Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Starting college soon, planning on Aerospace Engineering

  1. Aug 27, 2010 #1
    For my entire life I've had this very strong interest for all things space. When I was younger I wanted to become an astronomer but found out several months back that there literally aren't any jobs for an astronomer. This is understandable, it's something I could do in my back yard and make new discoveries.

    I put two and two together. At first I wanted to become a mechanical engineer and design cars. I've always been good at math, finished with Pre-Calc in high school, but never really applied myself to get the A. If I would have tried I could have easily done it. Then I found out about Aerospace Engineering and it seems perfect for me. Anything that gets me closer to the space scene is an all go for me. I'm ready to go full force with my studies when school starts on monday.

    I'll be attending a community college then transferring to a respected school. I was looking at Cal tech, UCLA, Stanford, U of Mich and GIT. I really wanted to go to Cal Tech, heck my grandfather went there. I took a tour of the campus with a good friend of mine last week and I like how the school is small, has a JPL on site, and has a good student to falculty ratio. However the school would be so boring to attend. Students seem like robots, no frats or sororities, no football team, all of their sports are terrible etc. Also, none of the courses I complete in community college are transferable to Cal Tech, I'd have to start completely over with nothing. That's a major turn off.

    At my community college the counselors are no help. I can't find an engineering counselor to save my life. Hopefully one of my math professors can give me advice.

    Here are my questions.

    1. I'm aware that pre-engineering can take up to 3 years before I can transfer. Is there any way I can complete all of my courses and be ready to transfer in two years? I really don't want to be at a community college for 3 years.

    2. I have a friend who is majoring in Aerospace as well and hes attending the same CC as I am. However he's going to do the astrophysics transfer requirements program because apparently it covers the same stuff as engineering but he'll be ready to transfer in two years. Does that sound right?

    3. What do you guys think about my Cal Tech situation? I definitely wouldn't have fun going there, but I'd almost be guaranteed a well paying job as soon as I graduate. What are some other good Aerospace schools? I heard the UC's, like UCLA weren't that respected for Aerospace.

    4. I'm very open to academic advice. Should I get my bachelors and masters in Aerospace? Would a BS in Aerospace and a Masters in Astrophysics be anything special? How about Aerospace and an MBA?

    My biggest goals in life are to create my own Aerospace firm (this will obviously happen after I've worked in the field for many years and established the necessary connections) and to become an Astronaut. If I don't become an Astronaut I will feel like a failure. I'm really using Aerospace to learn how about space and become respected, then try my best to become an Astronaut.

    If you have any advice for me feel free to post it, I'm still young and confused on some things.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 27, 2010 #2
    Don't mean to be a jerk, but you need to get your priorities straight first. Aerospace engineering is no joke.
  4. Aug 27, 2010 #3
    You don't think I know this? Come on now I obviously know Aerospace is hard to get into. My grandfather went to Cal Tech and was a very respected physicist, he tells me all the time how hard he had to work. I could have gotten all A's in high school, just didn't apply myself. Too busy messing around with girls and playing sports all year. Play time is over and I obviously know this. This isn't the point of the topic..
  5. Aug 27, 2010 #4
    You should look at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), I know a few folks that are going or have gone there and they say it's a pretty good place. Also the school is entirely focused on aerospace-related stuff (obviously).


    Also, maybe it's different where you are, but I only had to do two years of community college before transfering, and it was an engineering field.

    Good luck!
  6. Aug 27, 2010 #5
    Since I spent 3 years doing community college courses that didn't transfer and doing pre-reqs for my major(physics), I think I am pretty qualified at least to comment on at least the admissions/transfer process.

    First of all, pre-engineering really focuses on the math, and just a few science courses(at least my CC did). You may have to take statics, or possibly dynamics, but nothing more than that as far as engineering courses go. Where are you in your mathematics? Pre-engineering requirements at my CC were Calc 1,2,3 and Diff EQ 1. If you want to shorten up your stay and get out in 2 years(which I can almost guarantee you can), then you will probably have to double up on some math courses and take over 14 hrs a semester.

    Just remember, if you want to get out faster than the 'general track', you have to make some sacrifices. Check into summer school to see if you can get anything knocked out then. I took Calc 1 and 2 during the summer, and it pretty much ruined my summer, but I am very glad I took it then, because it is making my physics course easier.

    How will you not have fun at Cal-Tech? Your going there for what you love and training for what you dream to do right? Don't worry about parties, they WILL be there, you may just have to look a little harder than at some places(garbagetier schools).

    Just take as many math/engineering/physics/hard courses as you can to see if you REALLY want to do Aerospace. Just in my first week of University Physics 1 a lot of people "wanted" to do physics, but dropped after the first problem set. So test yourself, because going to Cal-Tech or taking the upper level Aerospace classes is not going to be easy for most people so you might as well grill yourself now to make it 'easier' in the future.

    Finally, if you want a job that pays well, then Aerospace Engineering is probably a good idea. And if you want to be an astronaut, then Aerospace Engineering is DEFINITELY a good idea.
  7. Aug 27, 2010 #6
    What exactly is pre-engineering? Is it some sort of common curriculum that all engineering students take before choosing their major? As an engineering student I feel I should know this :)
  8. Aug 27, 2010 #7


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Have you checked the transfer-credit policies for each of those schools? This sort of thing varies from one school to another.
  9. Aug 27, 2010 #8
    Is it even smart to take two math courses in a semester? How would you go about that if you were taking Pre-Calc and Calc 1?

    Oh yeah, I already know I will have to take summer courses, honestly it's not a big deal to me. I was pretty disappointed that I couldn't get into any summer courses to begin my college career, everything was filled up by the time I could go pick my classes.

    My first semester I'm taking 12 units which are basic classes. I plan on taking a class or two during the winter session, which classes really depend on how long the semester is. In the major semesters I plan on taking atleast 12-15 credits.

    After taking a tour of the Cal Tech campus it's easy to tell that the students there are anything but outgoing. It's hard to describe it without sounding sarcastic, but these students were the kids in high school who got 4.5 GPAs and hung out at the library every day by themselves. You tried to talk to them and they acted all weird and awkward. Heck, even the tour guide was a total dweeb, tried to hard to be funny but was more annoying than anything. All he talked about the whole time was how Cal Tech is just as fun as a university and the students aren't total nerds. I wanted to hear about the JPL, see the inside of the buildings etc. but all he did was defend Cal Tech saying it was a fun school to go to. Kinda turned me away. It's something I could adjust to, if going to Cal Tech means getting the best possible education and the best research facilities I would just deal with it.

    I never found math hard at any point in my life, I just didn't apply myself in high school. I'm a really intellectual kid, I think about things people my age never think about. While my friends are on facebook trying to find tonights party, I'm busy looking up news in Americas private space flight sector.

    All in all, I am ready and very capable of doing well in Aerospace. It's all I have been thinking about the entire summer and nothing can hold me down.
  10. Aug 27, 2010 #9
    I've looked into Cal Tech and UCLA, the others not yet.

    I'm aware that the requirements vary from school to school. I'm trying to figure out which schools are worth studying Aerospace at, so far Cal Tech makes everything else look pale in comparison, education wise.

    I just checked out the Embry-Riddle website, it looks promising but I've never seen it listed on the web as one of the best engineering schools. What do you guys think of this school?
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2010
  11. Aug 28, 2010 #10
    Why was this thread moved?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook