Anyone interested in working within the aerospace industry should understand the complex processes that go into developing commercial and military aircraft. Concepts are developed by design and engineering teams to combine new innovations with the perfect execution of past projects. From conceptual sketches and plans, production managers and personnel spend their time actually creating vehicles that will protect nations and carry commercial passengers. After manufacturing, aerospace companies meticulously test and maintain these vehicles in order to avoid future problems and learn for different models down the road. In all of these steps, the materials engineering position is key for the success of aerospace companies.
The average day of a materials engineer involves a wide variety of tasks to oversee all steps of aeronautical production process. Materials engineers often take part in concept and design sessions with other engineers and designers. Their role in these meetings is to discuss the viability of implementing particular design elements and using their experience to discuss the best possible processes and materials for production. As well, materials engineers visit production plants to make sure that machinery, human production, and everything else about the creation of aerospace products is working efficiently.
Materials engineers work about 40 hours per work week, which means that they must fit a significant amount of work into their eight-hour work day. As such, aerospace companies are looking for engineers that not only possess the knowledge of chemical and mechanical processes needed for production but an ability to organize their thoughts quickly. The materials engineering workspace is typically adjacent to production facilities, instead of design facilities, in order to facilitate an easy move from work space to the production line. Materials engineers are usually given individual computer and lab work stations in order to lay out plans, gather colleagues, and other activities requiring significant space.
Materials engineers need to have a first degree in material science or a combination of degrees including chemistry, chemical engineering, and structural engineering. Professionals with advanced degrees or apprenticeships with aerospace corporations are especially prized in materials engineering positions. These positions lend themselves to those who can pick up the nuances of a corporation’s work structure quickly, use their academic knowledge in practical situations, and a commitment to excellence in every endeavor. Materials engineers have a great deal of career opportunities, including advancement to materials management positions in aerospace companies. As well, materials engineers can select to work as general engineers or specializing in chemical, manufacturing, or structural engineering.