Joelmarvc
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Hi all, new here.

I am in Y12 and am interested in STEM careers but am adamant in avoiding sitting at a desk all day, and really want to do something I'll enjoy for my life. I have recently picked up interest in engineering, particularly aerospace, as it is exciting and I think I would be very good at applying maths/physics to the real world. However, my building ability has always been pretty poor (I was never great at DT in lower school); does this mean engineering probably isn't the best idea? How practical is a career in (aerospace) engineering, can I totally avoid manufacturing/building work? It seems all future engineers are always fixing and building in their spare time, but I am more academically based.

Thanks in advance, my A Levels are maths, further maths, physics, and music tech (predicted A*/A in all).
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aerofanatic
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I'm a third-year Aeronautical Engineering student at a top university so I think I can give you a perspective on what it's really like.
You don't need to be particularly good at DT to do this degree - I wasn't! At the beginning of the degree you need to know the engineering fundamentals which is when this applies most. This means getting used to engineering drawing standards, how to work computer aided design software, computing etc. But once you're past that, it's merely a tick in the box and you use these standards across design assignments which you would have learnt by that point.

So engineering creativity isn't limited to hand design! The essence of engineering is the ability to solve problems. You'll need to do this in so many different ways, be it in working with abstract mathematics, writing a computer program, using computational fluid dynamics models, etc. Just google the Navier Stokes equations...

There is a lot of abstract mathematics that will challenge you, particularly in fluid mechanics. You will literally be studying rocket science. Werner Heisenberg once said "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first."

But for someone considering, I would like to really point out the emphasis on structures and materials on an Aero course. If you aren't interested in the mechanics of materials then you'll get bored real quick. Believe me - the question isn't if this course is not academic enough (IT IS) - it's more of whether you see yourself digging deep into Fluid Mechanics, Structural Analysis, Materials, Computer Programming, Control Systems...

Oh and the workload. There is a ridiculous amount of work to do on this degree.

One last thing I want to point out is the difference between an Aerospace Engineer and a Maintenance Engineer (who might have had to do a vocational course) if it wasn't already clear. Even though Manufacturing is covered, your degree qualifies you to DESIGN aircraft (and other such bodies), not fix them. So you could for example be part of an F1 team designing the front wing of a car, or the undercarriage of a new Airbus.

Hope this has given you something to think about!
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Smack
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(Original post by Joelmarvc)
Hi all, new here.

I am in Y12 and am interested in STEM careers but am adamant in avoiding sitting at a desk all day, and really want to do something I'll enjoy for my life. I have recently picked up interest in engineering, particularly aerospace, as it is exciting and I think I would be very good at applying maths/physics to the real world. However, my building ability has always been pretty poor (I was never great at DT in lower school); does this mean engineering probably isn't the best idea? How practical is a career in (aerospace) engineering, can I totally avoid manufacturing/building work? It seems all future engineers are always fixing and building in their spare time, but I am more academically based.

Thanks in advance, my A Levels are maths, further maths, physics, and music tech (predicted A*/A in all).
It really depends on what you do within aerospace - there is no "generic" aerospace engineering career. Although it's offered as a standalone degree, it generally consists of elements from both mechanical and electronics engineering. And in industry, the roles will be more specialised according to function, e.g. design, analysis, manufacturing etc. Search for jobs at aerospace and defence companies (e.g. Airbus, Boeing, BAe, Rolls Royce, etc.) to see some of the different types of jobs you can do.

However, if you want to avoid being stuck behind a desk, this is somewhat of a dichotomy with wanting to avoid manufacturing. Now, building isn't engineering, but manufacturing is a key part of engineering. Manufacturing engineering isn't literally turning the nuts and bolts and fitting the panels with your hands, but rather the systems, processes and equipment involved in the efficient, reliable and safe manufacture of physical products. As well as that, to be an effective in design, you must have an understanding of manufacturing processes, so that you can design what can be manufactured economically, or even just know what physically can and cannot be manufactured in reality.
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Helloworld_95
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You can quite easily avoid the practical side during your career, although if you're going to a halfway decent engineering school there will be a good amount of practical components during your course where you will need to step out of your comfort zone e.g. a lot of unis will get you to build a UAV, you'll probably also have what is essentially an intro to getting your hands dirty in first year, if you go to a good uni your individual project will involve running your own experiment and setting up your own kit.

it is worth trying to get the practical experience though, even if you're bad at it it is often seen as quite valuable to employers.

Going back to the maths/physics components, they are quite big early on in the degree, not so much later on in the degree because 1) you get given the tools to avoid having to know exactly what you're doing all the time, and 2) the maths you do actually do ends up being pretty mathematically basic, a lot of people will scare you with stuff like Reynolds-Averaged Navier Stokes equations but by second year it's the kind of maths you will be able to do fluently. If you want to keep the mathematical/physical challenge going then try and find a uni which will let you do modelling/system identification, which as a subject requires a bit more thought than dealing with Navier Stokes. It involves finding the dynamics of a system, be it a physical system like a jet engine or something like trends in the financial markets, things which can have dozens if not hundreds of inputs, then turning it into a set of interacting equations in order to be able to control or predict the behaviour of whatever you're studying.
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damn daniel yeah
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(Original post by aerofanatic)
I'm a third-year Aeronautical Engineering student at a top university so I think I can give you a perspective on what it's really like.
You don't need to be particularly good at DT to do this degree - I wasn't! At the beginning of the degree you need to know the engineering fundamentals which is when this applies most. This means getting used to engineering drawing standards, how to work computer aided design software, computing etc. But once you're past that, it's merely a tick in the box and you use these standards across design assignments which you would have learnt by that point.

So engineering creativity isn't limited to hand design! The essence of engineering is the ability to solve problems. You'll need to do this in so many different ways, be it in working with abstract mathematics, writing a computer program, using computational fluid dynamics models, etc. Just google the Navier Stokes equations...

There is a lot of abstract mathematics that will challenge you, particularly in fluid mechanics. You will literally be studying rocket science. Werner Heisenberg once said "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first."

But for someone considering, I would like to really point out the emphasis on structures and materials on an Aero course. If you aren't interested in the mechanics of materials then you'll get bored real quick. Believe me - the question isn't if this course is not academic enough (IT IS) - it's more of whether you see yourself digging deep into Fluid Mechanics, Structural Analysis, Materials, Computer Programming, Control Systems...

Oh and the workload. There is a ridiculous amount of work to do on this degree.

One last thing I want to point out is the difference between an Aerospace Engineer and a Maintenance Engineer (who might have had to do a vocational course) if it wasn't already clear. Even though Manufacturing is covered, your degree qualifies you to DESIGN aircraft (and other such bodies), not fix them. So you could for example be part of an F1 team designing the front wing of a car, or the undercarriage of a new Airbus.

Hope this has given you something to think about!
I am planning on applying next year luckily i fit a lot of the critrea you have set out however i would like to ask which uni you attend my guess is imperial may be wrong though? And also what GCSE's and A-level grades you have so i can compare and get an idea to see if mine are acceptable. I also have a fair bit of work experience and lots of things like gold smc which should in theory give me a strong personal statement. I am asking as i would like to get a good idea of my chances at getting a place on a good course.
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aerofanatic
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(Original post by damn daniel yeah)
I am planning on applying next year luckily i fit a lot of the critrea you have set out however i would like to ask which uni you attend my guess is imperial may be wrong though? And also what GCSE's and A-level grades you have so i can compare and get an idea to see if mine are acceptable. I also have a fair bit of work experience and lots of things like gold smc which should in theory give me a strong personal statement. I am asking as i would like to get a good idea of my chances at getting a place on a good course.
Hi mate I like to keep myself anonymous on here, but I'd say if you're working towards A*'s in Maths and Physics then you should be fine. I know enough to tell you that the Aeronautics department at Imperial bias most of their offer decision-making process on your academic potential over anything else, so you getting involved in those sorts of things is always an advantage.

The hardest part is meeting their offer.

Good luck!
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damn daniel yeah
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(Original post by aerofanatic)
Hi mate I like to keep myself anonymous on here, but I'd say if you're working towards A*'s in Maths and Physics then you should be fine. I know enough to tell you that the Aeronautics department at Imperial bias most of their offer decision-making process on your academic potential over anything else, so you getting involved in those sorts of things is always an advantage.

The hardest part is meeting their offer.

Good luck!
okay i see but will getting B's in English and geography at GCSE massively decrease my chance of getting an offer? thanks for the information anyway
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aerofanatic
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(Original post by damn daniel yeah)
okay i see but will getting B's in English and geography at GCSE massively decrease my chance of getting an offer? thanks for the information anyway
I can't say with certainty but I personally don't think so. As long as the majority of your GCSEs are A/A* and A-level predictions are A*s in Maths/Physics then you should be okay. Where else are you applying?
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damn daniel yeah
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(Original post by aerofanatic)
I can't say with certainty but I personally don't think so. As long as the majority of your GCSEs are A/A* and A-level predictions are A*s in Maths/Physics then you should be okay. Where else are you applying?
yes my GCSE's go 5A*'s (maths, sciences, computing) 3A's (furthur Maths, History, German) 3B's (Geography, english) and my current A2 predictions are A*,A*,A,A in maths, physics, chemistry, furthur maths. I will probably apply to imperial southampton, Bath and wherever i decide is reasonable after that. I understand i meet the entry requirements i am just worried about english and geography significantly weakening my application. Thanks (if you want PM me)
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