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While there are many different paths and opportunities for aeronautical/aerospace engineers, many will find it useful to anticipate lots of hard work and preparation during high school and especially college. Also, a love of aviation is a must to truly succeed. This sounds like a pretty standard answer for many STEM careers, but engineering (and especially Aero) is regarded as one of the more challenging paths. Speaking from personal experience, it is best to not just find the right University/Institute but to also find opportunities to apply what you are learning at the same time. These opportunities range from school science clubs like Design/Build/Fly, The Real World Design Challenge, RC airplanes, learning to fly, to Internships and/or Co-Operative education with an aviation company. The best Universities/Institutes focus on that last one I mentioned (Co-op) and it is probably one of the best ways to not only see what the job entails but to help keep you grounded when the course work really gets tough. As I started out saying, be prepared for hard work, and keep in mind that there are tons of opportunities within aviation. Don't just focus on the number crunching/research jobs, there are jobs for folks who enjoy crash/destructive testings or maintenance/repair engineering or even speaking and teach other engineers how to do their jobs better.
Identify a University or Institute that doesn't just focus on theory but also has opportunities to apply it while you learn it
Intern or Co-op as soon as you can
Identify Mentors and learn from them
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Angela D. Blaver, Ph.D.
Consultant, Tutor, Editor, Volunteer
Angela D.’s Answer
Greetings Crystal! A great question. Please see the description and website below. I think this will help to guide you further. Please talk to your school counselor as well. Best, Dr. B
Aeronautical engineers work with aircraft. They are involved primarily in designing aircraft and propulsion systems and in studying the aerodynamic performance of aircraft and construction materials. They work with the theory, technology, and practice of flight within the Earth's atmosphere