Man has always had a dream of flying and soaring new heights, and this is an industry that has reached mammoth proportions now. The Wright Brothers achieved what Icarus could not, and eventually we stepped into space, the final frontier, as well and built spaceships that can soar in the Solar System. With all these developments and innovatory breakthroughs, an industry that caters to flight and aircraft slowly shaped itself and captured our imaginations.
This is where aerospace engineering comes into the picture, because after all, someone has to build these modern aircraft and space shuttles. Their job is to build, develop and test such machines, and this is where the real challenge begins.
There are a number of people who harbor dreams of flying as well, but unfortunately not everyone can make the cut as a licensed pilot or astronaut. If you fall into this category, then you must take heart from the fact that you can still build a career in this field by acquiring certain qualifications, only if you have the knack for engineering and building things.
What Does an Aerospace Engineer Do
They are highly qualified scientists who carry out a number of tests and develop the latest technology for airplanes, spacecrafts and missiles as well. These tasks require years of specialized study, since this is an industry that is supported by billions of dollars of research and development. The primary sector that aerospace engineers are employed in is the defense sector of every country, and some private sector manufacturing companies also hire such engineers to help them develop products that can be used for governmental as well as commercial purposes.
They are further divided into various sub-categories (like navigation, instrumentation, structural design, propulsion, guidance systems, aerodynamics, thermodynamics and celestial mechanics), but they are primarily distinguished by the nature of the products that they engineer. Some engineers get into development for space exploration and satellite manufacturing, whereas others work solely towards machines that operate on terrestrial space. This includes commercial airliners, military jets, helicopters and missile systems that are bought by the Government. The engineering and manufacturing process is one that involves heavy use of the most advanced technology available, and there are many facets to this job.
Basic Qualifications of an Aerospace Engineer
The education needed to become one is very expensive and prolonged, and this is not without reason. These machines need to follow all the rules of Physics and science so the person developing them needs to be an expert in the field. Gaining such expertise is not an easy task by any means, and people take several years to become hardened aerospace, or aeronautical engineers. Subsequently, the figures for their salary (more than $100,000 per year on an average) are also very lucrative, and this is simply due to the expertise that such people are expected to have gathered.
One obviously needs an exceptional academic record to even qualify to apply to an engineering school. Expertise in subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Geometry, Trigonometry, Computer Science, various advanced engineering courses and aerospace courses as well is vital and this is something that every aspirant needs to work towards. Eventually one will need to obtain a Master's degree and a PhD in some of these fields as well, and have a prestigious track record in all engineering matters. Becoming an aerospace engineer is no easy task, and only the cream of the crop can succeed in this endeavor. Two exams will also need to be cleared with flying colors for this purpose, and these are the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam and the Principles and Practices of Engineering exam which are carried out by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).
This industry is expected to grow at a phenomenal rate in the coming years, thanks to the high level of technology that is now available. Moreover, more and more countries now have fully functional aircraft and satellites in operation, and they need all the worthy aerospace engineers that they can get their hands on, in order to maintain these systems.