Research Assessment 2
The first article was more of an in-depth overview of the two sectors of aerospace engineering (aeronautical and astronautical engineering), as well as the responsibilities of positions in each respective field.
Reading this article kind of opened my eyes to the different positions found in the aerospace industry. There are so many different niches and after reading the article I realized I was more interested in astronautical engineering - the type that deals with rockets and other vehicles that fly in outer space - than traditional aeronautical engineering, but I still enjoy aircrafts, just not as much as rockets and space travel. There are more variables to take into account when vehicles leave the earth’s atmosphere and I find the complexity of it very fascinating. A few things in the article stood out to me, like the appeal of material science and flight test engineers. I need to look into the specifics of these fields and see if it is a good fit for me. Additionally, having a mentor who is a flight control chief engineering officer or senior mission manager would be fantastic, since they cover a bit of everything, with flight control chief’s overseeing the system integration of the spacecraft and its missions, while senior mission managers oversee basically every aspect of the spacecraft and its launch vehicle to make sure the mission goes smoothly. Since they would cover a bit of everything, I would have contact and experience with many different engineers who do various specific jobs and see which one of those jobs capture my interest the most.
Now that I have realized my interest in astronautical engineering, I should branch out from my current contact list (which at the moment only has professors and aeronautical engineers) and try to find some astronautical engineers. The issue is that living in Frisco, Texas, means that majority of the aerospace engineers surrounding me work for large private aircraft companies (Boeing, Bell Helicopter) or are military consultant companies (Lockheed Martin). The professors on the other hand would have experience in teaching both sides of aerospace, but they only teach theory and I would not have first hand access and experience with working alongside professionals doing their daily jobs in companies. I want to look into NASA and any opportunities there, but the closest NASA Space Center is of course the Johnson Space Center in Houston, which is far from Frisco. My dream job would be working for NASA and I would love to have some contacts there, so I do think it is still worthwhile to look into it.
My second article was the article that got me very excited. It is very rare that two of my passions cross paths this clearly. The second article discussed the pioneering electric energy technology in aeronautical engineering. Although astronautical engineering is more fascinating to me, electric-energy or hybrid rockets are very far in the future, since currently, electric and hybrid airplanes is still theoretical and a stretch. Working for a company or for a division that researches the application of new technology such as electric and hybrid power sources is the most interesting topic I have come across. It will take another twenty years or so for the technology to exist, since batteries need to be more efficient and lighter because the key to flight is a low weight to efficiency/power ratio. Research like this will open up completely new doors to aerospace engineering and will help lean our country off of fossil fuels.
In all reality, there are very few companies and division dedicated to research into different energy sources for aircrafts, but I know I would be interested in many different research fronts that strive to improve the current situation of air and space travel. I should look into other pioneering research in the aerospace engineering field and see what private companies are investing time and resources into issues such as this.
I plan to explore any start up or research companies near me, as well as looking into NASA’s Johnson Space Center. There are so many areas that fall under the broad umbrella of aerospace engineering and after researching this week, I have helped narrow the list down further to things I am the most passionate about.