Aerodynamic simulation on the Space Shuttle using computational fluid dynamicsCredit: NASA/Ames
Aerodynamic simulation on the Space Shuttle using computational fluid dynamics

Job Profile

Aerodynamicist

Aerodynamicists research into the motion of air and its interaction with solid objects such as a spacecraft. This can then be used in the technical design and development of spacecraft to maximise their performance.


The work of an aerodynamicist covers both the technical design and research into the most efficient and effective way to construct a vehicle for its purpose and the testing of prototypes to see how they respond to simulated environments. 

Aerodynamicists are keen problem solvers as many vehicles need to fulfill multiple criteria such as a spacecraft having the most efficient shape for take off but also being robust and stable enough to survive long missions in space.

Aerodynamicists often work in teams with other professionals such as aerospace engineers, automotive engineers, project managers and more to complete a project.

There are great opportunities from the application of aerodynamics beyond the space and aviation sector such as in formula 1 where aerodynamicists greatly focus on reducing drag to maximise the cars performance.

Skills Required as an Aerodynamicist

  • Strong analytical abilities
  • Problem solving skills
  • Working in a multidisciplinary team
  • Computer programming and simulation skills

Routes in to Aerodynamics

To enter the field of aerodynamics you will generally need to have gained a university degree, this could be in aeronautical or aerospace engineering or any STEM subject, with physics, maths and computer science being particularly relevant. A masters or PhD could then be pursued in this area.

Author

Emma Collier

Emma studies Physics with Astronomy at the University of Southampton.

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