If you aspire to be an engineer, keep in mind that it would be helpful to be good at math and science. Aeronautical engineering, a branch of engineering which involves working with space shuttles and jets, is more commonly referred to as “rocket science.” It is probably one of the most math-intensive degrees you will study for at a university. Some math majors have even commented that the number of math courses they had to take to obtain their degrees falls short of the number of math courses required for a degree in aeronautical engineering.
Why is math so important in engineering? Math plays a crucial role in the development and success of a space shuttle or jet. Math is what the engineer uses to test the compatibility of materials and determine if they will do what they need them to do. Also, having a solid grasp on mathematical properties will allow the engineer to understand how things work. In this way, they can predict or decide which method to use and which item would work best.
These days, a lot of the math work involved in engineering is done on a computer. Yet engineers are still strongly encouraged to take as many math courses as they can in high school and college. By understanding various forms of math and mathematical principles, the engineer can still work out solutions and math problems even as computers attempt to do it all for them. Additionally, should technology fail, the engineer would know how to solve mathematical problems on her own.
Your journey towards a degree in aeronautical engineering starts in high school. Here, it’s a good idea to study algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus. You will especially want to study linear algebra, as well as differential geometry and analytical geometry. Keep an eye out for any physics classes, as well as chemistry.
Later, as you enroll in college or university, a whole new world of math and science will open up to you as you pursue your degree in aeronautical engineering. Because your engineering degree of choice will be in aerospace (which is the umbrella term for aeronautics), you will certainly want to study the “dynamics” courses: Fluid dynamics, flight dynamics and thermodynamics. Be sure to study materials science, if you have not already; this is a branch of chemistry which will be immensely helpful in your career as an aeronautical engineer because it will help you have a better understanding of the composition and use of materials put to use in this field.
In college, you might notice math courses that many people usually don’t hear about: Equations. Specifically, courses that cover ordinary differential equations and partial differential equations (commonly referred to as PDEs). Additionally, you’ll need to take math courses which focus on statistics (especially Engineering Statistics), probability, and complex variables.
Other types of math you will need to study in order to become an aeronautical engineer include “math theory” classes: number theory, set theory, group theory, complexity theory and proof theory. Additionally, make sure you include a course in analysis among your classes, as you will need to learn about matrix analysis, complex analysis, functional analysis, vector analysis and Finite Element Analysis. A course in theoretical mathematics is also required for this degree.
While you are taking these courses, be sure to include Math Lab in your schedule. Math Lab will be helpful in working out different kinds of numerical computations in your studies.
You don’t need to be a math savant or a science whiz in order to become an aeronautical engineer, but if this kind of career is your goal, you will definitely need to apply yourself to taking numerous math courses. Be prepared for many long hours of study and practice in math and science, as well as many years of training and apprenticeship. If you really want to be an aeronautical engineer someday and be able to see the launch of a space shuttle you helped to create or the flight of a jet you had a hand in building, take the time to study math and apply yourself to your studies in order to make that dream come true.