Dec 02, 2023  
Undergraduate Record 2019-2020 
Undergraduate Record 2019-2020 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Aerospace Engineering

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Aerospace engineering is concerned with the science and technology underlying the behavior and design of vehicles and systems that operate within the atmosphere and in space. It requires knowledge of a wide range of subject areas, including the basic sciences, mathematics, and engineering sciences as well as specialized studies in aerodynamics, propulsion systems, structures, materials, flight dynamics, astronautics, and computational methods. This broad background qualifies the graduating engineer not only to handle problems that are special to the aerospace field, but also to meet challenges of an interdisciplinary nature facing society, such as those involving the environment, transportation, and energy resources.

The Aerospace Engineering curriculum provides a thorough background in fluid dynamics, structures, propulsion, controls, flight dynamics and design. The curriculum provides flexibility with regard to all areas of potential aerospace practice by emphasizing applied science, design, and technology while providing a firm foundation in mathematics and physics.  Students will use symbolic and high-level mathematics tools, solid modeling and finite element analysis tools, as well as computational fluid dynamics and materials selection tools.  They also have access to a state-of-the art rapid prototyping facility with numerous 3D course printers, CNC machines, laser cutters, and the like.  The rapid prototyping facility can be used both for course work, as well as individual entrepreneurial initiatives.  With a strong science and mathematics based education, aerospace engineers have also found employment opportunities outside of the traditional aerospace industry. Many work in oceanography, biotechnology, weather prediction, energy conservation, and in the petrochemical, nuclear or automotive industries. In addition, the aerospace design provides an excellent background for business, law or medicine. Of course, people with the ambition to become pilots, either military or commercial, find the aerospace degree very attractive.
Aerospace engineering principles are reinforced and integrated through design assignments and  significant “hands-on” experience with the latest in test equipment and modern experimental methods. A three-semester lab sequence builds on a basic skills and science background to develop an appreciation for measurement techniques and apparatus as well as to demonstrate aerodynamic concepts.  Students also develop communications skills and learn about the complex cultural, legal, ethical and economic factors which influence the engineering profession. Students who wish to may select courses that satisfy the requirements of a minor area of study (e.g., materials science, computer science, physics and engineering business, economics).

Program Objectives

Graduates of the Aerospace Engineering program at the University of Virginia have the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that allow them to make tangible contributions, meet new technical challenges, contribute effectively as team members, and be innovators in the analysis and design of aerospace vehicle systems.  They communicate effectively and interact responsibly with colleagues, clients, employers and society.

Aerospace Engineering Curriculum (128 credits)

Second Semester Credits: 17

Third Semester Credits: 17

Fourth Semester Credits: 17

Fifth Semester Credits: 17

Sixth Semester Credits: 15

Seventh Semester Credits: 15

Eighth Semester Credits: 15

  • MAE 4XXX - Aerospace Design II (See Footnote 6 below) Credits / Units: 3
  • Credits: 3
  • Math-Science/Technical Elective (See footnote 2 below) Credits / Units: 3
  • HSS Elective 3 (See footnote 4 below) Credits / Units: 3
  • Unrestricted Elective 3 (See Footnote 1 below)


(1) Unrestricted electives may be chosen from any graded course in the University except mathematics courses below MATH 1310 and courses that substantially duplicate any others offered for the degree, including PHYS 2010, 2020; CS 1010, 1020; or any introductory programming course. Students in doubt as to what is acceptable to satisfy a degree requirement should get the approval of their advisor and the dean’s office, located in A122 Thornton Hall.
(2) Chosen from the MAE Department’s approved Math-Science/Technical Electives List (see website).
(3) Chosen from: BIOL 2100, 2200; CHEM 1620; MSE 2090; PHYS 2620; and any approved APMA course 2000 or higher not already required by a student’s major and does not duplicate material from another APMA course.
(4) Chosen from the approved Humanities and Social Science list available in A122 Thornton Hall.
(5) Any course which meets the Second Writing Requirement as specified in the College of Arts & Sciences (CLAS) may be substituted for STS 2XXX/3XXX.
(6) Chosen from the sequence 4650-4660 or 4690-4700.

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