What is life as an Aerospace Engineer like?

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  • Thread starter WhiteKnights
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  • #26
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Can chemical engineers work in the aerospace industry?
I'm sure they can, but I have not personally met one yet. I've met a few materials engineering people, though.
 
  • #27
I'm sure they can, but I have not personally met one yet. I've met a few materials engineering people, though.

So you're just starting out your career? Do you enjoy your job? Do you remember being in university and wondering what kind of job you will land, and how everything will work out? And if you dont mind, what is the pay like? What about for people higher up?

I just completed my first year as a physics major.

I think if would be a great idea if we could have a sticky, or a whole sub-forum devoted to people posting all about their jobs. I think it would really help out people like me, and the original poster. I love reading about what people do. I'm always wondering where the hell I could possible end up.
 
  • #28
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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.
By digital design, do you mean digital controllers? Z-transforms and the like?
 
  • #29
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Business is for making money. Science/Engineering is because you're too obsessed with finding stuff out and tinkering with things to be happy in a "normal job" and figured out that you can actually get suckers to pay you to do the things you want to do anyway...*cough*...uhh, something like that.

Can chemical engineers work in the aerospace industry?
Where do you think new jet fuels come from? :D

Plenty of materials work too, which ChemE is often relevant to.
 
  • #30
513
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So you're just starting out your career? Do you enjoy your job? Do you remember being in university and wondering what kind of job you will land, and how everything will work out? And if you dont mind, what is the pay like? What about for people higher up?

I just completed my first year as a physics major.

I think if would be a great idea if we could have a sticky, or a whole sub-forum devoted to people posting all about their jobs. I think it would really help out people like me, and the original poster. I love reading about what people do. I'm always wondering where the hell I could possible end up.
Yes, I am just starting. In fact, I just transitioned to part-time while I continue working on my master's degree. I really do enjoy my job, it's not the same type of excitement you get from entertainment - it's more like contentment and a nice challenge. It's cliche, but I sometimes I do say to myself: "I can't believe I get paid to do this."

During the time I was an undergraduate I always wondered and worried about how everything works out. I also remember hearing some really incorrect rumors like: "you don't use anything you learn at school in the real world. All of your learning takes place on the job." This is complete nonsense. Another thing I heard about, and thus worried about, was the job market. People were always saying that engineering jobs were all going over seas, and that EE/CE is on its way out of the country. That is BS, there are plenty of jobs. I get contacted very often, and I see job postings all the time. Obviously outsourcing exists, but the aerospace and defense industry seems pretty safe against that.

As for the pay, it is very good. I make more money than I can use, so I get to save a lot. There are a lot of other nice perks and it's very easy to further your education and career, which is something I like a lot and is very important to me.

As for the people higher up, well, I can see the salary ranges for most positions and job types, and the higher level engineers and managers make a lot of money. There are many tiers of management, and engineering managers across the various levels make a lot of money. More than I had expected and heard about as a student.
 
  • #31
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By digital design, do you mean digital controllers? Z-transforms and the like?
Yeah, I do mean something like that. Designing a digital system (to be put into a larger system) to specs and implementing it on a microcontroller, FPGA, etc. So that could involve a Z-Transform, but that would just be a small part in the processing chain. I wouldn't be taking Z-Transforms, I'd be implementing code onto some sort of chip that would calculate the transform.
 
  • #32
2,985
15
Yeah, I do mean something like that. Designing a digital system (to be put into a larger system) to specs and implementing it on a microcontroller, FPGA, etc. So that could involve a Z-Transform, but that would just be a small part in the processing chain. I wouldn't be taking Z-Transforms, I'd be implementing code onto some sort of chip that would calculate the transform.
Well, I mean't the construction of digital controls, i.e. controllers for the plant dynamics.

What exactly do you do? I.e., what are you designing, for which aircraft etc..
 
  • #33
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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.

What jobs do you recommend that are easier/less schooling/pay better than engineering?
 
  • #34
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Its a good idea to have some idea where your headed, but making specific plans before your even in college is a complete waste of time. Pretty much everyone changes their minds a few times about what they want to do after college and i'd say almost half of students change their majors during the first couple years. And really your major isn't all that important during your first two years as most of your classes are going to be general education classes anyway.
 

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