What High School Courses Should One Take if Interested in Aeronautical Engineering?

Aeronautical engineers at work.
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Aeronautical engineering or aerospace engineering involves the design and development of aircraft, artificial satellites, spacecraft and high-speed ground transportation systems. For those interested in pursuing 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 aerospace engineering classes to take in high school that relate to the field of aeronautical engineering. Related course options include concentrations in math, science and computer programming.

1 Aerospace Engineering Career Math Courses

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 which can include courses like Calculus AB and BC, Linear Algebra and Statistics. As an aspiring aeronautical engineer, you should also strive for the advanced placement (AP) or honors level versions of math classes.

2 Aerospace High School Science Courses

For an aerospace career, high school science courses are also very important. Physics courses are a crucial element of aeronautical engineering or a astrophysics college path. Engineering schools may favor applicants who have demonstrated an advanced placement level aptitude in this science area. In high school, biology and chemistry are two science options to also consider as many of the same lab formats as Physics. Physics courses are often offered as AP Physics 1, AP Physics 2 and Physics-C. The first two AP Physics courses are algebra-based while Physics-C is calculus based. Each one of the physics courses focuses on different applications of the subject including mechanics, electronics and magnetism. Students applying to colleges with significant AP level math and science courses may also receive credit for these courses depending on the college's policies.

3 Communication Courses for Aerospace Careers

Aeronautical engineering isn't just about the sciences. Designing complex machinery like airplanes and helicopters is often a team effort or one that requires reports and documentation. An engineer needs to be able to effectively communicate with various specialists in projects and experiments. Therefore good grammar and speaking skills are a must as well. If possible, take AP English and any composition or grammar classes available in high school. Being an effective communicator is a crucial skill for aeronautical engineers.

4 Aerospace-Related Computer Programming Courses

Some high schools offer Computer Aided Drafting (CAD), specific engineering courses or computer programming courses available as Career Technical Education (CTE) paths. If available, taking courses related to visualization, sketching or design can also be complimentary to an aerospace career. Starting courses on these subjects in high school helps to prepare for college level versions. Working with computers and various languages like Python help in building a foundation for programming in aerospace engineering while CAD or 3D printing courses can help in aerospace innovation and creating designs for new projects. Developing strong computer skills that relate to an engineering college pathway plays a crucial role for students in a computer-driven field. From basic computer programming to CAD, computers play an integral role in aerospace engineering. Taking the highest levels available for each of these courses can help students stand out when applying for college. Joining any related honor societies like physics, science or CTE can also compliment courses taken in preparation for an aerospace career. Discuss academic path plans with the relevant high school counselor to make sure to complete necessary prerequisites for aerospace engineering degree requirements.

Bill Reynolds holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from Rowan University. He has written hundreds of articles for print and online media, drawing inspiration from a wide range of professional experiences. As part of the UCLA Extension Writer's Program, he has been nominated for the James Kirkwood Prize for Creative Writing.