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STEM Career Spotlight: Aerospace Engineer

By Francesca Vidal


Being able to go to space is a dream of many young children, but for aerospace engineers, this dream is a reality. While aerospace engineers typically design planes, rockets, satellites, and missiles, there have been a couple of notable aerospace engineers, like Neil Armstrong, who have made their way into space. However, aerospace engineers are not confined to the aerospace industry as many find jobs as mechanical engineers or inspector officers. Aerospace engineering is split into two pathways: aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering. Aeronautical engineers focus on designing vehicles that travel in Earth’s atmosphere and astronautical engineers design vehicles that travel outside of the atmosphere.


The path to becoming an aerospace engineer is difficult. It is recommended that prospective engineers take advanced classes in math and science in high school to prepare them for the rigorous STEM curriculum that they will be exposed to in college. Students should consider taking BC Calculus, AP Physics 1 and 2, AP Chemistry, and AP Computer Science. As for extracurriculars, students should consider choosing activities that allow them to challenge themselves mentally by building skills in problem-solving and analytical thinking. Most aerospace engineers choose to get their bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering. In college, students may find themselves spending many hours a week studying and completing homework. To gain valuable work experience, students should apply for internships and/or co-op programs. After graduation, aerospace engineers can choose to find a job in the field or apply to graduate school.


On a daily basis, aerospace engineers are expected to be able to use CAD to virtually design mechanical components, learn how to use special softwares to interpret data on fluid dynamics, have some knowledge of Python programming, write technical reports, and conduct tests. Being able to collaborate with others, think logically and creatively, and problem-solve are also important skills necessary to be successful in this field. Aerospace engineers in the US tend to live in states like Texas, Florida, and California where a ton of aerospace companies are located. Some companies that many aerospace engineers work at include Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, NASA, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics. Aerospace engineers earn a median salary of $107,000 a year. While college may be difficult, being an aerospace engineer is extremely rewarding as most are satisfied with their jobs. There is also an increasing demand for aerospace engineers since many space industries have plans to land humans on the moon in the near future. Through being able to design space shuttles that will travel to the moon to discovering new ways to build more efficient engines, aerospace engineering is a beautiful field filled with lots of wonderful opportunities.


Works Cited

Fox, Erin. “8 Cool Jobs You Can Get with an Aerospace Engineering Degree.” Florida Tech

News, 12 Sept. 2016, news.fit.edu/archive/8-cool-jobs-can-get-aerospace-engineeri

ng-degree/.

“How Much Does an Aerospace Engineer Make?” Glassdoor, 27 Oct. 2023,

www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/aerospace-engineer-salary-SRCH_KO0,18.htm.

Indeed Editorial Team. “How to Become an Aerospace Engineer.” Indeed Career Guide, 21

July 2022, www.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/how-to-become-

aerospace-engineer.

Penn State Engineering. “Penn State Engineering: What Is Aerospace Engineering?”

Psu.edu, 2014, www.aero.psu.edu/academics/undergraduate/what-is-aerospace-

engineering.aspx.

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