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What is Aeronautics?


Definition

Aeronautics is the study of the science of flight. Aeronautics is the method of designing an airplane or other flying machine. There are four basic areas that aeronautical engineers must understand in order to be able to design planes. To design a plane, engineers must understand all of these elements.

Design Process

1 Aerodynamics. is the study of how air flows around the airplane. By studying the way air flows around the plane the engineers can define the shape of the plane. The wings, the tail, and the main body or fuselage of the plane all affect the way the air will move around the plane.

2. Propulsion. is the study of how to design an engine that will provide the thrust that is needed for a plane to take off and fly through the air. The engine provides the power for the airplane. The study of propulsion is what leads the the engineers determine the right kind of engine and the right amount of power that a plane will need

3. Materials and Structures. is the study of what materials are to be used on the plane and in the engine and how those materials make the plane strong enough to fly effectively. The choice of materials that are used to make the fuselage wings, tail and engine will affect the strength and stability of the plane. Many airplane materials are now made out of composites, materials that are stronger than most metals and are lightweight.

4. Stability and Control. is the study of how to control the speed, direction, altitude and other conditions that affect how a plane flies. The engineers’ design the controls that are needed in order to fly and instruments are provided for the pilot in the cockpit of the plane. The pilot uses these instruments to control the stability of the plane during flight.

Engineering and Science Careers at NASA

What are the different kinds of careers in aerospace?

NASA Engineering Teams consist of many individuals - engineers, technicians, and scientists and various support personal.

Engineering and Science Careers offer:

  • Challenging jobs
  • Good pay and benefits
  • Lasting and tangible products
  • Help to humankind
  • Prestige and status
  • Continued educational experiences

Scientists

Scientists are knowledge seekers. They are inquisitive, seeking answers to known questions and finding many more questions.

  • Astronomy
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer
  • Economics
  • Geology
  • Materials
  • Mathematics
  • Medical Doctor
  • Meteorology
  • Nutrition
  • Oceanography
  • Psychology
  • Physics
  • Physiology
  • Sociology
  • Statistics
  • Systems Analysis

Engineers

Engineers are problems solvers. They are the people that make things work and make life interesting, comfortable, and fun.

  • Aerospace
  • Architectural
  • Astronautics
  • Biomedical
  • Chemical
  • Civil
  • Computer
  • Electrical
  • Environmental
  • Industrial
  • Metallurgical
  • Mechanical
  • Nuclear
  • Petroleum
  • Safety
  • Systems

Technicians

Technicians are skilled personnel. Their skills are necessary for the research and development activities of Engineers and Scientist.

  • Aerospace
  • Aircraft
  • Avionics
  • Communications
  • Electrical
  • Electronic
  • Engineering
  • Fabrication
  • Materials
  • Mechanics
  • Modeling
  • Pattern Making

Preparing for an Aerospace Career

Engineers, scientists, and technicians rely on years of accumulated creative and academic skills to be part of a NASA Engineering Team. The journey to become a team member started when you were born and has continued throughout your life. Most engineering, scientific, and technical jobs require not only a High School Diploma or equivalent, but an Associate, Bachelor, or Graduate Degree.

While you're in High School you should take:

  • Algebra
  • Biology
  • Calculus
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Applications / Programming
  • English
  • Fine Arts / Humanities
  • Foreign Language
  • Geometry
  • Physics
  • Social Studies
  • Trigonometry

For Engineering and Science, Advanced Placement or Honors level courses are recommended.

Technicians need to meet the same general High School requirements, but Advanced Placement or Honors courses are not necessary. Drafting, mechanics, electronics, or similar technical courses are also recommended.

College and Universities seek "well rounded" students. Extracurricular activities and part time or summer jobs are also important.

Education Beyond High School

To begin a career as an Engineer or Scientist you need to obtain a Bachelor's Degree from an accredited College or University. Courses are usually completed in four to five years for full time students. Universities also offer graduate programs where students can obtain Master's and Doctoral Degrees in Science and Engineering. A Master's program generally takes two years. An additional two to four years is needed to earn a Doctorate.

Technicians typically earn a two year Associate of Science degree. Some may continue for two more years to obtain a Bachelor's degree. A few complete a five year apprenticeship program offered at some NASA field centers.

Preparing to become a NASA Engineering Team member is difficult. It requires a considerable amount of time, energy, and dedication... but the rewards are worth it.

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Editor: Dr. Robert J. Shaw
NASA Official: Tom Benson
Last Updated: Sep 09 2010

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