What Does An Aerospace Engineer Do?
Aerospace engineers have a very important job in our ever changing, modern world. The title makes the job sound complicated, but if you break it down it is easier to understand what an aerospace engineer does. An engineer is a person who designs or builds engines and machines. Aerospace is the physical area made up of Earth’s atmosphere and the space beyond it.
So, when you put the two together, you learn that an aerospace engineer is a person who designs or builds engines and machines that are used out in the Earth’s atmosphere and beyond. They design and build things such as:
- Defense Systems
Within that broad job description there are a lot of different tasks that aerospace engineers must do. They are responsible for the whole process of making aerospace products, which includes designing, building, and testing them.
Aerospace engineers are also responsible for deciding whether or not an idea is possible. It is their job to determine if an idea can be successfully taken through the entire process from idea to design to production to operation.
Aerospace engineers can work for a variety of companies and customers including:
- Airline Operators
- Aerospace Engine Companies
- Research and Development Organizations
- Government Agencies
- Electronics Manufacturing Companies
- Private Technology Firms
To start the process, they must meet with a customer to hear all about what is needed. This requires listening to the customer to find out exactly what job they need the new device or product to perform. Then they work to develop ideas that will give the customer what they need to solve the problem that they have.
Once an idea is developed, they must design the product to meet a certain need or do a specific job. The aerospace engineer must also think about the environmental factors that will affect the product, and make sure the design can handle them. They must also decide how long they think it will take to get the product ready for production.
Not only do they have to decide if it is possible to design and build it, they must also decide if it can be done within the project’s desired budget. Or, if it is over budget, what would have to be changed to make it affordable.
Once the aerospace engineer has done all of this, then they meet with the customer to show them the design, budget, and time frame. If the customer agrees, then they move on to the next phase.
Next, they must build the product to match the details in the design. This can require changing things as they go. They must follow engineering guidelines and rules and make sure the product is safe and legal.
After that, they are responsible for testing the product to make sure it works the way the customer needs it to, does the job it is designed for, and operates safely and consistently.
Often after testing, the aerospace engineer will need to go back and change the design to fix something that didn’t work well, or to add a feature that they didn’t realize was wanted or needed until after it was tested.
Then they need to rebuild it to match the new design, and test it again. This process can repeat several times until the product is successfully designed and built to meet the customer’s desired requirements.
After a product has been designed, built, and tested, the aerospace engineer delivers it to the customer for production. An aerospace engineer is often used to supervise the production of a product once it is ready for use.
Once a customer is using a product, they will frequently call on an aerospace engineer to inspect it, maintain it, and repair it if it gets broken. Not only do they repair it, they figure out what the cause of the problem is, and work to prevent it from happening again.
Aerospace engineers are also asked to update their designs over time as the customer’s needs change or new technology becomes available.
Since aerospace engineering is complicated, oftentimes aerospace engineers choose to specialize in one or two areas, instead of to trying to master them all. Some of the specific areas they can specialize in include, but are not limited to:
- Structural Design
- Guidance, Navigation, and Control
- Propulsion and Combustion
- Software Engineering
- Celestial Mechanics
- Instrumentation and Communication
The job of an aerospace engineer is complicated and technical. To be a successful aerospace engineer, a person must be willing to learn about new scientific advancements, and must excel in the subjects of math, science, and computer engineering. Aerospace engineers must be detail oriented and able to think creatively to develop new technology and solve unique problems.