Is aerospace engineering hard?

Is aerospace engineering hard?

The short answer is:


The longer answer begins with a question:

Would you want it to be easy?

Don’t you want it to be hard?

Nothing worth doing is easy. Nothing that is easy brings much satisfaction for long.

If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Competition to do it would be fierce, it wouldn’t pay much, jobs would be scarce, and you would go home at night wishing you could do something else.

Aerospace engineering requires you to do lots of hard thinking, both abstract and detailed concrete thinking.

You will have to develop better-than-average skills in mathematics and physics, and even chemistry. Those skills will serve you well in many different lines of work, in the event that aerospace ceases to interest you, or becomes impossible for you.

Aerospace engineering carries with it a certain prestige. You will be able to calm down that white-knuckle passenger, who is freaking out over that noise he just heard. “Don’t worry, that’s just the fuel transfer servo-valve going through its built-in test on power-up. Happens every flight just before departure. I helped design this plane.”

(It also means you have to be careful not to say words like, “Oops” or “Uh-oh”. because then your spouse will realize there is a real problem onboard, and it’s time to panic.)

You will be able to stand underneath an aircraft from time to time, look up at something, and say to yourself: I know all about that part. Or, I designed that bit.

You will be like God to the masses of tourists who stare uncomprehendingly at the machine, marvelling at how it looks and works.

But to get there . . . . . . you have to do the time.  You have to do the hard work, the meetings, the equations, the computer hacking . . . . . . And actually, there can be joy in the hard work. It can actually be a lot of fun.

So to ask the question again:

Is aerospace engineering hard?

You bet it is. And that’s just why you should do it.

(To get the perspective of someone who is studying aerospace now, check out this post.

14 thoughts on “Is aerospace engineering hard?”

  1. I am good at maths bt not that much good in physics!!If I take a foundation course before starting my bachelors,will it b okay?

    1. Hi M.m. Hossain. Sorry for the delayed reply, I’ve been on holiday. Short answer: If you doubt your abilities in any subject, a foundation course will probably help. It doesn’t have to be an expensive course at a university. There are plenty of free online courses available now.

      Will that be enough? I don’t know, but it will surely boost your confidence in that subject. Give it a try.

  2. Hi Iam not good in math or physics but I will take a foundation course before going on to do the full BEng will that be enough for me to pass

  3. Hi! I’m a third year Mechanical Engg student just like you were. I find Fluid Mechanics especially Aerodynamics very very interesting. However my math is a little weak. Do you think I would be able to purse Aerospace Engineering?

    1. It really depends on how weak, and on what aspect of aerospace you want to pursue. Conceptual design or system safety? Not too math-intensive. Aerodynamics or stress analysis? Quite math-intensive.

      Quite frankly, even if your physics is good, you’ll find a lot of doors closed to you if you don’t confront your fear and develop your maths skills. Not just aerospace.

    2. Yes ofcourse…if i u select aerodynamics as ur main stream,u should be good at physics than mathematics…And u should be well familiar with CFD analysis…

  4. Hi, I recently graduated from Civil Engineering in India. I have always been fascinated with aerospace engineering. Is it possible to switch from civil to aerospace? My Math and Physics skills are decent, I would like to know more about the difficulties i would be facing when switching streams. Thanks in advance.

    1. Possible? Yes. Easy? Probably not. The aerospace community is notoriously insular and conservative. Any aerospace employer will want to see evidence of commitment and experience on your part before they’ll hire you. They don’t want to have to train you up; they want you to hit the ground running on Day 1, making money for the shareholders.

      Sound shortsighted? Yes, but it’s reality. I went back to university as a mature student to study aerospace, because even though I had TWO mechanical engineering degrees already, employers couldn’t see anything on my CV that screamed “ready-made aerospace engineer” at them. So I was cast aside, until I’d demonstrated that aerospace was what I wanted to do. Which, at that time, meant getting another degree, this time aerospace-focused.

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