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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).