Aerospace engineering is one of the core branches of engineering that is believed to be quite difficult to study and practice. It requires a lot of commitment, discipline and knowledge to become a competent aerospace engineer. Generally, aerospace engineering can be defined as the branch of engineering that involves all the activities and processing pertaining aircraft and spacecrafts. According to Newman (2002), the discipline basically deals with the research, design, development, construction and testing of aircrafts and spacecrafts. In general, aerospace engineering is concerned with the science and technology of spacecrafts and aircrafts. The discipline is quite sophisticated and is normally offered in limited universities worldwide.
Aerospace engineering is further divided into major sub- branches namely the astronautical engineering and aeronautical engineering. Aeronautical engineering is normally concerned with the aircrafts that are run within the earth’s atmosphere. On the other hand, astronautical engineering is concerned with spacecrafts that operate outside the earth’s atmosphere. However, it is worth noting that the two sub-branches of aerospace engineering are not very distinct and are sometimes explained as one thing. The two sub-branches deal with aircrafts, spacecrafts, rockets and fly crafts. Aerospace engineering normally concentrates with the design, construction, technology and physical properties of aircrafts and spacecrafts. Additionally, aerospace engineering also covers the diversification in the behavior of aircrafts and spacecrafts such as lift, drag, airfoil and control surfaces among others.
Initially, the field was referred to as Aeronautical engineering. This was because human beings had not started to fly outside the earth’s atmosphere. However, as the technology advanced, the name was changed to aerospace engineering to include the operations of the spacecrafts. Alber (2012) explains that the name was actually changed to include the astronautics branch that is commonly referred as the ‘ rocket science’. Other than the aircrafts and spacecrafts, aerospace engineering is also concerned with the other conditions that affect space crafts and aircrafts such as temperature and the atmospheric pressure.
The field is further divided into engineering disciplines such as structural analysis, aerodynamics, avionics, material science, propulsion and manufacturing among others. It is the interaction of these engineering disciplines that makes up the field of aerospace engineering. However, it's worth noting that each discipline is headed by a team of specialized engineers that work as a team. The process of designing, developing and construction of an aircraft of the spacecraft is a complex and costly venture that requires all the engineers from all the branches and disciplines to work as a team.