Some of the most successful aerospace engineers have made significant contributions to space travel and space exploration as well as the development of aircraft design, architecture, and innovation.
However, each aerospace engineer carves out their own path to success, and that will serve as a source of inspiration for aspiring engineers. In this article, we'll discover how some of these aerospace engineers have carved their career paths for success.
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If you're pursuing a career in aerospace engineering, it's important to know what your responsibilities entail. Some of the most successful aerospace engineers have helped build drones, passenger jets, and spacecraft. That's because aerospace engineers typically focus on the field of aeronautics or astronautical engineering.
What Do Aerospace Engineers Do?
Aeronautical engineers help create the aircraft that stay within the earth's atmosphere while astronautical engineers also contribute to the design and manufacture of spacecraft that functions both in and outside the earth's atmosphere. The daily responsibilities and routine aerospace engineers experience varies.
For instance, you could be spending months on a single project that may require writing code one day to debugging integrated systems on another day. You may also work on different parts of the engineering process, such as the design, testing, or deployment phase. Working as an aerospace engineer in fascinating because you will experience a variety of environments, and technologies while working with multiple cross-functional teams to deliver the projects.
How Do Aerospace Engineers' Skills Impact Their Success?
Your tasks and responsibilities typically depend on the project and phase of the engineering process you're working on, your industry and your expertise. For instance, Boeing aerospace engineer Paige Botos is responsible for verifying necessary requirements with the FAA and EASA. She also works on enhancing maintenance costs and procedures for Boeing.
Propulsion Development Engineer Kegan Buchhop is responsible for running and setting up full-scale engine tests at Blue Origin. Some of his daily tasks involve reviewing data after tests are performed and building electrical hardware. Both engineers had to possess specific skills, such as problem-solving skills and communications skills, and understand engineering mechanics to be successful with accomplishing their daily tasks.
How Successful are Aerospace Engineers?
Some of the most successful engineers who worked in the field of aeronautics or astronomical engineering came from all walks of life, focused on getting an education and took the necessary steps to build a career path that helped them make an impact in the industry. Consider some of the career paths of these aerospace engineers that helped lead them down the road to success:
- Neil Armstrong - As the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong had a significant impact. Armstrong graduated from USC with a master's degree in aerospace engineering and was a naval aviator. He also worked as an engineer, test pilot, administrator, and an astronaut for NASA and taught at the University of Cincinnati. Armstrong was part of the lunar landing mission that humans first operated, and he also helped dock two vehicles in space successfully, which was the first successful mission of its kind.
- Kalpana Chawla - Kalpana Chawla became the first Indian-born woman to go to space. Part of Chawla's success included her vast education and tenacity. Chawla received her aeronautical engineering degree from Punjab Engineering College in India, a master's degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington, and a doctorate degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Chawla worked her way up from working on power-lift computational fluid dynamics at NASA to testing software for space shuttles as a crew member. After being selected as an astronaut candidate and completing training, Chawla flew into space in 1997 on the Columbia space shuttle as a mission specialist and deployed a satellite that studied the sun's outer layer. Her second mission into space in 2003 ended tragically as the entire crew died upon re-entry into the earth's atmosphere. But Chawla's legacy lives on in the important work she helped accomplished for NASA and space exploration.
- Judith Love Cohen - With more than 30 years, Judith Love Cohen helps inspire young future female aerospace engineers. Cohen became an aerospace engineer during a time when few women pursued a career in this field. In 1957, Cohen graduated from the University of Southern California (USC). She was one of the eight women who had graduated that year out of a graduating class of 800 engineering students. Her interest in electrical engineering led her on a career path to work for NASA and work on the Hubble Space Telescope and produce guidance systems.
- Elon Musk - Engineer and entrepreneur Elon Musk may have gone to school to study economics and physics, but Musk has carved out a successful career path in aeronautics. Musk owns and heads several companies that promote sustainable energy or has a mission to extend human life, including SpaceX, Tesla, and Neuralink. As the owner and lead designer of SpaceX, Musk is helping to break barriers with a mission to establish a human colony on Mars with SpaceX and is working on taking internet services to space with the Starlink satellite internet service.
- Burt Rutan - Aerospace engineer Burt Rutan created the first aircraft that could fly across the world without needing refueling. He also designed the canard wing configuration and 46 aircraft, including SpaceShipOne. He earned an aerospace engineering degree and started his career as a test project engineer, worked in the Air Force where he fine-tuned his skills, and even started a company--the Rutan Aircraft Factory.
Whether you choose to focus on developing a career in aeronautics or take your career "out of this world" as an astronautical engineer, a career in aerospace engineering offers several rewarding paths. But if you're looking to be a successful aerospace engineer, then it's ideal for getting insight.
Just take a cue from the success stories of the aerospace engineers mentioned here, and you can get a little direction to help you down your road to success.