Aircraft Design Engineer

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Aircraft Design Engineer


If you have ever flown in an airplane, then you have personally and physically experienced the creation of an aircraft design engineer. But have you ever seen a television on the back of your airplane seat? Now that's entertainment. In the future, we will witness the invention of faster, more technological and environmental aircrafts, and who knows, maybe public shuttles to the moon will become a regular incidence. Thanks to aircraft design engineering, the easy access of international travel has narrowed our world into a much smaller place.

Aircraft design engineers design and develop new aircraft, spacecraft and their components, or make improvements to the design of existing crafts. They analyze and optimize the constraints associated with the aerodynamics, stability, structures, materials and propulsion systems of aircraft and spacecraft, and determine how these factors affect the craft. They work at the front end of technology, developing products that truly change the way we think about the world we live in. Aircraft design engineers work with both aircraft and spacecraft.

Aircraft design engineers may decide to specialize in a particular product such as airplanes, helicopters, surveillance systems, spacecrafts, satellites or simulators. The aerospace industry is always looking for more improved aircrafts and related products and depend on these designers to produce new and technologically advanced products.

Aircraft design engineers use computer-aided design (CAD), robotics, and lasers and advanced electronic optics to assist them in design work and to help them analyze the effects and potential problems in the designs, such as malfunctions and breakdowns. In their research and design, they are also looking for the most cost-effective solutions to all endeavors. Due to the rapid pace of the industry, aircraft design engineers are required to constantly update their skills and knowledge in order to keep up with technological advances.
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  Average Earnings  
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  Interests and Skills  
Aircraft design engineers must have creative, scientific, mathematical and inventive minds. They must demonstrate patience, motivation, determination and perseverance and have strong problem-solving skills. They must be excellent communicators and "team players", since an aircraft requires the work of a number of people working together toward a common end product. Finally, they should be able to visualize problems in three dimensional form and work well on computers, designing models of aircraft carriers.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Design and develop aerospace vehicles, systems and components
  • Develop and conduct computer simulations of aerospace vehicles and systems
  • Design modifications to systems such as fuel or air conditioning and outline installation procedures
  • Supervise and coordinate the manufacturing, assembly modification, repair and overhaul of aircraft and spacecraft
  • Coordinate ground and flight tests of air and spacecraft using aerodynamic techniques
  • Develop the technical phases of logistical and operational support for aerospace vehicles and systems
  • Develop procedures for the repair of aviation components
  • Aircraft design engineers work primarily indoors in offices and testing laboratories. They spend a considerable amount of time working on computers, designing and researching. They may also supervise work performed at manufacturing and production sites, or work at a field site. Aircraft design engineers usually work standard hours but may be required to work overtime to meet project deadlines. Project managers may be called back to work whenever there are problems with projects. They often experience a great deal of pressure and stress to meet deadlines or design standards.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Aircraft design engineers are employed by aircraft and spacecraft manufacturers and air transport carriers. Engineers can also work in the public service in government departments and educational and research institutions. Employment in aircraft design engineering is usually concentrated in larger metropolitan cities and on military bases.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Entry-level aircraft design engineers usually start work under the direct supervision of senior engineers, performing general tasks. With experience and a good track record, they usually build their responsibility level and specialize in a certain area or on a certain type of aircraft. They can eventually advance to positions such as project manager, department head, division manager and vice president. Aircraft design engineers with doctoral degrees could teach aerospace engineering at universities and colleges.

  Educational Paths  
While still in high school, if this is the career path you are interested in taking, make sure you take courses in mathematics and science. Most university programs will require these subject areas as prerequisites.

Aircraft design engineers require a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering or in a related engineering field. Then they must also become registered as a Professional Engineer (PEng) within an of professional engineers to secure employment and practice in their field. In order to become a licensed Professional engineer, one must gain four years supervised work experience and complete an examination. Some engineers also get master's degrees or PhDs in a specific area, such as aeronautical engineering.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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