The purpose of this discussion is to explore the topic of aerospace engineering. We will begin by defining aerospace engineering and the plethora of purposes that it serves with earthbound vehicles and household supplies. We will then discuss the various tasks that an aerospace engineer team performs. This discussion will allow us to examine the contributions of the individual team members. In addition, we will examine the future of aerospace engineering including; education, new products and challenges to the aerospace engineering program in the United States. Finally, we will discuss the conclusions that can be drawn from our findings.
Definition of Aerospace Engineering
According to Encarta, aerospace engineering is defined as "the flight of vehicles in space, beyond the earth's atmosphere, and includes the study and development of rocket engines, artificial satellites, and spacecraft for the exploration of outer space." ("Engineering") Aerospace engineering and aeronautical engineering are often used synonymously but they have different definitions. Aeronautical engineering is concerned with the "whole field of design, manufacture, maintenance, testing, and use of aircraft for both civilian and military purposes." ("Engineering") For the purposes of this discussion we will focus on aerospace engineering.
Plethora of purposes
We all know full well that aerospace engineering serves more than one purpose and has made our lives easier on many different levels. Many of the newest vehicles and products would not have been created if not for aerospace engineers. In fact many of the designs that were created for astronauts have become essential to our way of life. For the purposes of this discussion we will focus on earthbound vehicles and household products that were created by aerospace engineers.
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) reports that Aerospace engineering has also evolved to include the design and improvement of many vehicles that are used on earth. ("Education") Some of the vehicles designed by aerospace engineers include; diving vessels, performance automobiles, high speed rail systems and hydrofoil ships. ("Education")
In addition, many of the products that were created by aerospace engineering are now common household products. Freeze dried foods, Velcro, and Teflon are all products that were produced by aerospace engineers to be used in outer space. ("Education") Aerospace engineers also use the skills that they have developed to determine how the environment will effect the construction of a building. Many aerospace engineers have also been instrumental in developing new materials for the artificial heart. ("Education")
Tasks that an aerospace engineer performs
The AIAA explains that an aerospace engineer is involved in implementing several tasks. The term aerospace engineer actually refers to a team made up of three components; the engineer, the scientist, and the technician.
Usually the aerospace engineer is a specialist in one particular field. In addition, most "Aerospace engineers have also applied their knowledge to related fields such as automated mass transportation, bioengineering, medical systems, environmental engineering, communications, and many more."("Education") In cases where this applied knowledge is needed engineers play a key role in making sure the job gets done.("Education")
The engineer can serve of to twelve different purposes. For this discussion we will only focus on four of these purposes including; analytical, computational fluid dynamics, design, and systems software. Analytical engineering involves the combination of math and rudimentary engineering practices.
The computational fluid dynamics engineering implements the use of high speed computers to solve complex nonlinear equations which govern fluid motion. ("Education") Design engineering determines the arrangement, function and structure of a component or the entire design of a vehicle. ("Education") Finally, systems software engineering involves performing the proper analysis of the system. ("Education")
Scientists are essential to the aerospace engineering team because they determine the standards that allow the engineers to create the product. The AIAA states that the scientist "probes the unknown." ("Education") AIAA also informs us that scientist can work in three different field which include; academic research, private and government labs, and industrial research and development. ("Education")
Academic research involves combining education and research. ("Education") Many who are involved in the academic research field are teachers and professors. The field of private and government labs involves diligent research and the expansion of theories. Scientists that work in the area of industrial research and development tend to work for organizations such as NASA and actually aid in creating new products. ("Education")
In the area of aerospace engineering, technicians provide support to the scientist and engineers. ("Education") Technicians usually work on perfecting the hardware rather than being involved in the research of designing and creating the product. ("Education") Many times technicians have obtained a bachelors degree but some only have associates degrees; whereas scientist and engineers have usually acquired a Masters at the least. ("Education")
The Future of Aerospace Engineering
As we mentioned earlier aerospace engineering is crucial to the development of spacecraft and common household products. The future of the field his heavily dependent upon the amount of time and money that goes into research and development. This section of the research report will focus on education, new products
Education major stride in securing the future of aerospace engineering came in 2001 when Seoul National University opened the Digital Innovation Center for Aerospace Engineering. ("Seoul National University, Dassault Aviation, IBM and Dassault Systems Establish Digital Innovation Center for Aerospace Engineering") Dr. Seung Jo Kim, a professor at the university, states;
Success in the aerospace industry in the twenty-first century depends upon a high degree of innovation, not only in the development of mass transportation aircraft but, especially, in the creation of a new generation of personal flight vehicles that must be capable of three-dimensional movement and that can be piloted by an ordinary person without special training. This timely creation of DICAE at Seoul National University will enhance our capability to take a leading role in such futuristic design and simulation of aircraft, and help our students apply important digital technologies through the use of the world's leading CAD/CAM/CAE software, CATIA." ("Seoul National University, Dassault Aviation, IBM and Dassault Systemes Establish Digital Innovation Center for Aerospace Engineering")
The future aeronautical engineers that attend this university will have an advantage over many of their colleagues. The program that Seoul National University has implemented will be beneficial to South Korea and to the entire world. Advances in education will certainly promote the importance of aerospace engineering to future generations.
In addition to programs in the international community many schools here in America have developed programs that will aid the field in the future. For instance, the University of Washington has developed a strategic plan for their engineering programs. This plan consists of seven goals that the school hopes to achieve. The goals include;
The mastery of rudimentary engineering skills. Such as aerodynamics, structure and applied mathematics.
The implementation of a program that incorporates traditional and modern principles.
Providing an overview of essential aerospace systems for undergraduate students.
Providing students with hands-on learning experiences.
Incorporating the areas of industry, academics, society and government to teach the importance of aerospace engineering.
The implementation of graduate courses that provide students with in depth analysis of Aerospace Engineering.
7. Enforcing a technologically advanced education in the field of engineering. ("Program Goals and Strategies")
According to an article reported in Design News Magazine aerospace engineers have created a vest that helps pilots to orient themselves when they experience disorientation. The article states that the engineers have created a vest with tiny pneumatic valves that enable pilots to orient themselves when they are unsure of their body's position relative to the earth's surface. The technology is known as the Tactile Situation Awareness System is aimed at reducing the number of airplane fatalities. The article explains,
Providing tactile feedback to pilots is the idea behind a new flight vest, The Tactile Situation Awareness System (TSAS) developed by Rupert. It helps helicopter pilots hold a stationary hover and fixed-winged aircraft pilots maintain horizontal flight -- all without total dependence on the vestibular system, the instrument panel, and other visual inputs. (Weibusch)
This new product will play a pivotal role in aiding pilots for years to come. The article goes on to say that engineers hope to produce more effective Tactile Situation Awareness Systems. Many believe that in the future these systems will "improve the ability to spatially track targets, helping fighter pilots differentiate between friendly and enemy troops while increasing the efficiency and precision with which the military carries out missions. In the future, portable units may provide ground forces threat and target information." (Weibusch)
Another article in Design News describes the creation of hypersonic cruising vehicles. These vehicles would provide high speed transportation and are very fuel efficient. The article explains that "advances in design and analysis techniques may yield more efficient aerodynamic shapes, and may include airframe…