Aeronautical Engineering/Professional Interview


Hello Mr. Paul Soderman,

My name is Mariela and I am a high school senior completing a graduation requirement. I am very interested in entering the same profession and I would like to ask some questions about your career.

A few little things about the company that you worked for:

Job title:
Name of company interviewee works for:
Phone number of company:
Address of company:

Q: How did you become interested in this career?
Q: What are the aspects of this career that you like?
Q: What are the aspects of this career that you dislike?
Q: Which classes or training did you take in college?
Q: Is there opportunity for advancement in this career field?
Q: Can you describe your daily work?
Q: Which skill do you think is the most important to perform for this job?
Q: How many hours did you work a day? How many days a week?
Q: If you were hiring a person for this job, what would you look for?
Q: Was it difficult to find your first job in this field?
Q: What is your advice for someone who is interested in this field?

I'll highly appreciate your answers! THANK YOU! :)

Hi Mariela,
I get so many of 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. Engineering school courses are described in university websites. I also obtained a California Professional Engineer license. Along the way I started my career with NASA Ames Research Center in California as an aeronautical engineer. Four or five thousand people work at Ames (civil service and contractors).

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. Visit engineering school websites (e.g. U. of Washington - Seattle) to see typical courses offered and 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.

The factors involved in choosing an engineering school are many and will have to wait for another time.

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.


Aeronautical Engineering

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Paul Soderman


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.


38 years as research engineer at NASA


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)

©2017 All rights reserved.