How to become a Aerospace Engineer

Aerospace engineers perform and supervise the design, development, manufacture and maintenance work of all types of flight vehicles. This may include military and civilian aeroplanes, helicopters, missiles, launch vehicles, spacecraft, satellites, and control and guidance systems.

Personal requirements of a Aerospace Engineer

  • Enjoy technical and engineering activities
  • Analytical and problem-solving ability
  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Practical and creative ability
  • Able to work without supervision and accept responsibility
  • Able to work as part of a team
  • Normal colour vision may be required

Education & Training for a Aerospace Engineer

To become an aerospace engineer you usually have to complete an engineering degree at university with a major in aeronautical or aerospace engineering. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, chemistry and physics are normally required. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in engineering with a major in aeronautical or aerospace engineering. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.

Duties & Tasks of a Aerospace Engineer

Aerospace engineers may perform the following tasks:

  • plan and design aircraft, aircraft parts and support equipment by preparing drawings and making mathematical calculations, often aided by computer systems
  • design modifications to systems, such as fuel or air conditioning, and outline installation procedures
  • conduct tests to measure the performance of an aircraft or part, or to ensure design specifications and airworthiness requirements are met
  • supervise the assembly of airframes and the installation of engines, instruments and other equipment (for example, when installing extra fuel tanks, deciding where the tanks are to be placed and checking that the support structure of the aircraft is strong enough to carry the extra weight)
  • investigate failed engines or other aviation components
  • develop procedures for the repair of aviation components
  • determine and manage schedules for repairs and maintenance
  • assess mechanical systems, flight characteristics and aircraft performance
  • participate in flight test programs to measure take-off distances, rate of climb, stall speeds, manoeuvrability and landing capacities
  • evaluate new and used aircraft and advise potential purchasers based on their findings
  • if working for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, ensure the airworthiness of Australian aircraft by assessing the manufacturer’s information and the aircraft’s structure, electrical and avionics instruments and power plants.

Employment Opportunities for a Aerospace Engineer

In Australia, most aerospace engineering work involves aircraft modification and assessment of damage. However, there is also a significant industry engaged in manufacture under licence. Career opportunities exist with aerospace companies, aircraft manufacturers, aeronautical consulting services, the RAAF and the RAN. The Department of Defence employs aeronautical engineers in Defence Research Centres across the country. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (www.casa.gov.au) also employs aerospace engineers to ensure compliance with design and certification standards, the functioning of associated electrical power plants and fuel systems, and overall airworthiness and flight handling in normal and emergency situations.

Additional Information
Students who have completed at least one year of an approved university course in engineering lasting three or four years may apply to join the Undergraduate Scheme in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) or Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Those studying courses five or six years in length must have completed at least two years of study. If accepted, students may choose to finish their degree at their chosen institution or join the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra. Graduates may be eligible for membership of Engineers Australia. Visit their website for more details.
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