20 answers

What's a day in the life of an aerospace engineer like?

Asked Viewed 598 times

Aeronautical or astronautical, it doesn't matter. I'm interested in pursuing a major in aerospace engineering, but I want to get a scope of what applying it to a career is like.

#engineering #aerospace-engineering

20 answers

Uma’s Answer


In my point of view Aerospace Engineering refers to learning and discovering new facts of space science.

Johnathan’s Answer


I am currently a student studying Aerospace Engineering so I provide a different view point from the other members who may already be in the career field. I am a Senior at the moment and I am working on my Capstone Project. I am the systems engineer for the project and responsible for ensuring that all components are integrated together seamlessly and without problems. Obviously this is a difficult task. Prior to being on this project, I am part of the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics (AIAA), which is the professional organization for Aerospace Engineers. Our local student chapter participates in the annual Design-Build-Fly (DBF) competition where teams are tasked with designing, building, and testing/flying a UAV to compete in a series of missions laid out in the rules. This is a huge competition, with teams from all over the world participating. In addition to DBF, AIAA hosts annual student conferences where students can present on topics that they are working on to other students and professionals in their area. This is a great networking opportunity and attracts large companies and government organizations who are looking for the next engineers to hire to their companies.

Aerospace engineering is not an easy degree to get. I don't want to discourage prospective students, but this is the degree program at our school that has one of the highest drop-out/transfer rates to other programs. It requires a lot of time and effort to do well in, but the rewards for completing it are immense. There are many areas of the degree that you can specialize in from aircraft to spacecraft and every part on each. Aerospace engineering is one of the career fields on the rise and there are many opportunities after college to join a company that fits your interests.

Johnathan recommends the following next steps:

  • Decide on a School that you want to attend
  • Research programs and see if they offer specialties in either aeronautics or astronautics
  • Decide if you want to do air or space
  • Reach out to professionals in the field to get their advice

Zachary’s Answer


I think that it would be interesting to design aircraft, but doing so is challenging and tedious. An engineer would have to do a lot of calculations and testing to make sure that an aircraft design works.

Mohamed’s Answer


I am interest about aerospace and maintenance engineering

Abdul Ahad’s Answer


It is the best way to challenge the sky.

waisavkhi’s Answer


Aerospace engineers world is soo different, challenging and each day is like working hard with compassion and they does their work with more dedication, love what they do and in fact are to be space freaks, otherwise the subject is of no use. They love their work.

Who want to choose this area had to be strong, dedicated and a space freak, so they can solve complex issues in the area.

Jack’s Answer


Hi <span style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.6);">Aishwarya, I studied Aerospace Engineering at San Jose State University. The program there is pretty good. The department is pretty small so you can expect a close relationship with your classmates and the professor too. They teach you a wide range of the basics of aerospace engineering from aerodynamics to CAD. Now working in the industry after college, it is very hard in the bay area to get into the field since there are not as many opportunities. However, there are still big ones here like Lockheed and SSL. I recommend getting an internship during school, because that will help you </span>acquire<span style="color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.6);"> full time job. If you are very interested in general on how airplane works or fluid works I recommend pursing the education and career. </span>

Paul’s Answer


Aerospace Engineering is a very broad topic, but it is a really fascinating field of engineering. For example, my first engineering job was working for NASA on the Space Shuttle Program. I had to know a lot about the most complicated thing that ever flew into space! My education played a key role in what I had to learn, but it still involved a lot of studying to know what I needed to know to sit in the Mission Control Center. You will need to be able to apply what you know, not just spout out facts. As you grow as an Aerospace Engineer, you will begin to shift your career toward a more focused path - whether that is in aeronautics or astronautics, wings or propulsion, etc - and as you gain years of experience, you will fine-tune how you apply your engineering skills and background on a daily basis to create capabilities.

Paul recommends the following next steps:

  • Explore what fields in Aerospace Engineering you want to study, so that you can further develop your skills as an engineer.

Sneha’s Answer


aerospace engineering is developing yourself in the aerospace industry day by day in the field of design, structures and manufacturing.

Consuelo’s Answer


I work for gov, and I think that may be very different than industry (depending on the team) but my day to day is pretty simple. I go to work and have a set list of tasks. I then go to meetings, take classes, work on my tasks, and do some paperwork. The field of aerospace engineering is so broad... you can really do any and everything within it. I have friends that do software, I do research/dev, and I have a friend devloping materials. The tasks I find not as difficult as college assignments, but still interesting! I specifically word a lot with CAD and 3D printing. I find the deadlines CAN be really close, but usually are pretty lenient which makes it a lot less stressful than school. I think it's a great choice as a career and gives you a lot of opportunity to grow and learn about a lot of different areas! :) 

Catherine’s Answer


Hopefully from the answers you can see how broad the subject is. There are so many applications to Aerospace Engineering that no single answer will be the same. I studied Aerospace and then joined the Air Force which has given me a very diverse career. Throughout my 11 years in the Air Force a day in my life could be:

Operations role:

  • Morning technical brief - brief from technicians on the aircraft states (for 19 jets)
  • Morning pilot brief - Brief from aircrew on flying program for the day and priorities. I would then brief them on the available aircraft and the forecast for maintenance.
  • Identifying the risks of maintenance on jet aircraft loaded with weapons. Performing risk assessments to authorize maintenance on armed aircraft and communicating with aircrew and operations staff to ensure the back-up aircraft could maintain readiness while the maintenance was performed.
  • Ensuring resources - manpower, tools, test equipment, procedures were available to maintain the aircraft.
  • Leading my team through their own development. Giving them tasks to research and improve aircraft maintenance procedures .
  • Reporting and investigating root cause of maintenance or air safety occurrences (e.g. fire in avionics bay). Communicating issues to the relevant teams to understand if there is a problem that affects all aircraft.
  • Problem solving between different subject matter experts - bring my team together to analyze, identify and rectify root cause of persistent faults.
  • Shift handover - handover brief to night shift on aircraft state, occurrences from the day and priorities.

Delivery team / project management role:

  • Work with aircrew, engineers and design team to understand areas for reliability and capability improvements. Bring people together to understand problems and identify requirements going forward.
  • Analyze root cause of air safety occurrences (e.g. engine shut-down in flight) to understand the overall risk and mitigate it from happening in future - through modification / procedural / training / resource etc.
  • Write maintenance policy and procedures for fault diagnosis - to provide improvements in reliability.
  • Lead multiple projects through concept to delivery.

Catherine recommends the following next steps:

  • Review a number of answers and then delve into a particular area that you like the sound of to understand the variety of applications.

Zak’s Answer


Aerospace in my experience has been very demanding. You are working on very challenging problems but working in public or private are very different. At NASA you might be working on a small problem of optimizing the bell of a heatshield or JPL you might be designing a Mars Rover or at SpaceX you might be in charge of making a collection of parts. You will be working 40 hours a week at NASA, 40-50 at a company like blue origin, and 50-70 at somewhere like SpaceX. But the 70-80 hour work weeks at SpaceX are not long - after working 10-12 hours a day Monday - Saturday, I missed work on Sunday my day off. The great challenges yield really great excitement

Vincenzo’s Answer


Depends on what you choose to do. Aerospace Engineering is a wide area. We can divide it in three main fields, propulsion, structures and aerodynamic. What is the best one? It's only on what you like more. I am a structural aerospace engineer and I use try every day to use my creativity for innovation. I do research on what I can use to solve some problem in a fast and accurate way. I do calculate to look if a structure is safe or not under given loads. Usually low I spend 8 hours at my office. The rest of the day I read a lot, since I like it, run, gym, stay with my lover. Seems there is not always the time to do everything but you can do that!

Robert’s Answer


It varies depending on what your focus is within the vast aviation industry. Working at an airline is primarily focused on repairs and modifications and alterations and otherwise keeping aircraft in operation and efficient. There are also plenty of opportunities to learn design and maintenance Engineering as well as engine testing and interior and fire Engineering. At a company like Boeing you will get lots of opportunities to design specific parts or pieces of the aircraft. There is also a large part of aviation devoted to supporting the "aftermarket" similar to NAPA or AutoZone for cars. These companies do everything from full/part repairs to overhaul to new part design and manufacturing. Things like FAA PMA and TSO, standard parts and commercial parts also fall into this area of the industry. Lastly there is the regulatory side with the FAA where you conduct design approval and oversight of the industry and even sepciifc companies. There are certification offices (ACOs) around the country and there are policy experts based in Washington DC devoted to avaition safety. There are also international opportunities for a select few.

This short write-up is hopefully helpful but certainly not all inclusive. Apologies to any part of the industry I did not give a full review on.

Robert recommends the following next steps:

  • Find a mentor at local aviation company. The FAA offices also provide outreach at various parts of the year and even work with local schools and colleges to offer STEM support of co-op / internship opportunities.

Joshua’s Answer


My experience:

Me asking lots of design questions to fellow older experienced engineers. Or bouncing off ideas for how to solve design problems and challenges.

Always under the gun for deadlines.

Get to have fun with new and exciting projects.

Learn about all aspects of engineering from electrical to manufacturing.

Joshua recommends the following next steps:

  • Find something you enjoy. For me it’s CAD and 3D printing. Even when I’m not at work I’m exploring new and faster ways to do things because I love what I do and it interests me.

Ankur’s Answer



I had the same question when I was choosing my major. In my experience, Aerospace Engineering is really what you make it to be. An Aerospace education will expose you to a breadth of technical fields some major examples of which are mechanical, electrical, and software/computer science. In the 4 years since I left the University of Illinois with a BS Aerospace Engineering, I have been able to apply myself in all aspects of the programs I have worked (mostly Avionics hardware and software development programs). This has led to me progressing towards my career goals (project management, leadership roles) much faster than those that came from more specific technical majors/backgrounds. One other thing you should think about is how much you are interested in aviation or space. In my experience, those with a true passion for Aerospace are more successful when it comes to applying what we learn in school to the real world. My passion for aircraft has helped me more than many of my school courses because it has allowed for me to more effectively work with customers and end users (pilots) and ensure that the product we build is the right product for the application.

As for your question on the day to day life, it again is what you want it to be. I know Aerospace Engineers that just do requirements and paperwork all day. Other Aerospace Engineers will be working on cutting edge technologies and will work with the end user to design and build the future.

Hope this helps! Good luck,


Ankur recommends the following next steps:

  • Assess your passion for Aerospace
  • Look at more than rankings/coursework for selecting a school

John’s Answer


Hi. I work in the sales and business development side and I am an aeronautical engineer and former military pilot. Our days usually start at 8:00 AM. Our engineers have several design meetings a day and each work on several projects at the same time. There are those that work on data collection, others work on project management to ensure complex projects are run well. Others work in production supervision. The greatest satisfaction is to know that your work will actually materialize in a new product such as satellite communications radio gets installed - a plane or helicopter flying or even a satellite launches into space. Many times the work is not very exciting - it is tedious and you must be detail oriented and disciplined. However the rewards are many. Aeronautical engineers get paid well and work with many other brilliant people. Work usually ended around 5:00 PM - sometimes we work late or on weekend ago every important projects / but. It too often. Sometimes we travel to military bases if we are working on government projects and get to see some of the aircraft up close and get to see them fly. Becoming a aero engineer is not easy and you must study hard and get good grades in high school and college - however the rewards are great and exciting and you will be very proud of your work!

Stacie’s Answer


An answer to this question can be very different depending on the actual job that is being performed. For me, I worked at NASA on the Space Shuttle and Space Station program supporting manned space flight. So during my day, I would go to meetings (all engineers end up spending a lot of time in meetings), then I would do various work on my computer. Sometimes I would be writing documents that the astronauts would use to train with when they are in space, sometimes I would write reports on assessments that I performed, and sometime would be spent answering emails. Some days I would train the astronauts on what they would be doing in space, sometimes I would be reviewing drawings and schematics of hardware that the astronauts would interface with. Some engineers spend their days creating those engineering drawings and schematics. I would also give presentations to NASA officials. So depending on the job, an engineer can be doing lots of different things. Some do hardware testing and designing. Regardless of what the project they are working on, there is also a lot of documentation that needs to be written.

Hope that helps! Feel free to let me know if you have other questions.

Gerard’s Answer


It is interesting to achieve such deep and powerful knowledge. You must be ready to stress your mind and work hard. If you're really into other topics such as music or arts or lenguages, it will be a painful path because the engineering path truly wants you to become another gear in the chain. If you're creative enough and don't want to give up on anything you like, you will be facing perhaps a working position that you're not confortable with. Nevertheless, in the end depends in your capacity of endurance and how far you're willing to fight for a job that truly suits all your ambitions. Aerospace studies only provide you with useful information; then you have to know yourself to find the topic you really want to work on. With all this being said, if you really think you can get along with such studies and build up the idea of who you want to become, I'm sure you will find in the end an engineering job which will get you a challenging and exciting daily experience.

Michael’s Answer


Look for the schools that have programs. I received my Aerospace Engineering degree from the University of Michigan in 1989. I got a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. I went to work in the automotive industry in fuel economy simulation. Some other people I work with with this degree work in the GM wind tunnel. The local company in Detroit in aerospace industry you may want to contact is Williams International. Most aerospace industry jobs are outside of Michigan. You should be good in math and science and enjoy working with these. Study calculus and advanced math along with physics. Get internship experiences. Ask me any more questions.