The aspect of being airborne and flying is an inexplicable experience, and it is more so when the flight is engineered and designed to be one of the greatest achievements of skill combined with zeal and intelligence to develop an object for humans to fly; which seemed impossible until a century ago. The idea of pushing the limit is not only satisfying for the human mind but also a motivator to dream bigger. Aerospace and aeronautical engineering are two disciplines of engineering specifically and strictly related to aircraft and the aspect of flight. Although both these engineering disciplines deal with aircraft and the aspect of flight at the core, but they are very different in terms of the approach each discipline takes as skills, designs and products used for either of them.
Aerospace engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with design and manufacturing of aircraft for spacial endeavors and projects. Its vast scope of engineering and wide variety of discipline has two major branches called aeronautical and astronautical engineering. Aeronautical engineering is a branch of aerospace engineering dealing with design, construction and study of aircraft that is intended to stay within the earth's atmosphere and perform required tasks and operations. These aircraft are airplanes and helicopters. Astronautical engineering deals with the design, manufacture and science of aircraft required to function and perform outside earth's atmosphere and these are rockets, satellites and space stations. Aeronautical engineering progressed to aerospace and astronautical as flight advancement began, aircraft were designed to go into outer space for various purposes; from providing communications to exploration, and the informal term “rocket science” came into picture because of this feat as aerospace engineering broke boundaries that were unimagined.
Of late many institutions and universities are developing different and better curriculum and programmes to cater to Aeronautical and Aerospace engineering enthusiasts. They are developed in response to these new technological advances, and to the demand from air force, aircraft design, and aircraft manufacturing industries for well-trained engineers who have a broad understanding of several engineering disciplines that are involved in all aspects of aerospace and aeronautical systems. A lot of youngsters often inquire to know the major differences in these two disciplines, and since their fascination and interest in either of these two disciplines is what allowing industry professionals to develop programmes and curriculum for the students' ease of understanding and continuing with their exploration and enthusiasm in aeronautical and aerospace engineering. The major breakthroughs such technological advances in avionics, flight control, advanced materials, space flight, communications and the increased reliance on computers in aerospace, it was found necessary to extend the knowledge that would have been obtained on an aeronautical degree course to include the study of aeronautical and aerospace engineering.
A lot of students posses real fascination for pursuing the course of aeronautical and aerospace engineering mainly because of the attraction towards the prospect of flying an aircraft or being an integral part of the team that designs these aircraft. It is indeed an exciting and wonderful opportunity to learn and apply skills for construction and maintenance of dynamic aircraft. But the misunderstanding and misconceptions regarding aerospace and aeronautical are nothing but confusion of the usage and application for these aspirants. So, it is important to know the difference between aerospace and aeronautical engineering first and then pursuing whichever seems interesting more. Hence, if an aspiring candidate has decided on the field of aircraft design, then it is recommended to choose aeronautical engineering whereas the interest is more in the study of law of thermodynamics in the outer space then aerospace engineering is recommended.
Career opportunities in both the branches of aerospace engineering are vast and highly fulfilling. Aeronautical engineering provides profound knowledge of flying and designing the aircraft and aerospace provides the means and scope of exploration of space. The application used in aerospace in different as these are quite different from the laws that are applicable in the earth’s atmosphere. Aerospace engineering is very useful in countries where space research institutes or organizations are functioning and operating well with the support of governments, country such as India where the opportunities for aerospace and aeronautical engineering are abundant. Aeronautical engineering is a common engineering study that is available in almost all the major universities across the world. Aeronautical engineers are easily absorbed and hired by the aviation industry.
The curriculum of Aerospace engineering course includes the study of satellites, space stations, missiles, rockets, designs and manufacture of space arms and spacecrafts. There are many organizations and multinational companies always on toes to hire the best in aeronautical and aerospace engineering and those who have the skill, ability to better the craft of their skill, and most importantly the zeal to achieve higher and better than the previous best. Companies and organizations such as ISRO, NASA, HAL, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics, BAE Systems, Leidos, McDonnel Douglas, Airbus Group, and many other major players across the world are always on the lookout for skilled professionals for never ending projects and programmes.
About the Author: The article is written by Col. NPR Babu, Mr. Babu has been associated with SCT Institute of Technology an award winning Aeronautical Engineering College in Bangalore.