1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What is life as an Aerospace Engineer like?

  1. Aug 17, 2008 #1
    QoL,Location,Pay,especially what do you do for work?

    I'll listen for now and will chime in later..
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 17, 2008 #2
    Your question is way too general. You should really narrow down what you want to ask.
  4. Aug 18, 2008 #3
    What is your average day like?
    You wake up........etc.
  5. Aug 18, 2008 #4

    wake up, drive 1 hr to work, work 4 hours, lunch, 4 more hours, 1.25 hours home, take it easy for 4 hours, back to sleep.

    something like that?

    im assuming you want to know a little more about the 4 hours on either side of lunch. its difficult to explain, you just work. nothing like school. you dont sit there continuously plugging numbers into cont. eqn, bernoulli, etc... you (or at least i) dont sit there deriving equations all day. there's lots of phone calls and emails with vendors, customers, co-workers etc... lots of walking around looking for people, getting signatures.
  6. Aug 18, 2008 #5
    I imagine you work at a smaller company?
    I mean I can't iamgine say Lockheed Martin says their engineers on the phone all day.
    Do get a nice office or what?
    Is it free structured or is it more bureaucratic like business?
  7. Aug 18, 2008 #6
    Are you currently in highschool WhiteKnights?

    I'm still having a hard time figuring out the point to your questions.
  8. Aug 18, 2008 #7
    you dont do engineering for a big office or big paycheck.

    i live in a 8' x8' cubicle with 5' walls, luckily i can decorate the walls with whatever i choose (tastefully of course)

    from what i have come to see, there is no logical reason to be an engineer. there are a lot easier jobs that pay a lot more with a lot less schooling. If you really like airplanes (aerospace engineer) and can't explain why, but you know there is no other job you'd rather do. aerospace engineering is probably a reasonable choice.

    i work at a smaller company ~5k people. its not that smaller companies have to talk to other people all the time, where an engineer at one of the big 3 doesn't. its not like that, you do what it takes to get the job done.

    as far as structure, it depends on the company and the group in the company you work for. my group is structured, another group just down the hallway is less so
  9. Aug 19, 2008 #8
    I am in high school and I am interested in Aerospace Engineering.

    Would there be a way to specialize in the 'space" portion of Aerospace Engineering focusing more on building manned or maybe unmanned spacecraft?

    Or maybe more of an advanced R&D position a la Skunk Works or Phantom Works?
  10. Aug 19, 2008 #9
    Yes, there is an aero track, and a space track that splilts after sophmore year. I highly doubt that you would actually work on and build a space craft though. The money just isnt there.
  11. Aug 19, 2008 #10
    lol, maybe a study on the integration of a RTG on an outer solar system probe that would get canceled after SRR.

    as far as getting a job straight away in an advanced development group, theres 2 (equally unlikely) ways. get a job at a small company, or be the smartest in your class. The guy i knew that was offered an AD job had a 4.0 in math and aero graduating in 4 years. was the valedictorian or college of science, engineering and aerospace department
  12. Aug 19, 2008 #11
    It is my goal, I never said it would happen right away.Could a M.S or a Ph.D make a difference?

    Also is it easy to double major?
    Could I like double major in say AE and EE? What about AE and Physics/Math?
    I know AE and ME is common because AE is applied ME.

    I know JPL or Skunk Works(Dream Jobs) May not happen right away, but have may have a shot at NASA since I have above average connections to them.
    Is it job availability is still good? I hear even though funding is getting cut, people are retiring, making a even job market?....Is this true?
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2008
  13. Aug 19, 2008 #12
    Sorry, please learn to walk before you try to run. Don't even think about an M.S or PhD at this point. That's like asking me if you would like to be the CEO of boeing or lockheed martin in the next 20 years...

    No, it's not easy to major in AE and EE, but its possible and will take more time. AE is NOT applied ME. I don't know where you got that notion from. AE is AE, ME is ME.
  14. Aug 19, 2008 #13
    You have to run to win a marathon.

    OK,What would the best course of action be to achieve what I want to achieve?
    Nothing is in stone and I just trying to lay my options on the table and do some research.
  15. Aug 20, 2008 #14
    Ask questions about obtaining an undergrad degree. M.S., P.h.D, Jobs, are NOT options on your table at this point.
  16. Aug 20, 2008 #15
    That is being harsh eh....
    I am not setting a course,I am just weighing my options.You will not a see a choice soon.

    And to say you can't discuss jobs and degrees in the same sentence is absurd...
    People wouldn't get a degree ,if it didn't get them a job and formulate their degree to get a job they want.
  17. Aug 20, 2008 #16


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Sure, it's good to get a bit a of information on what the job prospects are, but until you have completed your undergrad degree, you won't know whether such a career is something you want to do, or even if you will be able to do it.

    I'm moving this to academic and career guidance.
  18. Aug 20, 2008 #17
    You're only in high school, you don't know what you want yet. Wait until your junior year in college until you start doing research like this, by then your interests and the industry will have changed. Theres a 70% chance that you will drop out of engineering and go for a business degree anyway.
  19. Aug 20, 2008 #18

    Again, you're not 'just weighing my options' you are flat out daydreaming.

    People get a degree in an area that interests them. But if you want to sit here and talk about jobs all day long, I'd like to know what kind of a job search you did concerning the aerospace industry lately. What were the types of positions available that you were looking into? How many did you call up and talk to about the pay and type of position?

    You're saying phrases like, "I can work at NASA", which is so vague it essentially means nothing. Work at NASA? What location? Doing what? Getting paid how much? Are they even hiring in what you want to do?

    Here's what you should be asking:

    (a) What classes should I take to obtain a degeree in an area that interests you
    (b) Where are good places to look for internships/co-ops that will allow me to see if I like this line of work
    (c) What kind of classes outside my major should I take to have a broad knowledge base
    (d) How many classes should I take my first semester?
    (e) How are you going to pay for college?
    (f) If I work while going to school, how many hours should I work?
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2008
  20. Aug 20, 2008 #19
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2008
  21. Aug 20, 2008 #20
    You guys are much more serious then me.
    By no means do I plan on picking something tomorrow.
    hell I will probably enter undecided into college.

    I don't see what is wrong with writing a list of career choices that interest you. Listing possible jobs, ideal and likely ones along with pay,locations, job availability...etc. And maybe adding or crossing off interests as you develop them.
  22. Aug 20, 2008 #21
    theres absolutely nothing wrong bout thinking about wages, and job demand..

    but im wondering..is there demand for aerospace engineers?? Does america need to make more aircrafts?? i remmeber on the news last month, an aeospace company (name i forgot) was outsourcing its manufacturing process to another country. I wouldn't be suprsed if they employed aerospace engineers from other countries. ppl can learn aerospace engineering anywhere in the world right?
  23. Aug 20, 2008 #22
    Aerospace engineering has a fine future in the US. A huge amount of AE related projects are classified and purely designed in America. From space systems to unmanned vehicles (UAVs), there is plenty of work -- it's very ignorant to say that AE's are in danger of being outsourced (i.e. you must not work in the industry).

    I work for a big aerospace company, but I am an EE. I could tell you what my day is like, which is probably pretty standard for an engineer at a large aerospace company.

    I get in around 8 or 9 AM. I grab breakfast and read emails at my desk. I usually average about 2 to 3 meetings a day, so I make sure I know when all of those are. Then I start my work. What I'm doing depends on what phase the project is in. I do digital design, and I'm still in the process of writing code. I do that for a few hours, and then I head to meetings. Usually, you have a status meeting to update the project leads on how your design is faring. You have leads in different areas - in your field, program managers who deal with time-lines and planning, an overall project lead, costing people, etc. Everybody loves status meetings. At these meetings, you can see how the other engineers are doing with their respective portions of the project. Engineers from other areas, like mechanical or aerospace design, are typically not involved in daily status meetings. They have their own meetings with their own leads to deal with. However, on overarching project meetings, we are all together.

    I usually eat lunch at my desk. During that time I catch up on my emails and fix my schedules and time estimates (generally a spreadsheet where you can detail how long you estimate certain pieces and phases of your project are going to take). I spend a few more hours working on my design and talking with other designers on the same project as me. At around 5 or 6 PM I call it a day. Unless we are behind schedule, in which case I'll stay later or work from home.

    I hope that helps a little bit. I imagine most engineering disciplines have a similar structure during their design phase. Not every day is the same, obviously, but that's a pretty typical day for me right now.
  24. Aug 20, 2008 #23
    That is pretty helpful, Thanks.

    Is there any R&D sometimes?
    How about travel?
  25. Aug 20, 2008 #24
    Yes, there is plenty of R&D. There are lots of units devoted to pure R&D within the company. That's where the highest concentration of PhDs are. In fact, that's where I'd like to be in a few years.

    By travel, what do you mean? Business related travel? The higher up people do travel, and some engineers get to travel to visit with customers or help get a product set up. You are never forced to travel, though. You sign up for it. And I believe you get a big pay increase while you are away on business.

    I'm just starting my career, so I have never traveled for business yet.
  26. Aug 21, 2008 #25
    Can chemical engineers work in the aerospace industry?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook