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Aerospace Engineering: What to Expect

Updated on July 4, 2014
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Introduction

This hub is more for students who have already chosen to study aerospace. It will give some insight into what University will be like. A list of what, in my personal opinion are the highlights of the degree:

  • Workload.
  • Work Placements.
  • Computer Programs (what employers require).



WORKLOAD

Compared to non scientific subjects the amount of work for the course is immense. There aren't as many lectures as you would think, for each module you will usually have two lectures a week, a tutorial for some subjects and a lab for certain subjects. The tutorial sessions which they will say are compulsory aren't, not going will not get you in trouble. The point of the session is to get help, not to do your independent learning in a classroom. However if you fail a module they may ask you why you didn't attend the tutorial sessions. Each lab will be based upon specific topics which you have learned in that module and usually be used to prove certain theories. The labs nearly always require a write up.

In your first year your results don't count and some people think that this means you can just get a pass and not worry about doing too much work. This isn't really true don't let your friends or members of staff convince you otherwise. In second year most of the modules will assume that you know everything from the first year version of that module. In one of my second year modules the lecture said that he assumes if we took a first year exam we would get 100%. Your overall grade in first year also has a big effect on finding work placements.

Assignments

Assignments are used to demonstrate a students ability to apply the knowledge learnt through lectures. The number of assignments per module vary, some modules will have one 20% assignment were as others may have three 7% assignments. In aerospace you are required to use a software called matlab pretty much throughout the entire degree, (avionics route more so) buying your own version will prevent you having to go to the university library to use their computers. This can become tedious when you can't find a space but need the software to complete an assignment.

Assignments may not be worth very much overall, however they are a good way to accumulate marks. Most Assignments you can easily get a 70% and over grade. The one assignment you decide to slack on could be the one that could have made the difference between a 2:1 and a first in a module.

Independent Working.

The amount of independent working you are expected to do for each module is unrealistic, they could only be completed if you pretty much had no social life through University. It's especially hard for students who need to have part time work in order to pay rent and living expenses. When I got my results for my second year, I recieved a 2:1. I thought that if I didn't need to work I could have gotten a first. Working took up 16 hours a week of my free time. Factoring in situations like this, you have to make up for time spent working by not going out and cathcing up on work.

Students also think that they can just spend a month cramming last minute to get a good grade, this is probably true in your first year. However as you move on it gets harder and harder to cram, especially as assignments will run up to exam period.

Most Students would say of course they will spend more time working then going out if it gets them a better grade. But when it comes down to not going out to a resturant with some friends, or having to turn down going out when a girl / guy you like is going, some people break. For most students they think they will get a good grade and then they get their January results, this usually is enough to get students to buckle down.

Exams

All engineering subjects have more exams thatn the other courses, you can expect to be having 5 or 6 exams in the summer. Doesn't seem much compared to A levels, but non engineering subjects will have at most 3 exams. The electronics modules usually last over both semesters and will have a 100% 3 hour exam, most control systems modules will have at least 40% assignments and quizzes. The biggest problem with these exams is that not all of the course could be examined. They can't put in all of the content and are forced to leave out some topics, or include a really small question.

I know of a student that was getting really stressed because all her flatmates were done with exams and going to theme parks and to watch movies. She was stuck at home revising. The worst part was when her exams finished all her flatmates had gone home and she didn't really have anyone to go out with.


Would you be willing to give up a lot of your free time to improve your grades?

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Work Placements

Year in industry placements or summer placements are really good to ensure you can find a job once your degree is finished. You can choose to either take a year out of University working in industry or to spend only the summer. Working at a company during can be a decent opportunity to gather some contacts, make sure you demenstrate the skills you are best. The only thing is with some placements they expect you te be sufficient in certian software programs. These you may have only used a small amount but you can always apply and learn during the University year.

The reason it is good to get at least a 2:1 in first year, if you consider the number of students applying for the same position, then you will have a lot of competition. In order to narrow down potential candidates the employers will usually ignore all applications with a grade lower then a 2:1.

COMPUTER PROGRAMS

  • MATLAB:

This program is used a lot more in avionics than aeromechanics but is a very useful tool. It can be used to approximate the behaviour of a system, this can save a company a lot of time and money. As it prevents a premature development of a prototype.

  • Programming:

C-programming and Java are the most used programming software in industry C-programming more so. Some work placements require you to take a C-programming ability test before the interview stage. These programs are used mostly with robotics.


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