What Is Aero Systems Engineering?

Aero systems engineering is the process of designing, testing, analyzing, and building small or large systems for the aerospace industry. This includes vehicles for air and space travel. Usually, a bachelor's degree, such as the Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering, is a requirement for getting started in the aero systems engineering profession. Schools offering Engineering & Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Industry Overview

Aero systems engineering encompasses the use of technologies to design, develop, construct, test, and operate systems and components that are essential for aerospace travel. This would include civil, military, and business aircraft; helicopters; unmanned aerial vehicles; space systems; and aircraft engines. A vast array of equipment, services, components, information systems, and other high-performance systems are included.

Important Facts about This Occupational Field

Median Salary (2014) $105,380 (for aerospace engineers)
Required Education Bachelor's degree (for aerospace engineers)
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 7% (for aerospace engineers)
Key Skills Writing, analytical, business, math, critical thinking (for aerospace engineers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Generally, a career in aero systems engineering requires a bachelor's degree for many entry-level positions. Many aerospace engineers are graduates of master's or doctoral degree programs in aero systems engineering. Engineers need a comprehensive understanding of the theories and principles within aerospace engineering, including airplane aerodynamics, propulsion systems, flight mechanics, structural dynamics, structure loads, and mass properties.

Work Environment

Most aero systems engineers work on products for the commercial aviation industry, various aviation businesses, and the military sector, including transportation and fighter aircraft, missile systems, and spacecraft. Engineers join large design teams with people from diverse fields who can develop a product from concept sketches to actual manufacture. The aero systems engineering process is generally divided into four phases:

  • Project Definition & Planning Phase - During this initial phase, the foundation of the project is laid. Budgets are developed and key tasks are assigned to both individuals and newly formed teams. In the simplest terms, the project's objectives are determined.
  • Requirements Definition & Engineering Specifications Phase - In the second phase, the project becomes more focused, with attention given to the product's purpose and required functionality (e.g., size, manufacturing cost, durability).
  • Concept Generation & Evaluation Phase - Moving into the third phase, the project team creates a series of concepts aimed toward the creation of the desired product. Each concept is then evaluated (via 3D modelling, simulations, etc.) for both feasibility of production and applicability to the original objective. Once a final concept is chosen, the project advances to the next phase.
  • Product Design Phase - In the last phase, the design concept goes into production. The product is then tested to ensure that it meets the objective defined in the first phase and the requirements/specifications developed in the second phase.

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