Aeronautical engineering -- also known as aerospace engineering -- involves the design and development of aircraft, artificial satellites, spacecraft and high-speed ground transportation systems. For those interested in pursing a career in aeronautical engineering, it's essential to get off on the right foot as early as high school. Though college requirements may vary, there are classes at the high school level that you'll be well-served to focus on.
Math and Science
To achieve success in any engineering specialization, you'll need solid math skills; a firm mathematical foundation will help you through your introductory-level college engineering courses. While in high school, strive for the highest-level math courses available. You will be expected to have a firm understanding of algebra and calculus. As an aspiring aeronautical engineer, you should strive for the advanced placement (AP) versions of those classes.
AP Science Courses
The sciences -- especially physics -- are another important element of aeronautical engineering, and engineering schools are going to favor applicants who have demonstrated an aptitude in this area. While in high school, set your sights on AP physics to better stand out from the crowd. You should also plan on taking chemistry, as it shows up again at the introductory level in your college engineering courses.
English and Speech Courses
Aeronautical engineering isn't just about the sciences. Designing complex machinery like airplanes and helicopters is a group effort. You'll need to be able to effectively communicate with various specialists all along the way. Therefore good grammar and speaking skills are a must. If possible, take AP English and any composition/grammar classes available in your high school. The more effective you are at communicating your ideas, the more success you'll have as an aeronautical engineer.
Sketching, Designing and Computer Programming
If available to you, take any course that has to do with visualization, sketching or design. You will further develop these skills at the college level, and it will help to have a working knowledge of them going in. Working with computers is another big part of the aeronautical engineering profession, and it's best to develop solid computer skills before you even start your engineering coursework. Again, seek the highest levels available for each of these courses in order to stand out when you apply for college. Don't forget to discuss your plans with the relevant counselor in your high school; make sure you're completing all the necessary prerequisites to get into the engineering school of your choice.
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