You know how some people whip out the tired line, “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to [bake vegan cupcakes]”? Wouldn’t it be nice to say, “But I am a rocket scientist.”
Aeronautical or aerospace engineers have that satisfaction.
According to Wikipedia, aeronautical engineers work with the kind of aircraft that don’t break the atmosphere, but if you want to be a semantically accurate rocket scientist you have to become an astronautical engineer.
Head in the clouds
Aeronautical engineers work on almost every aspect of aircraft production, from the initial planning and design stages to the repair and maintenance of aircraft controls. They are the people who keep developing the (literally) awesome military aircraft that can break sound barriers, disappear from radars and land on a dime. They are also the people who (again, literally) pick up the pieces after a crash to determine the cause and to ensure that it never happens again.
Head way above the clouds
Astronautical engineers have to consider all sorts of things that mere aeronautical engineers can usually ignore; things like super-hot to super-freezing flight conditions, radiation, zero gravity and the occasional meteor. They are the people who ensure that spacecraft can get into space and come back again. They are the people who ensure that people can live on a space station for months at a time. They are the people who sift through the debris when things go spectacularly wrong and try to convince the world that it will never happen again.
Above and below
Aeronautical and astronautical engineers, for all their divergence, have several overlapping skills. For example, they both need to know how which fuel performs under certain conditions; they have to know size, weight and speed to safety ratios; they have to know their way around assorted electronics and how to create backups and backups of backups of safety systems. They have to know how support structures will bear up under different atmospheric pressures. And they have to know which materials will provide optimal performance while ensuring the safety of the people within the craft.
They also both need an impressive string of qualifications. You can’t walk out of university with an undergraduate degree and expect to walk into NASA and start working on the Mars space programme. You need postgraduate qualifications to at least the master’s level and preferably the doctorate level before you can expect to be let loose among multi-million (or billion) dollar aircraft.
Becoming an aeronautical engineer is a mammoth undertaking, but the smug satisfaction (not mention the lovely lucre) is well worth it.
About the author: This guest post was written by Sandy Cosser on behalf of Skilled Migrant Jobs. Skilled Migrant Jobs is a niche job portal that helps immigrants with their search for skilled jobs in Australia, both before and after they make the big move.