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|Activity sectors||aeronautics, astronautics, science|
|Competencies||technical knowledge, management skills|
|Education required||see professional requirements|
Aerospace engineering is the primary branch of engineering concerned with the design, construction, and science of aircraft and spacecraft. It is divided into two major and overlapping branches: aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering. The former deals with craft that stay within Earth's atmosphere, and the latter with craft that operate outside it.
Aerospace Engineering deals with the design, construction, and study of the science behind the forces and physical properties of aircraft, rockets, flying craft, and spacecraft. The field also covers their aerodynamic characteristics and behaviors, airfoil, control surfaces, lift, drag, and other properties. Aerospace engineering is not to be confused with the various other fields of engineering that go into designing elements of these complex craft. For example, the design of aircraft avionics, while certainly part of the system as a whole, would rather be considered electrical engineering, or perhaps computer engineering. Or an aircraft's landing gear system may be considered primarily the field of mechanical engineering. There is typically a combination of many disciplines that make up aerospace engineering.
While aeronautical engineering was the original term, the broader "aerospace" has superseded it in usage, as flight technology advanced to include craft operating in outer space. Aerospace engineering, particularly the astronautics branch, is referred to colloquially as "rocket science".
Flight vehicles are subjected to demanding conditions such as those produced by extreme changes in atmospheric pressure and temperature, with structural loads applied upon vehicle components. Consequently, they are usually the products of various technological and engineering disciplines including aerodynamics, propulsion, avionics, materials science, structural analysis and manufacturing. The interaction between these technologies is known as aerospace engineering. Because of the number of disciplines involved, aerospace engineering is carried out by teams of engineers, each having their own specialised area of expertise.
The development and manufacturing of a modern flight vehicle is an extremely complex process and demands careful balance and compromise between abilities, design, available technology and costs. Aerospace engineers design, test, and supervise the manufacture of aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles. Aerospace engineers develop new technologies for use in aviation, defense systems, and space.
The origin of aerospace engineering can be traced back to the aviation pioneers around the late 19th century to early 20th centuries, although the work of Sir George Cayley has recently been dated as being from the last decade of the 18th to mid 19th century. One of the most important people in the history of aeronautics, Cayley was a pioneer in aeronautical engineering and is credited as the first person to separate the forces of lift and drag, which are in effect on any flight vehicle. Early knowledge of aeronautical engineering was largely empirical with some concepts and skills imported from other branches of engineering. Scientists understood some key elements of aerospace engineering, like fluid dynamics, in the 18th century. Several years later after the successful flights by the Wright brothers, the 1910s saw the development of aeronautical engineering through the design of World War I military aircraft.
The first definition of aerospace engineering appeared in February 1958. The definition considered the Earth's atmosphere and the outer space as a single realm, thereby encompassing both aircraft (aero) and spacecraft (space) under a newly coined word aerospace. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was founded in 1958 as a response to the Cold War. United States aerospace engineers launched the first American satellite on January 31, 1958 in response to the USSR launching Sputnik on October 4, 1957.
|This section requires expansion with:
newer history, including recent events. (November 2009)
The basis of most of these elements lies in theoretical physics, such as fluid dynamics for aerodynamics or the equations of motion for flight dynamics. There is also a large empirical component. Historically, this empirical component was derived from testing of scale models and prototypes, either in wind tunnels or in the free atmosphere. More recently, advances in computing have enabled the use of computational fluid dynamics to simulate the behavior of fluid, reducing time and expense spent on wind-tunnel testing.
Additionally, aerospace engineering addresses the integration of all components that constitute an aerospace vehicle (subsystems including power, aerospace bearings, communications, thermal control, life support, etc.) and its life cycle (design, temperature, pressure, radiation, velocity, lifetime).
Aerospace engineering may be studied at the advanced diploma, bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D. levels in aerospace engineering departments at many universities, and in mechanical engineering departments at others. A few departments offer degrees in space-focused astronautical engineering. The Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands offers one of the top European aerospace educational and research platforms, while the programs of the Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rutgers University, and University of Southern California are examples of American schools. In 2009, U.S. News & World Report ranked the undergraduate aerospace engineering programs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Michigan as the top three best programs at doctorate granting universities in the United States. The other programs in the top ten were Purdue University, California Institute of Technology, University of Maryland, University of Illinois, Stanford University, University of Texas at Austin, and Virginia Tech in that order. The magazine also rates Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the United States Air Force Academy, and the United States Naval Academy as the premier aerospace engineering programs at universities that do not grant doctorate degrees. University of Kansas School of Engineering has earned more first and second place AIAA awards than any other academic institution in the world in the 42-year history of the competition. Wichita State University is renowned for its Aerospace Engineering program and also has the third highest research budget for Aerospace Engineering in the United States.
In Canada, the University of Toronto has a quality aerospace engineering program. The aerospace program requires the students to go through a competitive program called Engineering Science. The academic program in aerospace science and engineering at U of T includes undergraduate and graduate studies. Carleton University and Ryerson University are other top aerospace and mechanical engineering universities in Canada which offer accredited graduate and under-graduate degrees. The Royal Military College of Canada offers an Aerospace engineering degree offered by the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Department since 2008. It is a rigorous program with a high amount of additional credits students must earn.
In the UK, Aerospace (or aeronautical) engineering can be studied at the B.Eng., M.Eng., MSc. and Ph.D. levels at a number of universities. The first institution in the UK to teach in this field was Queen Mary, University of London. The The Times' top 10 universities are University of Cambridge, University of Surrey, University of Bristol, University of Southampton, Queens University Belfast, University of Sheffield, Newcastle University, University of Bath, Imperial College London, Loughborough University and University of Nottingham for 2010. The Department of Aeronautics at Imperial College London is noted for providing engineers for the Formula One industry, an industry that uses aerospace technology.
Aerospace can be studied at University of Limerick in Ireland. In Australia, the RMIT University offers Aerospace (or aeronautical) engineering and has more than 60 years teaching experience in this profession. Monash University, University of New South Wales, University of Sydney, University of Queensland, University of Adelaide and Queensland University of Technology also offers Aerospace Engineering.
European universities that are renowned for their teaching and expertise in aerospace engineering include TU Delft in the Netherlands, ISAE, ENAC, IPSA and ESTACA in France, RWTH Aachen, TU München, the University of Stuttgart, TU Dresden, TU Berlin and TU Braunschweig as well as Hamburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany, and the Centre for Structure Technologies at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. In Austria the FH Joanneum and the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt. In Portugal the Instituto Superior Técnico. In Spain the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Universitat Politècnica de Valencia and University of Seville offer the degree, while in Italy there also several universities where aerospace engineering can be studied including the Politecnico di Torino, the Politecnico di Milano, the University of Bologna,the University of Pisa, the University of Napoli, the University of Padua and the Sapienza University of Rome. In Eastern Europe they are the Politehnica University of Bucharest in Romania, the Technical Military Academy of Bucharest in Romania the University of Belgrade in Serbia, the Warsaw University of Technology and Rzeszów University of Technology in Poland and Brno University of Technology in Brno, Czech Republic.
In India Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore is well known for its Aerospace Engineering department, which offers degrees at post-graduate level. Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore is credited to have been the nucleus point and incubation center for various leading academic and industrial aerospace related organizations in India. IIT Kanpur possesses its own flight test aircraft and airfield for students in the discipline, while few other IITs also offer degrees in this discipline. PEC Institute of Technology, Chandigarh and Madras Institute of Technology, Chennai are two premier non-IIT colleges which offer courses in Aeronautical Engineering. IIST Trivandrum,sponsored by ISRO offers undergraduate and post-graduate courses focusing on aeronautics, astronautics and space sciences. Amrita University Coimbatore is another institute in private sector that offers Bachelor degree in Aerospace Engineering. Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur has offered an undergraduate Bachelor of Engineering degree in Aerospace Engineering sine academic year 2010. University of Petroleum and Energy Studies and Indian Institute of aeronautical engineering, Dehradun also one of the leading institute. The Manav Rachna International University is an established institute and has a 4-year full time B.Tech. degree in Aeronautical Engineering.
In China Nanjing Aeronautics and Astronautics University is a regional leader in the field of aerospace engineering education. In Pakistan Aerospace Engineering can be studied at National University of Sciences and Technology at (CAE), at PAF Academy in Risalpur & at Air University which is Pakistan's only university that grants a Doctorate degree in Aerospace Engineering & Avionics Engineering. In 2002, SUPARCO established IST which is a federally chartered public sector institute of Pakistan offering under graduate and graduate degree in Aerospace Engineering. The MS degree at IST is being offered in collaboration with Beihang University (BUAA), China and Seoul National University, South Korea.
In Brazil the B.Sc, M.Sc and PhD degrees in Aerospace Engineering are offered by the some prestigious Universities like: Universidade de São Paulo – USP at São Carlos campus, Instituto Tecnologico de Aeronautica – ITA and Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais – UFMG. The admission for these courses features among the most difficult in Brazil, partly due to its competitive Vestibular (similar to ACT and SAT in USA).
In Africa the only University that offers an undegraduate BSc in Aeronautical Engineering is the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. They also offer a MSc and Phd in Aeronautical engineering.
The term "rocket scientist" is sometimes used to describe a person of great intelligence since "rocket science" is seen as a practice requiring great mental ability, especially technical and mathematical ability.
The term is often used mockingly, such as in the expression "it's not rocket science", "this isn't rocket science" to indicate that the task is simple, or "it doesn't take a rocket scientist".
Strictly speaking, the use of the word "science" in "rocket science" is a misnomer since science is about understanding the origins, nature, and behavior of the universe; engineering is about using scientific and engineering principles to solve problems and develop new technology. To the mass media and general public, engineering is often a synonym for science but that is technically incorrect usage.
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