Aerospace engineering is the process of designing, creating, building, and manufacturing anything that flies. Jets, helicopters, and even spaceships are all part of this field.
The two main branches of aerospace engineering are aeronautical and astronautical engineering. The former deals with any aircraft that flies within the earth's atmosphere and the latter deals with anything that flies outside of the atmosphere.
What do Aeronautical Engineers do?
Aeronautical engineers build an aircraft that can fly within the earth's atmosphere including military flying technology, commercial and passenger jets, helicopters, and even drones. Many people feel that Aerospace engineering only came to be in the 20th century, but scientists and dreamers have been designing machines to fly since the Renaissance and beyond.
What do Astronautical Engineers do?
Astronautical engineers design and build spacecraft. They have to deal with all the complexities of the harsh outer space environment. This field of engineering is quite literally "rocket science." It is a field that requires a lot of intelligence and attention to detail, hence why would people joke about a comparatively simple task saying, "Hey, it's not rocket science!"
What is the difference between Aeronautical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering?
There isn't too much of a difference per se between Aeronautical and Aerospace engineering. Aeronautical engineering is more of a subset of aerospace engineering. Aeronautical engineers focus on building aircraft that fly within the earth's atmosphere.
They get an education in the basics of math, physics, and chemistry with more advanced studies in propulsion, aerodynamics, sensors, power generation, and other scientific topics. Both, general aerospace engineers and Aeronautical engineers study these topics, but aerospace engineers may work on the spacecraft that goes outside of the earth's atmosphere, in the field known as astronautical engineering.
What is the difference between Aerospace Engineering and Astronautical Engineering?
While Aerospace engineers study the aforementioned topics, astronautical engineers have an additional task. They must build and design spacecraft that function both within the earth's atmosphere and outside of it. This includes topics like thermodynamics and quantum physics at the bachelor's level, and things like space navigation, rocket propulsion and orbital mechanics at a graduate level.
What Does Aerospace Mean?
The word aerospace is a relatively new one as it was first used in the 1950s. The meaning of the word is anything pertaining to the earth's atmosphere and/or outer space.
Aerospace is comprised of two-word roots. Aero has its roots in the Greek word "aer," which means air, atmosphere or gases. You may recognize it from other words dealing with these topics like aerosol and anaerobic. Spacewas first used in relation to outer space in the late 1800s. However, it has been used to mean an interval of distance since the 1400s. In this case, it may refer to both.
What Does Aeronautical Mean?
The word aeronautical means anything related to building or flying aircraft within the earth's atmosphere. It was first used in the 1780s in relation to the burgeoning aircraft of the era - hot air balloons.
The word is made up of a few different parts: aero, which you will recognize from aerospace, and nautical. The latter is from the Greek word "nautikos", and means anything pertaining to ships and the sea. Of course, planes and spaceships do not go in the ocean, but they are ships of a sort.
What does Astronautical Mean?
Astronautical relates to the building and flying of aircraft that are meant to go into outer space. It contains the word for the scientists and travelers who pilot and live on these spacecraft, astronaut. The term was first used in the 1920s when the field of space travel became a possibility and interesting in society.
The prefix Astro comes from the Greek word of the same name meaning star. Thus, astronautical quite literally means, navigating a ship into the stars. Pretty, indeed.
What is Aerospace Technology?
Aerospace technology is a broad field since planes, spacecraft and other flying objects have so many components to them in modern times. It includes everything from propulsion systems to airplane wings and helicopter blades.
However, it is much more than just the mechanics involved in flying. It also includes things like security and operational software that pilots use to make airborne vehicles work. Think of every detail that goes into an aircraft - that's aerospace technology.
What is a Rocket Scientist?
Technically speaking, a rocket scientist isn't an official position. NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, says there are rocket engineers and scientists, but there isn't necessarily one position that combines the two disciplines. However, rocket engineers and scientists may work together on aerospace projects.
Rocket scientists may be thought of as people who work on propulsion systems for aerospace projects, or anyone who works in the aerospace field. How do you become one? Well, since it is synonymous with an aerospace engineer, the path is very similar. Just get a degree in the topic and you might consider telling people you are a rocket scientist!
History of Aerospace Engineering
The human mind has always looked to the sky to push the limits of what is possible. Well, in this regard you can say that these early dreamers were the first aerospace engineers, though they were probably very different than the ones we know today. Since the time of Da Vinci, brilliant minds have designed and sketched different flying machines, but never brought them to fruition.
The first humans took flight in the 1780s with the invention of the hot air balloon. Since that moment in time, a slew of inventors attempted to create a propulsion system for hot air balloons, and scientists and inventors began to study gliders which helped them learn about aerodynamics.
In 1903, the Wright brothers had their first famed flight, and everything went up from there. At first, aircraft were used primarily for military purposes in World War I, but after the innovation in the field of aerospace engineering, the commercial air travel industry exploded.
Since that time, every single aspect of air travel has immensely improved with each passing year from the development of new and more powerful engines to incredible navigation systems and manufacturing materials.
First Aerospace Engineers in History
Abbas Ibn Firnas
The first aerospace engineer lived in the 9th century. Abbas ibn Firnas was not only one of the first to study flight but was also a physician, poet, and a musician living in what is now Spain. He was inspired by another scientist of the era, Armen Firman, who had tried to jump off a cliff in a personal flying machine but failed, though he only had minor injuries as his device acted like a parachute to slow his fall.
After witnessing this fall, Abbas ibn Firnas studied the flight path, and after over 20 years, he built his own flying machine based on his findings. He improved on Firman's design by creating movable wings, and this was a big success.
Though he flew for about 10 minutes, he injured his back in the landing. Through his rough landing, he came up with the idea of a tail to help control the flight path. After this, he wrote a book on avionics which was used at the University of Al-Andalusia. Now an airport in Baghdad, Iraq bears his name in honor of his flighty achievements.
Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes
This Aerospace duo were great minds of the 1700s. They worked together to fly a hot air balloon five miles, and this was the first time it happened, starting the fad of "ballooning" in the late 18th century. The balloon was made by the Montgolfier brothers.
Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier was a science teacher and physician and François Laurent d'Arlendes a marquis. This first balloon had no steering capabilities, but even then the flight lasted for about 25 minutes. These new forays into the atmosphere allowed early aerospace engineers to study the relationship between altitude and the atmosphere.
Sir George Cayley
This was the time when people were getting up into the air on a more regular basis; some started to get curious about the mechanics of flight. Sir George Cayley was one of the first scientists to seriously study aerodynamics.
He is the originator of the terms "lift" and "drag" which are now basic concepts in the field. He built gliders, unmanned, and manned air vessels based on his experimental ideas.
Aerospace Engineering and NASA
NASA stands for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. In the US, the government bureau is responsible for aerospace research and national space exploration programs. Some of the best aerospace engineers in the country work at the agency, and many who study the subject list working for NASA as a goal.
What types of aerospace engineering jobs are available at NASA? Well, you could be an astronaut, a mathematician, a quality control inspector, a technical communications specialist or a mechanical engineer. All of these positions are important parts of the aerospace field and work together to create the most cutting-edge aerospace technology!
Aerospace Engineering and Space Programs
The best astronautical engineers work on programs that actually send people and machines to space. Some of the most recent space missions in the US include maintenance and research at the International Space Station and the exciting Curiosity Rover mission.
Both missions have aerospace engineers working together towards very different outcomes. The ISS is a space station where astronauts from different countries work together to make important discoveries about the differences between life on earth and life in space. The Curiosity Rover is a machine that was sent to The Red Planet to determine whether or not life has ever been possible there.
Of course, other space programs in the past have gained international acclaim including the Apollo missions, and the Hubble telescope. Aerospace engineers made all of these project possible.
Aerospace Engineering and Space Tourism/Travel
Most futurists agree that space tourism is going to be the future of aerospace engineering, although scientific research and exploration of the solar system will not stop. At the moment, Richard Branson's company, Virgin Galactic is on the forefront of this burgeoning field. In May of 2018, the company's spacecraft, the USS Unity, had its second successful launch, causing Branson to state that he expected to go into space himself within a year.
Right behind Virgin is Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' company Blue Origin, which has had successful launches in recent months. The company plans to set up a base on the moon and may work in conjunction with NASA to do so. The field of aerospace engineering will expand in the future to include space tourism and travel, and many more engineers will be needed to fuel this growth.
Aerospace Engineering Industry
The aerospace engineering industry is very intriguing and exciting, especially in our modern era. It attracts people with scientific and mathematical knowledge, those with a curiosity for what makes things go up and those with a desire to improve on current technology.
As an aerospace engineer, you can expect to work for a company in the tech, defense or aircraft/space industry, or for the federal government. The industry itself is very dynamic, and many engineers find a position that suits their interests while offering plenty of opportunities for advancement.
Aerospace Engineering and The Tech Industry
Aerospace engineering has a lot of crossover with the tech industry, as most of the modern aerospace startups including Elon Musk's Space X, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are headed by CEOs who are also adept in technology. As consumers become more involved in air and space travel, consumer technology will become even more important in conjunction with aerospace engineering.
Aerospace engineering firms require tech-centered positions like software developers and IT professionals and consultants familiar with the unique data-heavy and speedy processing requirements of the aerospace industry.
Aerospace Engineering and the Space Industry
The space industry is seamlessly tied to aerospace engineering. Engineers are needed to safely get people and supplies to space, and more importantly, back to planet earth. Potential jobs within the space industry for aerospace engineers include launch engineer, antenna engineer, and safety and training specialist.
Aerospace Engineering and Computer Industry
Computers and aerospace engineering blend well. Even during the 60s and 70s, the machines that got the man to the moon and into space for the first time had computers, though they were hardly as powerful or fast as the ones we use now. For example, the computer behind the guidance system of the Apollo missions had just 32kb of memory and 4kb of RAM, famously, less than the memory of a graphing calculator.
Now airplanes and spaceships have incredibly advanced systems that need computer programmers and software designers to create them. There are computerized flight simulation systems that require the same. Without computing power, software, and the computer industry the planes, helicopters, and rockets just wouldn't go.
Aerospace Engineering and the Transportation Industry
The transportation industry includes everything and anything from highway construction to trains, planes and now space travel. People and freight travel on planes every single day of the year, even holidays and days that you typically take off. Aerospace engineers are what allow fast shipping for items purchased, speedy transportation of travelers, and shortly, the launch of the first adventurous space tourists!
There is plenty of room in the transportation industry for aerospace engineers including positions at the US Department of Transit or the FAA, the Federal Aviation Administration. The latter office oversees air traffic control and aviation safety.
Aerospace Engineering and The Travel Industry
Most people planning to travel long distance opt to fly. It is simply convenient and usually cost-effective when you factor in the time saved. Flight has allowed people to take day trips across the country, weekends in Thailand and more. It has helped to make the world a smaller place, making for easier exchange of goods, services, and ideas.
There are plenty of aerospace engineering positions in the travel industry. From building better navigation systems, more power-efficient entertainment systems that keep patrons from getting too restless on long flights, or a more fuel-efficient wing design, aerospace engineers are still needed in this well-established travel industry to keep it improving.
Aerospace Engineering and Defense Industry
There are numerous positions in the defense industry for aerospace engineers. Keep in mind that many of these positions require an official security clearance, so keep your record clean and stay out of trouble.
Aerospace engineers in defense not only design innovative and experimental aircraft but also work on missiles and other important facets of defense. While some disagree with the increase in military spending over recent years, it has done a lot of good for the defense industry which grew by almost 40,000 jobs in 2016, and the trend is projected to continue.
Perks of Being an Aerospace Engineer
The field of aerospace engineering has many perks besides working on innovative technology and getting the title of "rocket scientist." The pay for many positions is usually pretty good, even in an entry-level position. The median salary is over $80,000, though it can go much higher than that.
Most full-time positions offer employee benefits like health, dental and vision insurance, paid time off, sick time and other perks of working for a great employer. Many also get employer-matched retirement accounts. Companies know aerospace engineers have worked hard to get to where they are and appreciate their talents.
As an aerospace engineer, you can also work for the government or the military. The pay grades are very straightforward, and the benefits are excellent. While it might be slightly less than working at a for-profit company, many engineers love the stability of a government job.
Top Aerospace Companies
There are many aerospace companies to choose from when you decide to become an aerospace engineer. You must be already aware of a few newer, innovative companies who are facing the great mystery of space tourism and exploration head-on, Blue Origin, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. Many established earthbound companies are also excellent options.
Boeing is an established airplane manufacturer. Many commercial jets bear the Boeing name, and it is considered to be the largest aerospace company by some metrics. With over $86 billion of revenue each year, they have a hand in almost every avenue of aerospace including commercial, defense and space travel.
Airbus is the second largest aerospace company based on the metric of revenue. They are known for their giant Airbus 380 model, capable of taking over 800 passengers on a single flight if a single class layout is used. Airbus has offices on every continent, except Antarctica of course!
Lockheed Martin is another aerospace company well known for their focus on defense. They specialize in emergency aircraft, military aerospace projects, and space exploration. Their claim to fame is that they have built "more interplanetary spacecraft than all other US companies combined," and they have built many of the spacecraft used on important NASA missions.
One company that makes to the list of top aerospace companies is Rolls Royce. They have been working on new airplane engines that could reduce carbon emissions and noise pollution around airports. They have also developed new vertical lift technology for fighter jets, removing the need for a long runway and allowing for a vertical landing, previously only available for helicopters.
Biggest Aerospace Manufacturers
While the aforementioned companies are also some of the largest manufacturers in the aerospace industry, there are plenty of others to add to the list.
United Technologies is often listed as the 3rd biggest manufacturer of aerospace technology. Their aerospace manufacturing company, Pratt & Whitney, has been influencing the field of air flight since 1925. They design and manufacture military and commercial plane engines, and their engines are used on 25% of all commercial flights in the world.
Northrop Grumman is another prolific company that focuses on security and defense technology. They do many things both in and out of aerospace, but they mainly focus on aircraft protection technology and services for both commercial and military air travel. They have also been developing aircraft for the manned flight for about 90 years.
Raytheon is an aerospace manufacturer, but they are not putting out engines or planes like the other companies listed here. They focus on missile defense, building satellites, and sensors to detect missiles, and creating technology to intercept them. They work on radar systems for military and commercial purposes and develop remote and unmanned aircraft.
Aerospace Engineering Career
A career in aerospace engineering is a wonderful idea if you have an interest in it and the proper training. The industry is projected to grow by about 6% between 2016 and 2026. Whether you are more into aerodynamics or navigation systems, you'll likely be able to find your niche and have a satisfying career filled with innovation that will make a difference in the world
Best Industries for Aerospace Engineering Career
Aerospace engineers find careers in many industries. Here is an overview of a few of them and what you can expect to find there.
Within the modern travel industry, aerospace engineers can expect to work on projects that focus on improving existing technology. Increasing fuel efficiency, reducing emissions and reducing noise pollution are common goals between manufacturers and consumers that pose complex and yet interesting challenges for aerospace engineers.
When you work in defense as an aerospace engineer, you may become a designer, using CAD software to create plans for conceptual aircraft. Test engineers test missiles and other airborne objects for how they perform and test airplane parts for safety. Structural design engineers analyze the function of an existing aircraft.
To many, this seems like the most exciting area of the aerospace industry. Space is still a mostly unexplored frontier, yet it is poised to become a luxury tourist destination in a few years. You could become an actual astronaut as an aerospace engineer, but that is rare. Most engineers in the field, actually work in an office. You could work on any number of positions that will help shape the future of commercial and exploratory space travel.
Aerospace Engineering Jobs
Once you complete your studies as an aerospace engineer, you may think about the next options. There are plenty of careers suited for a variety of different personality types in the aerospace engineering field.
When you enter the field with a bachelor's degree, you might start as a paid intern or research assistant, which will help you learn even more and prepare you for a long career in the aerospace field. Other entry-level positions include project engineer, design engineer, systems engineer and manufacturing engineer, all of which could lead to senior positions after several years of successful performance.
Those who study aerospace engineering at the graduate level may widen their job prospects to include teaching the subject at the university level. You may also receive higher pay when entering the workforce with masters or even doctorate.
Is a Career in Aerospace Engineering in Demand?
If you're wondering whether pursuing an aerospace engineering degree is worth it, you put your mind at ease. That's because a career in aerospace engineering is in demand with a six percent estimated growth rate between 2016 and 2026.
Individuals who graduate with an aerospace engineering degree often make more than typical graduates by 45 percent. So, pursuing a degree in this field is not only rewarding, but it offers the potential for high earnings.
Aerospace Engineering Job Description
Job descriptions vary depending on the specific position, but the basic description is often the same. As an aerospace engineer, you will be working on either the design, manufacturing, testing or analysis of spacecraft or aircraft.
You may become a specialist in one type of aerospace technology such as navigation, propulsion or building materials for the products you work on. The job requires a strong understanding of advanced scientific topics including thermodynamics, robotics, and mechanics.
Aerospace Engineering Jobs in the USA
There are plentiful jobs in this industry in America. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this field is expected to grow by a rate of 6% by 2026. In the US, most aerospace engineers have jobs in aircraft manufacturing and maintenance.
Engineering jobs for aircraft and spaceships are centered in a few different physical areas. The Seattle area has many aerospace engineers compared to the rest of the nation because there are several aerospace companies in the area.
Los Angeles, Wichita and the area outside of Orlando where Cape Canaveral is located also have a high concentration of aerospace engineering positions. There are almost 70,000 aerospace positions total in the USA.
Aerospace Engineering Jobs in Canada
An aerospace engineer job was ranked as one of the best jobs to have in Canada in 2016. That's because it has a great salary and contributes a lot to the country. Most of the aerospace engineering jobs in the country are centered around major cities. There are positions in Montreal, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga and elsewhere.
There are about 4,000 positions total in the country for this field, which may not sound like many but when you consider that the population of the whole country is only 36 million, less than the state of California alone, the prospects for a Canadian aerospace engineer seem a lot better.
Aerospace Engineering Jobs in Europe
Many aerospace companies call Europe home, including Airbus, a large manufacturer of aircraft. There are positions available in almost every European country including Poland, Germany, The Czech Republic, and Italy. If you have the proper visa or citizenship to get an aerospace engineering job in Europe, you will find that a decent salary and good benefits await you. Some countries, like Switzerland, are known for paying higher wages in this field than others.
Aerospace Engineering Jobs in Asia
Asia is a huge place, full of opportunity for almost anything, including aerospace engineering. Countries with a growing middle class like China and India are experiencing a technological boom, including growth in aerospace engineering as more people can afford air travel.
In India, on an average an aerospace engineer makes $12,000/year, but, this is considered a great wage there. In Japan, employees can make the equivalent of about $115,000. So you can see, the range of Asian salaries can vary widely.
Aerospace Engineering Jobs in Australia
There are about 11,600 aerospace engineering jobs in Australia. With a population of only 24 million people, that's a larger percentage than Canada or the United States! The industry in Australia is expected to grow steadily over the next few years, with about 2,000 new jobs projected in the next few years.
The salary for aerospace engineers is higher than the average salary for other residents. The greatest concentration of aerospace engineering jobs in Australia is located in the state of New South Wales, where large cities like Sydney, Canberra, and Newcastle are located.
Aerospace Engineering Jobs in Russia
The Russian aerospace industry is expected to see a 12.1% growth in the next year. Last year, a Russian aircraft company, Irkut Corporation, tested a new aircraft they hope will compete with Western passenger jets from Airbus and Boeing. While not much information was gleaned from the test by outside observers, it is clear Russia wants to position itself to compete in the global market.
The average salary for a Russian aerospace engineer is around $17,000, higher than the national average salary, though lower than other countries. When considering working in such an environment, you must consider that the cost of living is also lower there.
Best Aerospace Companies to Work For
The best company to work for in any industry is a subjective decision, but there are certain things that can't be denied. Keep in mind your mileage may vary and it's really best to go with the position and company that seems best for you personally. Here are some of the companies that top more than a few lists.
Boeing is one of the top aircraft companies in the world. They have offices in 70 countries worldwide. It is one of the largest global employers of aerospace employees, with over 158,000 on their roster. Between all the different types of products they make, including satellites, rockets, commercial and military aircraft and the important work they do with NASA, any aerospace engineer can likely find a niche that fits their interests.
For those who are not into the defense side of the aerospace industry, Airbus may be a good fit. Only 18% of their revenue comes from defense contracts, much lower than most other aerospace companies. The company has been increasing profits for several years in a row, and that trend doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
The Aerospace Corporation
It is a well-known fact that it can be harder to get a job if you are on the older side. However, one aerospace company, The Aerospace Corporation, is well known for being a great place for employees above 50 years old. It was even listed as a top company by AARP (American Association of Retired Persons.) It is a smaller company with only 3,700 employees, which pales in comparison to the hundreds of thousands at the larger companies. Some may prefer a smaller or larger company; it's all just up to personal preference.
Best Aerospace Associations:
There are plentiful associations in the aerospace community you can join to find others who are like you, to network, or just to keep in touch with interesting colleagues.
Aerospace Industries Association
The AIA is an association that works to advocate for the aerospace industry in the US government. Members attend special meetings and events and get access to services that can help them to network and even shape legislation. The organization prides itself on basing their mission and values on what its members, who include top industry executives, want.
The Vertical Flight Society
TVFS or The Vertical Flight Society is all about helicopters and any aircraft that is capable of vertical flight. The group started as the American Helicopter Society in 1943, but at some point, along the way, they decided to become more generalized and open to anything related to vertical flight. It's a good thing too because the first non-helicopter aircraft capable of vertical landings are in development at this time.
The American Astronautical Society
The AAS is for everyone who works in the field of outer space, whether they are in space tourism, scientific exploration or launching satellites. The society was founded in 1954 and seeks to advance all space activities. They host several interesting conferences each year including the International Space Station Research and Development Conference.
Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International
AUVSI focuses on unmanned vehicles like drones and flying robotics. They are more than just a hobbyist organization. They are for people who are serious players in the industry. They help with networking, provide helpful information and help to advocate for laws that will advance the field.
Perks of Working at NASA as an Aerospace Engineer
NASA is one of the best places to work in the field of aerospace engineering. Kids dream of working for NASA and adults do too! A small number of them actually get to live out their dreams. The major benefit to working at NASA is that you get to work with some of the greatest and most exciting minds of our time and that too in an environment that spawns innovation.
If you want to understand how to get to Mars or perform the most sophisticated tasks in the difficult environment of space, this is one of the only places you'll get to do it. Believe it or not, there are also other benefits to this job!
Working for NASA means you will be an employee of the federal government. This type of employment has several benefits, including a competitive salary, steady and predictable raises, and promotions. NASA cares about families, offering on-site childcare and flexible work schedules.
NASA wants its employees to keep learning. It is what keeps the institution so innovative. They offer tuition reimbursement programs for certain educational endeavors and have a lot of on-site training to teach employees about the latest technologies. Employees can also learn a lot simply through the hands-on experience offered by positions there.
NASA campuses are usually pretty comfortable with a health clinic, cafeteria, travel agency, and fitness center on site. This is all besides the usual employee benefits of healthcare coverage, employer matched retirement options, disability protection, and even life insurance.
Aerospace Engineer Salary at NASA
The salary for an aerospace engineer at NASA is competitive with the private sector because the salaries come with "locality pay." This adjusts your federal employee salary to match what it would be if you were working for a private company.
NASA doesn't want to lose quality employees to the private sector. This is reflected in the high average salary for NASA aerospace engineers, which is $96,000 per year. The full range is $61,000-$153,000, showing you can make quite a bit of dough!
How to Become an Aerospace Engineer at NASA
NASA is one of the most sought-after organizations for aerospace engineers. The first step to working at NASA is definitely getting the right education starts with an undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering. This could be enough to get you an entry-level position, but many choose to get a masters or even a doctorate which allows them to focus on a specialty.
Once you have your degree, or even while you are getting one of your degrees, it could be all about getting a foot in the door. Doing an internship can be a good way to make yourself known at the organization while still doing something fun and exciting to further your experience. The NASA Pathways Intern Employment Program helps interested parties become involved with the organization. These are not your average internships. NASA internships are paid and offer invaluable experience.
NASA also offers a similar program for recent graduates called NASA Pathways Recent Graduates Program. The goal of this program is to get recent college graduates into positions at NASA. Or, if you've recently completed some graduate coursework, look into the NASA Pathways Presidential Management Program.
NASA also offers several exciting and competitive fellowships, which are short programs connected to specific universities including Harvard, UCLA and Penn State. These programs offer opportunities for students to get the extra education that could give them a leg up when looking for a job at NASA.
If your dream is to be an astronaut, then look into the Astronaut Candidate Program. There are extra educational, physical and professional requirements, so make sure you meet all of these before you apply to the program.
Otherwise, the best place to find a NASA job is to apply on the USAJobs website. This is the main hub for all federal jobs, and the site is pretty easy to use. You can easily upload your resume and write a custom cover letter for each job that you apply for.
Perks of Working at SpaceX As an Aerospace Engineer
SpaceX is Elon Musk's space exploration company. Similar to NASA, one of the main perks is working in an innovative environment. The company's goals are to make space travel more accessible for the average person and developing reusable rockets that could reduce the cost of space travel.
As this is a public sector company, many employees receive stock options. You can also take your family and friends on tours of the facility, which could be very inspirational for young family members.
SpaceX also offers its employees usual benefits like health insurance coverage. At some of their campuses, they also have on-site medical and dental clinics, saving you a lot of time when you're not feeling your best. It should be noted - SpaceX does not have an employer matched 401K.
Many employees feel that the benefits here are similar to those of many other tech companies with on-site food and snacks, and deep discounts on branded company swag.
Aerospace Engineer Salary at SpaceX
The median salary for an aerospace engineer at SpaceX is around $89,000. However, the range is from $69,000-$110,000. Salaries start slightly higher than NASA, but the median is a bit lower, and they do not reach as high once you get into the more experienced years of your career. That may be because at NASA, engineers may stay with the company for their entire career, while private sector companies tend to have a bit more turnover.
Perks of Working at Virgin Galactic As an Aerospace Engineer
Virgin Galactic is another innovative space exploration company. CEO Richard Branson hopes to be up in space himself in the next year. Branson is known for treating employees well and creating a fun work environment, a philosophy that is part of how he has gotten so successful. According to employees, the benefits packages offered by VG are good, including health care coverage, 401K matching and a healthy amount of paid time off.
Aerospace Engineer Salary at Virgin Galactic
The average salary for an aerospace engineer at Virgin Galactic is $93,000. This is a competitive rate for the industry, especially when you factor in the excellent benefits package offered to employees. That salary could range depending on your department. For example, test engineers could make up to $104,000 per year, while a senior mechanical engineer could make up to $123,000 per year.
Perks of Working at Boeing As an Aerospace Engineer
Boeing has a lot of experience collecting and keeping the best aerospace engineers, so they have a competitive benefits package. They have multiple options for healthcare packages including one that doesn't take anything out of your own paycheck.
They match retirement contributions up to 8% and most employees receive an annual bonus. The most valuable benefit to some employees may be the tuition reimbursement program for both full-time and part-time employees. Plus, they offer plenty of vacation time and sick leave, which, according to employees, gets even better the longer you have been with the company.
Aerospace Engineer Salary at Boeing
When you are an entry-level aerospace engineer at Boeing, you can expect to make a median salary of $73,000. However, once you have some experience, the median salary goes up to $85,000 per year. The overall salary range for aerospace engineers at Boeing is $63,000-$142,000.
Perks of Working at Airbus As an Aerospace Engineer
Airbus is a global company headquartered in Europe, though they do have plenty of offices all around the world. They are known for treating employees well. In the US all employees start with 2 weeks of paid time off plus even more personal time. They have a 401K matching program up to 13.25% which is quite high.
Education reimbursement, health insurance to meet your needs and even life insurance and disability coverage are offered to employees. All of this is beside the ability to work on some of the most innovative aircraft in the world!
Aerospace Engineer Salary at Airbus
The average aerospace engineer salary at Airbus is $76,000 per year. However, the range is $52,000-$128,000. This is in a competitive range making Airbus another valid choice for employment for an aerospace engineer.
Perks of Working at Lockheed Martin As an Aerospace Engineer
Lockheed Martin is a company that knows what to offer to employees to remain competitive in the job market. They have comprehensive health insurance plans, and offer life and disability insurance. They have several health positive plans including help with smoking cessation, free flu shots, free biometric screening, weight loss support, and fitness centers and walking paths on-site. Most campuses also have a cafeteria with healthy food options and some even have a wellness center where you can go if you're not feeling in tip-top shape.
In addition, Lockheed Martin has what they call an "inclusive work environment," that creates a respectful and positive atmosphere open to many types of employees from different backgrounds.
Where LM really goes above and beyond is their commitment to developing their employees. They have extensive mentorship opportunities, programs to help employees learn both at work and at traditional educational institutions, and their own Center for Leadership Excellence. This center in Bethesda, MD, is where many important meetings, classes and company events take place. It's clear that Lockheed Martin is invested in their employees professional and physical well-being.
Aerospace Engineer Salary at Lockheed Martin
Aerospace engineers at Lockheed Martin may earn a median salary of $83,000, with a range of $61,000-$120,000. This competitive range shows the company is serious about retaining employees. When you consider that all the aforementioned benefits are in addition to this salary, it really does make working at Lockheed Martin look quite attractive.
Aerospace Engineering Salary
Aerospace engineering salaries are competitive with other salaries in the technology industry, and many companies offer great benefits for making a good salary even more worth it. Aerospace engineering is a solid field to go into for a stable career working in your field of interest.
What is the Average Aerospace Engineer Salary in the USA?
The average aerospace engineer salary in the USA is $99,000. However, if you're an entry-level aerospace engineer the average annual salary is $72,000. Keep in mind that depending on your employer you may receive bonuses and benefits that will enhance this salary.
Average Aerospace Engineering Salaries State-By-State
The geographical location of aerospace engineering jobs matter since they impact how much you make as an aerospace engineer. Luckily, the Bureau of Labor Statistics collects data on salaries across the country to help you benchmark what salary range you should look for when considering becoming an aerospace engineer.
The data below is based on the May 2018 period and does not include data for the states where data was unavailable. See if the state you plan to start a career in aerospace engineering is offering the salary you want:
|District of Columbia||$138,480|
What is the Average Aerospace Engineer Salary Globally?
The global average salary for an aerospace engineer varies greatly. That's because, in some countries with a lower cost of living, you may earn as little as the equivalent to $10,000 per year as an aerospace engineer. However, when you consider that the average overall salary for these countries may be just a few hundred dollars, you realize that is actually a good wage. So, it's really hard to say what is the global average salary for all aerospace engineers. The one thing that is true is that no matter where you are located, it is a great position that typically pays higher than the local average or median salary.
Aerospace Engineering Salary in 2018
As of June 2018, the average aerospace engineering salary in the US was $99,000. This wage is above the US median salary, of around $56,000. The future promises to be great for aerospace engineers with so much space exploration and tourism right around the corner.
Aerospace Engineering Salary Range
The salary range for an aerospace engineer in the US is $82,000-$120,000. Of course, this could be variable depending on which company you choose to work for, and which area of the country you live in, as the ranges could be slightly different.
Aerospace Engineering Salaries Worldwide
Since the average annual aerospace engineering salary varies from country to country, it's important to compare salaries for the countries you plan to work in to determine if they meet your needs. Here's a look at the average annual salary for aerospace engineers around the world:
|Argentina||$699.046 ARS ($16,701 USD)|
|Australia||$151,320 AUD ($108,517 USD)|
|Austria||€73 758 EUR ($83,335 USD)|
|Belgium||€ 76.994 EUR ($87 USD)|
|Brazil||R$131.371 BRL ($33,117 USD)|
|Canada||$124,220 CAD ($93,090 USD)|
|Chile||$28.505.727 CLP ($43,111 USD)|
|China||¥303,012 CNY ($45,305 USD)|
|Costa Rica||20 327 082 CRC ($34,014 USD)|
|Czech Republic||978 129 CZK ($43,067 USD)|
|Denmark||654.652 DKK ($99,082 USD)|
|Egypt||159,508 EGP ($9,244 USD)|
|Estonia||29 954 € EUR ($33,844 USD)|
|France||67 478 EUR ($76,242 USD)|
|Germany||85.510 EUR ($96,611 USD)|
|Iceland||9.905.625 ISK ($82,541 USD)|
|Italy||€64.781 EUR ($73,191 USD)|
|Japan||¥12,776,130 JPY ($113,997 USD)|
|South Korea||54,605,460 KRW ($48,222 USD)|
|Mexico||$447,155 MXN ($23,775 USD)|
|Netherlands||€ 73.737 EUR ($83,313 USD)|
|Norway||kr 909 166 NOK ($107,052 USD)|
|Poland||122 664 PLN ($32,448 USD)|
|Spain||49.532 € EUR ($55,964 USD)|
|Sweden||603.072kr SEK ($65,237 USD)|
|Switzerland||117'175 CHF ($115,972 USD)|
|Turkey||101.581 TRY ($17,693 USD)|
|United Arab Emirates||335,095 AED ($91,228 USD)|
|United Kingdom||£65,740 GBP ($85,731 USD)|
|United States||$122,043 USD|
Aerospace Engineering Salary Range in The UK
In the UK, salaries for entry-level aerospace engineers range from £22,000 to £28,000, or about $29,000-$37,000. However, when you get to a more senior position in your career you could earn from £45,000-£60,000, which is the equivalent of $60,000-$80,000. This salary range is slightly less than in the US, but if you compare it to other average UK salaries, it is definitely in line with what others earn.
Aerospace Engineering Salary Range in Europe
Salary ranges for aerospace engineers vary greatly in Europe. Some countries, like Switzerland, offer a fairly high average salary of 48,000CHF-160,000CHF, which is equivalent to the same as in the US. Other countries offer lower salaries, like France where you could earn anywhere from €25,000-€40,000, or just $29,000-$46,000. Still, others fall somewhere in between that range, like Germany where maximum aerospace engineering salaries could be as high as €96,000 or about $112,000.
Aerospace Engineering Salary Range in Japan
The average aerospace engineer salary in Japan is ¥12,631,442, or about $115,000. This is quite competitive in the global market. The overall range goes from ¥8,789,346-¥15,679,681 or about $73,000-$137,000.
Aerospace Engineering Salary Range in China
The average salary for an aerospace engineer in China is ¥202,000 or about $31,000 per year. The range is from ¥143,000-¥255,000 or around $22,000-$39,000. This is less than global salaries, but considering that the average Chinese salary is just about $4,000 per year, this is quite a good wage.
Aerospace Engineering Salary Range in Asia
The salary range for aerospace engineers in Asia has quite a range. There are countries in Asia with quite a low cost of living, like India. There you can expect to make only $12,000 per year as an aerospace engineer, but that is actually a good salary! The situation is similar in China. The salaries may seem lower than global averages, but when you compare them to other wages, they are quite satisfactory. However, several countries in Asia also have high wages for this position.
We've already discussed Japan which has rates that are competitive with western markets. There is also Singapore in the middle where you can earn a median salary of S$50,000 per year, which is equivalent to $37,000 per year, but salaries go all the way up to S$84,0000 which is about $62,000 per year. Either way, Asia offers a range of experiences for aerospace engineers!
Aerospace Engineering Salary Range by Country
The top three countries for aerospace engineer salaries are Switzerland, the USA, and Denmark. These three countries offer salaries that are higher than the global averages. Switzerland workers can earn up to $160,000 per year, Americans can earn up to $120,000 per year, and in Denmark, you could earn up to $80,000 as an aerospace engineer.
Egypt and Vietnam are two of the lowest paying countries for the field, with salaries that usually equal around $6,000-$7,000 per year. However, again you have to look at the average salary for these countries. Egypt's average salary for the capital city of Cairo is equivalent to about $4,700, and Vietnam's average salary is around $1800 per year, so these salaries are still higher than the national average for these lower wage countries.
Aerospace Engineering Salary Range by City
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US cities with the highest salaries for aerospace engineers include the Washington DC metro area, with an average salary of around $137,000, Los Angeles, where the average salary is $132,000, and the SF Bay Area with salaries around $121,000. Lower salary areas include the Phoenix area with salaries near $100,000, and Wichita, KS where salaries are around $104,000. Even these lower areas are quite a bit higher than the national and local salary averages.
List of Aerospace Engineering Salary Ranges at Different Companies
The top aerospace companies all have different salary ranges, but you'll notice that they are all within a similar area. Here is a list of some of the salary ranges at the top companies.
|NAVAIR (Naval Air Systems Command)||$66,000-$75,000|
|General Electric Aviation||$57,000-$81,000|
|Pratt & Whitney||$80,000-$130,000|
|The Aerospace Corporation||$69,000-$99,000|
Basic Titles and their Meanings in the Aerospace Industry
When considering a career in the aerospace industry, there are many titles to consider and it may become a bit confusing. However, most of the job titles are pretty self-explanatory. You just have to decide which one is right for you!
As previously mentioned, an astronautical engineer focuses on traveling in the outer space realm. Astronautical engineering is a specialty within the field of aerospace engineering. A career with this job title promises lifelong learning and innovation, as space is the last frontier!
Design Aerospace Engineer
Design engineers focus on the conceptualization and planning of aircraft and spacecraft. You may work with special software to help design, and you may work with other types of engineers who will actually bring your ideas to fruition, and others who will help you determine if your designs have the potential to be successful in the commercial market.
Materials Aerospace Engineer
One of the major goals of many modern aerospace projects is to make aircrafts lighter and more fuel efficient. That means, researching and developing new materials and ways of using them to make safe aircraft that can surpass the current milestones of human flight.
Stress engineers and analysts help to determine stress points within the design of a new aircraft. They may also analyze existing aircraft. They work with a loads engineer to come up with the proper load/stress ratio to actually get the aircraft working properly and able to move into the physical prototype or manufacturing stage.
A quality control aerospace engineer is a very important position! They inspect aircraft and make sure that the parts and design not only conform to legal safety standards but also meet internal requirements. This position is indispensable and helps to find flaws in manufactured aircraft.
How to Become an Aerospace Engineer
Becoming an aerospace engineer may be somewhat straightforward, but it is not easy by any means. There is a lot of education involved and so you must have a true love of science, math, and learning. Your education as an aerospace engineer might start in high school with advanced math classes.
When you go to college, you will need to pick aerospace engineering as a major. This ensures you will get the proper classes in advanced math and science topics.
Once you graduate from college, you may start applying for jobs right away, or you might decide to go to graduate school to further specialize in your studies. Either way, you will get to continue working on innovative projects.
Once you are completely done with your schooling, it is easy to apply for an entry-level job as an aerospace engineer. Keep in mind that since there are only specific areas of the country that act as centers for the aerospace industry, you may have to move around to work at your dream job.
How to Become a Rocket Scientist
Becoming a rocket scientist, or an astronautical engineer is quite similar to becoming an aerospace engineer. However, you will require even more specific education to ready yourself to work on spacecraft and space exploration.
Astronautical engineers have all the challenges of Aerospace engineering, but they must also build aircraft that can function in the vacuum and mystery of outer space. If your dream is to become a rocket scientist, then a lot of education and learning are in store for your future.
Aerospace Engineering Courses
Aerospace engineering courses are heavy on math and science. Undergraduate course regimens are very similar. You will study aerodynamics, thermodynamics, flight software, aircraft and space flight dynamics, propulsion and power sources, and other scientific topics.
Once you get to the graduate level, you may choose to specialize in one area, which means you can focus on aerodynamics, aeroelasticity, flight mechanics, propulsion systems, structural mechanics or system design.
Aerospace Engineering Courses Online
There are several ways to learn about aerospace engineering online, both through traditional educational institutions and through new types of online course systems. However, due to the fact that nothing can really act as a substitute for in-person lab work, it is not really possible to get an aerospace engineering degree or full education online. To do this, you really do have to take in-person courses.
Some free courses are available online through MIT's OpenCourseWare. This is a way that anyone could access the amazing educational content of MIT. You can also get a certificate in the Introduction of Aerospace Engineering to show that you understand the basics from EDX.
Aerospace Engineering Education & Training
Once you are already an aerospace engineer, the education and training never stop. That is because the technological strides in the industry are happening all the time. You will need to keep up with continuing your learning process.
That doesn't mean taking college classes all the time. Many aerospace companies have several ways of helping their employees learn about what is going on in the industry through on-site courses, and who knows - you may be the one who is at the forefront of a new technological breakthrough, teaching it to others in the field!
Aerospace Engineering Requirements
While the minimum requirement for the aerospace engineering industry is a bachelor's degree, some people go above and beyond for a graduate degree for many reasons. First of all, many in the field simply have a love of learning. Additionally, a graduate degree usually allows for higher pay upon exiting school and allows you to focus on a more specific interest in aerospace engineering.
Keep in mind that many employers have tuition reimbursement programs, so it may be worth to get a job with bachelor's and then go back to school while working to get a graduate degree, especially if you're not 100% sure what you would specialize in.
Aerospace Engineering Degree
An aerospace engineering degree can take you far. This type of degree will get you in the door at many aerospace institutions and will make it so that you can have a worthwhile career in this exciting field. If your dream is to work with aircraft or spacecraft, this is the degree you absolutely need.
Best Aerospace Engineering Schools
The best aerospace engineering schools include colleges that have a strong technology focus. Many of the schools on these lists may not surprise you, but some of them may not have been on your radar!
*California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Caltech is one of the top engineering schools in the U.S.A. for good reasons. It has a small student body with just 543 full-time enrolled students in its graduate engineering programs. It's also only 10 miles away from Los Angeles and offers events that offer networking opportunities and research insight for alumni and enrolled students alike. Caltech's Department of Aerospace offers graduate-level degrees in a variety of specialization, including aeronautics and space engineering. This school also offers an aerospace minor for undergraduates interested in exploring the field.
*Georgia Institute of Technology. This school has one of the largest and oldest programs in aerospace engineering and offers graduate-level degrees for aspiring aerospace engineers. It also provides a place for graduate students to live and co-op and volunteer opportunities.
*Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). S. News & World Report ranks MIT as a top school for aerospace engineering, and for good reasons. MIT has a small student-faculty ratio for its Ph.D. engineering program averaging 5.6 students per faculty member. A smaller student-faculty ratio makes it easier for students to get the individual coaching and attention they need for research and other academic tasks. The school also offers opportunities for innovation, including an entrepreneurship competition.
*Purdue University-West Lafayette. Graduate students in Purdue's program can count on flexible rolling admissions and a small student-to-faculty ratio (5.4 students per faculty).
Aerospace Engineering Schools & Degrees
For aerospace engineering as an undergraduate, there is really just a major in aerospace engineering. Some schools do offer further specialization, but that usually comes when you are at the graduate level. Either way, a general degree in aerospace engineering is enough to prepare you for a career in this amazing industry.
What is Sigma Gamma Tau?
Sigma Gamma Tau is the honors society for aerospace engineers. If you entered into this organization, it means that you have excelled at your studies or work in aerospace engineering. This invitation-only society is available to both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as college alumni and aerospace engineering professionals. Getting into this private group can be very helpful for networking, and many hiring managers use it as a benchmark for recognizing a quality aerospace engineer.
How to Get Aerospace Engineering Degrees
Getting an aerospace engineering degree is very straightforward, though it is not easy for everyone. Many enjoy the idea of the field but when it comes down to doing all that hard math and science, they discover it is not the right fit for them. However, if you do well in school, then getting a degree will not be hard. As long as you can stick with it, you'll soon be on your way to getting a degree. As this is dependent on in-person labs, there is not as much online education for aerospace degrees as there are for other engineering professions.
Best Aerospace Engineering Universities in the World
MIT and Stanford are currently ranked at the top of the global rankings for aerospace schools. However, there are also some global entries on the list. Cambridge University in the UK is a wonderful school for many topics, and aerospace engineering is one of them. Also in the top ten of the list are Imperial College London and the National University of Singapore. Any of these would make great global choices for an aerospace engineering education.
Best Aerospace Engineering Universities in Europe
Cambridge University has already been mentioned as a top European University. However, there are several other locations on the continent that could serve as a possible educational destination for you.
Teesside University in Middlesbrough, UK has several programs for future aerospace engineers. The Institut Supérieur de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace-Toulouse, or the Superior Institute of Aeronautics and Space at Toulouse is a school that is all about the study of aerospace. The Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands is also well known as a great European destination for aerospace education.
Best Aerospace Engineering Universities in The UK
The UK offers several opportunities to learn about aerospace engineering. The program at Cambridge is really second to none. This university is quite historic and has been around since the year 1209. Third and fourth year engineering students take specialized courses in aerospace after becoming well versed in the basics of this program.
Teesside's Aerospace program is also excellent. The school has an incredible physical laboratory which offers students the opportunity to put their hands on technology for research and learning.
At the Imperial College of London, students focus on aeronautics - the craft that flies within the earth's atmosphere. There are undergraduate, masters and Ph.D. opportunities here.
Best Aerospace Engineering Universities in Canada
The University of Waterloo in Ontario offers an excellent science and aviation degree. The degree program not only gives you a great scientific education, but you will also earn your pilot's license!
The University of Toronto has its own institute for aerospace studies. Here students can earn a Master of Engineering, a Master of Applied Science or Ph.D. in the field.
The University of Alberta is also a perfect choice for Canadians who want to join the industry. While they have a major that focuses on mechanical engineering. There is a group on campus that works with engineering students who are interested in the aerospace industry.
Best Aerospace Engineering Universities in Japan
There are a few schools in Japan offering education in aerospace engineering. There is Tohoku University on the east coast of Japan's main island. Here students can learn what it takes to work as an aerospace engineer. There is also Kyushu University, just outside of Fukuoka. They have programs specifically for international students wanting to learn about aerospace engineering.
Best Aerospace Engineering Universities in India
The number one place to study aerospace engineering in India is the Indian Institute of Space and Science Technology in Thiruvananthapuram. This school is managed by India's Department of Space and is well known for its amazing lab environments.
There is also the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras. The school is home to many foreign-funded research projects, which make it an exciting place for students.
The Indian Institute of Technology at Bombay is another great location for aerospace engineering in India. This location offers wind tunnel testing experience and plenty of research and development opportunities.
Best Aerospace Engineering Universities in the Middle East & North Africa
In the Middle East region, King Abdul Aziz University is one of the top locations that have an aerospace department. It shouldn't be a surprise as this school is often ranked as the top school in the Middle East in general. There is also the Qatar Aerospace College, where you can learn all about aircraft that travel within the atmosphere and prepare to work in the field.
Best Aerospace Engineering Universities in China
There are several quality institutions in China that can provide a quality aerospace education. Beihang University has an excellent department focusing on different areas of the industry including research, design and flight dynamics. The Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics is also a solid choice for anyone wanting to go into either side of the industry.
Best Aerospace Engineering Universities in Asia
The University of Tokyo has a small but competitive aerospace department. There are only 15 doctoral candidates admitted each year, and only 10 professors total, so if you want to get in here, you'd better make sure your grades are in tip-top shape. The National University of Singapore allows mechanical engineering students to specialize in Aerospace engineering. The school also has a Centre for Aerospace Engineering where extensive research can take place.
Best Aerospace Engineering Universities in California
Several of the best universities for aerospace engineering is located in California. The University of Southern California in Los Angeles is an option, offering both undergraduate and graduate education in the field. Graduates from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo make 8.6% more than graduates from other schools right out of the gate, making it a top college. Don't forget about Stanford University which is often listed as the 2nd best aerospace program in the world after MIT.
Best Aerospace Engineering Universities in Texas
The University of Texas at Austin is one of the top programs in the world and Texas for aerospace engineering. The school is large and gives a more than quality education in the field. A close second in the state is Texas A&M University at College Station. This is another large school with a lot of opportunities for future aerospace engineers.
Best Aerospace Engineering Universities in New York
New York State has some incredible places to study aerospace engineering. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY has a small department that offers quality education to prepare students for their futures. Cornell, in Ithaca, NY is also a top aerospace program in the State of New York. If you're looking for a great aerospace program in NYC, you're out of luck. There aren't many places to study it in the City that Never Sleeps!
Best Aerospace Engineering Universities in Russia
Aviation and aerospace is a huge industry in Russia, so it makes sense to study it there. There is even a school in Moscow dedicated solely to the study of the topic, The Moscow Aviation Institute. This is the best place to study aerospace in the country. They offer undergraduate degrees in propulsion, aircraft engineering, and spacecraft engineering. There is also an aerospace program at the University of Moscow that can rival any international program!
Which Popular Disciplines and Knowledge Does Aerospace Engineering Include?
It is almost hard to list all the topics covered in aerospace engineering because engineers must think of so many topics. It is hard to say whether or not new subjects will come into play as the field gains new innovations over the years. However, the current subject that you will definitely need to know about include:
- Computer programs for engineering
- Other math and science topics depending on your specialty
Famous Aerospace Engineers and Their Stories
Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, may be one of the most well-known aerospace engineers in our modern era. Musk was born in South Africa but became one of the founders of PayPal in the late 90s. He is not a traditional aerospace engineer because he has a degree in physics and economics. He planned to get a masters in energy physics but joined the tech world instead of just a few days after his graduate program started.
He founded SpaceX in 2002 after selling off his first startup for hundreds of millions of dollars. Since 2012, the company has been handling some cargo shipments to and from the ISS. In 2013, the company successfully carried a satellite to orbit. Since then, they've been working on a new rocket, the Falcon Heavy, which could carry heavy cargo into space.
They've already tested the rocket with a Tesla vehicle inside of it, successfully. Most consider Musk to be more of an entrepreneur, but with his background in physics and his love of space travel, he can also be considered an aerospace engineer whose ideas may transform our access to outer space.
Igor Sikorsky first became interested in flight through his mothers' love of Leonardo Da Vinci. When he was 12, around the year 1900, he had already made a small rubber powered helicopter. He attended Naval Academy in his native Russia before realizing his love of engineering.
He resigned from the Navy and studied engineering in Paris and at the Kiev Polytechnic Institute. After just a year of study, he felt that education couldn't help the types of problems he wanted to solve, and went to work in his own workshop instead. There he could study the things he was interested in.
In 1908, he learned of what the Wright Brothers had accomplished, but was more concerned with vertical flight, based on the ideas of Leonardo Da Vinci. He worked on helicopter design for many years before his ideas came to fruition. He also designed several basic bi-planes. In 1919, he moved to the US to escape an unstable political environment. Finally, in the 1930s, he manned the controls at the first helicopter flight. Now there is an airport named after him in Connecticut where he settled.
Neil Armstrong is well known as the first man on the moon, but as an astronaut, he was also an accomplished astronautical engineer. He started off as a military pilot in the Korean War after earning his pilot's license at the early age of 16.
He joined the astronaut program in 1963, and soon after performed the first manned mission in which a ship docked with another craft in space. In 1969, the famous moon landing occurred, during which Mr. Armstrong said his famous quote. "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Mr. Armstrong passed away in 2012.
Best Aerospace Engineering & Rocket Science Movies for Geeks
There are several movies that focus on cool space travel and aerospace engineering topics. Geeks and non-geeks alike love them! Apollo 13 tells the tale of the fated mission that encountered several errors that could have been fatal. However, the team at ground control were able to help the astronauts fix the problems and return home safely.
October Sky is another rocket science movie. It is the true story of a coal miner's son who gets a college scholarship and finds a love of rocket science, much to the distress of his working-class family. In the end, the main character becomes an accomplished astronautical engineer.
Best Geeky TV Shows for Aerospace Engineers & Rocket Scientists
Strange Angel is a new TV show about a janitor, Jack Parsons, who ended up becoming an amazing rocket scientist. The show is based on the true story of Mr. Parsons who makes an interesting subject due to his additional interests in ritual magic, the occult, and other pseudosciences.
Star Trek is a classic series with many iterations. While it is not an exact scientific portrayal of current aerospace engineering tactics, many have been inspired by this show to go into the field to make the technologies in the show more of a reality.
Best Aerospace Engineering Books
Many non-fiction books tell engineers all about scientific topics, but when you need to relax, you probably want to read something fun and fictional. One such book is 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson. The book takes place in the future when humans live all throughout the solar system. However, a man-made aerospace mystery develops and the main characters work to solve it.
Dale Brown's Starfire is a slightly more terrestrial aerospace novel, and it deals with the development of new aerospace technologies that could do harm in the wrong hands.
Hope you enjoyed reading the Complete Guide to Aerospace Engineering. Please leave your questions and comments below and we will help you as best as we can.