According to College Board, “As an aerospace engineering major, you’ll learn the basics that helped the Wright brothers and others conquer the age-old problem of flight. You’ll learn how to apply these ideas to developing new types of air- and spacecraft that are better, safer, and stronger. You’ll find out how space flight works and dream up new ways of exploring galaxies unknown.”
Aerospace engineers design and construct aircrafts and spacecrafts, taking into consideration different physical forces and concepts such as lift and drag. They also deal with testing and fixing aircrafts. This field encompasses everything from planes to satellites. In order to prepare for a career in Aerospace Engineering, you should take challenging math and science courses in high school, including physics.
Ian Acosta, a first year student at the Technological University of Panama, is currently studying aeronautical engineering, but hopes to finish his studies abroad where he can focus on aerospace engineering. Both branches deal with aircraft design, but aerospace also deals with spacecrafts. Ian, who loves anything that can go faster than his own feet, says that growing up, he was fascinated by the way the air shifted his hand when he stretched his hand outside of the car window during a long ride.
As a freshman, Ian is taking a variety of courses that are common for all engineering majors, such as calculus, chemistry, computer science, physics, lineal drawing, and computer programming. As much as he’s enjoying his current classes, he is excited about some of his upcoming classes, like thermodynamics, control theory, machine design, and applied dynamics. However, what he is really looking forward the most to is someday designing his own aircraft.
Aerospace engineering is a field that has a lot of room for innovation, and this is what excites Ian the most. Faster and better planes are being designed and built every day. Safer airplanes are also being constructed. You could even help design satellites, space rovers, and space crafts.
Job opportunities and salaries for aerospace engineers are also looking good. The average starting salary for aerospace engineers with a bachelor’s degree was $69,600 in 2011. This is pretty nice, especially when compared to the average starting salary of all 2011 graduates ($41,701) and the average starting salary of all engineering graduates in 2011 ($61,872). The mean annual income of aerospace engineers was $104,810 in 2011. The mean annual income for graduates with masters’ degrees and PhDs is even better: only 1.5% of aerospace engineers are currently unemployed. However, the expected growth rate is only 5% for 2010 to 2020.
If you like aerospace engineering but feel that studying a broader subject (or a field with more opportunities) is a better fit for you, some great choices are mechanical engineering and materials engineering. These majors open you up to a bigger field of opportunities and also allow you to receive training to work as an aerospace engineer. Because of how specialized this area is, for example, mechanical engineers can work as aerospace engineers, but usually aerospace engineers cannot work as mechanical engineers.
Some schools that offer aerospace engineering are Arizona State University, Auburn University, Florida Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Here is a more comprehensive list.
If you feel like you might be interested in aerospace engineering, you should definitely check it out! It is a super interesting major, with many career opportunities and many different areas to explore.