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Aerospace Engineering

Overview

Sometimes it does take a rocket scientist.

Description

Did you ever hear about the kid who tried gliding off his roof using a pair of cardboard wings? That totally wasn't Shmoop…that would have been a terrible idea. A terrible idea that would have resulted in an awesome red cast that turned pink after...nevermind. Bottom line is, it doesn't work.

Chances are, you probably would have laughed at that kid, but maybe you're secretly just a tad jealous you never gave it a shot yourself.

Many people these days get on an airplane and fall straight to sleep, or silently curse the airline for providing only five choices of B movies.

A select few, though, are much more enthralled about the mechanics behind how such a huge hunk of metal could possibly stay up there in the sky. Aren't those things, like, heavy?

The latter in both scenarios just might have what it takes to be aerospace engineers. If you find a basic airplane super interesting, then just think of the speed of military jet fighters, the cargo capability of strategic airlift, or the mathematical wizardry of helicopters. Mind-blowing, we know.

This is a field that is truly limitless (or however far space is). We have robots mingling on Mars. A space probe that was launched over nine years ago is set to land on Pluto in 2015. There's even a space station orbiting Earth that provides the most amazing scientific laboratory in the solar system. This is all because of aerospace engineers.

This major used to be called aeronautical engineering, and a lot of people still call it that. But since the space race of the 1960s, the major's name was changed to include "space," as well. By junior or senior year, an aerospace engineering student will choose to study either aeronautics or astronautics ("aero" or "astro" for short) with a focus on either aircraft or spacecraft.

There are tons of options for graduates and most are with large companies with excellent reputations: Boeing, Lockhead Martin, NASA, GE, etc. Other (less obvious) employment options include aerodynamics for land-based vehicles, windmill blades, and jobs that require extensive knowledge of fluid dynamics.

Aside from being a wicked cool job where you'll get to play around in space, the pay rate also starts pretty high. You'll be able to spread your wings and live like an actual adult once you graduate, without worrying about having to crash on Mom and Dad's couch.

Especially if they turned your room into a gym while you were gone. Ouch.

Famous People who majored in Aerospace Engineering

  • Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon
  • Leonardo Da Vinci, total Renaissance man
  • Howard Hughes, aerospace engineer/inventor/businessman
  • Gene Kranz, former NASA flight director
  • Burt Rutan, wacky aerospace engineer

Percentage of US students who major in Aerospace Engineering:

0.11%

Stats obtained from this source.