Aerospace engineering bachelor's degree programs focus on teaching students how to design, operate, test and maintain aerospace vehicles. Aeronautical engineering focuses solely on airplanes and other aircraft utilized within the Earth's atmosphere. Students can expect to learn about principles of engineering along with subjects such as aerodynamics, aircraft structures, propulsion, aircraft electronics and more.
Bachelor's degree programs in this field are designed for those seeking to begin an entry-level career in aeronautical engineering. Because these programs are providing the initial theoretical knowledge and hands-on training needed to be prepared for such positions, on-campus classes and learning experiences are important. ABET, the organization that accredits engineering degree programs, has not awarded accreditation to any fully-online aeronautical or aerospace engineering programs as of July 2015. For those who desire a fully-online accredited program, a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering is an option. These programs often utilize recorded lectures and virtual classroom platforms to emphasize creativity, critical thinking and communication skills.
Many courses available online in hybrid aeronautic engineering programs cover foundational topics in mathematics, chemistry and other subjects. Elective courses are typically offered online in these programs as well. Students taking aeronautic engineering courses study avionics, materials science and aerodynamics. Some hybrid programs awarding the B.A. in Aeronautical Engineering have students take courses in aeronautical manufacturing, federal regulations and meteorology. A hybrid aeronautic engineering degree might include courses in the following:
- Aviation law
- Business communications
- Aviation economics
- Computer-aided design in aviation
- Advanced flight mechanics
- Structural dynamics
- Engineering acoustics
Hybrid Learning Considerations
Combining on-campus courses with the convenience of online classes, a hybrid program awarding bachelor's degrees in aeronautic engineering allows students to complete some courses and assignments at their own pace. Online components in hybrid aeronautic engineering bachelor's programs include the use of educational technologies, such as instant messaging and Web-based tutorials. In distance learning classes, students complete assignments and tests independently; however, some programs require that examinations be taken at specific locations with an approved proctor.
Although programs in this field of study require on-campus attendance, students may be able to complete some of their general education coursework -- such as classes in English, history, and social science -- totally online. Schools who offer online delivery use content management systems to offer lectures, instructional videos, message boards and video conferencing technology to allow online students to complete assignments and interact with their professors or classmates.
Individuals with hybrid Bachelor of Science degrees in aeronautic engineering tend to find employment in the aerospace industry. Opportunities are favorable for those who possess a varied range of skills in collaborative engineering tools and computational fluid dynamics software. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that job openings for aerospace engineers will decrease two percent between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). Engineers employed in the aerospace sector earned an average annual salary of $110,570, according to BLS data from May 2015.
Fully-online and accredited bachelor's degree programs in aeronautical engineering do not currently exist, but there are programs available in mechanical engineering. These programs emphasize basic engineering skills and technologies, and can include a concentration in aviation design.