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Aeronautical Engineering

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Aeronautical Engineering

For finance rocket scientists, see Rocket science in finance.
Aerospace Engineer
Apollo 13, worked diligently to protect the lives of the astronauts on the mission.
Names engineer
aerospace engineer
Activity sectors aeronautics, astronautics, science
Competencies technical knowledge, management skills
Education required see professional requirements

Aerospace engineering is the primary branch of engineering concerned with the research, design, development, construction, testing, science and technology of aircraft and spacecraft.[1] It is divided into two major and overlapping branches: aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering. The former deals with aircraft that operate in Earth's atmosphere, and the latter with spacecraft that operate outside it.

Aerospace engineering deals with the design, construction, and study of the science behind the forces and physical properties of aircraft, rockets, flying craft, and spacecraft. The field also covers their aerodynamic characteristics and behaviors, airfoil, control surfaces, lift, drag, and other properties.

Aeronautical engineering was the original term for the field. As flight technology advanced to include craft operating in outer space, the broader term "aerospace engineering" has largely replaced it in common usage.[2] Aerospace engineering, particularly the astronautics branch, is often referred to colloquially as "rocket science",[3] although this is a popular misnomer.


Flight vehicles are subjected to demanding conditions such as those produced by extreme changes in atmospheric pressure and temperature, with structural loads applied upon vehicle components. Consequently, they are usually the products of various technological and engineering disciplines including aerodynamics, propulsion, avionics, materials science, structural analysis and manufacturing. The interaction between these technologies is known as aerospace engineering. Because of the number of disciplines involved, aerospace engineering is carried out by teams of engineers, each having their own specialised area of expertise.[4]

The development and manufacturing of a modern flight vehicle is an extremely complex process and demands careful balance and compromise between abilities, design, available technology and costs. Aerospace engineers design, test, and supervise the manufacture of aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles. Aerospace engineers develop new technologies for use in aviation, defense systems, and space.


The origin of aerospace engineering can be traced back to the aviation pioneers around the late 19th to early 20th centuries, although the work of Sir George Cayley has recently been dated as being from the last decade of the 18th to mid-19th century. One of the most important people in the history of aeronautics,[5] Cayley was a pioneer in aeronautical engineering[6] and is credited as the first person to separate the forces of lift and drag, which are in effect on any flight vehicle.[7] Early knowledge of aeronautical engineering was largely empirical with some concepts and skills imported from other branches of engineering.[8] Scientists understood some key elements of aerospace engineering, like fluid dynamics, in the 18th century. Many years later after the successful flights by the Wright brothers, the 1910s saw the development of aeronautical engineering through the design of World War I military aircraft.

The first definition of aerospace engineering appeared in February 1958.[2] The definition considered the Earth's atmosphere and the outer space as a single realm, thereby encompassing both aircraft (aero) and spacecraft (space) under a newly coined word aerospace. In response to the USSR launching the first satellite, Sputnik into space on October 4, 1957, U.S. aerospace engineers launched the first American satellite on January 31, 1958. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was founded in 1958 as a response to the Cold War.[9]


Some of the elements of aerospace engineering are:[10][11]

  • Fluid mechanics – the study of fluid flow around objects. Specifically aerodynamics concerning the flow of air over bodies such as wings or through objects such as wind tunnels (see also lift and aeronautics).
  • Astrodynamics – the study of orbital mechanics including prediction of orbital elements when given a select few variables. While few schools in the United States teach this at the undergraduate level, several have graduate programs covering this topic (usually in conjunction with the Physics department of said college or university).
  • Statics and Dynamics (engineering mechanics) – the study of movement, forces, moments in mechanical systems.
  • Mathematics – in particular, calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra.
  • Electrotechnology – the study of electronics within engineering.
  • Propulsion – the energy to move a vehicle through the air (or in outer space) is provided by internal combustion engines, jet engines and turbomachinery, or rockets (see also propeller and spacecraft propulsion). A more recent addition to this module is electric propulsion and ion propulsion.
  • Control engineering – the study of mathematical modeling of the dynamic behavior of systems and designing them, usually using feedback signals, so that their dynamic behavior is desirable (stable, without large excursions, with minimum error). This applies to the dynamic behavior of aircraft, spacecraft, propulsion systems, and subsystems that exist on aerospace vehicles.
  • Aircraft structures – design of the physical configuration of the craft to withstand the forces encountered during flight. Aerospace engineering aims to keep structures lightweight.
  • Materials science – related to structures, aerospace engineering also studies the materials of which the aerospace structures are to be built. New materials with very specific properties are invented, or existing ones are modified to improve their performance.
  • Solid mechanics – Closely related to material science is solid mechanics which deals with stress and strain analysis of the components of the vehicle. Nowadays there are several Finite Element programs such as MSC Patran/Nastran which aid engineers in the analytical process.
  • Aeroelasticity – the interaction of aerodynamic forces and structural flexibility, potentially causing flutter, divergence, etc.
  • Avionics – the design and programming of computer systems on board an aircraft or spacecraft and the simulation of systems.
  • Software – the specification, design, development, test, and implementation of computer software for aerospace applications, including flight software, ground control software, test & evaluation software, etc.
  • Risk and reliability – the study of risk and reliability assessment techniques and the mathematics involved in the quantitative methods.
  • Noise control – the study of the mechanics of sound transfer.
  • Aeroacoustics – the study of noise generation via either turbulent fluid motion or aerodynamic forces interacting with surfaces.
  • Flight test – designing and executing flight test programs in order to gather and analyze performance and handling qualities data in order to determine if an aircraft meets its design and performance goals and certification requirements.

The basis of most of these elements lies in theoretical physics, such as fluid dynamics for aerodynamics or the equations of motion for flight dynamics. There is also a large empirical component. Historically, this empirical component was derived from testing of scale models and prototypes, either in wind tunnels or in the free atmosphere. More recently, advances in computing have enabled the use of computational fluid dynamics to simulate the behavior of fluid, reducing time and expense spent on wind-tunnel testing. Those studying hydrodynamics or Hydroacoustics often obtained degrees in Aerospace Engineering.

Additionally, aerospace engineering addresses the integration of all components that constitute an aerospace vehicle (subsystems including power, aerospace bearings, communications, thermal control, life support, etc.) and its life cycle (design, temperature, pressure, radiation, velocity, lifetime).

Aerospace engineering worldwide

Aerospace engineering may be studied at the advanced diploma, bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D. levels in aerospace engineering departments at many universities, and in mechanical engineering departments at others. A few departments offer degrees in space-focused astronautical engineering.

United States of America

The programs of the Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rutgers University, and University of Southern California are examples of American schools.[11] In 2009, U.S. News & World Report ranked the undergraduate aerospace engineering programs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Michigan as the top three best programs at doctorate granting universities in the United States. The other programs in the top ten were Purdue University, California Institute of Technology, University of Maryland, University of Illinois, Stanford University, University of Texas at Austin, and Virginia Tech in that order.[12] The magazine also rates Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the United States Air Force Academy, and the United States Naval Academy as the premier aerospace engineering programs at universities that do not grant doctorate degrees.[13] University of Kansas School of Engineering has earned more first and second place AIAA awards than any other academic institution in the world in the 42-year history of the competition.[14] Wichita State University is renowned for its Aerospace Engineering program and also has the third highest research budget for Aerospace Engineering in the United States.[15][16]


In Canada, undergraduate degrees in aerospace (or aeronautical) engineering can be earned at Carleton University, École Polytechnique de Montréal, École de Technologie Supérieure, the Royal Military College of Canada and Ryerson University. Undergraduate aerospace engineering options, or related programs, are available through Concordia University, McGill University, Ryerson University, the University of Manitoba and the University of Toronto. The Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board is responsible for accrediting undergraduate aerospace engineering programs,[17] graduate study in aerospace engineering is also available at several Canadian post-secondary institutions, though Canadian post-graduate engineering programs do not require accreditation.


European universities that are renowned for their teaching and expertise in aerospace engineering include TU Delft in the Netherlands, ISAE, ENAC, IPSA and ESTACA in France, RWTH Aachen, TU München, the University of Stuttgart, TU Dresden, TU Berlin, TU Hamburg, TU Braunschweig, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences and the Munich University of Applied Science in Germany, the University of Liège in Belgium, and the Centre for Structure Technologies at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. In Austria, the FH Joanneum and University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt. In Portugal, the Universidade da Beira Interior and the Instituto Superior Técnico.[18] In Spain, the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, the Universidad de León, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Universitat Politècnica de Valencia and University of Seville offer the degree, while in Italy there also several universities where aerospace engineering can be studied including the Politecnico di Torino, the Politecnico di Milano, the University of Bologna, the University of Pisa, the University of Napoli, the University of Padua and the Sapienza University of Rome. In Eastern Europe they are the Zrinyi Miklos National Defence University of Budapest in Hungary, Politehnica University of Bucharest in Romania, the Technical Military Academy of Bucharest in Romania the University of Belgrade in Serbia, the Warsaw University of Technology and Rzeszów University of Technology in Poland and Brno University of Technology in Brno, Czech Republic. The Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands offers one of the top European aerospace educational and research platforms. In Greece, the Polytechnic School at the University of Patras offers a five year program in Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics.

United Kingdom

In the UK, Aerospace (or aeronautical) engineering can be studied at the B.Eng., M.Eng., MSc. and Ph.D. levels at a number of universities. The first institution in the UK to teach in this field was Queen Mary, University of London,[19] which, with the dissolution of the University of Paris (whose chair was founded at around the same time[20]), maintains the longest continuous experience of doing so in the world. The The Times' top 10 universities are University of Cambridge, University of Surrey, University of Bristol, University of Southampton, Queens University Belfast, University of Sheffield,University of Bath, Imperial College London, Loughborough University and University of Nottingham for 2010.[21] The Department of Aeronautics at Imperial College London is noted for providing engineers for the Formula One industry,[22] an industry that uses aerospace technology.


In Iran, the B.Sc, M.Sc and PhD degrees in Aerospace Engineering are offered by Sharif University of Technology, Malek-Ashtar University of Technology and Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran, while the M.Sc is offered by the University of Tabriz in Tabriz.


Aerospace can be studied at University of Limerick in Ireland.


In Australia, the RMIT University offers Aerospace (or aeronautical) engineering and has more than 70 years teaching experience in this profession. Monash University, University of New South Wales, University of Sydney, University of Queensland, University of Adelaide and Queensland University of Technology also offers Aerospace Engineering.


In Malaysia Aerospace Engineering can be studied at International Islamic University Malaysia, University Putra Malaysia, University Sains Malaysia, University Teknologi Malaysia, MARA University of Technology, University of Kuala Lumpur - MIAT, University Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia, Nilai University College, Malaysia Aviation Training Academy - MATA, Kuantan, Malaysia Royal Air Force College - Alor Setar and International Collage of Yayasan Melaka - in Melaka .


In China, Beihang University (BUAA: formerly, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics),Northwestern Polytechnic University China and Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (NUAA) are regional leaders in the field of aerospace engineering education.


In India Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore is well known for its Aerospace Engineering department, which offers degrees at post-graduate level. Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore is credited to have been the nucleus point and incubation center for various leading academic and industrial aerospace related organizations in India. IIT Kanpur possesses its own flight test aircraft and airfield for students in the discipline, while three other IITs also offer degrees in this discipline (Madras, Bombay and Kharagpur). PEC Institute of Technology, Chandigarh, Indian Institute of Aeronautical Engineering, Dehradun and Madras Institute of Technology, Chennai are three premier non-IIT colleges which offer courses in Aeronautical Engineering. Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Trivandrum sponsored by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), offers undergraduate and post-graduate courses focusing on aeronautics, astronautics and space sciences. It was started in the year 2007 and has produced three batches till now, all who have joined to serve ISRO as Scientist/Engineers. Institute of Aeronautical Engineering, Hyderabad is another college which offers B.Tech and M.Tech in Aeronautical engineering.[23] IGNOU, started B.Tech Aerospace Engineering form December 2009 calibration with AERO in different institute such as IIAEIT, Pune,[24] GGAEIT,[25] and Amrita University.[26] Coimbatore is another private institute that offers Bachelor degree in Aerospace Engineering. Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur has offered an undergraduate Bachelor of Engineering degree in Aerospace Engineering since academic year 2010. University of Petroleum and Energy Studies and Indian Institute of aeronautical engineering, Dehradun is another leading institute. Indira Gandhi National Open University has offered an undergraduate Bachelor of Technology degree in Aerospace Engineering started in academic year 2009. The Manav Rachna International University is an established institute and has a 4-year full-time B.Tech. degree in Aeronautical Engineering. NIMS University, Rangapur offers B.Tech and M.Tech degrees in Aerospace Engineering. The Alliance University College of Engineering and Design is an established institute in the city of Bangalore and provides the students with a 4-year full-time B.Tech. degree in Aeronautical Engineering. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute of Technology,Vasad, Gujarat offers undergraduate course in Aeronautical Engineering, College is affiliated with Gujarat Technological University and course is approved by AICTE.[27]


In Brazil the B.Sc, M.Sc and PhD degrees in Aerospace Engineering are offered by the some prestigious Universities like: Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina – UFSC at Joinville campus, Universidade Federal do ABC – UFABC at Sao Bernardo do Campo campus, Universidade de São Paulo – USP at São Carlos campus, Instituto Tecnologico de Aeronautica – ITA and Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais – UFMG. The admission for these courses features among the most difficult in Brazil, partly due to its competitive Vestibular (similar to ACT and SAT in USA).

Middle East

Universities that offers Aerospace Engineering degrees include King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia - Dhahran Offers ( B.Sc and M.Sc )


In Pakistan Aerospace Engineering can be studied at National University of Sciences and Technology at (CAE), at PAF Academy in Risalpur & at Air University which is Pakistan's only university that grants a Doctorate degree in Aerospace Engineering & Avionics Engineering. In 2002, SUPARCO established IST which is a federally chartered public sector institute of Pakistan offering under graduate and graduate degree in Aerospace Engineering. The MS degree at IST is being offered in collaboration with Beihang University (BUAA), China and Seoul National University, South Korea.


In Bangladesh, only Military Institute of Science and Technology offers a four years B.Sc degree in Aeronautical Engineering in two different disciplines named aerospace & avionics.


In Africa institute of aviation and engineering technology [28] and Cairo University in Egypt has an Aerospace Engineering department.[29] The University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, offers an undergraduate BSc in Aeronautical Engineering. They also offer a MSc and PhD in Aeronautical engineering. The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana also offers an undergraduate degree in Aerospace Engineering[30][31]

In popular culture

The term "rocket scientist" is sometimes used to describe a person of great intelligence since "rocket science" is seen as a practice requiring great mental ability, especially technical and mathematical ability.

The term is often used mockingly, such as in the expression "it's not rocket science" to indicate that the task is simple.[32]

Strictly speaking, the use of the word "science" in "rocket science" is a misnomer since science is about understanding the origins, nature, and behavior of the universe; engineering is about using scientific and engineering principles to solve problems and develop new technology. However, the media and the public often incorrectly use "science" and "engineering" as synonyms.[33]

See also


External links

  • International Journal of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
  •, The Online Community for Aerospace NDT Professionals
  • Building an Aeroplane – FlyDubai
cs:Aerokosmická technologie

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