When we talk about Engineers, we can mean many things. Should you fancy yourself as an aeronautical or automotive engineer, you're probably hoping to stretch yourself technically and logically. Great Britain is renowned for its aeronautical engineering excellence, and its aerospace industry turns over many billions of pounds every year. When it comes to the automotive industry, over 300,000 people in the UK are employed in design, development and manufacturing.
You'll find a very high concentration of aero and auto engineering based undergraduate degree courses in the UK - many with international reputations. Graduates can also follow on and take a PhD or MSc if they wish. (There are of course less academic college courses available around the country). Degree courses can be studied with or without an industrial placement year. Engineering departments often have good links with industry for gaining work experience.
Sandwich courses can also be available on certain training programmes. Engineering students can also look into sponsorship options which are provided by both private industry and the Armed Forces. It really is good advice to do your research thoroughly, as there are such a lot of alternatives to consider.
This area involves everything to do with the production of motorised vehicles. As well as the traditional disciplines, automotive engineers now need to incorporate electronics, safety and software engineering into their skill-sets. Modern vehicle engineers can utilise the latest technologies - for example in relation to electric cars or active suspensions.
Let's take a look at the engineering stages we go through in the production of a vehicle. Product or design engineers will first design all the parts and test them to make sure they perform properly. We have development engineers next, who are rather like systems engineers. These engineers often have to liaise with designers on certain specs. With all the design and development work complete, the manufacturing engineers have to build the vehicle.
Degree courses in automotive engineering are very demanding, but extremely interesting. Subjects will include performance, ergonomics, emissions, fuel economy, aerodynamics and vehicle dynamics to name but a few. Safety is a top priority, and so all elements of a design will be tested via crash simulations and test dummies etc.
Design engineers test individual components, but they must also be tested to prove synchronicity with the vehicle as a whole. Therefore students need to learn about systems, or development engineering.
Sometimes systems or components have conflicting aims, and a trade-off has to be made to deliver both satisfactorily.
Ultimately development engineering must meet the standards dictated by the manufacturer, the government and of course the buying public.
The manufacturing process takes over once all the design and development work has been done. Manufacturing engineering is involved with a wide assortment of tasks related to the planning and engineering of assembly. At every assembly plant, manufacturing engineers have to plan out the body shop, the area for engine and transmission placement and the chassis and trim area.
Aeronautical engineering covers all things to do with flight technology - the design, construction and science of aircraft. Individuals interested in aeronautical engineering must be intelligent self starters with the capacity for analytical, innovative and technical thought processes. Only those who relish a challenge should consider a career in aeronautics. You could also choose a career in motor racing, as aircraft engineering is the basis for Formula One design.
Atmospheric pressure and temperature changes place huge stresses on aircraft during flights. An understanding of technologies such as aerodynamics, materials science, avionics and propulsion is needed, and each are very specialist subjects in their own right.
Students will use software to learn about design and the layout of essential aeronautical systems. All studies will focus on analytical concepts. Examples of analytical subjects are Fluid Mechanics, Thermodynamics and Dynamics. Computational fluid dynamics is used to simulate the behaviour of fluid today, which reduces wind-tunnel testing time and expense. (Nevertheless, students will still get plenty of opportunity to experiment with wind tunnels and other physical testing machines).
Engineering students will get a lot of practical hands-on experience. You can expect a group project that requires students to design a complete vehicle or aircraft, along with significant individual projects. Undergraduate engineering training programmes also provide other useful skill-sets for their students. Things like oral communication, leadership skills and teamwork might be on the list.
Well paid, rewarding and financially attractive careers are available for qualified Automotive and Aeronautical Engineers. To apply for professional status following graduation, engineers should contact the Engineering Council - a national body that promotes and advances the science and practice of engineering.