Essay: Engineering Career in Aerospace

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Engineering

Career in Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace engineering as a profession is a career of the future, dealing with anything from missile weapons systems to aircraft and spacecraft. The career depends on education, input of other engineers in other disciplines, and skills that come from on the job knowledge and discovery. A well-paying career, aerospace engineering is an area of employment that can make great strides in designing and building the air transportation of the future, and can lead to a literal career with the stars.

The purpose of this paper is to introduce, discuss, and analyze the topic of aerospace engineering. Specifically it will introduce aerospace engineering as a profession and discuss the contributions of other principal engineering disciplines. Aerospace engineering can lead to a career designing weapons systems, large and/or small aircraft, or spacecraft. Each specialty requires certain knowledge and education, and choosing a specialty entails understanding the designs necessary and assessing whether they are compatible with personal interests and ideals. Aerospace engineering is a career of the future and about the future, and it has the potential to become a career that innovates and designs new, pioneering ideas in air and space travel.

Day in the Life of an Aerospace Engineer

Depending on the area of intensity chosen in aerospace engineering, an engineer could expect to work at a variety of tasks in a day, week, or month. Much of the engineer's time would be spent working with a team of engineers to design, analyze, examine, produce, and perhaps even fit components in an aerospace design. The Princeton Review notes, "An aerospace engineer plays some part on one of the teams, spending more of his/her time (roughly 70%) in a lab, at a computer, and assembling reports than doing anything else. Not being able to see the 'big picture' frustrates some professionals" (Editors). This is because most aerospace engineers work on only tiny fractions of a project, because they specialize in one area of the big picture, such as communications, structural design, guidance, navigation, or instrumentation, and then, engineers may specialize in just one small part of those areas, building up a wealth of understanding and knowledge as their career unfolds. Aerospace engineers can choose to specialize in other areas, like guidance and control systems, aerodynamics, celestial mechanic systems, thermodynamics, propulsion systems or acoustics, too, and they can even work in other industries than aviation or aerospace, because at least some aerospace engineers have been employed by car companies to create more aerodynamic designs for cars of the future.

Engineers will use a variety of complex machines and devices to create their engineering schematics and drawings, from computers and CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) programs, to electronics, optics, and even lasers and robotics in some cases. Engineers have to be flexible, because often, they will be deeply involved in one project, only to be put on another project at a moment's notice. They have to work together as a team, but they have to be able to work alone and in isolation, too.

Work Well With Other Engineers and Interact With Them Clearly, aerospace projects are extremely complicated and complex, so the input of any number of other engineers would be necessary for any project. In aviation engineering, input from structural design, aerodynamics, instrumentation, communications, fuel systems, load and weight, and guidance systems would all have to be engineered, as would the interior of the plane, from cargo areas to first class lounges and seating. In rocketry, propulsion, aerodynamics, fuel systems, guidance, controls, and instrumentation would all have to be engineered, and in aerospace, everything from instrumentation and propulsion to communications and guidance would have to be engineered. Depending on the aerospace engineer's specialty, they could be working with dozens of other engineers in various disciplines to create workable solutions for any number of design problems. That means an aerospace engineer would have to get along with people, but also be able to understand the purpose and job of what they were designing, and where it fits in the overall design and implementation of the final product. While they may not know all the engineering details of the many different items that go into making a plane, a rocket, or a spaceship, they will know how their small part fits into the equation and more importantly, what it has to directly interface and interact with. That means they will probably develop close working relationships with the engineers that design items closely tied to their own specialties.

How a Degree Will Prepare Me

Clearly, a university degree is the first step in launching a career as an aerospace engineer. The degree will help prepare me in a number of ways. First, the required classes, such as physics, computer science, materials science, engineering, design, statistics, mathematics, and chemistry will help prepare me for all aspects of the engineering process, from complex computation to calculating weights, loads, sizes, stresses, and many other aspects of the design process. I will have to understand how to make the calculations and what to look for when designing, but I will also have to understand what materials to use, how to choose the materials, and how they will hold up under continued use, under stress, and with heavy loads, among other things. My classes will also introduce me to the many different types of engineering required in the aerospace industry, so I can choose what area I want to specialize in eventually. That is why a wide range of engineering courses are available for study, and why it is important to include as many of them as possible for study before I graduate.

There are other university classes that will help prepare me for my career as well, and they include business and business management, so I can get a bigger picture of the organization I'll be working for, and the other prerequisites like English, Foreign Languages, Geography, and such. It is entirely possible that I could travel overseas or work overseas in the aerospace industry, and that would require knowledge of another language, perhaps, and an engineer must also complete reports, meaning English and writing skills are important, as well. I believe my degree will prepare me to start out in the field, and that I will learn more as I progress in the field.

Prognosis and Earnings understand that they are predicting a downturn in the number of aerospace engineers until 2012 or so, but due to the fact that many engineers will retire between now and then, there will still be a need for qualified aerospace engineers, even though the industry is under duress right now because of the economy and high fuel prices. Earnings depend on what area of engineering you choose to specialize in, and where you are in your career. The average income is about $75,000 per year, with starting salaries lower, and defense engineers somewhat higher. In the United States, many of the jobs are located in Washington State, California, and Texas, and in Europe many are located in France, Great Britain, and there are also some in Asia.

Ongoing Skills

Clearly, a university degree does not give you all the skills necessary to start and maintain a successful career. After I choose my concentration or specialty, I will need to learn more about the surrounding systems, and I will need to learn much more about my specialty. It is also quite clear that aerospace engineering will evolve in the future, just as it has evolved from the past, into much more electronics and guidance systems for navigation and communications, and in structural design, as well. The biplanes of early aviation are far removed from the latest Airbus and Starship designs we are seeing now, and it is clear that they will continue to evolve in the future. Staying… [END OF PREVIEW]

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