Aeronautical engineering deals with studying the three main systems of an aircraft; Aerodynamics, Structures, and Propulsion.
As one of the most excruciating courses to take up, aeronautics deals with tons of complex mathematics and fluid dynamics. This course requires students who are ready to take up challenges along their way.
Aerospace engineering is a disciple of the great school of aeronautical sciences that deals with the same concepts, with the addition of space mechanics and propulsion for spacecraft and ballistic missiles.
So there are tons of similarities between the two streams. But a few exceptions to each make them quite different after a certain stage of the learning process.
For a student on the verge of committing their career towards learning about the sciences that make machines fly, a critical choice can affect the turn of events that will follow.
Continue reading this piece to recognize and interpret the similarities and the differences between aeronautical and aerospace engineering.
Living Out In Stages
To comprehend the aforementioned relationship, the courses can be compared based on what a student will learn every semester.
Let us split the four years of engineering into eight semesters and compare each course’s learning outcomes after each semester.
This semester is the same for both parties as it mainly deals with bridging the gap between high school and university learning. This is because not every student is necessarily from the same background.
So to normalize the crowd, the bridge courses deal with the same subjects taught in high school, viz. Chemistry, Physics, Integral Mathematics, and so on.
This semester will breeze past both sets of students and can almost be considered relaxation or buffer time.
The second semester is much like the first, with an addition to an introductory subject added for each separate course.
- Aeronautical students get exposure to avionics, a branch of aeronautical science strictly dealing with onboard electronics of the aircraft.
- Aerospace students, on the other hand, are taught the ‘Introduction To Aerospace’ class, which will give the first glimpse of space-related subjects that will follow in the upcoming semesters.
This is done to allow students to explore more about the subject they are most likely to enjoy.
Other than the mentioned additions, the other subjects are all the same and include Differential Mathematics, Computer Science, and Computer-Aided Engineering Drawing.
After completing the first year, the core subjects commence, giving the students a real taste of what the rest of their engineering life will consist of.
This where the heavy frustrations of these courses begin. The number of subjects is doubled for both courses. Plus, the basics of the aircraft structure, aerodynamics, and the powerplant are introduced.
Students generally tend to like one of the three subjects and are expected to dig deeper into the subject of their choice.
Here, too, the subjects are exactly similar. The new addition is the laboratory experiments, designed to give students practical hands-on experience for the topics dealt with in class.
This semester is considered to be one of the toughest for the students in this field of study. The difficulty of the subjects is turned up a notch from the previous semester.
Aerospace engineering students have to deal with intense and complicated mathematics with subjects like aerodynamics II, structures II and propulsion II.
Aeronautical students also have similar subjects, but with the addition of aircraft maintenance as their core subject. This is, however, presented as an elective for the other students.
The second-year is mainly focused on allowing the students to get the hang of professional and engineering electives. This way, students can gain more knowledge on subjects that deviate from the core ones.
Commencement of the third year is special for both sets of students as their grasping capabilities are put under the sword.
The core subjects closely deal with the real-life work and direct aftermath of modern-day scientists who have put them out for the world to see.
Applications involving real-life are now dealt with for both sets of students, with both parties now allowed to free roam over subjects that deal with similar characteristics to the core ones.
Aerospace engineering students have access to intricate thermodynamics and material properties. Aeronautical engineering students have to get past core valuation subjects.
The core subjects hereon will reduce by a significant amount, which will allow students to access the subjects that attract them the most.
There are three professional electives that students can choose from with options for both parties to switch among their learning sectors.
Aerospace students are now put to the test with the introduction of Flight Mechanics, which is a combination of all the three fundamental subjects taught in the earlier semesters.
Aeronautical students also have the same subjects but have the upper hand as the professional elective courses are relatively simpler than those in aerospace engineering.
Known as the most difficult semester, semester seven is ruthless, with over ten subjects that directly deal with the main topics of aviation and space flight.
Aerospace students are introduced to Rockets and Missiles, a crucial subject and a pillar to the aerospace engineering’s foundation.
Aeronautical students are exempted from those subjects and are taught specifically about the state-of-the-art flying machines.
This semester is again the same for both courses. It is the final frontier for students to showcase the things they have learned in the past four years as a Final Year project.
The project contains everything right from the basics of the first year to the complex dynamics of the previous semester. Both courses have the same timetable and routine; hence, converging after going different ways.
All things considered, there are more similarities than differences in the mentioned courses.
Just like how design engineering deals with Sheet Metal Design as a part of mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering deals with space sciences as a part of aeronautical engineering.
Depending on your interest, go for the most suitable course while preparing yourself for the complexity and dexterity of both programs.