Majors, Minors, and Certificates
Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Aerospace Engineering
The bachelor of science degree in Aerospace Engineering is designed primarily for those students who are interested in the analysis, design, and operation of aircraft and space vehicles, and who are interested in becoming the next generation of innovative aerospace engineers and leaders in an ever-evolving, critical industry.
Through a combination of comprehensive coursework and extensive hands-on experience, students learn the theories and practices of the fundamental subjects of aerospace engineering:
- Aerodynamics and fluid dynamics
- Aerospace materials and structures
- Dynamics and control
- Aircraft stability and control and/or orbital and attitude dynamics and control
- Air-breathing and rocket propulsion
- Aircraft systems design and/or spacecraft systems design
Project-based activities emphasize the development and use of teamwork and communications skills for effective problem-solving.
In the first two years of study, aerospace engineering students take many courses in common with other engineering majors, including mathematics, physics, and chemistry. Because engineering practice changes rapidly, emphasis is placed on these foundational physical and scientific principles and methods to provide students with a basic education for the engineering profession, and to form the soundest and broadest base for future work in aerospace engineering.
Depending upon the technical course selections made in the fourth year, a student may emphasize aeronautics or astronautics, and specific technical areas within these fields, including aerodynamics, structural mechanics, flight mechanics, propulsion, controls, and software.
The program is structured to ensure students develop professional excellence, innovative engineering thinking, and gain deep technical knowledge in the core disciplines and integrative systems of aerospace engineering to fully prepare them for a responsible, rewarding career that will have a positive impact on society. Two to three years after obtaining a B.S. in aerospace engineering, graduates should be one or both of the following:
- Employed in the customary settings such as large and small aerospace firms, government laboratories, or nontraditional positions that also require the use of systems-engineering approaches to problem-solving
- Pursuing graduate study in aerospace engineering or related fields
Expected Student Outcomes:
The Aerospace Engineering program will provide students with the ability to:
- Apply knowledge of mathematics, science and engineering to foundational subjects of aerospace engineering: aeronautics, astronautics, aerodynamics and fluid dynamics, aerospace materials and structures, dynamics and automatic control, stability and control of aircraft and/or spacecraft, air-breathing and rocket propulsion, and aircraft systems design and/or spacecraft systems design
- Design and conduct experiments, and analyze and interpret data in aerodynamics and structures
- Design a system, component, or process, integrating knowledge from relevant topics in astronautics and aeronautics, to meet desired needs in aircraft systems and/or in spacecraft systems
Overall, students will gain a broad education necessary to understand the impact of aerospace engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context, and they will develop the required skills to implement them successfully in a professional or academic setting. A wide range of careers for aerospace engineering graduates exist in large and small aerospace firms, government agencies and laboratories, and academia.
View the sample academic plan.
Undergraduate Minor in Information Sciences and Technology for Aerospace Engineering (ISASP)
The role of software in the practice of aerospace engineering is critical and continues to grow rapidly. The effective design, development, and manufacturing of aerospace systems rely heavily on computers, software, and digital information. Some aircraft cannot fly without their onboard computers, and many future aerospace vehicles will be unmanned, resulting in even greater software challenges.
Providing undergraduate aerospace engineering students the opportunity to learn more about information sciences and technology by earning a minor in Information Sciences and Technology will not only enrich their educational achievements, but it will also make them more valuable to potential employers, and help them succeed in professional employment or graduate school. They will better appreciate the entire aerospace system better, and will be better equipped to work side-by-side with experts in the computing and software fields.
Specific questions regarding the ISASP minor may be directed to:Lyle N. Long
Distinguished Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Mathematics
The Pennsylvania State University
229 Hammond Building
University Park, PA 16802
Undergraduate Certificate in Space Systems Engineering
The Space Systems Engineering Certificate program is primarily designed for students in the College of Engineering who wish to be recognized for completing a core set of courses in space systems engineering-related topics and for participating in a space systems project. The project work is to be documented through a report.
This certificate program, under the direction of, and jointly administered by the electrical engineering department's Communications and Space Sciences Laboratory (CSSL) and the aerospace engineering department, is designed to help prepare students for a career in the space industry. It is also relevant to students with an interest in systems engineering and who wish to bolster their credentials.
More information about the program can be found here.