What is Aeronautical Engineering and How to Become One?
Aeronautical engineering is a fascinating and rewarding career path for those who are passionate about aviation and aerospace. Aeronautical engineers are responsible for designing, building, testing and maintaining flight-capable machines, such as airplanes, helicopters, rockets and satellites. They also research and develop new technologies that improve the performance, efficiency and safety of these machines.
If you are interested in becoming an aeronautical engineer, you will need to have a strong background in math and science, as well as a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering or aerospace engineering from an accredited program. You will also need to obtain a professional license and certification from relevant organizations, such as the Royal Aeronautical Society or the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Additionally, you will need to gain practical experience through internships, projects and placements in the industry or academia.
In this article, we will explain what aeronautical engineering is, what aeronautical engineers do, how to become one and what career prospects are available for them.
What is Aeronautical Engineering?
Aeronautical engineering is a branch of engineering that deals with the design and construction of flight-capable machines and vehicles. These machines can include satellites, jets, space shuttles, helicopters, military aircraft and missiles. Aeronautical engineers also are responsible for researching and developing new technologies that make flight machines and vehicles more efficient and function better.
Aeronautical engineering is closely related to aerospace engineering, which covers both aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering. Astronautical engineering focuses on the design and development of spacecraft that operate outside the Earth’s atmosphere, such as rockets, satellites and space stations.
Some aspects of an aeronautical engineer’s job might include:
- Researching new technologies to develop advancements in commercial aircraft
- Developing defensive and offensive mechanisms and technologies for military planes, satellites, missiles and helicopters
- Creating and improving existing space technologies for space exploration and research
- Drafting or drawing plans for new flight machines or parts
- Ensuring that the machines they create meet environmental and safety guidelines
- Understanding budgets and working within those amounts and required timelines and specifications
- Analyzing data to understand why system failures, such as airplane crashes, occurred
- Processing data and using it in simulations to improve machine functions
- Testing and modifying parts and vehicles
- Writing manuals and protocols for the products and technologies they develop
- Consulting for manufacturers that are developing and selling aviation technologies to the private or military sector
- Specializing in aspects such as instrumentation, guidance or navigation methods
How to Become an Aeronautical Engineer?
A college degree is a basic educational requirement for becoming an aeronautical engineer. Some skills, certifications and specific job experience may also be useful. Here are the steps you can take to become an aeronautical engineer:
1. Obtain a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering or Aerospace Engineering
Taking advanced math classes in high school, such as calculus and trigonometry, and science classes, such as physics could help you get into an accredited aeronautical engineering undergraduate program. Students may take general engineering courses in their first two years. After that, they can specialize in aerospace in their second two years, taking classes in subjects such as vibration, space propulsion, flight software systems, aircraft flight dynamics and thermodynamics.
2. Obtain a Professional License
In order to work as an aeronautical engineer in most countries, you will need to obtain a professional license from the relevant authority. For example, in the United States, you will need to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam after graduating from an accredited program. Then, after gaining four years of work experience under a licensed engineer, you can take the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam to become a licensed professional engineer (PE). In the United Kingdom, you will need to register with the Engineering Council as an incorporated engineer (IEng) or a chartered engineer (CEng) after completing an accredited