Studies & Degrees in Aerospace Engineering
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Aerospace Engineering Study Programs
Aerospace engineering is perhaps one of the most exciting academic courses there is today as designing, building, testing and manufacturing of aircrafts and spacecrafts are pretty much what they do. The phrase, “rocket science,” connoting that something is extremely complicated would refer to aerospace engineering as aerospace engineers are the people who are literally known as rocket scientist.
Aerospace engineering is further divided into two branches, which are by the way overlapping, aeronautical and astronautical. The term aeronautical would mainly deal with earthbound aircrafts while astronautical would refer to the branch of rocket science that would be for off-planet purposes.
More or less, students of this course for geniuses will be dealing with understanding the concepts of atmospheric pressure, temperature, fluid dynamics, avionics, aerodynamics, propulsion, structural loads, structural analysis and even manufacturing, to come up with crafts that can go faster, can carry more payload or that can have more safety features among other things. The complexity of this branch of science is just too much for one person that most often, a team of space engineers who are specialized in their own fields are needed to perfect a design and construction of an aircraft or spacecraft. One engineer may come up with the perfect aerodynamic design that can allow an aircraft to fly at even higher speeds but then when it was up for testing the engine chokes up or the wings break during flight, which are whole different sets of problems as that would fall into the area of a propulsion expert or structural expert to solve.
Aerospace engineers can choose which field they can specialize in. Some aerospace engineers specialize in aerodynamics, propulsion, material structure, structural loads and manufacturing. Aerospace engineers who specialize in the field of aerodynamics would be the ones concerned in analyzing air in motion and the objects it interacts with. More or less, coming up with designs that cut wind drag is the objective here. In the area of propulsion, particularly air propulsion, aerospace engineers would be delving with engines that could launch and thrust objects high up in the air and space to defy gravity. For material structure experts, they would be the ones that would be investigating the properties of all materials to be used in a ship. This branch of aerospace engineering is the one that comes up with new materials with new properties to be used in designing the perfect aircraft. Although sometimes overlaps with the a different branch, structural analysis, the main difference of material structure and structural analysis is that structural analysis is more concerned with investigating materials that come under stress like the loads it carry and the effects of an environment the materials will be exposed in. They would be the ones to investigate if it’s okay to put aluminum in a zero gravity field or if a carbon fiber casing would serve best a rocket ship’s dashboard given the heavy g-force it will be subjected to and what other forces it may come in contact with. The manufacturing field is a different area altogether as putting up manufacturing plants and systems to assemble these airplanes would entail a whole new different set of skills.
In this field, there is just no room for miscalculations as lives of those aboard the crafts and as well as the people on the streets or anywhere on land who might be landed upon by a malfunctioning aircraft are in grave danger. An example of a simple miscalculation was that of Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986. The Challenger exploded just 73 seconds after liftoff resulting to the deaths of its 7-man crew. The culprit was just an O-ring failure. There was just an O-ring part that did not seal a chamber somewhere on the ship and pressure got in when it supposed not to, and that was enough to blow up the whole space shuttle. This disaster just proves that even a simple O-ring or a loose crew could cause a disaster, and this just shows how exacting and precise this science really needs to be.
To the successful persons who can actually finish this very difficult course, opportunities are aplenty as there is NASA, Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers and countries with airforce units would always welcome an aerospace engineer.