Neil Armstrong’s “one small step for man” on the moon would not have been possible if it was not for the aerospace engineers who designed the rocket that got him there.
Engineers take scientific principles and theories and apply them to practical situations. Aerospace engineers are the engineers who design, create, and test aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles. They also supervise the production of these products. They work with, and help develop, some of the most advanced technologies on the planet. Aerospace engineers have produced everything from lightweight gliders, to airplanes that weigh over a half a million pounds, to communication satellites and the space shuttle.
Aerospace engineers are often divided into two major groups: aeronautical engineers (who work first and foremost with aircraft) and astronautical engineers (who work primarily with spacecraft). However, all aerospace engineers must have an understanding of the field’s core subjects, such as aerodynamics, propulsion, thermodynamics, and guidance and control systems.
Engineers usually specialize in one area, such as structural design, propulsion systems, instrumentation, communications, or even production methods. In the process of creating the vehicle, system, or part they need, they use advanced equipment, including computer-aided design (CAD) software, robotics, lasers, and advanced electronic optics.
Communication in means of satellite has drastically improved in the past couple of years, and as demand continues to expand for more TV channels, cell phones, and Internet access, the demand for communication satellites will also increase. Aerospace engineers are needed to design, build, and maintain such satellites.
Many aerospace engineers work for companies that design and build new aircraft or aircraft parts, companies such as Bombardier and Boeing. Others are employed by companies that make sure older aircraft are safe for flight. Some other, who are involved in military purposes will design ballistic missiles, jets and war planes. NASA, in the US and CSA, in Canada hires many aerospace engineers to design and test equipment for space travel.
Aerospace engineers spend most of their time working with computers, blueprints, and cutting-edge technology. They lean to work a regular, 40 hour week but may have to work extra hours to meet deadlines. The fact that many people are relying for their survival on the technologies that the aerospace engineers create can add a great deal of stress to the job.
Engineers spend a lot of time testing the machines they’ve built. Most tests are done with computer simulations, to reduce cost, speed up the process and to allow for more tests to be done. For example, it is better to use computers than to find out during a countdown that the
rocket that has been built does not work. Engineers also test their products for durability and safety. Aerospace engineer occasionally build and create models to be tested in “Wind Tunnels.” Education:
A bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering is the minimum educational requirement to work in this field. However, it is preferred for an aerospace engineer to have a higher degree such as PhD or a master degree, also a degree in a closely related engineering field, such as mechanical or robotic engineering, is often acceptable. Aerospace and related engineering programs are available at many universities. Some universities offer programs in aerospace engineering or aeronautics engineering as a specialty within other engineering departments.
As mentioned before it is possible to find a job with a bachelors degree but a master’s degree or PhD is often required to advance to more senior positions or for advanced research and development positions. Master’s degrees take 2 more years to complete, and PhDs usually take another 4 years.
In university, aerospace engineering students are familiarized to the core subjects that are central to their field of study. These include courses in propulsion, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, aerodynamics, and flight and space mechanics. As they become more mature in this education they focustheir studies greatly on a more specialized area that interests them most.
Engineers practicing in Canada must register as Professional Engineers (P.Eng) with their provincial or territorial association. They are eligible for registration after they have graduated and worked in their field for several years under the supervision of senior engineers.