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!

Work in aerospace without aero/mech degree?

  1. Apr 8, 2014 #1
    Hello, I am newly registered to this site but have lurked around for a few years looking for homework help and to satisfy random curiousities, but have recently come upon some unsettling news. I am currently a sophomore in college who was planning on getting a degree in Aerospace engineering but unfortunately my GPA was not high enough to enter the major (which would happen during junior year as most 'engineering' (my school refers to it as pre-engineering, not sure how it works at other universities) undergrads go through a relatively similar first two years of courses. Since I was not admitted into this major I was a candidate for my second choice of major which was nuclear engineering. This still doesn't change the fact that my real interest lies in space and the matter in which we travel through it, and I hope that there is still a possibility that I can one day work in the astronautical field, please advise me on a path I can take whether it does/does not involve grad school and whatever may give me a better chance of working in something as close to astronautics as possible. thank you
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 8, 2014 #2
    When you say Aerospace engineering, what really enamors you about it? Designing rockets? Designing spacecraft systems? Designing communication systems? Aerodynamics?

    The reason I ask is because these studies are not planted in a vacuum (I didn't mean to write that, but I'll take my humor wherever I can find it). The things you may be seeking to design lurk in many everyday products such as turbochargers, HVAC, wind turbine designs, power systems designs, jet engine design, Solar arrays, and so many more things. You will even find that nuclear engineering may be of use (want to design a thermonuclear battery for the next Jupiter mission?).

    It takes a small army of engineers, technicians, managers, and yes, public affairs staff, to launch a mission in to space. Your education may be just what they need.

    So don't feel bad about not reaching this particular goal. There is more than one way to get your foot in the door. And by the way, nuclear engineering doesn't pay too badly. It has good job prospects for advancement. You don't have to focus everything you like around your degree and your work.

    I studied electrical engineering, but got a pilot's license, owned an airplane for a while, and pursued ham radio to scratch my itch of wanting to do aerospace-y things. You can do this for fun as well and some of the most momentous discoveries have been made and continue to be made by amateurs. Not all science has to be "big."

    One last parting shot: put "AMSAT Go-Mars" in your favorite search engine. Yes, there are people doing this as amateurs. You don't have to make this part of your work, and you may find that you enjoy it even more when your livelihood isn't at stake.
  4. Apr 9, 2014 #3
    Thanks for your response, I would say that my biggest interest in aerospace is the possibility of being a part of a team that changes the way we travel through space, whether that is stronger and more efficient energy sources or how the craft is designed/modeled. The go-mars site is pretty interesting thanks for that reference also. Much appreciated
  5. Apr 9, 2014 #4
    You could try to join the industry as an HR worker
  6. Apr 11, 2014 #5
    thanks for the advice jesse but I have to apologize as I may not have been clear enough for you to understand my question. I would like to work in aerospace and actually 'do' aerospace. Again thanks for the help though
  7. Apr 11, 2014 #6
    You might of been too clear because your posts mentions not being able to get into the aero engineering major and only nuc-e.

    If you want to do aero you need to get an aero degree or an ee or mech e degree which I imagine given the popularity of EE have harder requirements therefore it leaves you in the position of needing to do sideline jobs like HR or try to risk transferring and going somewhere else to major in aero. Most defense contractors have GPA cutoffs for their positions so I am not sure how you would be able to not satisfy the reqs for majoring in a topic but still satisfy the higher cutoff for getting employment at a contractor which leaves you in the position of trying to get a job in the sidelines.
  8. Apr 12, 2014 #7


    User Avatar

    You don't have to be an engineer in order to "do aerospace". One of my friends has a degree in chemistry and currently works at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab doing experiments on different fuel mixtures, etc.. Also, I'm pretty sure any computer science major with an interest in aerospace can get a job in the industry working on navigation systems, control systems, etc..

    Bottom line. an engineering degree is not required to get a good job in the aerospace industry. It could make "getting in" a little easier, but there are a number of opportunities for non-engineers.

    To the OP, search different job openings on company websites and see what interests you that doesn't require an engineering degree.
  9. Apr 12, 2014 #8
    I mentioned that comp sci is a viable option but comp sci is a in demand major and from the departments I have encountered it is as hard if not harder to stay in that major than aero so if you cant do aero because you cant satisfy the grade requirements it would be even less likely for comp sci.

    I would hope your friend has a stellar chemistry background good enough to have transferred into the engineering program with his grade. Working at JPL is an in demand position.
  10. Apr 29, 2014 #9
    I actually did qualify for EE but I personally am not very interested in it. Thanks
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook