Fluid dynamics refers to the study of fluid in motion. While no schools offer entire degree programs in compressible fluid dynamics, students who are interested in learning about the subject so that they might apply it to a practical science such as engineering might enroll in a graduate certificate, master's degree or doctoral program in aerospace engineering. Such programs could prepare them to become aerospace engineers, systems engineers or research scientists. Certificate programs are available online.
Graduate Certificates in Compressible Fluid Dynamics
Computational fluid dynamics and general aerospace engineering certificate programs are offered through a variety of colleges and universities. These one to two semester programs are designed for graduates of bachelor's degree programs - in a relevant science - who have some professional experience in the engineering field. Aerospace engineering coursework is interdisciplinary in nature, pulling from the fields of mechanical and chemical engineering. Programs offer coursework that covers problems in structural dynamics, computer-assisted engineering problem analysis, and viscous flows. Additionally, students take coursework in:
- Computational methods
- Fluid flow
- Fluid mechanics
- Heat transfer
Master's Degrees in Aerospace Engineering
Compressible fluid dynamics courses can be found within these 18-24 month programs. In addition to teaching the theories behind the mechanics of gasses and fluids, some programs have laboratories dedicated to practical research in topics, including compressible fluid mechanics. Research in this field is applicable to military agencies like the U.S. Air Force and governmental organizations like NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy. Thesis tracks lead to a Master of Science degree, while non-thesis tracks lead to a Master of Aerospace Engineering degree.
Prior to admission students need to have a bachelor's degree in engineering or related field. Programs offer coursework that covers the combustion of materials, turbulent flows, and aero-acoustics. In preparation for advanced research, such as researching jet noise and the mechanisms of void collapse, students learn about:
- Compressible gas dynamics
- Differential equations
- Incompressible fluid dynamics
- Stability of fluids
- Wave theory
Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering
Doctoral scholars in these four to five year programs - assuming no previous graduate training - are able to focus on fluid dynamics and aerodynamics. Prior to admissions, some programs may require scholars to have earn a master's degree in an engineering science.
Programs at this level include training in structures, materials and particle dynamics as well as propulsion and aerodynamics. Compressible flow coursework in these analytically geared programs includes work on shock waves as well as the conservation of energy and momentum of a fluid. Ph.D. programs allow students a great deal of flexibility with regard to course options, in order to tailor their coursework towards a final thesis. In addition to research projects in hybrid parallelism and wave propagation, students can take courses in:
- Computational aerodynamics
- Compressible flows
- Fluid dynamics
- Combustion chemistry
Popular Career Options
Given the international interest in aerospace engineering, opportunities exist in a large variety of developed nations around the world. Most commonly, career paths are found in research, academia and advanced levels of the practice of engineering; job titles include:
- Aerospace engineering professor
- Government researcher
- Senior systems engineer
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) - as of May 2015 - aerospace engineers took home a median annual wage of $107,830 (www.bls.gov). From the same source's 2014-2024 job outlook calculations, aerospace engineers were projected to see a 2% decline in employment.
Those interested in compressible fluid dynamics may find classes that allow them to learn more about the topic in a Graduate Certificate in Compressible Fluid Dynamics or aerospace engineering degree program. While jobs may be hard to find, graduates may find employment as aerospace engineers, systems engineers or research scientists.