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What is an Aerospace Technology Degree?
Aerospace technicians build, install, test, and maintain what aerospace engineers design. They help engineers prepare technical drawings, diagrams, blueprints, and scale models of missiles, rockets, airplanes, and helicopters. They make calculations and computations and run computer simulations involving aerodynamics and structural design. They build and install components, equipment, and systems. They calibrate instruments. They evaluate flight tests.
Degree programs in aerospace technology prepare students for this important role in the aerospace industry. The curriculum spans engineering mathematics, aircraft systems, propulsion and control systems, aerodynamics, aircraft structures and manufacturing, mechanical engineering, and management.
Note: It is important to select an aerospace technology education program that prepares students for certification by SpaceTEC, which is accredited by the International Certification Accreditation Council (ICAC). SpaceTEC Certified Aerospace Technician is the only FAA-recognized, national, performance-based credential tailored for the US aerospace and aviation industries.
Associate Degree in Aerospace Technology – Two Year Duration
Associate degree programs in aerospace technology provide students with foundational knowledge and skills in the discipline and prepare them for entry-level and some mid-level roles in the field. The associate curriculum also includes some general education classes, in subject areas like English, math, general science, and the social sciences.
Bachelor’s Degree in Aerospace Technology – Four Year Duration
Bachelor’s degree programs offer the most comprehensive curriculum in aerospace technology. In addition to technology, design, and manufacturing subjects, they typically introduce management topics such as operations and financial tools. Bachelor’s programs are also more likely to incorporate industrial placements or internships, through partnerships with engineering firms and organizations.
The courses and topics listed below are integral to both associate and bachelor’s programs in aerospace technology. Because of their longer duration, bachelor’s programs are able to explore these topics in greater depth.
- Aerospace Technology and Industry – basic design of aircraft for function and performance
- Mechanical Experimental Engineering – experimental methods, force systems, stress and strain, engineering beams, Newton’s Laws of Motion
- Engineering Statistics – basic tools of statistical analysis used in control of manufacturing processes, basics of probability theory
- Introduction to Design for Technologists – the process of engineering design, computer-aided design (CAD) for creating and documenting design solutions
- Introduction to Manufacturing for Technologists – production processes used in product manufacturing including turning, milling, welding, fabrication, and assembly
- Materials and Electrical Technology – concepts of electrical units and relationships, AC and DC circuit theory, digital systems, electro-mechanical machines, engineering materials and their properties and structure, materials sustainability
- Computing for Business and Technology – use of spreadsheets and databases to solve engineering and business problems, types of networking hardware, data security
- Introduction to Practical Safety for Engineers – basic health and safety concepts, assessing risk
- Mathematics for Engineering – key mathematical techniques for engineering
- Aerospace Design Test and Certification – design of aircraft sub-assemblies; aircraft aerodynamics, stability, control, airworthiness, certification, and flight testing
- Computer-Aided Design – use of computer-aided engineering (CAE) software for conceptual design, design calculations, detail design, and detail drawings
- Computer-Aided Manufacturing – introduction to computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), application of a CAD/CAM system to machining processes
- Product and Project Management – product development from definition to design and manufacture
- Principles of Aircraft Systems – propulsion, electrical, pneumatic, and hydraulic systems of modern aircraft; safety management, flight critical systems, effects of human factors on safety of flight systems, regulatory bodies and maintenance safety
- Thermo-fluid Experimental Engineering – the fundamental concepts of fluid and thermo-fluid mechanics
- Simulation and Analysis Techniques – use of computer fluid dynamics (CFD) and finite element analysis (FEA) software in the analysis of engineering designs, case studies to simulate real world problems
- Reliability Engineering – ensuring dependability in the lifecycle management of a component, product, plant, or process
- Instrumentation and Control Systems – sensors, instrumentation systems, analog and digital systems
- Avionics Technology – technologies that enable aircraft avionics to function in a modern aircraft
- Aerospace Performance and Manufacture – performance: atmospheric properties and air speed definitions, flight performance, range calculations, climb rate prediction, accelerated flight; manufacture: metallic forming, joining and surface finishing processes, use of fiber-reinforced polymer aircraft structures
- Aerospace Vehicle Design – conceptual design of an aircraft (student group laboratory experience)
Degrees Similar to Aerospace Technology
Aerospace engineering degree programs teach the analytical, computational, and engineering and design skills needed to work in the aerospace industry. Students learn how to apply this knowledge to the manufacturing, testing, and monitoring of civil or commercial aircraft, military aircraft, missiles, rockets, spacecraft, lunar vehicles, and space stations.
Aircraft Maintenance Technology
Aircraft mechanics and technicians keep airplanes in safe operating condition. Degree programs in aircraft maintenance technology teach students how to inspect, maintain, and repair aircraft.
The typical curriculum covers both the airframe (structural) and power plant (engine) components of aircraft. Students learn about aircraft metal structures, fuel systems, electronics, hydraulics and propulsion systems, landing gear systems, and maintenance and inspection regulations.
This degree field teaches students to use computer programs to create specialized drawings that are used in engineering, construction, and manufacturing.
Students of electrical engineering learn how to use physics, electronics, and electromagnetism to design devices that are powered by or produce electricity. Most degree programs in the field start with foundational classes in calculus, physics, and chemistry.
Engineering technology programs teach the engineering skills required to assist engineers in their work. Common classes are computers for engineering technology, structural systems, strength of materials, and technical drawing.
In addition to aerospace engineering technology, subfields include automotive engineering technology, civil engineering technology, construction engineering technology, electronics engineering technology, mechanical engineering technology, and industrial engineering technology.
Students of mechanical engineering learn how to research, design, develop, and test mechanical and thermal devices, including tools, sensors, engines, and machines. These devices serve many industries, including the aerospace, automotive, medical, and energy sectors.
In addition to coursework in engineering and design, degree programs in the field include classes in mathematics, life sciences, and physical sciences.
Degree programs in robotics technology prepare students to work with engineers who design robots and robotic systems than can perform duties that humans are either unable or prefer not to perform.
Skills You’ll Learn
Aerospace technology graduates come away from their studies with this valuable set of transferable skills:
- Ability to adapt to working with new systems
- Ability to read and understand technical information, follow guidelines, and conduct technical inspections
- Ability to read gauges, dials, and other instruments
- Ability to work both independently and as part of a team
- Ability to work to deadlines
- Attention to detail
- Critical / analytical thinking and problem solving
- Focus / concentration
- Hand/eye coordination and manual dexterity
- Math / measurement skills
- Mechanical skills
- Physical strength
- Safety awareness
- Spatial perception
- Verbal and written communication
- Visualization skills
What Can You Do with an Aerospace Technology Degree?
Aerospace technicians are most frequently employed in these sectors:
- Aerospace products and parts manufacturing
- Engineering services
- Computer and electronic product manufacturing
- Scientific research and development services
- Testing laboratories
- Scheduled air transportation
Depending on their employer and the specific responsibilities of their position, aerospace technicians may hold various titles. Here are some examples:
- Aerospace Technician
- Aerospace Technologist
- Engineering Technician
- Avionics and Electrical Technician
- Aerospace Laboratory Technician
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