Thursday, May 26, 2022

Engineering Career Exploration: Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering

Welcome to the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. You might know us from our most famous graduate,moonwalking astronaut Neil Armstrong, whose name graces our main building, the Neil ArmstrongHall of Engineering. Purdue is one of the premier schools in theworld for Aeronautics and Astronautics, but before you determine if this what you wantto do with your life, let’s talk about what’s involved in pursuing a degree in Aeronauticsand Astronautics. Let’s start with the name itself. Officially, we are the School of Aeronauticsand Astronautics, but you might also hear the nickname “Aero-Astro,” the description“Aerospace Engineering,” or the abbreviation .

“AAE.” These all refer to the same school, and thetwo flight domains. “Aeronautics” focuses on creating flightin the atmosphere, and “Astronautics” focuses on creating flight out of the atmosphere. Let’s drill down further into these twofields. Aeronautics involves aircraft design of everytype, such as: airplanes, helicopters, drones and unmanned aerial vehicles. It also considers the purposes these aircraftserve, such as passenger, cargo, remote-sensing, combat, and experimental. .

Does something leave the ground and fly inthe air in some manner? That’s aeronautics. These aircraft require propulsion to takeoff and to travel somewhere, and the field of aeronautics includes study and design ofair-breathing propulsion such as turbo-fan jet engines, which we study in collaborationwith Mechanical Engineering. Please note that there’s a difference betweenAeronautics an engineering field concentrated on the creation of new and better flight capabilities– and Aviation, a separate field where students learn how to pilot an aircraft. However, many of our students are also involvedin flying and flight operations as a hobby, .

Or through military flight training aftergraduation. Next up is Astronautics. This involves design of vehicles that willtravel in space for specific purposes. Astronautics includes human space exploration,robotic space exploration, communications, GPS and other navigation satellites, Earth-sensingsatellites, big rockets, small reaction control system rockets, innovative rocket propellants,landing on other planets, and spaceflight mission design for both current and futurescenarios. One important aspect of travelling throughspace is rocket propulsion. Did you know that we have the world’s largestacademic rocket lab, right here at Purdue? .

Zucrow Labs creates cutting-edge rocket propulsiontechnologies and advances. Many of our students who work at Zucrow Labsgo on to jobs with SpaceX, Blue Origin, and other rocket companies. What about the classes involved in this degree? Obviously, they’re challenging, and entranceinto Aero-Astro is highly competitive. You’ll study a variety of sub-topics whichapply to both air and space flight, including propulsion, aerodynamics, structures, dynamicsand control, astrodynamics, and systems of systems, which will teach you how smallersystems integrate into a global system. You’ll get a broad foundation for your careeror graduate studies, but you’ll also get .

The flexibility to specialize in certain areasthat interest you. And don’t worry about limiting yourself– we’ve learned that many companies simply look for a Purdue Aero-Astro degree for theirhiring, regardless of your specific specialization. Let’s talk a little more about jobs. Many students want to know about the kindsof jobs that Aero-Astro graduates work in. In addition to the many graduates who pursueaircraft and spacecraft design careers, we’ve seen Aero-Astro graduates make great thermal-controlengineers, automotive engineers, golf-club engineers, space policy leaders, neurosurgeons,lawyers, internet entrepreneurs, test pilots, materials science experts, air traffic controlsystem designers, high-tech industry executives, .

And many others. With a degree in AAE, the sky is not the limit. One final question: do we train astronauts? Well, yes and no. It is true that the vast majority of Purdue’sastronauts have been Aero-Astro grads. But we like to think that Aero-Astro trainsyou for your *first* career — while those of you interested in becoming astronauts willuse it as a stepping stone to apply for that second career. NASA expects big things from their astronautapplicants, and with an Aero-Astro degree .

From Purdue, you can accomplish a successfulcareer that can launch you anywhere. Remember, AAE is where aerospace engineeringhappens at Purdue, and an Aero-Astro degree is a great ticket to innovation and impactin aerospace, and beyond!


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