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Is work as an entry level aerospace engineer hands-on and experimental or hands-off observational?

aerospace aviation engineer entrylevel aeronautical # airline-industry work handson
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I am a high school junior, and I am really considering pursuing a degree/career in aerospace engineering. I love physics and math. I am just worried about how much I'll actually like the work that aerospace engineers do.

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Matthew’s Answer

Hi Marco, I started my career in Aerospace and have many friends who work in the industry still. I can say it depends on the job. There are operations jobs (like Mission Control, training, manufacturing, etc.) that can be more hands on with the people and equipment. There are many desk jobs that are more pure design/analysis work. If you're passionate about the program you are a part of then it is easy to stay motivated. The best thing about an aerospace degree is it is very versatile. If you can build the level of intellectual horsepower, problem solving skills and persevere to actually get an aerospace degree, you will be viewed by many as having the skills needed to tackle almost any job. So if you end up not liking your aerospace job, you will have a good chance of having many other options available to you. I myself am a Supply Chain leader today.
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Victor’s Answer

Hey Marco! Like Matthew mentioned, the chance to work with your hands really depends on your job. I think the biggest factors in whether or not you'll be on site working on your product depends on what your role in the company is, how big your company is, and what phase of development or manufacturing you're in. Smaller companies may require you to "wear more hats" and perform many job functions. At a larger company, it is easy to focus on one part of the the engineering process and even make a career of it. Like Matthew mentioned, some jobs are also just inherently going to require you to be on site with the product while others will keep you behind a desk. At the companies I've worked for, there were definitely opportunities to transfer internally between such roles.

If you are worried that you may not love aerospace engineering in the future, mechanical engineering may be worth considering (Disclaimer, I was a MechE). The two curriculums tend to be very similar, with aerospace engineers having some more focused classes than mechanical engineers. I felt that my mechanical engineering curriculum allowed for students to pick many classes and really tailor their education. This flexibility will definitely help you change your mind if you decide the aerospace industry isn't for you!
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