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Question
Hello, I am doing a highschool research paper on aerospace engineering and I would highly appreciate if you could answer the following questions:
1) Where did you go to college and what was your degree?
2) What hours do you typically work?
3) Is your work boring or do you find yourself doing different things everyday?
4) Where did you first find employment as an aerospace/aeronautical engineer?
5) How much do you travel?
6)What would a typical day at work look like?
7) Do you typically work with others or by yourself?
8) What are some positive aspects of your position,some negative?
9) What advice do you have for aspiring aerospace/aeronautical engineers?
10)What is the typical salary for someone in your career?
11) Did you take classes in high school that helped you prepare for being an Aerospace engineer
12) How much math is required? EX: calculus, differential equations?
Thanks for your time and consideration, I hope to someday pursue a similar career,
Michael

Answer
Hi Michael
I get so many of these interview type questions that I have a canned response I hope will suffice:

I loved math and science in high school. After high school I studied at Oregon State University engineering school for two years and then got B.S. and M.S. degrees in Aeronautical Engineering at U. of Washington - Seattle after another four years. After I did graduate studies at Standford U. Along the way I started my career with NASA as an aeronautical engineer.

Generally, aeronautical engineers design and develop aerospace devices such as aircraft, missiles, race cars, jet engines, etc.  I was in research at NASA Ames Research Center for 38 years where I was responsible for planning and executing wind tunnel studies aimed at improving our understanding of aeronautics and related technologies. My latest job title was Aeroacoustics Group Leader.  

A normal day involved examination of scientific literature, planning experiments, writing code for data analysis, analyzing experimental results, meeting with my peers, requesting support from management, writing reports, etc.  I traveled 4 to 6 times a year to various laboratories or scientific conferences.

The quality of work was high.  The pay was good, not exceptional, but government employees have good benefits such as excellent vacation time, sick leave and pensions.  Hours were good, we had the option of working 9 nine hour days and getting a three-day weekend every other weekend.  Job locations in aerospace are limited by the few number of organizations in the field, but jobs do exist all over the country.

Research is never boring, not counting the occasional meetings on team morale or time efficiency that we had to attend. The work is very rewarding.

I often worked with engineers with different expertise such as electronics engineers, mechanical designers, software programmers, system control engineers, etc.

The projects I worked on can be found in engineering libraries - search on my name.  One project I was proud of was the investigation of the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica.  I did the aero design of the gas sample instrument.  We found what causes the hole, which led to the worldwide banning of fluro-hydrocarbons.

For this job you must be expert in math and physics as well as computer programming, electronics, and so on. A license is not required but an engineering degree from an accredited institution is usually required.

I knew in high school I wanted to be an engineer, either to build bridges or aircraft.  I chose aircraft and am glad. High school students should take all the math and science they can get, especially physics. English studies are also very important. If I had to change anything, I might choose to spend some time studying abroad. Once you are in college, the engineering departments will specify the required courses. You can take optional courses as well, time permitting.

Starting salary depends on many factors such as academic performance, skill set, experience, location, and more.  Usually, one starts at $60,000 per year plus or minus. Generally, engineering jobs are readily available to anyone with a decent record in school and/or job experience. This country runs on technology that is little understood by the non-scientific population at large, but well understood by engineers and other science professionals.
Paul  

Aeronautical Engineering

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Paul Soderman

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Aeronautics, Aerodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, Aeroacoustics, Noise Control, Muffler Design, Wind Tunnel Research.... I know nothing about India - do not ask about schools, jobs, application requirements, career choices, etc. for India. Please, no text message verbiage; I prefer full words in full sentences. Thanks.

Experience

38 years as research engineer at NASA

Publications
AIAA, NASA

Education/Credentials
B.S. and M.S. Aeronautical Engineering - U. of Washington, Graduate work Standford U.

Awards and Honors
AIAA Associate Fellow (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics)

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