Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Mechanical engineering focuses on the design, manufacture, and analysis of mechanical systems. Aerospace engineering, is a more specialised version of this, focusing purely on aeroplanes and spacecraft.
Also called: Aeronautical Engineering, Astronautics & Space Technology, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Aero-Mechanical Engineering
Mechanical engineering focuses on the design, manufacture, and analysis of mechanical systems like cars, engines, and spacecraft. Aerospace engineering, is a more specialised version of this, focusing purely on aeroplanes and spacecraft.
In the space industry, mechanical and aerospace engineers design spacecraft structures. They are concerned with things like ensuring that a satellite is able to withstand the vibrations of a rocket launch, that its solar cells will deploy correctly in orbit, and that is rocket engine uses the minimum amount of fuel to get to orbit.
Mechanical and aerospace engineering courses involve a lot of maths and physics to analyse physical systems and try to improve how they work. Some of the topics you might study include:
Aerodynamics – The behaviour of air at different temperatures, pressures, and speeds. This includes studying supersonic shock waves, and the production of lift from a wing.
Structures – The behaviour of mechanical structures such as beams and tubes, and how they respond when compressed, stretched, and rotated.
Materials – The composition and behaviour of materials from well understood metals like aluminium to exotic composite materials that have yet to be proven.
Computing – Programming in languages such as MATLAB and Python, using tools such as Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software to create models of structures and fluids, and analyse them.
Flight & Orbital Mechanics – The behaviour of aircraft and spacecraft in flight, how they respond to changes like gusts of wind and sudden changes in direction.
Thermodynamics & Propulsion – The transfer of energy between systems, and the performance and efficiency of engines.
CareersInAerospace.com – This site, maintained by the Royal Aeronautical Society, has a listing of all undergraduate and postgraduate aeronautical engineering courses.