I wanna build rocketships

<p>Well, in all seriousness, I have a question!
I've recently been debating what engineering field I want to go into (I'm still a HS senior). I realize I won't be sure until I go to college, but if my college doesn't have aerospace as a major, would I still be able to pursue it?</p>

<p>I guess i'm asking if the aerospace engineering training mostly comes in during graduate school. Would I be able to major in mechanical engineering and then specialize later on?</p>


<p>Yes, the general feeling on this board (a search of the forum might help) is do MechE for undergrad and specialize in Aero in grad school.</p>

<p>However, taking your technical electives in fluid dynamics etc. will be most useful.</p>

<p>It depends on what part of rockets you want to build. No one person is going to build the rocket from the ground up. There are engineers of all types working directly on rockets, most notably aerospace, mechanical and electrical. In the background there is a lot of materials scientists, computer scientists, and straight up physicists as well.</p>

<p>You can do plenty of aerospace jobs with just an undergrad degree in aerospace engineering, however you can do most of them as a mechanical engineer as well. The line isn’t so fuzzy at the graduate level (though for these two majors, it is still plenty fuzzy).</p>

<p>ME and AE are very similar. Some schools even offer the option to dual in both ME and AE at the cost of only ~1 additional semester. If you major in ME you can easily work in the aerospace industry or go to grad school for AE. </p>

<p>AE and ME majors take pretty much exactly the same courses for the first two years then it starts to diverge a bit as AE goes into aerodynamics and propulsion while ME goes into heat transfer and finite element analysis.</p>

<p>thanks a lot for the informative responses! and that’s very good news that I’d still be able to go into it, considering that many undergraduate programs don’t offer aerospace as a major.</p>

<p>Would it put me at a major disadvantage in graduate school compared to the kids who did major in it though?</p>

<p>Looks like you will need to take the BS in ME to MS in AE route that others are talking about. Just pile on some extra classes on the physics of fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, etc. Ask your professors, there are bound to be one or two professors there with AE degrees who can give you advice.</p>

<p>I did a BS in mechanical and am working on a PhD in aerospace right now. Don’t sweat it.</p>

<p>In the aerospace industry the people who build the spacecraft are called “Integration and Testing”. I don’t know who builds rockets though.</p>

<p>Integration and Testing is a design phase, not the title of the engineer(s).</p>

<p>You can call the guy who design rockets a “rocket scientist” =)</p>

<p>I worked on the Space Shuttle program and the International Space Station program. My undergraduate degree is in Civil Engineering. My field within CE was structural analysis. Many of my fellow structural engineers were also CE majors. Why? Because, a lot of CE programs stress structural analysis (no pun intended) where a lot of aero or mechanical programs don’t have the same emphasis on it. Besides, P over A works the same whether it’s a bridge or a rocket engine.</p>

<p>I wouldn’t sweat it too much about the label on the degree. Whatever you’re building, you’ll probably need many different specialties. Just get the most rigorous program you can as most of the big aerospace companies do show some preferences toward the top engineering schools.</p>

<p>Nah, just get a liberal arts degree. After all, you can do anything you want with a liberal arts degree! Big businesses prefer liberal arts grads over other grads because they’ve been taught how to communicate and think critically! I know, because the brochure told me so…</p>

<p>well put Tom…change of plans.</p>

<p>hah just kidding. but thanks for the details Hpuck! Just out of curiosity, do you find your career to be similar to how you imagined it back in college, or were you shocked by some negative things you didn’t expect? I’ve heard that aerospace engineers often do very very tiny tasks that contribute to the bigger picture, rather than more of a comprehensive approach. this could be totally incorrect though, or I’m taking it the wrong way.</p>

<p>But thanks for the advice, and I think I’ll be fine going down the ME major path.</p>

<p>And don’t forget that at some universities AE is an option or emphasis of the Mechanical Engineering major.</p>

<p>boneh3ad, what are you planning on doing after you finish your PhD?</p>

<p>Well, the easy answer is research. The more complete answer is I don have a clue if I will be in industry, academia or NASA/nat’l lab, as long as I am doing research. Haha</p>

<p>^ Good luck! I hope you keep posting, so you can let us know how it goes!</p>

<p>Thanks! You probably noticed my huge lull in posting this past semester. It was a combination of being slammed with work and certain posters who really annoyed me at the time. No names… Haha</p>

<p>You can say me, it’s okay.</p>

<p>You caught me, Tom. I thought I was being subtle, too.</p>