(Content from NASA.)
There is great variety in the types of jobs available in the aerospace field. A great way to learn more is to read about specific NASA engineers and scientists and to follow their day-to-day work in their field journals. An aerospace team is made up of: engineers, scientists and technicians working together towards a common goal. The following are some of the major kinds of roles.
Before engineers can try to answer "how" questions like "How can we design an airplane for this specific function?" they need to have an understanding of the science behind it all. Scientists seek answers to "why" questions that provide these clues to the general science concepts that are applied by the engineers.
Scientists usually work in one of three places: Industrial Research and Development (R & D), Private and Government Labs and Academic Research. Scientists are vital to the discovery of new products and processes or to broaden the field of science by deriving or clarifying theories and concepts to be used by others. In an academic setting, many scientists teach at a college or university while they are also doing their research.
Technicians support aerospace engineers and scientists in many roles - from assisting in the collection and analysis of data to building and maintaining important models and equipment.
Almost every task in the aerospace field requires the teamwork of engineers, scientists and technicians.
What kind of education and experience do I need?
Most jobs in a high-tech field like aerospace require that you have a college degree. Here are some of the classes that are typical to a college program in aerospace. Because classes vary from school to school, this outline is here only to give you an idea of the types of classes and when you would be taking them. As you can see, you get to study a wide range of subject areas in science and engineering. Often, in the later years of your college career, you can focus in a particular area of aerospace and develop that into your specialty. As a professional, you can use this specialty to work together with other people in particular fields.
|Analytic Geometry & Calculus|
|Chemistry and Physics|
|SECOND YEAR||Humanities and Social Sciences|
|Calculus & Differential Equations|
|Statics & Dynamics|
|THIRD YEAR||Aero-Design Program||Aero-Research Program||Common to Both|
|Applied Aerodynamics||Analytical Mechanics||Fluid Mechanics|
|Elementary Structural Analysis||Electromagnetic Fields||Heat Transfer|
|Materials and Metallurgy||Advanced Calculus & Analysis||Electrical Circuits|
|FOURTH YEAR||Aero-Design Program||Aero-Research Program||Common to Both|
|Flight Vehicle Design||Engineering Mechanics||Gas Dynamics|
|Vehicle Stability and Control||Vehicle Systems||Electronics|
|Structural Analysis||Flight Mechanics||Modern Physics|
|Trajectory Dynamics||Aerospace Propulsion|
|Boundary Layer Theory|
Towards the end of your college career when you start thinking about a full-time job, consult the career services office again to see what job placement services are available to you. Often large companies visit college campuses to interview students for full-time jobs.
Two Extra Tips
Sharpen your communciation and computer skills and stay informed of current events in the world of science, technology, and particularly, aerospace.
In today's world, it is essential to be able to communicate technical ideas clearly and effectively in written and verbal form. And, as careers in science depend more and more on computers, it's also important to be familiar with various computer systems and programs.
Because the aerospace industry is constantly changing, employers like students who keep up with what products (aircraft, systems, software) are made by which companies. Read the newspaper. Periodicals like magazines like Air & Space and Aviation Week are also good places to start. Staying informed on what's new in aerospace might also modify your specific interests in this exciting field.
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