Are you great at math? Do you love airplanes and spaceships? Then aerospace engineering may be the job for you!

What is an Aerospace Engineer?

There are two types of aerospace engineers: aeronautical and astronautical

Aeronautical engineers design aircraft that fly within Earth’s atmosphere, like airplanes and helicopters. They deal primarily with aerodynamic performance, or how air and gases give aircraft their ability to fly. They also deal with thermodynamics, the study of heat and energy. Some aeronautical engineers specialize in designing passenger aircraft, while others specialize in creating military aircraft. These engineers also design missiles for defense aircraft. 

Astronautical engineers design spacecraft that travel both within Earth and in outer space. These engineers also design manmade satellites, which are communications systems that are intentionally placed in Earth’s orbit. Satellites are used to send signals — such as television and phone signals — back and forth between Earth for enhanced transmission. Some satellites are used to study space.

How do I become an Aerospace Engineer?

Typically, you need at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering or aerospace engineering to become an aerospace engineer. You will also need to have high scores in mathematics and physics.

Who are some famous aerospace engineers?

Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first person to step foot on the moon, and astronaut Kalpana Chawla, the first woman of Indian descent to travel to space, were both aerospace engineers. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, whose aerospace company SpaceX was the first to successfully launch, orbit, and recover a rocket (meaning the rocket was able to launch into outer space and safely land back on Earth), is another famous aerospace engineer.

Build a Rocket

Build and launch a rocket made out of a soda bottle and powered with an air pump and consider the forces on a rocket, Newton’s Laws, and other principles and challenges of actual space vehicle launch. Download the IEEE TryEngineering lesson plan Water Rocket Launch today.