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Astronautical engineer hopeful...

astarisborn94astarisborn94 Posts: 70Registered User Junior Member
edited December 2012 in Engineering Majors
My dream is to be involved in space exploration (as well as discovery of space, which is why I also considered astronomy before discovering astronautical engineering), which was my childhood dream. I would absolutely love to be involved in any part of space exploration, especially as an astronaut (although it feels like a pipe dream at this point... :( ). So when I found out about astronautical engineer, I decided this was exactly what I wanted to do for a living. It's one of the better paying engineering fields (I know pay shouldn't be the sole factor, but it helps if you love your job), which only puts icing on the cake.

So I'm not sure what would be the best double major for me. So far, I'm hoping for political science as that double major since I really want to get involved in politics as well (along with a minor in either Philosophy if I go to UT Austin/Texas A&M or Japanese for the minor with schools that offer the language such as U Michigan), but I'm not sure if it will benefit me in the long run. Would it be better for me to stick with this and hope I can eventually get involved in politics or try to make political science a minor and double up my Astronautical Engineer with another Engineer class (Mechinical, Biomedical, Electrical???) (or even another major altogether.

As for schools, I'm considering the following once I can get all my prerequisite/recommendations classes out in my community college (they unfortunately don't offer ENGR 2332 or ENGR 1204/1304 though I'm not sure if the latter will be a concern since it's only for if the course emphasize computer aid design):
UT Austin
Texas A&M
U Michigan
Purdue
UCLA
Embry-Riddle

Are there other universities I should consider for astronautical program or any from this list to axe?

I'd say Stanford, since it's my dream school, but my 3.5 GPA in high school and weak math skills then probably kill any hopes of me getting in even if I do get the unlikely 4 GPA, 2300+ SAT score, 35 ACT, and 300+ volunteer hours and dedication towards engineering majors-related clubs. :(

Just want to see what people here think. I understand that astronautical engineer is highly restricitve, but it's still something I'm going to shoot for (but I'm willing to make a backup engineer a double major if plans fall through).
Post edited by astarisborn94 on

Replies to: Astronautical engineer hopeful...

  • xraymancsxraymancs Posts: 2,071College Rep Senior Member
    A double degree is not a good idea unless you can complete it in 4 years. There is no need to take on additional debt. Furthermore, with an astronautical (or aeronautical) engineering degree, you also have a strong mechanical engineering base and this can serve to find you a job in many different fields even if the space sector doesn't work out for you.

    Remember that college is not vocational training and you are expected to finish with the ability to learn new things on your own as your career demands. after a few years in the workforce, the courses you took will have no bearing on your employability.

    As for political science, if you have a lot of AP credit to relieve your general course load, go for a minor. A dual degree is not a great idea (see above).
  • astarisborn94astarisborn94 Posts: 70Registered User Junior Member
    A double degree is not a good idea unless you can complete it in 4 years. There is no need to take on additional debt.
    Unfortunately, given that I have to start math all over again, it's going to take me six years to graduate (three years at community college and two and a half years at an university of my choice with a semester gap for transferring purposes) at the very least from astronautical engineering. I consider myself lucky that the cost at my community college can be covered if I get scholarships. Not to mention this means no opportunities for retake classes.
    Furthermore, with an astronautical (or aeronautical) engineering degree, you also have a strong mechanical engineering base and this can serve to find you a job in many different fields even if the space sector doesn't work out for you.
    Good to hear. I was worried about if that fell through, I'd be working at H-E-B for the rest of my life.
    As for political science, if you have a lot of AP credit to relieve your general course load, go for a minor. A dual degree is not a great idea (see above).
    I was kind of hoping to use political science as a double major since I am hoping to get into politics eventually and use my minor for something I would personally enjoy like Japanese or philosophy. I will minor in it only if there's no other choice because I see it as an obligation for myself to be informed about politics.
  • xraymancsxraymancs Posts: 2,071College Rep Senior Member
    My experience with CC transfers to our engineering programs at Illinois Tech is that it usually takes 3 years after transfer simply because of the sequence of required courses. Therefore, my suggestion is to transfer as soon as you have completed the first two semesters of Calculus. Engineering majors start taking courses in their major as soon as Sophomore year and those are often prerequisites for later courses.

    Another problem that transfers after 2 years of CC face is that they have taken all their general education courses and have heavy technical loads for their entire time in the engineering program. This puts a lot of pressure on the student.
  • astarisborn94astarisborn94 Posts: 70Registered User Junior Member
    My experience with CC transfers to our engineering programs at Illinois Tech is that it usually takes 3 years after transfer simply because of the sequence of required courses. Therefore, my suggestion is to transfer as soon as you have completed the first two semesters of Calculus. Engineering majors start taking courses in their major as soon as Sophomore year and those are often prerequisites for later courses.
    Ugh, kept forgetting that UT Austin students start taking majors courses in sophmore year. That cuts down even further on how much time I have (to five semesters, which puts even more pressure on me than I would like to think).

    But I still want to take the two College Physics (not required, but it should help with me moving on to University Physics) courses that are offered at my college to prepare me for University Physics and I really don't want to take College Physics while I'm in College Algebra (right now, I'm stuck in basic math and have two more semesters of developmental algebra to follow, barring of course I clip out of the last one next semester). Maybe I can do this:

    2nd Semester (Spring 2013):
    Introductory Algebra (developmental math)
    Introductory Chemistry
    [insert other non-math classes]

    Summer #1 (2013):
    Intermediate Algebra (developmental math)
    [insert other non-math classes]

    Summer #2 (2013):
    College Algebra
    Inorganic Chemistry
    [insert other non-math classes]

    3rd Semester (Fall 2013)
    Precalculus
    College Physics
    [insert other non-math classes]

    4th Semester (Spring 2014)
    Calculus
    College Physics #2
    Introductory Engineering
    [insert other non-math classes]

    Summer #1 (2014)
    Calculus 2
    University Physics
    Statics (Engineering class offered)
    [insert non-math classes]

    5th Semester (Fall 2014)
    Calculus 3
    University Physics 2
    Mechanics: Dynamics (Engineering class offered)
    [insert non-math classes]

    This should take me 2.5 years. There's a semester gap because of transferring purposes and the next three years spent at Texas A&M/UT Austin/U Michigan/UCLA/Embry Riddle starting in Fall, 2015. I would then graduate in Spring, 2018. It's two years late, but I've still "met" the six-year deadline (although I may need to contact UT Austin about when is the true deadline as I can't see why someone who started college in Fall, 2010 should have more time than me).

    Should be good for UT Austin, unless I'm missing something. As for other schools, will need on contact them on how long a student who started on Fall, 2012 has to get a Bachelor degree from their school. Since UCLA requires at least 60 credits to transfer and Michigan wants CHEM 1412, 2423, 2425, COSC 1315, and COSC 1320, although they don't specify for what engineer course unlike UT Austin.

    Edit: Looks like Purdue doesn't accept transfer for Astronautical Engineering. Oh well, at least it's one less school to consider.

    Edit 2: Actually, I think I may have though of something better. When I'm taking Precalculus, take both inorganic chemistry and College Physics.
  • astarisborn94astarisborn94 Posts: 70Registered User Junior Member
    I'm curious, would doing a Computer Science major help my prospects of getting a job better or math/physics? I had a terrible time with computer science, but perhaps second time the charm.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 35,558Registered User Senior Member
    Right now, CS has very good job prospects. But the industry can have wild business cycles. Ten years ago, CS has very poor job prospects. Who knows what it will be like when you graduate.

    As far as universities go, have you checked their net price calculators or financial aid estimators to see how realistic they are financially? Out of state public universities often are not good with financial aid.

    In your proposed schedule, you can use Spring 2015 to take the following, if available:

    Linear algebra and differential equations (may be one or two courses)
    Engineering materials
    Electric circuits and electronics for engineering

    Note that UCLA's requirements can be found on http://www.assist.org , although only California community colleges are listed for articulation purposes.
  • allyphoeallyphoe Posts: 713Registered User Member
    Calc 2 plus calc-based physics plus statics plus a fourth class does not make for a fun summer. Even if you just had algebra-based physics.
  • astarisborn94astarisborn94 Posts: 70Registered User Junior Member
    Ergh, meant to say if a computer science minor would help me with getting a job along with an aero/astronautical engineer degree.

    More to say in the morning, too tired to respond.
  • aerokid1491aerokid1491 Posts: 379Registered User Member
    A computer science minor will help. Engineers need to understand programming for use in various tasks so gaining knowledge on this will surely help you. You can also use it to help you solve many problems much easier than solving them by hand, such as by using numerical methods or getting good at MATLAB or Mathematica and using their nice built in functionality.
  • fractalmstrfractalmstr Posts: 593Registered User Member
    Instead of double majoring (which is generally a terrible idea), I would minor in something of interest, and use the extra semesters you would have spent finishing up a second major for a master's degree.

    The only reason you should be thinking about double majoring is if you really aren't sure about engineering to begin with, in which case you still shouldn't double major, but rather sit down and figure things out beforehand. A master's in ANY engineering field is going to be more valuable than a political science degree.

    Also, Astro Engineering is a somewhat restrictive degree, however, the core of the degree is pretty much mechanical engineering, and therefore, you should have no problem qualifying for a wide variety of engineering jobs.

    As for your list of schools, I can only speak to Embry-Riddle (Prescott) since that's where I went for undergrad AE (astro). It's a great school, and would I certainly recommend it to anyone with a strong (maybe even abnormal) interest in aviation and space. Just make sure engineering is REALLY what you want to do if you decide on Embry-Riddle. Also, tuition costs are high compared to public schools, but I believe it's worth every penny.
  • astarisborn94astarisborn94 Posts: 70Registered User Junior Member
    Just got some word from UT Austin. They said for potential transfer students to not worry about maximum deadline to get a bachelor degree and should wait until I get admitted to worry about deadline.

    @ucbalumnus: I'm very well aware of financial aid issues with out-of-state universities. University of Michigan is more or less my "hope" school, but may be a reach financially-wise (the only way I would consider going there is if I maintain a 4 GPA, which is not likely). That said, I haven't done financial calculation, but if my situation is any indiction (grandparents can't pay for college, sadly), realistically, UT Austin or even Embry-Riddle (since it isn't as expensive as Michigan) might be the best I can hope for.

    As for your proposed schedule for my 6th semester, they offer differential equation, so I'll be taking that before I transfer. As for engineering, unfortunately, they only have three engineering classes available at my college; introductory, statics, and Mechanics: Dynamic. Since I got recently told by UT Austin that I don't have to worry about a maximum deadline, perhaps for my 6th semester, I can take Differential Equation, University Physics 2, and Mechanics: Dynamic?

    @allyphoe: I'll try to reschedule my plans now that I got an extra semester in community college to work with so that I don't have to take them during the summer. Although that'll definitely mean I have to skip Intermediate Algebra and take College Algebra and Precalculus during my first summer.

    @fractalmstr: If by a second degree you mean a Masters in Aerospace Engineering, then that's something I will seriously consider doing, but I'd like to try to put my bachelor degree to good use for a few years before going a Masters so my debt won't be nearly as much as a burden.

    Regarding minor, I would love to take astronomy as a minor. As someone that loves space, having more knowledge of how this universe works would be great to have. But as it stands, I'm just trying to do what I can to get a job in astronautical engineering (preferably at NASA), so I'm going with a computer science route to help with job prospects. But it's nice that a degree in that will provide for a wide variety of jobs (most likely), since I understand that aerospace engineering is a hard field to get a job in.

    Embry-Riddle I heard was a great school for aerospace engineeing, so I'll be keeping that one in mind. Surprisingly, GPA average isn't too high (3.3 on this website IIRC).
  • fractalmstrfractalmstr Posts: 593Registered User Member
    Embry-Riddle I heard was a great school for aerospace engineeing, so I'll be keeping that one in mind. Surprisingly, GPA average isn't too high (3.3 on this website IIRC).

    It's important to keep in mind that ER is not for everyone. The school has a very strong aviation/space focus, and as a result, demand is never going to match that of a larger university with a much larger variety of degrees. It is also primarily an undergradate school, with less focus on research (although this has been changing in recent years) and more focus on undergraduate education. These are the primary reasons for their entrance stats being somewhat less impressive than well-known, big engineering schools where the demand is much higher.

    That being said, it's an excellent school for undergraduate AE. If you prefer smaller schools, a tight knit student body, and love aviation and space, then you would probably be a good fit for ER. Also, you might want to check out the Prescott campus instead of Daytona... IMO it is better suited for engineer personalities and tends to attract better students. Plus, the campus and local area are beautiful with lots of outdoor opportunities!
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 35,558Registered User Senior Member
    As for your proposed schedule for my 6th semester, they offer differential equation, so I'll be taking that before I transfer. As for engineering, unfortunately, they only have three engineering classes available at my college; introductory, statics, and Mechanics: Dynamic. Since I got recently told by UT Austin that I don't have to worry about a maximum deadline, perhaps for my 6th semester, I can take Differential Equation, University Physics 2, and Mechanics: Dynamic?

    However you can arrange to get the following courses done before transfer should be fine:

    Calculus 1, 2, 3
    Differential equations
    Linear algebra
    Calculus-based physics for engineers 1, 2 (presumably "University physics"?)
    Any offered introductory engineering courses at your local CC(s) that transfer to your target schools
    General chemistry courses if required by your transfer target schools
    English composition courses that transfer to your target schools

    Fill in the rest of your schedule with humanities and social studies breadth courses that transfer to your target schools.
  • astarisborn94astarisborn94 Posts: 70Registered User Junior Member
    @ucbalumnus: I don't think my school offers linear algebra (I think differential equations is the highest math offered in my community college), but it shouldn't matter that much since I haven't seen UT Austin recommend above a MATH 2420 (differential equations) for any engineering course, space included. Might be mistaken, but I don't think I am.
    Also just figured out that I can't take college physics with introductory engineering. I know college physics isn't required for engineering (but university (Calculus-based physics) is), but it's certainly recommended. I'm going to talk to the physics professors to see if it's worth taking college physics next year.

    For UT Austin, they recommended CHEM 1411 only, but I plan on taking CHEM 1412 as well since Texas A&M recommends it for engineering in general (they seem to lump in classes into five separate plans instead of separating it per major). I'll also be taking Texas History since Texas A&M requires it. Either way, I am going to be taking courses recommended by UT Austin and Texas A&M for aerospace engineering.

    I just hope that I don't have to worry about taking too many hours at my community college kicking me out of an university since I'm trying to broaden my view of the world with education (especially since I'm trying to complete my associate degree at Midland College to help get funding for transferring to an university, that's already going to push me well over 60 hours at the college overall). I'll be back to estimate how much time I have to put in because this is concerning me.

    @fractalmstr: I'm all for a well-integrated school and love space (although I don't care for avitation that much). I also am not too concern about lack of research since that's supposedly primarly Master/PHD related and if I get my Masters, I'm going to transfer to another university anyway (in which I would hope to finally get to attend UT Michigan). Student body doesn't concern me much, but I prefer larger schools since I like to be around new people.
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