STEM Education And Aerospace Engineering
Aerospace engineering is considered a STEM field focusing on an aircrafts design, development, testing and operation. The field deals with the creation of anything that can fly, from miniatured drones to interplanetary rockets.
An aeronautical engineer focuses on everything that has to do with aircrafts i.e objects which fly within the Earth’s atmosphere whereas astronautical engineers focus on spacecraft- vehicles designed to move outside of Earth’s atmosphere.
Where STEM comes to play
The skill set required for both the sub-fields overlap considerably, where every engineer is required to excel at two major domains namely, physics and mathematics (multi-variable calculus and differential equations). They are further required to have solid knowledge of material science since flying objects need to withstand tremendous forces and temperature extremes while remaining lightweight. Other relevant fields of study may include mechanics, general chemistry and electromagnetism. Since flying is governed by the rules of motion, energy and force- a slight miscalculation can be fatal to human life.
Drones, helicopters, commercial aircrafts, fighter jets, cruise missiles all fall within the purview of an aeronautical engineer including the research of astronautics too. However, an aerospace engineer may supplement their engineering courses with other associated programs such as writing/communication, management, and business. Such skills are vital for high-level engineers who supervise other engineers or technicians.
For aerospace engineers, the nature of job varies. Some prefer to spend most of their time in front of computer screens- employing modelling and simulation tools. While others may tend to work in air tunnels or in the field, testing actual aircrafts and space vehicles. They may also be asked to assess project proposals, calculate safety risks and develop manufacturing processes.
Aerospace engineering is committed to sharing its passion for STEM disciplines to inspire the next generation with the aim to shaping and securing the future. Although many nations have lobbied in support of STEM education, and with the emergence of journal and book publications devoted to STEM, the field is broadening to include various interpretations of such education. However, one aspect that remains in need of greater inclusion is engineering experience. The contribution of engineering is well documented. It has been noted how these experiences can develop young student’s appreciation and understanding of the various role of engineering in shaping societies and how it can contextualize mathematics and science principles to enhance achievement, motivation and problem solving. It has been observed that education in engineering links student learning to other disciplines such as literacy, history and geography.
With global recognition of the significance of STEM, a greater integration of the four disciplines from both research and curriculum perspective have arisen. In US, Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and Next Generation Science Standards are advocating for more interdisciplinary approaches. The NGSS specifically includes core practices and concepts from engineering alongside those for science, highlighting the interrelated nature of science and engineering education. One of the goals of STEM education is to consider it’s learning an integral component of a twenty-first century curriculum and needs to begin with the earliest grades if societies are to nurture the engineers of the future.