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Advise: which degree fits best with aerospace engineering?

Advise: which degree fits best with aerospace engineering?

Advise: which degree fits best with aerospace engineering?

Hi there,

I am currently studying aerospace engineering. Recently, I have been offered to take a double degree in the same time, which can be chosen between:
A) Aerospace engineering + Industrial engineering (which would be similar to mechanical and I find interesting)
B) Aerospace engineering + Mathematics (it certainly gives a different point of view, far from the conventional ones)

I have always wanted to work in the space industry, so could you possibly help me choose between those two options? Any opinion and thought would be welcome. And, if possible, add a brief explanation!


RE: Advise: which degree fits best with aerospace engineering?

I suggest option zero (Aerospace engineering) should also be considered. I would be amazed if a double undergraduate degree /in the same time/ really offered much more.


Greg Locock

New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Advise: which degree fits best with aerospace engineering?

I agree with Greg's comment ... there's already too much stuff to be learnt at undergrad level.

that said, I might go with option 2 ... math is always useful if you're doing analysis.

that said, if you like option 1 then why not; it's not like any choice will direct your life from here on ...

another day in paradise, or is paradise one day closer ?

RE: Advise: which degree fits best with aerospace engineering?

Just remember that NOTHING is cast in concrete. I graduated EE and spent about 8 yrs doing EE related work, but digressed from that big time afterwards, to the point where I probably can't do much beyond dinking with Karnaugh maps.

FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies
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RE: Advise: which degree fits best with aerospace engineering?

Given the two choices, I would pick none.

But if given my choice, and I could do it over again, it would probably be EE or EEE whatever they go by now.
There is more similarity to Aerospace and EE from a hardware standpoint than you may think (from my prospective).

The other fields where a 2nd degree would probably be helpful is:
Structural Analysis and Chemical Engineers/Materials Engineers. I have not found myself seeking assistance from Industrial Engineers (not the same as Manufacturing Engineers) and Mathematicians.

RE: Advise: which degree fits best with aerospace engineering?

A) sounds more like the manufacturing engineering side - i.e. how to build them etc. as opposed how to design them. Not my cup of tea but if you fancy the idea of working out how to build things someone else designs, coming up with the tooling, fixtures, processes etc. and detailing them then good for you.

B) sounds like it may not be the worst idea for spacecraft type work, depending on what exactly it adds beyond what just aerospace gives you. I'd already studied a lot of mechanics at high school & uni and I don't think could have added much by taking more math classes at uni, however this may not apply for you in your education.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Advise: which degree fits best with aerospace engineering?

I would recommend you get your Aerospace degree only and get an internship if you have time. This will serve you better in the near term and will give you an edge on your fellow students when you graduate. Internships look good on resumes and often turn into job offers. After you graduate and you have your job look at what will benefit you the most, it may even be an MBA or your Masters Degree. And your company may help pay for it!

RE: Advise: which degree fits best with aerospace engineering?

If your career goal is working as an engineer in the aerospace industry, then I would suggest a focus on model based design of aircraft/spacecraft systems. This is the way aircraft and spacecraft systems are now designed, and if you have the skills required to do this work you will have no problem finding good paying jobs.

RE: Advise: which degree fits best with aerospace engineering?

Somek... a different perspective.

The secondary skill field I am recommending to You is Materials and [fabrication] Processes, IE: M&P engineering.

I have an aero degree and have been in production, liaison, tooling, service, design and materials/processes/parts engineering sides of the business since 1979. In my very first job with a small GA aircraft manufacturer [1979] I was eventually assigned as the liaison engineer for the fabrication group... and had the privilege to see parts that were mere lines on paper become real-world parts... that came-together in another building as real assemblies... that came-together as real airplanes. I was forced to learn the M&P side of the business in a hurry, but had the benefit of some great M&P engineers that had been in the aircraft manufacturing/service business for decades. That 1st job made me realize all real-world aircraft/aerospace vehicles are made from real PARTS: cut, machined, cast, forged, stretches/bent/formed, bonded/cured, etc from metallic and non-metallic materials; and that pre-designed [procurable] hardware such as bolts, nuts, rivets, washers, bushes, bearings, wire-rope, electrical/electronic wires and connectors, tubing and fittings, fuel bladders, caps, valves, engines, instruments, etc all made to rigid M&P generated specifications for consistency and reliability.

I learned that these parts/materials have great capabilities and unique properties; but also came with limitations and critical criteria that must be verified/validated/inspected during design/production, and post production, to ensure that design goals of strength stiffness, lightness, reliability and durability are met. Often, seemingly minor design factors and/or deviations from established manufacturing and assembly norms can cause substantial loss of optimum properties mentioned in the last paragraph.

Reason why I encourage You to pursue M&P as a secondary skill set. SADLY the skill field of ‘pure M&P engineers’ is populated by engineers in love with M&P to the point that the parts they help design/manufacture are 'just parts'... and their use in the real-world aircraft... with all their strengths/limitation/liabilities/compromises/maintenance-issues/etc are relatively meaningless to this group. In-other-words, most of those ‘pure’ M&P engineers today would be equally happy/relevant working in/on: aerospace, diesel engines, automotive, farm-equipment, appliances, medical equipment, etc… parts design/fabrication.

To actually be/become an aero engineer with M&P knowledge means you will be able to demystify the selection/application of the materials, processes and parts that go into the final aircraft/aerospace vehicle that operates in the 'real-world' [or real-off-world] environment. Many times the material selection is the most excruciating part of my job because there is no such thing as the perfect material or finish.

Hey… if You love spacecraft… look into the research reports generated from the Long Duration Exposure Facility [LDEF] experiment placed in orbit by the Space Shuttle Challenger [1984] and retrieved from orbit by SS Columbia in 1990. Hundreds of materials and finishes were flown on the satellite ‘bus’ for almost 4-years longer than ever anticipated. The loss of Challenger caused NASA to soul-search whether to risk retrieval of the LDEF, or-NOT: however, materials scientists finally 'got-across to NASA management' how valuable the findings would be! Sure-enough, the scientific results were fascinating and eye-opening with many implications for space vehicle designs! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Duration_Exposur...

Regards, Wil Taylor

o Trust - But Verify!
o We believe to be true what we prefer to be true.
o For those who believe, no proof is required; for those who cannot believe, no proof is possible.
o Unfortunately, in science what You 'believe' is irrelevant. ["Orion"]
o Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist. [Picasso]

RE: Advise: which degree fits best with aerospace engineering?


After reading wktaylor's excellent post regarding studying M&P in addition to aerospace engineering I realized he has a good point. I worked on the Space Shuttle program for a few years, and I also worked on the Delta II and Delta IV programs. The cost/lb for a Shuttle payload was around $10k/lb.

One thing I did on the Shuttle program was a redesign of the aft attachment fittings between the orbiter and the external fuel tank. It reduced the amount of time required to install the hardware by 40 man-hours. The cost savings was significant since this work had to be done in the VAB, which cost several hundred thousand dollars per day.

As an M&P engineer specializing in spacecraft design, you could make a handsome income developing materials/processes that provide just a modest improvement versus the current state of the art. The payload mass fraction of a typical commercial launcher is quite small (maybe <8%). So if you could develop a material or process that reduces the structural weight of the launcher by just a couple percent, that would be a huge deal.

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