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Distance Learning to become avionics design engineer?

Distance Learning to become avionics design engineer?

Distance Learning to become avionics design engineer?

I am currently a Aeronautical Design Engineer (Structures Background) and am developing a strong interest in the avionics side of things but have no formal education in avionics.
I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on any worthwhile distance learning/online training courses I could do to get the necessary avionics knowledge to become proficient in Avionics. I currently work in the GA field and have spoken to the Boss who has not shot it down as a possibility.

RE: Distance Learning to become avionics design engineer?

Are you talking about mechanical design related to avionics, i.e., chassis and packaging, or are you referring to the electronic design? If the latter, then you'd need the equivalent of the BSEE, as a minimum, or possibly something directed at sensors. For mechanical structures, it's mostly about heat transfer and shock&vibration, I think.

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RE: Distance Learning to become avionics design engineer?

Guys thanks for the replies. The eventual goal is to be able to produce wiring diagrams.

I will explore the suggestions given.

RE: Distance Learning to become avionics design engineer?

If you are in the United States, decide to go the BSEE route and you want distance learning, the only (ABET accredited) school in the United State I know of with such a program is North Dakota State University. It is expensive and you still need to attend a number of labs in person during the summer semester, but they do bundle the labs together so you can do them in one visit. This information is what I discovered several years ago so it may well be out of date. I would visit their website for more accurate information.

There may also be other schools besides NDSU that have developed such programs since I did the research. For example, I know that University of North Carolina - Charlotte has a similar distance learning program but it results in a BSET not a BSEE. It is still a decent degree program but a BSET will not open as many doors as a BSEE. However, for getting into wiring diagram work, it may be sufficient.

RE: Distance Learning to become avionics design engineer?

You do not specifically need an electrical engineering degree to integrate electronics into the aircraft. That's not to say it wouldn't be of use...just not an absolute pre-requisite.

To make the crossover into a sort of systems integration specialist, I would suggest a few alternate steps.

Starting with your structures background means you already have a good portion of the required skills. You likely already know how to generate drawings and substantiate the physical installation of the systems. You also likely took some basic electrical & systems training in your initial degree. For a lot of systems, most of what you will need to do to determine the proper wiring diagrams is to read the installation manual for the equipment you are installing...so you are already most of the way there.

You will need to develop a background in the heuristic aspects of aircraft wiring and aircraft electronic systems. How do you size circuit breakers, bundles? What is appropriate wiring support? What are the proper terminals to use? Grounding? What is TCAS? TAWS? FMS? ARINC 429? DO-160? You will almost certainly learn little to nothing of this in an electrical engineering program. You can learn this in a distance education avionics maintenance program. One suggestion that I know of that is Transport Canada Approved is ICS Canada:


I'm sure there are more specialized or American orientated programs and courses out there...you'll have to look around. Another good source for heuristic knowledge is the standard practices section of the aircraft wiring manual or AC43.13-1B Chapter 11. You will also need to know about EWIS practices. There are a number of FAA ACs related to EWIS and specialty training is out there. In general, the FAA ACs contain lots of useful information related to electrical systems that you will need to review dependent on the systems you are working with.

One key analytical tool you may need to develop is how to perform a system safety analysis. You can take this online through KSU:


Sooner or later you are going to need to increase your electrical chops from your first degree. You will sometimes need to use relays, diodes, etc. to integrate your systems. A good start would be the MITx basic electrical engineering course (it's free):


I would suggest that you continue to look to improve your knowledge overtime both in terms of analytical and heuristic skills.

Finally, the best source for training is going to be your experienced co-workers both in the engineering office and on the shop floor. They aren't going to have the patience to walk you through everything so you have some work to do developing your own chops. But, if you can take on small, simple jobs to start under skilled supervision and work from there, you'll be able to crossover with time and experience.

RE: Distance Learning to become avionics design engineer?

Thanks very much for the options you have listed SAITAETGrad. They were exactly what I was looking for. I am in Australia by the way and that's why I have to go the online distance option.

RE: Distance Learning to become avionics design engineer?

Modern Avionics involves a lot of software, RF, ability to extract requirements from complex regulations and specs, board design, radar design, satellite communications.

The future is supposedly in IMA, integrated modular avionics. That is a large ubiquitous computing space with compatible apps running in safe partuitions?

Also EMI testing, Human factors for display design, understanding air traffic control management, navigation in general, communications in general. Take your pick. I find that being a private pilot really helps to pull it all together.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; experience suggests that in practice, there is.

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