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Job Skills Self-Education for Aerospace engineering

  1. May 2, 2016 #1


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    Guys this may be a strange question but please bear with me. I am 29 years old and for most of my life I wanted to become an aerospace engineer, but for different life reasons never attended college for engineering. I have a BA in Econ graduated in 2012 and now working in a job I hate.

    A few years ago I applied to BA Aerospace programs and was accepted at all the schools based on my math grades from my BA in ECON, I took advanced classes in calculus and did well.

    I simply could not afford to go to college for another 4 years and not work at the same time. Each school was around $30k/yr and requires full time class work. I would need to borrow 100% of my education costs.

    I've decided that instead I would teach myself aerospace engineering when I'm not at work. Perhaps get certifications in math and physics and enter design competitions etc.

    I have such a love of aircraft and their design, ever since I was a young kid I had the aviation bug and I've decided my life will not be happy unless I am able to dabble in this field even as a hobby.

    I visit my local airspace museum often, and spend hours just looking at the different exhibits and trying to imagine what the designer was thinking when he designed a certain part.

    In the old days learning on your own and becoming a leader in your field was possible but in today's highly regulated world, a man cannot simply pick up a book and learn and become a part of the field.

    Has anyone ever experienced or traveled such a journey
  2. jcsd
  3. May 2, 2016 #2
    It is a shame that you cannot afford your education. People on this forum don't like to admit that the cost of education makes it a huge scam [in the USA], but maybe that is because they are in on it too, or very clueless, I don't know.

    Is it possible for you to get a job that will pay for classes? You might be able to take one class a semester plus a summer class, totaling 3 classes per year. Maybe you can go to 2 year school, get an aircraft mechanic certification, work on aircraft as a technician, and get your BS part time?
  4. May 2, 2016 #3
    Huh, what? On what are you basing your statement??
  5. May 2, 2016 #4
    Ive seen people on this forum close threads because other's have brought up issues with education in the US.
  6. May 2, 2016 #5
    I literally have no idea what you're talking about. I have never seen this done on this forum. Can you give some examples??
  7. May 2, 2016 #6
    The last time I saw it was a long time ago. I remember a bunch of posts got shot down talking about student loans. Ill see if I cant find it, but searching just now didn't help. It is something I noticed that is all, given how bad the situation is you rarely see anyone discuss it.
  8. May 2, 2016 #7
    If it's a long time ago, then perhaps it's a fluke and not a pattern? In either case, this does not deserve your criticism in post 2.

    I have criticized the enormous cost of eduction in the US before. I have criticized the awful system of student loans. I have criticized other parts of US education before like the requirement for too many Gen Eds. Never have I experienced any troubles when voicing these opinions. Certainly not voices that tried to censor me.
  9. May 2, 2016 #8
    Maybe it was a fluke. It ticked me off either way.
  10. May 2, 2016 #9

    Vanadium 50

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    It can't have been too long ago, since you've only been here three months.
  11. May 3, 2016 #10


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    I suggest you look for an online program (if one exists). Generally any program will let you transfer up to 50% of the required course load of a Bachelor's degree. Since you already have one of these, you may have nearly (or exceed) this 50% mark. That will shave off 50% of the time it would take you to graduate from the program if you started as a freshman ie you would get immediate status as a junior.
    If you cannot find such a specific program, look at an online program for Mech or Elect engineering. These types of degrees can often break into the aerospace industry with their degrees. These types of programs ARE available via online.
    Simply trying to land an engineering or design type job in aerospace with an Econ degree (and self study) is simply unrealistic. If you insist, you might try to get experience in Quality Control and then back into the work via QC testing or methods. You would still never be trusted with design w/o some type of educational background to verify your knowledge.
  12. May 3, 2016 #11
    (Warning: this may offend many people, but it is my life experience)

    In theory, self-taught engineering should be possible. In fact, in theory, you should be able to teach yourself many things.

    I have a confession to make: I don't learn well in classrooms. In fact, despite being the son of a professor (my father) and a high school teacher (my mother), I detest the classroom environment. So as a coping mechanism, I pretty much studied on my own before I went to college.

    I have been fascinated by radio for as long as I can remember. I got a ham radio license at age 13. I built many electronics projects on my own. By the time I actually started my Electrical Engineering studies, I was already quite familiar with most of the material. There were some formal frameworks and background math that I had overlooked; but in fact I already knew far more about the actual applications than most of the people teaching my class. Do note that to pay for college, I was employed as a telecommunications technician. I had access to some pretty cool stuff that schools could never afford.

    And in theory, with a few good textbooks and some experience at an airport, you should be able to do so as well. The only problem is that nobody will believe you actually did it. You need some big fancy organization to vouch for you. And this is where I'm going to say something rude:

    There is almost no place for self-taught people in this world. We have built a ponzi scheme where only schools are allowed to certify that you know what you know. And the sick part is this: They do it even though they frequently graduate many who should never have received a degree. I have known too many very well educated people who had absolutely no feel for the theory or practice of what they supposedly received their degree in. But gosh, they did have a great looking GPA when they graduated from those reputable schools.

    And then we developed a bureaucracy that doesn't respect what people actually can do, and instead look everywhere else but at the candidate to validate that they can do the work. I'm not blaming the people who work in Human Resources, I'm blaming the fools who crafted the laws and legal precedents that created this monster.

    So, while I do not doubt that you can teach yourself most of what you would need to know, (nobody ever learns EVERYTHING they'd need to know) I doubt that anyone will be allowed to employ you to design anything. The sad thing is that many great figures in mathematics, innovation and engineering had no formal education: Edison, the Wright Brothers, Thomas J. Watson (who worked with Bell on the first telephone), Sir Oliver Heaviside, are just a few examples. I don't know if any of them could have done well for themselves in today's climate of needing a certificate to prove that you know what you know.

    Yes, this bothers me a great deal. I wish I had something nicer to say about it, but I don't.
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