Ever wondered how an aircraft manages to stay afloat in the air for such long hours? Or how satellites are sent into the orbits of other celestial bodies and missions to other planets organised? The answer lies in Aerospace Engineering. It is divided into two branches- Aeronautical-science of flight machines within the atmosphere, and Astronautics-navigation beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. We have come a long way from the first flight undertaken by the Oliver brothers. We have reached the moon and set foot on the Mars as well. But it isn’t just about reaching there. It’s about the quality and durability as well. This is what you’ll deal with if you undertake Aerospace Engineering. Maintain as well as innovate.
As with other engineering streams, admissions to top colleges are based upon the JEE-Mains and JEE Advanced. 60% is the minimum aggregate required to be eligible for admission, and for being able to sit for JEE Advanced rests upon the performance in JEE Mains and Class XII, with featuring amongst the top 20 percentile students in the respective boards necessary. 75% have been the threshold marks for the top 20 percentile.
Even though every student pursuing the program starts off on common ground, with basics in Maths, Physics and Electronics- all essentials in the field. Given the broadness of the field, pursuing a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering and then specialising in a specific field of Aero is a widespread practice. Fields that one could specialise in are:
Aerodynamics: mainly deals with structural control, movement, design and fluid dynamics. How an airborne object interacts with the atmosphere and its movement, is the central theme.
Aero elasticity: effect of forces on the aircrafts and inertial motion, measures to improve flight of air-borne objects.
Composites Analysis: Materials with which an aircraft is made and analysing the performance of such new materials.
Avionics: Deals with the Electronic aspects of an aircraft. Radar and Navigation, Cockpit displays form a part of this branch as well.
Propulsion: Design, production and development of aircrafts with special needs, such as fighter jets.
To do well in this career you need to have Math skills as aerospace engineers use the principles of calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced topics in math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work. Your Problem-solving skills comes handy to upgrade designs and troubleshoot problems. You must able to identify design elements that may not meet requirements and then must formulate alternatives to improve the performance of those elements. Here a great deal of analytical skill is used. As documentation of work you do is needed for reference of future engineer a good writing skill helps you a lot.
As for the top institutions in the country, the IITs dominate. Only four of them, namely Bombay, Kanpur, Madras and Kharagpur offer the course. IIT Kanpur has its own airstrip and flight test aircraft.
However, challenging the domination of the IITs in the field is the prestigious Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology,Thiruvananthapuram (sponsored by the Department of Space of the Government of India), which is Asia's first space institute. You are required to sign a 5 year bond working with the Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO), if you get admission into IIST.
The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, houses the country’s oldest department of Aerospace Engineering. Other top institutes are: Feroze Gandhi Institute of Engineering and Technology (FGIET), Rai Bareli, Uttar Pradesh. Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur (IIEST-S), Howrah
PEC University of Technology (formerly Punjab Engineering College-PEC), Chandigarh.
Madras Institute of Technology, Anna University, Chennai etc.
The scene for higher studies in the country is a bit weak. Most people tend to head abroad in pursuit of higher degree programs. You could be doing that. Or you could be helping India further strengthen its claim in the Space. We have been moving leaps and bounds, with ISRO scaling new heights with every passing year. Conquering Mars has been the biggest achievement so far, and the future seems ever so bright. For all we know, you could be the one who designs the spacecraft that gets to the sun. The opportunities are endless. And given the dearth of specialists in the field, the demand for a high quality workforce is increasing.
And the Aircraft manufacturing giants like Airbus, GE and Boeing are always on the lookout for innovative people as well. Skill will always command the money it deserves.
Not only aerospace engineering is one of the toughest branches of engineering, but also, it is one of the most interesting and realistic ones. The job as an aerospace engineer is quite hectic and tiring but if you are passionate and dedicated towards the work you do, you will enjoy your career journey.
Satish Dhawan was a well-known aerospace engineer of India. He is considered to be the father of the fluid dynamics research in India. He was the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization in 1972. Read about him to get more inspiration.
Want to know what it is actually like? Here from the man himself: Paul MacCready — aircraft designer, environmentalist, and lifelong lover of flight — talks about his long career. Check the following link to know more. https://www.ted.com/talks/paul_maccready_flies_on_solar_wings
Burt Raftan, the winner of a $10mn dollar prize for putting the first private aircraft into space, talks about the future of space exploration and the obstacles that stand in the way. Check this link for more information:
Aerospace engineers are in demand for designing and developing new technologies for aircraft's and rocket propulsion procedures. Some of the top recruiters include ISRO, NASA, and Air India. Apart from these, the defense ministry of India has also been recruiting aerospace engineers for developing missiles, rockets, military and commercial aircraft, remotely piloted planes and drones etc.
The various job profiles under aerospace engineering are: Aerospace designer checker, Aircraft production manager, Quality control inspector, Thermal design engineer, Assistant technical officers and Mechanical design engineer. Aerospace engineers who know how to use collaborative engineering tools and processes and who are familiar with modeling, simulation, and robotics should have good opportunities outside India.