canada.
  9. Aug 2, 2005 #8
    Canada, eh!?

    In that case, after you graduate from a reputable university as an aerospace engineer, you will probably end up waiting on tables or driving a taxi.

    I am curious: in what university are you registered?


  10. Aug 10, 2005 #9

    I am in my final high-school year in Ottawa (Ashbury College) and plan on going into aerospace engineering. I too would be greatly interested in knowing where you are enrolled and what kind of grades you had that allowed you to be accepted.

    As for your question, I have done a lot of research and have decided that when I get out of university I'm going to the US....that is if I'm not already there for university. I think you'll be able to find jobs in Canada as an aerospace egnineer as well though, Canada's aerospace industry isn't that big, however it did play a huge role alongside NASA in preparing Discovery for flight, not to mention the robotic instruments used. I forget the companies that built them, however I have a feeling that they would likely be looking to hire new aerospace engineers as the industry and the demand for Canada's talent in the field is growing.

    Check out the CSA website, maybe they have some more information.
  11. Aug 10, 2005 #10

    I am a supervisor of a structural analysis group for a large Aerospace company. I have worked with most of the major aerospace firms in my career. I have a degree in Aerospace Engineering from Texas A&M.

    I interview recent graduates for employment in my department. The first thing I can say is that if anyone asks me what kind of jobs they can get here, or what do we have for them, the interview will be very short.

    Why would I want to hire someone who's spent 4 years working VERY hard to get a difficult degree, but doesn't know what they want to be when they grow up. At that point, you're a professional and a professional attitude is expected. You will be paid a lot of money for your judgement and analytical abilities. Not knowing what you want to do with your expensive degree convinces employers that you have developed neither.

    Ask yourself why you chose Aerospace Engineering in the first place. If you did because it was 'cool' then you may have made a mistake. If you're in it for the money, you definitely made a mistake. If you have a love of math, aircraft, physics, knowledge, solving problems, etc. then you're probably in the right field.

    Last edited: Aug 10, 2005
  12. Aug 11, 2005 #11


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    Very well said!. I liked a lot your example about the interview :biggrin: !.

    On the other hand we should comprehend InfSun words. Before going to uni and getting our hands dirty with the maths and the stuffs involved in our latter studies, we (at least I) knew little about it. The first thing I asked when I was choosing my undergraduate studies of ME was what kind of work was I going to do after graduation, despites I had also a bit of vocation.

    I think that when InfSun begin the program he choose, then he will start to do not worry about professional work, and he will understand that it is almost impossible to survive in an engineering program if you don't REALLY like what you are studying.
  13. Aug 12, 2005 #12
    I've had a few jobs. But I've never had any choice in it. One has to take whatever is available. One job I had was door-to-door sales of home security systems, another involved merchandising displays for lady's cosmetics, another was digging out the foundations of houses by hand and pouring fresh cement. Why should I get a degree if I never get to do the job I'm trained to do. And if I'm not being trained for something in particular, and if such a job doesn't exist, why bother getting a certificate for it !?!?! I could get a certificate in wormhole physics, and get the same job working as a cashier in a fast food restaurant alongside high school students, high school graduates, college students, university graduates and people with phd's.

    Why bother choosing a program to study if there is no work and there's no choice in the work and supervisors are giving really short interviews because the guy doesn't know what the hell kind of job he's suppose to do. Give me one example of a job title held by someone with a degree in aerospace engineering. I bet it's not "Aerospace Engineer".
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2005
  14. Aug 12, 2005 #13
    Sorry, IS but I'm with Samba - why did you choose aero eng? It sounds as if you haven't really researched your choice of subject and are concerned that you've made a wrong decision. But it's never too late to change. Well, almost never.
  15. Aug 12, 2005 #14


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    Well, boy we don't want you to failure. We are not advicing you for disturbing you. All what I heard here is for your sake. The only thing we are transmitting you is that thinking of what kind of specific job you are going to develop once graduated is not a good way to choose your studies. Industry is too abroad for forecasting where the hell are you going to work at. Maybe you study aero eng. and begin to work at Lockheed M designing wings, and the next year you are in an economics department deciding what amount of money are the workers going to earn next month. Todays industry is very variable. None guy passes all his life in technical jobs. Moreover if you want to be ready for industry and as a good engineer, you must be prepared for face every kind of situations, which not always will have to do with aerospace stuffs.

    Your title of Aeros. Engineer is only a warranty for the employer that you have some solid matter inside your head. It won't assure to you any specific job, because specific jobs are tailored to lower personnel, not for engineers.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2005
  16. Aug 13, 2005 #15
    I've talked to human resources people. They always scan resumes for keywords - really specific things, for specific jobs. They take a highlighter and highlight those words on your resume. If your resume has alot of bright yellow streaks on it, you have a good chance of getting hired. It's not good to be broadly trained and only have 10 percent of the specific skills they are looking for. And I don't believe that only "lower" staff do specific jobs. An accountant is university educated and you are bound to find him/her in an accounting department, doing accounting, with the title "Accountant". Same with medical doctors and lawyers. They are often found doing the jobs they are trained for. Maybe those are better fields to be in now that I think about it. Human resources is another field too, where a specific job is what you are trained for.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2005
  17. Aug 13, 2005 #16


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    You're right. All these people do specific jobs. But none of them are engineers. You have no idea about what's an engineer. You will understand it better when some years go by.
  18. Aug 15, 2005 #17
    So what do you do? Computer aided design? You know they taught us that in high school. I've got 2 years architectural drafting on AutoCAD and IronCad in grades 11 and 12. I hear community college grads are doing the same thing in their CNC machining and toolmaking programs. You see, I just don't know what is left for engineers to do? It's like all you old fogies spent the last 20 years dumbing everything down, making software, reducing whole engineering textbooks to a single button in some windows software package and now anyone can be an engineer at the click of a mouse. Even in aerospace the people in charge are the aircraft mechanics, not the engineers! The mechanics are licensed and unionized and get huge paycheques (if there is even a job in this economy), and sign off on maintenance work. The real kick in the balls is that their job is even guaranteed BY LAW !!!! That's with a 2-year community college diploma and 4-year apprenticeship. Meanwhile the engineer with 4-years of university really doesn't have a "specific" job. I bet employers would be impressed to hear that.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2005
  19. Aug 15, 2005 #18


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    No they didn't. They taught you computer aided drafting. Design work is not the same thing. There is a world of difference between a drafter and a designer.

    Any monkey can be taught to push buttons and enter numbers into a michine. Who is the check to make sure what they have done is the correct thing? Who gives the technicians/machinists the numbers required? Who specifies the materials, processes and finish requirements?

    The only dumbing down that has occurred is in those skills that have become mainstream or commonplace over time. What was specialized skills 20 years ago can be done by less skilled people today. A lot of people would like to think they are engineers because they are given the title by their company, but it still does take much more than squirting out a blueprint with a picture on it.

    In the day-to-day running...I don't doubt that one bit. That's the way it should be. A lot of the mundane things done do not require engineering support. So what? In a lot of cases, the mechanics have a better understanding of the details involved to do those specific jobs.

    The mechanics are also the first people to get laid off in times when money is tight.

    They will sign off most work. However, there is always QA checks by inspectors and some repairs/tests in the US require a D.E.R. (FAA designated engineering representative).

    That's good lobbying by their union I guess. The one thing you are forgetting is that those jobs have a lot of competition for them (at least in the US they do). Not every airframe mechanic is going to be treated that well. You probably do get better rewards right out of the gate being a mechanic, but there are plenty of tradeoffs. The first time you poke your frozen fingers with safety wire on the flight line will have you wondering if that was the right choice.
  20. Aug 15, 2005 #19


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    And after we discuss that, we can discuss the difference between a designer and an engineer....
  21. Aug 15, 2005 #20


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    That is true as well. I figured I had muddied up the waters enough.
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