What College for Aerospace?

<p>So, my college counciling department is really failing me. I need help with my college search.</p>

<p>I'm looking for aerospace, and hopefully getting an MBA to capitalize on the commercial space gold rush... I think I have the social/business skills to accomplish that, which is rare in my opinion for someone good at math and science as well...</p>

<p>Money is a concern, and I live in Missouri, so Illinois/michigan/Georgia tech might be hard/impossible. I have a 35, but a 3.6 (at the hardest school in the state) which is too low for Stanford, MIT, caltech.</p>

<p>So far I've applied to purdue, but I'm not sure how their financial package will be. I'm also concerned about the business aspect of purdue, which seems lacking for what I want to do. location is also an issue, since it seems like most space companies like Space X and the dinosaur NASA are in california and Texas...</p>

<p>USC seems good on those fronts but it is a reach for me, and their aero isn't top notch if I'm correct.</p>

<p>Where else should I be applying? I'm a little bit stumped. I have other general engineering schools on my list but they aren't great at aero. I also like to consider myself a "normal guy", not a math nut who studies all day...</p>

<p>Any suggestions/opinions would be great.</p>

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<p>Word of warning, you will need several years experience after getting your BS before an MBA is of any use to you. Don't assume you will get it right after the BS.</p>

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<p>That is a pretty bold statement coming from someone who hasn't even left high school yet. Come back in 4 to 5 years and tell me if it is as uncommon as you postulate. Seriously, there are plenty of good engineers who also have good social skills. Nearly every successful engineer does.</p>

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<p>You would do well to not take this line of reasoning too far, as you will be working with many engineers who it seems you might not consider "normal" by your standards, and you have to be able to work with them. By all means, have a life during college outside of studying. That is very important. Just don't let it create an attitude where you feel like you are more "normal" than others or it will breed resentment and hurt your career.</p>

<p>All that said:


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<p>You don't necessarily have to limit yourself to aerospace departments. It depends on which part of the launch vehicles you want to work. There is a ton of need for mechanical engineers, aerospace engineers, electrical engineers, materials scientists and computer scientists. Aerospace engineering is all well and good (I did it, so I must not hate it) but you don't have to consider only that.</p>

<p>USC is a decent school for this kind of stuff. It isn't Purdue, but it isn't Mizzou either, and it is located near a lot of the companies, which helps. There are also places like Cal Poly-SLO that are smaller and not among the big, traditional research institutions but have a great engineering reputation. I know that the undergraduate program here at Texas A&M is highly rated and quite cheap (relatively speaking) for out-of-state students and I know places like SpaceX recruit pretty heavily here. UT-Austin has a good program as well though I don't think it is nearly as cheap.</p>

<p>There are tons of options. If you have any more info on what type of place you are looking for other than getting into commercial spaceflight, that would probably be helpful.</p>

<p>To add...</p>

<p>In many senior engineering positions, you may spend 4, 5 or even 6 hours of your 8-hour day "socializing technically"...basically discussing engineering methodology, project plans, project goals, feasibility with 50 other folks before you get a chance to sit at your desk and do any "physical engineering" work.</p>

<p>@boneh3ad Thanks a lot for the response. I'm about to get on a plane, I'll give some more in depth info when I land</p>

<p>USC may not be "top notch" for aerospace but the engineering school, Viterbi, in general, is very highly regarded especially in California where the jobs in this industry are. USC offers excellent financial aid; I know firsthand, my older son is a lucky recipient. </p>

<p>The 35 ACT probably sets you up for a decent possibility for a scholarship if you apply by Dec 1st. My younger son is applying with a 35 ACT, 800 math & 800 us hist SAT 2's and 4.0 gpa and is placing USC in his "almost safety" category.</p>

<p>The business school is also highly regarded nationwide (US News #21) so you could continue there when you are ready.</p>

<p>note: When I look at our high school's Naviance scattergrams Purdue is significantly easier to get into than USC.</p>

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<p>Note: 100% irrelevant as an indicator of program quality. Any state school will have less impressive admissions statistics (if selectivity is what impresses you) than the selective private schools do. It is simply a matter of the mission of the school and state mandates.</p>

<p>^^ If the academic quality of the student body has no influence on the quality of the program then I would agree with you boneh3ad. Perhaps it doesn't. Anyway, when I look at Naviance (which uses ACT or SAT and gpa only) that is what I see for our high school - draw your own conclusions.</p>

<p>I am not familiar with Naviance, but the selectivity of the school does not affect the quality of professors or lab facilities or breadth of courses offered. Sure it loosely correlates with the overall strength of the student body, but only loosely since high school GPA and SAT/ACT scores don't correlate with college success as well as many people think. There is certainly some benefit to having brighter students around you, but going to somewhere less selective but with a world-renowned engineering department like Purdue isn't going to leave you wanting for quality classmates.</p>

<p>Ultimately what you are looking for is the quality of engineers the program turns out, both for industry and for graduate schools, which generally will correlate very well with the number and quality of companies recruiting at a school. Ultimately, the best measure of a school in my opinion is which companies want their graduates. In that regard, you probably can't go wrong with Purdue or USC, especially if you are wanting to work in Southern California. Moving out of that region, though, Purdue's name definitely carries more weight.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Man, I wish that were true. There are a lot of dollars flying around but that is only because the task is expensive to begin with. Profit margins are still not huge so it isn't really a gold rush. That said, working for companies like SpaceX seems to be pretty awesome based on the friends of mine that work at them.

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<p>Yeah, I understand that it isn't really a "gold rush" at the moment. I see a lot of potential in private space travel though, and ideally I'd end up at somewhere like SpaceX. It's also kind of my "dream job", which I know doesn't mean much, but it's something that I think I'd really put effort into.</p>

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[quote]
That is a pretty bold statement coming from someone who hasn't even left high school yet. Come back in 4 to 5 years and tell me if it is as uncommon as you postulate. Seriously, there are plenty of good engineers who also have good social skills. Nearly every successful engineer does.

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<p>You're right, I cant really say that. What I was trying to convey is that it seems like plenty of potential engineers aren't interested in the corporate latter, which is my ultimate goal.</p>

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You would do well to not take this line of reasoning too far, as you will be working with many engineers who it seems you might not consider "normal" by your standards, and you have to be able to work with them.

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<p>That statement did come off like that, didn't it? I have to watch myself on phrasing there, but I honestly don't think that working with a lot of different people will be a problem.</p>

<p>As for the colleges part... Basically, here's the things I'm looking at regarding schools, from most to least important</p>

<p>1) Can I get in? USC seems to be the top of my range with my GPA. On the other hand, I'll definitely get into Purdue. I'd like to have 1 or 2 middle ground schools though.</p>

<p>2) Can we afford it? USC will pay all but about $5000 (according to the semi-reliable net price calculator), and I'm national merit, which helps a lot at USC. But I'm not so sure about Purdue's financial package. Again, in theory I'd like to find some middle ground schools that can be affordable.</p>

<p>3) Will I get a job that I want? USC has great location for this. Will I be able to score a Califormia job (like SpaceX ideally) from Purdue, or any other school I'm considering?</p>

<p>4) General Environment. I absolutely loved everything about USC. The location, the general feel of it, everything really, just seemed to really fit. This isn't as big of a factor obviously.</p>

<p>As I stand right now, I think that USC is my first choice. Although the program isn't as good, it seems to still have a top 20 aerospace program, and it's in a great job location. They'll also pay for pretty much everything, and I absolutely loved my visit. It should also be easier to get into their business grad school if I'm already an alum... My problem is, what if I don't get into USC, and Purdue doesn't come through with the cash? Texas A&M definitely is worth looking into, especially if they can bring down their tuition a little bit more with some need-based aid. Any other suggestions? Again, thanks a lot for the help. I really appreciate it.</p>

<p>Well to address your third point, Purdue can get you a job pretty much anywhere in the country or even the world. It is that well known for engineering. USC is well known for engineering in its region and in some circles, but to be honest, if you venture too far from Southern California, people really only know it for law, business and football. Of course that isn't necessarily an indictment on USC being a bad school as much as it is just an indication of the reputation Purdue has. It also isn't a big deal for you since the companies you are looking to get into are based in Southern California.</p>

<p>For you fourth point, that is a bigger factor than you might think. It is overlooked a lot, but I am a firm believer that you have to feel right at the school you choice. Fit is a big deal because you will be there for four years working your tail off, and if you hate where you are, it is going to leave you much less motivated. Assuming you get in and can afford it, I can't imagine based on what you have said so far that there would be another school that fits you better.</p>

<p>Other than that, it is just tough because of the fact that most of the major aerospace programs are either super selective private schools or else big state flagships that aren't too cheap and don't typically give out a bunch of merit aid. That basically means you are looking at the cheaper (not necessarily worse) state flagships and the smaller but highly regarded schools in the region such as Cal Poly SLO.</p>

<p>Re: Cal Poly SLO... Cal Poly SLO has a relatively low out-of-state list price, but not a lot of financial aid for out-of-state students. Could be a bargain for some, but out of reach for others. But if your net cost after financial aid and scholarships is only $5,000 at USC, it would be hard for other schools to beat that, if you get in.</p>

<p>If you want a really low cost safety, look at University of Alabama - Huntsville. For a 3.0 GPA and 34 ACT, you get a near-full ride, automatically. It offers various types of engineering, including aerospace and mechanical, and is next to NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. <a href="http://uah.edu/iFinAid/scholarships/2012-2013%20approved%20scholarship%20grid.pdf%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://uah.edu/iFinAid/scholarships/2012-2013%20approved%20scholarship%20grid.pdf&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Texas A&M is about $12,500 net cost per year if you are a NMF who designates it as the first choice. <a href="https://scholarships.tamu.edu/SCH_Opportunities/tamu_scholarships/freshman/national_merit.aspx%5B/url%5D"&gt;https://scholarships.tamu.edu/SCH_Opportunities/tamu_scholarships/freshman/national_merit.aspx&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>An in-state school for you, Missouri University of Science and Technology, does offer aerospace engineering.</p>

<p>I hate to hijack OP's thread but this seems like a logical place to ask: I want to be an aerospace engineer but many of the good engineering schools I'm thinking about (CMU and Penn, for instance) don't offer aerospace programs. Can anyone enlighten me as to the feasibility of majoring in, say, mechanical or electrical engineering and then pursuing aerospace at the graduate level? Would that hurt my standing with potential employers?</p>

<p>Thanks.</p>

<p>There are plenty of aerospace employment opportunities for engineers who are not aerospace or aeronautical engineering majors. The real question is - what discipline of engineering and what aerospace subsystems are you most interested in working on? </p>

<p>Check out a few of the jobs and their educational requirements
Aerospace</a> Engineer Jobs on CareerBuilder.com</p>

<p>IndigoPlateau "I want to be an aerospace engineer but many of the good engineering schools I'm thinking about (CMU and Penn, for instance) don't offer aerospace programs."</p>

<p>Perhaps you should also ask yourself why you are interested in these particular schools if they don't have aerospace programs. What is it that you find lacking in the engineering schools that do offer ocean and aerospace programs? A good self evaluation may help in your decision on the appropriate school.</p>

<p>You don't necessarily need an aerospace degree to work in the aerospace industry. I retired after 35 years working on mostly NASA programs. My degree was in Civil Engineering with specialization in structural analysis. I was in the analysis side of aerospace engineering working on the flight hardware for the Space Shuttle program and the Space Station program. </p>

<p>You need, as others have also pointed out, many different specialties to build aerospace hardware. So get into a good school, choose an area of enigneering that you enjoy, then work your butt off.</p>

<p>By the way, very few of my co-worker engineers (I can only think of one off the top of my head) actually had degrees in "aerospace engineering".</p>

<p>I'm in a fairly unique situation with my college options. My parents don't make much money and my sister is going to be heading off to college a year after me so I have to minimize expenses. What that means is that I'm pretty much restricted to the northeast (I live in PA). I have the stats to get into a top school but there aren't many with aerospace programs. There are some, but they would likely be less willing to offer me financial aid. Based on my estimates from statistics I've looked at it is more financially viable for me to attend a top engineering school for something else than a smaller one specifically for aerospace.</p>

<p>Do your "stats to get into a top school" include at least a 3.0 GPA and 1490 SAT CR+M or 34 ACT? If so, consider the automatic full ride at University of Alabama - Huntsville, which is near the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.</p>

<p>There are other full rides that are competitive at places like NCSU and Georgia Tech. Berkeley also if you major in mechanical engineering.</p>

<p>Couple of thoughts. Sounds like you have ruled out going to Penn State? Top 20 in aerospace/aeronautical pubs/citations. Aerospace engineering major. I know some great aerospace engineers that have come from Penn State.</p>

<p>But more importantly, and I expect I'll probably get some comments for saying this, but having an aerospace engineering major is just not required or even necessarily desirable to work in the aerospace industry in general. Many typical aerospace engineering major courses tend to focus on a fairly narrow set of skills that apply to fairly narrowly defined groups within aerospace engineering organizations. There are far more electrical, mechanical, materials, and even civil engineers working in the aerospace industry.</p>

<p>If you want to go to a "better" school, and want to work in aerospace, you can confidently choose one of these engineering majors. </p>

<p>Its more important for you to understand what aspects of aerospace interests you and what engineering majors are "required" for these areas or subsystems.</p>

<p><a href="http://academic.research.microsoft.com/RankList?entitytype=7&topdomainid=8&subdomainid=1&last=10%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://academic.research.microsoft.com/RankList?entitytype=7&topdomainid=8&subdomainid=1&last=10&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

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<p>Absolutely, 100% true.</p>

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<p>True, but there are also far more electrical and mechanical engineers in general than there are aerospace engineers. Aerospace engineering is a fairly niche field providing engineers for fairly niche jobs so it works out fine. It is just important for people to know that it isn't the only path into the aerospace industry.</p>

<p>What I meant by "or even necessarily desirable" was that in terms of the number of job opportunities that the number of true aerospace major related positions in the great majority of aerospace related organizations is much fewer than say the number of mech-e or ee positions. The majors themselves are much broader, and the number of specializations within these majors that relate to aerospace jobs is simply larger. Yes, agree that the belief that one needs to major in aerospace, aeronautical or astronautical engineering to best get a job in aerospace is simply not true. For new college grads, I also think that in general, aerospace engineering majors will have significantly fewer aerospace (and non-aerospace) job opportunities than say mechanical or electrical engineering majors, especially with future reduced defense spending.</p>