• Question: Is it worth becoming an aerospace engineer and if yes then where should i study to become one in the UK

    Asked by You£uf to Kamran, K-Jo on 11 Nov 2020.
    • Photo: Kamran Memon

      Kamran Memon answered on 11 Nov 2020: last edited 11 Nov 2020 5:59 pm

      Hey You£uf – great question. At the end of the of the day I think it really depends on what your aspirations are, what interests you and what you want from your career.

      For example, if your primary goal is to have a very high salary then aerospace engineering (particularly in the UK) is probably not the best option as there are better paid careers. Bear in mind however that Europe and the US do pay considerably more (I can say that having worked in both Europe and the UK). Of course then there are other things to consider (do you want to move abroad? Can you even move abroad – it can be quite difficult to work in the US in aerospace if you are not a US citizen for example). These are all personal questions that only you can decide.

      However, if your primary goal is to have an exciting, interesting career where you may be developing spacecraft that are going to other planets, or operating satellites in real-time from mission control centre then this may be the career for you! I should also caveat this and say that if you are purely interested in working in the space industry you don’t necessarily have to be an aerospace engineer – there are lots of people working in the industry with backgrounds not only in engineering (electrical, mechanical, chemical, aerospace etc.), but also in fields like computer science, physics, chemistry, astrobiology etc. There are also people that don’t go to university and take the apprenticeship routes.

      For me though, I was always fascinated with aircraft and aviation so I chose to do aeronautical engineering at the University of Bristol. I loved this because I learned loads about how aircraft are designed and manufactured etc. I will say that a degree in aerospace engineer is a lot of hard work but it’s also really rewarding if you are passionate and interested in the subject area.

      Addressing your question about universities – I would say it depends on what interests you. Lots of aerospace/aeronautical courses around the UK have a strong aviation focus, but if you are specifically interested in space stuff then you might want to consider looking at some of the universities that are more space orientated e.g. Leicester, Surrey, Southampton. It won’t affect your prospects of getting a job in the industry, it just means that for the 3 or 4 years that you study at university, the application of the material you learn will be more focused on space topics as opposed to aviation, but you will still learn all the same fundamentals.

      As you get older your priorities in life can shift. Sometimes I might see some of my friends and colleagues that went into more lucrative fields having a more luxurious lifestyle, and I sometimes wonder how my life may have been if I had pursued those careers.

      But honestly…I’ve been in situations where I was alone at 3am in the mission control room, sending commands to a $1billion spacecraft 1.5 million km away at the L2 Lagrange point, observing our galaxy and contributing to our fundamental knowledge of science. It’s moments like these that raise the hairs on your arms and make all the hard work and sacrifice worth it. I wouldn’t change anything!