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Aerospace Engineer

by Pat 9. May 2012 07:13

Aerospace - Engineer Aerospace Engineer

General Information
Aerospace engineers develop new technologies for use in aviation, defense systems, and space exploration, often specializing in areas like structural design, guidance, navigation and control, instrumentation and communication, or production methods. They also may specialize in a particular type of aerospace product, such as commercial transports, military fighter jets, helicopters, spacecraft, or missiles and rockets. Aerospace engineers may be experts in aerodynamics, thermodynamics, celestial mechanics, propulsion, acoustics, or guidance and control systems.

Position Description
Aerospace engineers develop new technologies for use in aviation, defense systems, and space exploration, often specializing in areas like structural design, guidance, navigation and control, instrumentation and communication, or production methods. They also may specialize in a particular type of aerospace product, such as commercial transports, military fighter jets, helicopters, spacecraft, or missiles and rockets. Aerospace engineers may be experts in aerodynamics, thermodynamics, celestial mechanics, propulsion, acoustics, or guidance and control systems.

Aerospace engineers develop new technologies for use in commercial aviation, defense systems, and space exploration. They often specialize in structural design, guidance, navigation and control, instrumentation and communication, or production methods.

They also may specialize in a particular type of aerospace product, such as commercial transports, helicopters, spacecraft, or rockets.

Aerospace engineers may be experts in aerodynamics, propulsion, thermodynamics, structures, celestial mechanics, acoustics, or guidance and control systems. Companies often combine teams of engineers from other disciplines whose expertise can best match a given project.

Aerospace engineers are also involved in the analysis, design and operation of aircraft within the Earth's atmosphere. For this reason, the terms aerospace and aeronautics are often interchangeable.

Working Conditions
Most aerospace engineers work a standard 40-hour week. At times, deadlines or design standards may bring extra pressure to a job. When this happens, engineers may work long hours and experience considerable stress.

Most Aerospace Engineers work indoors, in an office setting. Depending in the exact nature of the product or project, some outdoors work may be required. An example if this may be traveling to the test site to perform live product tests such as firing a rocket engine.

Typical Requirements and/or Experience
Since the aerospace industry is subject to intense international competition, engineers need to be continuously updating their skills. To be successful, they must be self-motivated, highly skilled professionals who thrive in a multiple priority environment.

Education
You can prepare yourself for an engineering degree while you're still in high school. Thornton advises students to "take physics, electronics, computers -- as much as they can get!"

Your next step will be university. Attend one that offers a degree in aerospace engineering or aeronautics engineering. Some schools offer aerospace as a subspecialty within mechanical, industrial or systems engineering programs.

Aerospace engineering is a "systems oriented" type of engineering, says Fowler. You will study fluid mechanics (air flow), structures, vehicle performance, and propulsion systems. Your role will be to integrate structure, fluid mechanics, propulsion and controls.

If this doesn't appeal to you, but you still want to work in the aerospace industry, consider electrical engineering. Half the people who work in aerospace have an electrical engineering background, says Fowler. That's because half of what makes up satellites and airplanes are electronic components! Another option is to go into mechanical engineering. This will lead to you work on mechanical components, like the landing gear of airplanes or shuttles.

The best way to select your program is to decide what area of aerospace most interests you. Are you a research and development person or would you be more suited to design and manufacture? Apply to the programs that most closely match your dreams.

"Do it. Don't let anyone discourage you," says Pallis. She decided she wanted to be an engineer when she was 12. Thirty years later she got her PhD. Her advice comes from a favorite professor. "He said, 'I'm not the smartest engineer, but I worked harder than anyone.' That's been my attitude."

Once you have your engineering degree and some work experience, you may consider registering as a professional engineer with a state association. Registration requirements vary across the U.S.

Big aerospace companies don't push their engineers towards licensing, says Fowler. That's because projects are developed by teams. By contrast, a mechanical or civil engineer would be more singly responsible for a project, and that is why registration is more common in those specialties.

Additional information may also be found on the the EEOC web site located athttp://www.eeoc.gov/

Marital Status
Married and unmarried men and women, with or without children are eligible. Persons who are widowed or divorced, also are eligible.

It is the policy of most aviation companies to provide equal employment opportunity to all individuals regardless of their race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law. Most aviation companies are strongly committed to this policy, and believe in the concept and spirit of the United States law.

Most aviation companies are committed to assuring that:

All recruiting, hiring, training, promotion, compensation, and other employment related programs are provided fairly to all persons on an equal opportunity basis without regard to race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law;

Employment decisions are based on the principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action;

All personnel actions such as compensation, benefits, transfers, training, and participation in social and recreational programs are administered without regard to race, creed, color, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law, and;

Employees and applicants will not be subjected to harassment, intimidation, threats, coercion or discrimination because they have exercised any right protected by law.

Most aviation companies believe in and practice equal opportunity and affirmative action. All employees are responsible for supporting the concept of equal opportunity and affirmative action and assisting the company in meeting its objectives.

Most aviation companies maintain Affirmative Action Plans for minorities, women, disabled persons and veterans.

EEOC has jurisdiction of the prohibitions against employment discrimination codified in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. These laws prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age and disability.

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) enforce the prohibitions against federal employment discrimination codified in the CSRA. The OSC will defer those bases of discrimination under EEOC's jurisdiction to the respective federal agency and its EEO process. The CSRA also prohibits employment discrimination in the federal government based on marital status, political affiliation and conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the employee, none of which are within EEOC's jurisdiction. Moreover, the law defines ten other prohibited personnel practices in the federal government, all of which fall under the jurisdiction of the OSC and the MSPB. See Prohibited Personnel Practices at http://www.osc.gov/ppp.htm.

Additional information may also be found on the the EEOC web site located athttp://www.eeoc.gov/

Wages and Benefits
Median annual earnings of aerospace engineers were $66,950 in 1998. The middle 50 percent earned between $51,170 and $82,620. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $42,650 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $93,880. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of aerospace engineers in 1997 were:

Aircraft and parts $72,200 Federal Government 70,000 Guided missiles, space vehicles, and parts 58,200

According to a 1999 salary survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, bachelor’s degree candidates in aerospace engineering received starting offers averaging about $40,700 a year; master’s degree candidates, $54,200; and Ph.D. candidates, $64,400. The OOH reports salary figures from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. It states that "engineering graduates with a bachelor's degree averaged about $38,500 a year in private industry in 1997; those with a master's degree and no experience, $45,400 a year; and those with a PhD, $59,200."

Entry-level earnings for aerospace engineers averaged $37,957 a year in 1997. The starting salary for aerospace engineers in 1994 was about $30,860. In 1994, the OOH said the median salary for engineers was $50,200.

Entry-level earnings are a bit higher now, given the two years difference, says Dr. Wallace Fowler. He is a professor of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics at the University of Texas at Austin. Of course, master's degree holders earn more than bachelor's degree holders, he says. One of his PhD students recently got a job starting at $74,800 a year.

For an updated look at salaries in the aviation industry, view the Avjobs.com Salary Report.

Where the jobs are and who hires
Aerospace engineers held about 53,000 jobs in 1998. Almost one-half worked in the aircraft and parts and guided missile and space vehicle manufacturing industries. Federal Government agencies, primarily the Department of Defense and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, provided about 1 out of 7 jobs. Business services, engineering and architectural services, research and testing services, and electrical and electronics manufacturing firms accounted for most of the remaining jobs.

California, Washington, Texas, and Florida—States with large aerospace manufacturers—employ the most aerospace engineers.

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Opportunities for Advancement
Aviation plays a prominent role in our economy and new opportunities will always be available. Today, larger airports are expanding and smaller "reliever" airports are being upgraded to serve general aviation traffic being relocated from congested airports. The introduction of low cost airlines is also playing a role in creating opportunities in the industry.

To view the latest industry opportunities, become an Avjobs.com Member today! Click here to get started!

Outlook for the Future
Those seeking employment as aerospace engineers are likely to face keen competition because the supply of graduates is expected to exceed the number of job openings. Employment of aerospace engineers is expected to grow more slowly than the average (increase 0 to 9 percent) for all occupations through 2008. The decline in Defense Department expenditures for military aircraft, missiles, and other aerospace systems has caused mergers and acquisitions among defense contractors. In addition, Federal Government funding for research and development of new systems has also declined. Offsetting these declines, however, is the projected growth in the civilian sector due to orders from domestic and foreign airlines that need to accommodate increasing passenger traffic and to replace the present fleet of airliners with quieter and more fuel-efficient aircraft. Most job openings will result from the need to replace aerospace engineers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook reports that there were 53,000 people working as aerospace engineers in the U.S. in 1996. That's down from 56,000 jobs in 1994. Most of the jobs were in California, Washington, Texas and Florida, states which have large aerospace manufacturers.

The OOH projects that the employment of aerospace engineers will grow more slowly than the average through the year 2006. Yet those in the field predict good opportunities ahead.

The OOH says growth of employment may be limited because a higher proportion of engineers in aerospace manufacturing may come from the materials, mechanical or electrical engineering fields.

Training
You can prepare yourself for an engineering degree while you're still in high school. Thornton advises students to "take physics, electronics, computers -- as much as they can get!"

Your next step will be university. Attend one that offers a degree in aerospace engineering or aeronautics engineering. Some schools offer aerospace as a subspecialty within mechanical, industrial or systems engineering programs.

Aerospace engineering is a "systems oriented" type of engineering, says Fowler. You will study fluid mechanics (air flow), structures, vehicle performance, and propulsion systems. Your role will be to integrate structure, fluid mechanics, propulsion and controls.

If this doesn't appeal to you, but you still want to work in the aerospace industry, consider electrical engineering. Half the people who work in aerospace have an electrical engineering background, says Fowler. That's because half of what makes up satellites and airplanes are electronic components! Another option is to go into mechanical engineering. This will lead to you work on mechanical components, like the landing gear of airplanes or shuttles.

The best way to select your program is to decide what area of aerospace most interests you. Are you a research and development person or would you be more suited to design and manufacture? Apply to the programs that most closely match your dreams.

"Do it. Don't let anyone discourage you," says Pallis. She decided she wanted to be an engineer when she was 12. Thirty years later she got her PhD. Her advice comes from a favorite professor. "He said, 'I'm not the smartest engineer, but I worked harder than anyone.' That's been my attitude."

Once you have your engineering degree and some work experience, you may consider registering as a professional engineer with a state association. Registration requirements vary across the U.S.

Big aerospace companies don't push their engineers towards licensing, says Fowler. That's because projects are developed by teams. By contrast, a mechanical or civil engineer would be more singly responsible for a project, and that is why registration is more common in those specialties.

To locate educational facilities with programs related to this position, search AVSchools. AVSchools makes researching and finding an aviation college, university, flight school or professional training facility simple.

Miscellaneous
There haven't been any missions to the moon lately, but that doesn't mean nothing is happening in space. In fact, there's news every day. For example, on Aug. 17, 1999, a Boeing Delta 2 rocket launched from Florida, reports Space News.com. It put four Globalstar communications satellites into orbit!

You've seen news clips of the space shuttle, pictures of satellites rotating the Earth, and images beamed back from distant planets by super intelligent probes. The people who create the technology that puts humankind and machine in space are called aerospace engineers.

"Yeah, it is a really exciting place to work!" says Craig Thornton, of Spar Aerospace.

Aerospace engineers are also involved in the analysis, design and operation of aircraft within the Earth's atmosphere. For this reason, the terms aerospace and aeronautics are often interchangeable.

Aerospace engineers develop new technologies for use in commercial aviation, defense systems, and space exploration. They often specialize in structural design, guidance, navigation and control, instrumentation and communication, or production methods.

They also may specialize in a particular type of aerospace product, such as commercial transports, helicopters, spacecraft, or rockets.

Aerospace engineers may be experts in aerodynamics, propulsion, thermodynamics, structures, celestial mechanics, acoustics, or guidance and control systems. Companies often combine teams of engineers from other disciplines whose expertise can best match a given project.

Thornton is the manager of two departments at Spar -- control systems analysis and systems engineering. When a project comes in for something, Thornton delegates members of his staff as needed.

"We have a fair mix," he says. There are 250 engineers at Spar Aerospace -- software engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, structural engineers, and materials engineers. "[These] people have undergraduate degrees and postgraduate degrees," says Thornton.

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