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Are you interested in things that fly? Choosing to study aerospace engineering in college could be for you! Aerospace engineering is the study of air and space travel. It is often referred to as “rocket science.” Aerospace engineers research, design, construct, test and maintain aircraft, spacecraft, missiles and related systems and equipment. They also are concerned with flight safety, operating costs, fuel efficiency and environmental impacts.

The field can be broken down to two major overlapping branches- aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering. Aeronautical engineers concentrate on aircraft that fly within the earth's atmosphere (airplanes, jets, and helicopters), while astronautical engineers focus on spacecraft and launch vehicles. 

A good background of math and physics classes in high school is important for students applying to aerospace engineering programs. There are many colleges that offer degrees in aerospace engineering. Some of these include: MIT, Georgia Institute of Technology, Caltech, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Perdue University. Check out the U.S. News list of the top ranked aerospace engineering programs.

 

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There are many courses that students should take in high school that will help them get accepted to a college engineering program. It is a good idea to take as many STEM courses as you can. These include math (calculus if possible), science (chemistry, physics and biology), computer programming and any engineering classes (such as Project Lead The Way) that may be offered at your high school. Engineering schools look for students with an interest and an aptitude in these areas. They also look to see if the student challenged themselves in the courses they took in high school, such as Advanced Placement (AP) courses. AP classes in the STEM field will provide a foundation for classes required in college engineering programs. In addition, AP classes might possibly get some courses out of the way before the student actually starts college.

 

Many colleges are now offering virtual information sessions due to COVID-19. These sessions are a great way to get information about a school when you can't actually visit the campus. The sessions are often conducted in a webinar format with interactive chat so you can ask any questions you might have. Some schools offer just general info sessions, while others have general sessions as well as sessions on specific majors. Many also offer virtual tours of their campus. This is a great resource to look for to help with the college search. In addition, many colleges look for demonstrated interest in their school from their applicants. Traditionally, this would be shown by college visits and interviews, but with today's changes, signing up for virtual info sessions are also counted. Virtual info sessions are often found on the Visit Campus Page of a college's website. Here are links to a few schools with engineering programs that currently offer virtual information sessions.

Georgia Tech 

Carnegie Mellon University 

Perdue University 

Virginia Tech 

Johns Hopkins University 

University of Wisconsin 

Many schools offer virtual college tours. The virtual tours are done in different ways incorporating video or photos and useful information. This is a great way to see a school when you can't physically go there. Below are links to the virtual tours of many colleges who have engineering programs.

Arizona State University Tempe SUNY Binghamton
Boston University SUNY Maritime
California Institute of Technology SUNY Stony Brook
Case Western Reserve University Syracuse University
Colorado School Of Mines Texas A & M University
Colorado State University Tufts University
Columbia University Union College
Cooper Union United States Millitary Academy West Point
Cornell University United States Naval Academy
Dartmouth College University Connecticut Storrs
Drexel University University of California San Diego
Duke Universitry University of Colorado Boulder
Florida State University University of Deleware
George Washington University University of Florida
Georgia Tech University of Houston
Hofstra University of Illonois Urbana-Champaign
Iowa State University University of Kentucky
Johns Hopkins University University of Maryland
Lehigh University University of Massachusetts Amherst
Manhattan College University of Miami
Massachusets Institute of Technology University of Michigan
New York University University of Minnesota Twin Cities
North Carolina State University University of Missouri Columbia
Northwestern University University of Pennsylvania
Ohio State University University of Pittsburgh
Penn State University College Park University of Rochester
Perdue University University of South Florida Tampa
Princeton University University of Tennessee Knoxville
Rensselar Polytechnic Institute University of Virginia
Rochester Institute Of Technology Vanderbilt University
Rutgers University New Brunswick Virginia Tech
Stanford University Washington University
Stevens Institute of Technology Wentworth Institute of Technology
  Worcester Polytechnic Institute

According to Oxford Dictionary an engineer is, “A person who designs, builds, or maintains engines, machines, or structures.” In today's world the field of engineering encompasses so much more. Engineers are problem solvers, designers, organizers and calculators. The modern engineer is also computer savvy. They will utilize software programs to assist in design and forecasting or developing new software to make things run better. Engineering touches every aspect of life. For example, phones, bridges, appliances, machines, buildings, computers, airplanes, and the list goes on.

An engineer uses science, math and ingenuity to develop solutions to commercial, technical and societal problems. They design structures, materials, systems and processes, while taking into account regulations, safety, cost and practical limitations. Being an engineer is challenging and rewarding. An engineer can be involved in finding answers to problems that confront society.

There are 4 main disciplines that the engineering field is broken down into. They are Mechanical, Chemical, Electrical and Civil Engineering. There are numerous sub disciplines under each of those. Computer Engineering, Construction Engineering, Aerospace Engineering and Biomedical Engineering are just a few of those sub disciplines.

Getting an engineering degree can open the door to other professions as well. The thinking process and skills developed as an engineer are very valuable and highly sought after. There are many engineering graduates who are currently in careers in business, law and medicine. In addition, there are a significant number of CEO's and people in other key management positions in large companies who come from engineering backgrounds. There will always be a demand for the skills of an engineer.

Overall, engineers are designers, calculators, designers, planners, tech savvy and problem solvers. If you are curious about how things work and like to apply what you learn to solve real world problems, engineering may be the right field for you.

Computer Engineering and Computer Science are two different college majors. They have similarities but are two different fields.

What is a Computer Engineer?

A computer engineer tests, designs and develops computer hardware and software. They work on the design, manufacturing and installation of processors, networks, memory devices and other computer equipment such as keyboards, modems, routers and printers. The field of computer engineering uses principles and techniques of both computer science and electrical engineering. Computer engineers solve problems that occur in computer hardware and design and advance computer technology to make computers faster and smaller. Computer engineers also incorporate computers into machines and other items.

What Is Computer Science?

Computer science generally focuses on programming, algorithms and numerical analysis. Computer scientists design, develop and apply software and software systems. In addition to programing software, computer scientists design and analyze algorithms for solving problems. They also study the performance of software and hardware to update and improve them. In some colleges, the Computer Science major is found in the Engineering Department, while in others it is not.

Difference Between Computer Engineering and Computer Science

The main difference between Computer Science and Computer Engineering is that computer engineers build hardware, while generally computer scientists do not. Both study the inner workings of computers in addition to the software and hardware aspects of computer systems. Both majors study programming and basic computer operation, but computer science studies programming to a greater extent.

What Is ABET?

ABET stands for Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. As stated on their website, ABET is “a not for profit, non-governmental accrediting agency for programs in applied and natural science, computing, engineering and engineering technology and we are recognized as an accreditor by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation... ABET accreditation provides assurance that a college or university program meets the quality standards of the profession for which that program prepares graduates.”

Why Is This Important?

Companies looking to hire new graduates in engineering fields may look to see if the school the applicant is graduating from has the ABET accreditation. The accreditation gives them a better understanding of the curriculum of the applicant's program. This will help gauge whether the applicant has the skills required to do the job they are looking to fill and will be able to meet current and future needs. ABET has high standards in place that the institution must meet and maintain for their program to have ABET accreditation.

From the student's perspective, ABET accreditation ensures that the curriculum at that school meets the current standards of the industry. The student can be reassured that they will be taught the background and skills necessary to compete in that profession today and in the future. ABET accreditation is recognized world wide. ABET also states that licensing, certification and registration in a technical profession often requires graduation from an ABET accredited program as a minimum qualification. In addition, choosing an ABET accredited program helps to establish your eligibility for many federal grants, loans or scholarships.

Do All Engineering Schools Have ABET Accreditation for all their programs?

No. The accreditation is voluntary. Schools are not required to do this. In addition, the agency accredits programs, not institutions. It is possible for a school to be accredited in one program of study, but not all of their engineering programs.

Should ABET Accreditation Determine Your College Choice?

ABET accreditation should not be the only criteria used to decide which colleges to look at. Many schools have quality programs, but not the official designation, and may be a better fit overall for you. The process to get licensed in a technical field is not hinged on whether you graduate from an ABET accredited program. There are other requirements that can be used instead of it. The accreditation can just speed up the process. In addition, there are many educational programs currently undergoing the process for ABET certification, but haven't reached it yet. One would expect the programs working toward ABET certification to be structured to follow ABET requirements as they are going through the process. A degree from that program will have the benefits of ABET accreditation once it is attained, in some cases even if it is after the fact. In short, ABET accreditation is just one of the things to consider when choosing a college for a degree in engineering.

To find out if a school you are considering is ABET accredited, check out this link for the ABET website. https://amspub.abet.org/aps/name-search?searchType=institution

After deciding which engineering field you are interested in, it is a good idea to visit schools that have that program. Every college has its own personality and all schools do not follow the same programs of instruction. This is something every student needs to consider when deciding if that school is the one for them. When you go on some college tours, you will start to see what aspects of schools you like, or do not like. This is the best way to start narrowing down choices of schools. By going on different campuses you will get a feel of what each school is like. The size and look of the campus, what the facilities and classrooms are like, and what the class sizes are will give you an indication of what is best for you. Try to take the engineering school tour at each school, if possible. An engineering tour will give more insight into what the curriculum is like and what life as a student in their program will be like. In addition, talking to current students and speaking to administrators about the specifics of the program you are interested in will give you more information. The administrators can also provide more specifics on the requirements for admittance to their program.

If you are not sure where to begin, first start exploring colleges that may be a short distance from where you live. This is a great way to start narrowing down what type of schools you are interested in without spending a lot of time and money.

It is surprising with the increased need for people to fill jobs in the STEM field, such as engineering disciplines and computer science, that there is very little information available to help students find the best colleges for them that offer these programs. All programs at all schools are not equal, and not all schools are right for all students. Most people are aware of the big tech schools for engineering such as MIT and CalTech. They may not be the right school for everyone, though. There are lots of schools that you probably haven't heard of such as Rose-Hulman, Rowan College or Colorado School of Mines that are excellent engineering schools and might provide a better engineering education. So the big question is where do you start?

The first step to finding the right engineering school is to figure out what the student is interested in. To start, which field of engineering do they want to study. Not all schools that have engineering programs have all engineering majors. For example, many schools have mechanical engineering programs, but only a few have civil engineering programs.  After the major is determined, then other criteria needs to be factored in. These include, large or small school, preferred geographic location and of course the student's grades and test scores. Taking all of these factors into account will help to narrow down which colleges to start looking at. In short, all schools are not a perfect fit for all students, but considering  your student's needs is the start to find the correct engineering college for them.