Aerospace Engineering

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by ALaz99, Dec 16, 2018.

  1. ALaz99

    ALaz99 Member

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    Hello, I am a high school junior and am going to be applying to USAFA and USNA. I would like to major in aerospace engineering and was wondering which academy has a better aerospace engineering program. Also, I was wondering what types of jobs a cadet majoring in aerospace engineering could/would get after graduation in both branches. Are there specific "aerospace engineer" jobs, or are they more broad, such as space command or pilot? Thanks.
     
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  2. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

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    What you major in during college has little or nothing to do with your job in the military. Seems odd, I know, but nevertheless that's the case. I'll leave the which academy is better for aerospace engineers to the actual academy attendees.
     
  3. FMHS-79

    FMHS-79 Parent

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    Both institutions have respected engineering programs and either are very capable of prepare you for a career in aerospace engineering - labeling either as "best" would be highly subjective.

    You may want to look at the USN and USAF career pages - explore each and see which have the careers that you are interested in. While graduates with from all academic majors can become aviators/pilots, please look at other options that fit better with an aerospace engineering degree and your personal interests.
     
  4. AFrpaso

    AFrpaso USAFA Alumnus 5-Year Member

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    USAFA splits Aerospace into two different but closely related degrees called Aeronautical Engineering and Astronautical Engineering.

    As kinnem said, a college major rarely relates directly to your military job. For the aforementioned degrees, the most applicable Air Force jobs are probably 62A/B - Aeronautical/Astronautical Developmental Engineers or Test Pilot. You can snag a developmental engineering job straight out of college if you qualify. You obviously need to be a pilot first before you can become a test pilot and test pilot school requires a hard engineering degree.

    I was on track to be an astro development engineer, but ended up switching to 61A - Operations Research Analyst for two reasons. First, I found that I enjoyed math and operations research type problems more than I did engineering type problems. Second, developmental engineering in the Air Force is, more often than not, a program manager or defense contractor liaison type position which means less opportunities to actually do engineering.
     
  5. OldRetSWO

    OldRetSWO USNA 78/parent 11/BGO for >25yrs 5-Year Member

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    Aeronautical Engineering at USNA also offers both Astro and Aero tracks.
     
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  6. AFrpaso

    AFrpaso USAFA Alumnus 5-Year Member

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    Of course!

    I was only speaking for USAFA. I should have made that more clear. I will say that one disappointing thing about USAFA is that the core Aero and Astro courses are typically taken junior or senior year. Sometimes it is the core course which can spark a cadet's interest in the subject, but it is often too late for them to switch into the major. For future cadets reading the forums, try to avoid declaring a major straight away. Take full advantage of the Major's Night events, courses, faculty, and staff to help make a decision. Yes, often times your academic major may not apply to your eventual military job, but there is also life after the military to consider.
     
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  7. AF22SIS

    AF22SIS Member

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    Both academies have phenomenal aero and astro engineering programs. If that major is truly your passion you will be just fine at either academy. In terms of job prospects within the field after your military service, I don't feel that the differences between the two academies are appreciable enough (from a prospective employer's standpoint) to make a graduate from one institution 'better' or 'worse' than one from the other.

    Having been in your shoes, I would strongly suggest you shift your focus slightly in prioritizing your academy. As other posters have mentioned, the degree that you get often does not impact your job within the military itself. While the academic programs may be similar between the two academies, your own personal experience will be much different both during your time at the academy and while serving active duty. The Navy and Air Force have different missions and offer different lifestyles. In my opinion, the best thing that you could do in helping with this decision would be to talk to those who have served in each branch in a career field similar to your interests, make an effort to meet cadets from both to ask questions about their experiences. You are a junior which means that the applications are open for USAFA's summer seminar and USNA's equivalent program. Those will provide excellent insight towards the best route for you.
    Just one opinion that may or may not be useful. Best of luck!!
     
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  8. AFsumo

    AFsumo New Member

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    Hi there! Aero or Astro are terrific programs at both schools. For USAFA, you need to major in Astro if you want to be an astro engineer right after graduation. Any solid engineering degree can get you a “62E” (developmental engineering) assignment, which also opens up going to Test Pilot School as an engineer (and you need an engineeeing degree to be a test pilot too). Any major is eligible to be a pilot. Any technical degree will get you to space command as a 13S (space operator).
    You don’t need to decide right away though - if you plan it right, you can wait till your sophomore year to declare your major so you can learn more about the programs you’re interested in.

     
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  9. WP2023

    WP2023 Member

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    Hello, I am a USMA CC but I am thinking about an OR major. Can you elaborate on what is involved in an OR major and what your experience was been. It would also be great to find out what I can do with that in and out of the military (obviously the army and af are different but I imagine they have similar MOSs.
     
  10. AFrpaso

    AFrpaso USAFA Alumnus 5-Year Member

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    Hello! Operations Research is essentially a mix of a number of technical disciplines and is focused on making operations more effective and efficient. The most prominent disciplines are mathematics, statistics, computer science and economics. Think of it as an applied science much like engineering, but not necessarily concerned with producing a physical product. Air Force Operations Analysts support test & evaluation, data analytics, decision making, system simulation, optimization, and other things. I know these topics may sound vague, but they are used to answer questions such as

    1) Can we identify trends in the type of people joining the military? Are the generally older, younger, male, female, etc.? (data analytics)
    2) How can we assign new officers and enlisted to available jobs satisfying the needs of the military and also maximizing job preferences? (optimization)
    3) How do we design an experiment that will fully characterize the capability of a new piece of equipment with the most information per test? (test & eval)
    4) How does changing a single aircraft maintenance process affect the full maintenance system? Is there a new bottleneck? Is it possible to now reduce resources somewhere else? (system simulation)
    5) How can we decide which and how many new aircraft to purchase based on national security requirements and budget constraints? To which bases should these aircraft be assigned? (decision theory/optimization)

    Most, if not all, real world problems are subject to some level of uncertainty/randomness/chance. Operations research works to characterize this uncertainty and control for it when analyzing a problem. Most importantly, it is the duty of the analyst to translate the technical analysis into information that the commander can understand and act upon. Without this, the work is useless.

    This is not an exhaustive explanation, but roughly how I would describe the types of things one would do with an OR degree. The Air Force has a designated AFSC (MOS) for this kind of work. It is 61A - Operations Research Analyst. I am not sure how the Army handles things.

    Generally, these skills serve veterans well in the private sector. Many companies seek operations analysts to help solve complex problems!
     
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  11. WP2023

    WP2023 Member

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    Thanks so much this is really helpful! I’ll be looking into it further and talking with instructors next year.
     
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  12. Humey

    Humey Member

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    I am curious on what an engineer does in the military. Its not like the Air Force designs its own fighter planes. An Aeronautical Engineering major working for Northrop or Lockheed would be involved in designing planes but what would a Aeronautical Engineering do in the AF? This is is a serious question, not trying to say put a negative spin on getting the major and then joining the military
     
  13. 4BravoX1

    4BravoX1 Member

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    Active duty military engineers tend to end up being mostly project leads or managers while the civil service engineers tend to work long term on projects becaue they are not moving around every couple of years. While they may not design the planes the airforce uses its engineers to design modifications and conduct research. At the end of the day an engineering degree is teaching you more a way of thinking and analyzing because these days if you ever need to look up a calculation it is at your fingertips with the internet.
    Source: I am currently enlisted and work with USAF engineers.
     
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