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Q I’m in­ter­ested in do­ing an aero­nau­ti­cal engi­neer­ing course. What are the steps I need to take and what should I look out for? A Aero­nau­ti­cal engi­neer­ing and as­tro­nau­ti­cal engi­neer­ing are among the most com­pet­i­tive of cour­ses re­quir­ing ad­vanced maths, physics and nu­mer­i­cal method skills. At high school, stu­dents want­ing to pur­sue this dis­ci­pline should take cour­ses in chem­istry, physics and maths, in­clud­ing al­ge­bra, trigonom­e­try and cal­cu­lus.

You need a sci­en­tific and math­e­mat­i­cal ap­ti­tude and it is ad­vis­able for you to do a psy­cho­me­t­ric test to en­sure your tal­ent and pas­sion match the skill sets re­quired for the job.

In ad­di­tion to strin­gent aca­demic re­quire­ments in maths and physics, per­sonal at­tributes re­quired in­clude strong an­a­lyt­i­cal skills, de­sign skills and com­puter lit­er­acy. Very of­ten you will be faced with mul­ti­ple op­tions, re­quir­ing the use of sound judge­ment, along with in­duc­tive, de­duc­tive and math­e­mat­i­cal rea­son­ing skills.

At un­der­grad­u­ate level, the first two years will pro­vide broad-based ed­u­ca­tion in sci­ences and engi­neer­ing while the last two or three years will fo­cus on aero­space engi­neer­ing, the­ory and de­sign. The sub­ject in­volves the study of the sci­ence of flight, de­sign, test­ing, con­struc­tion and main­te­nance of air­craft and space­craft.

While in col­lege, it is ad­vis­able to ap­ply for an in­tern­ship, which will pro­vide the can­vas to prac­tise what you have learnt and of­fer an op­por­tu­nity to en­gage with pro­fes­sion­als and ex­pand your net­work. It’s im­por­tant that the course se­lected be recog­nised by Ac­cred­i­ta­tion Board for Engi­neer­ing and Tech­nol­ogy (ABET).

Aero­nau­ti­cal en­gi­neers need to col­lab­o­rate on ini­tial de­sign and propul­sion sys­tems of aero­planes. You also need to study the aero­dy­namic per­for­mance of air­craft and con­struc­tion ma­te­rial. Once planes are built, you re­view and pre­pare per­for­mance re­ports, iden­tify and fix snags and in­spect dam­aged or mal­func­tion­ing planes to lo­cate and solve prob­lems.

The job de­scrip­tion will in­clude im­prov­ing flight safety, fuel ef­fi­ciency and use of cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy to meet client needs and to re­duce costs with­out sac­ri­fic­ing safety. Some of the lead­ing univer­si­ties of­fer­ing this course are MIT, Cal­tech, Stan­ford, Cam­bridge, Ox­ford, NUS, IITs, Im­pe­rial and Berke­ley.

SAN­JEEV VERMA is an in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion coun­sel­lor

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