Aerospace Engineering: Career option to go beyond the sky
Harshita Das, 12 Sep 2017

With India creating history in space exploration and technology, aerospace engineering is a promising field with innumerable opportunities for students. Careers360 tells you why you should opt for Aerospace Engineering as your specialized domain for engineering.

India achieved a milestone in its space exploration and technology by launching 104 satellites in a single mission in February, eclipsing Russia’s record. The hard-working scientists behind this victory earned global recognition for India. Do you also want to bring laurels for the country by becoming a scientist at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)?

Research fervour on campuses

India’s achievement did not happen overnight. In a way, it is a takeaway of the passionate efforts that students put in at the aerospace departments of various institutes or research centres across the country. For Ratnesh Mishra, student of Aerospace Department at IIT Bombay, and his 24 team members and alumni, it was a historic moment when ISRO launched their microsatellite ‘Pratham’ in 2016. “Pratham was a Student Satellite Project initiated in 2008 by two students from the institute. All the designing was done by the students from scratch. The 10.15 kg object helps to estimate Total Electron Count (TEC) of the ionosphere which will improve the accuracy of the global positioning system in India and use to predict tsunami,” says Mishra, the Project Head, in his final year of Dual Degree Aerospace Engineering programme. His team is now on their second project named Advitya.   


At IIT Kanpur’s Micro Air Vehicle Laboratory, PhD students from the Aerospace Department have developed a software called NAAVIK (Navigation for Autonomous Aerial). It is India’s first cross platform/vehicle autopilot project meant for Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV)/Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) applications. It has already been tested and the helicopter element of the autopilot has been transferred to HAL for its commercialization. Dr. Abhishek, one of the mentors of the project says working on such projects help students understand and resolve real world problems. “In my lab, all the projects are trying to solve real world problems through innovation which has commercial application. Therefore, most of the students after graduation would have an option of doing their own start-up or licensing their work to a new company,” he explains.


What is Aerospace Engineering?

Aerospace Engineering primarily is a multidisciplinary field of study dealing with development of aircraft and spacecraft. The field includes a number of disciplines like aerodynamics, propulsion, avionics, material science, structural analysis and manufacturing. Candidates who qualify 10+2 from CBSE or any equivalent with Science as core subject are eligible to apply. A number of public and private institutes offer 4-year Aerospace Engineering programme in India (See Box). Admission to public-funded institutes will be on the basis of JEE Advanced and institute-specific exams in the privately-funded ones.


The subjects taught at Bachelor’s and Master’s are Aerodynamics, Flight Mechanics, Flight Dynamics, Aerospace Structures, Aeroelasticity, Thermodynamics and Aerospace Propulsion System, Space Flight Mechanics, Spacecraft Dynamics and Control, Computer Application in Aero. Engineering etc.


Aeronautical Engineering and Astronautical Engineering

According to academic experts, aeronautical engineering was the original term for aerospace engineering. As flight technology advanced to include craft operating in outer space (astronautics), the broader term “aerospace engineering” replaced it in common usage. Aeronautical engineering involves designing and constructing aircraft, use and control, powering and safety management. Aerodynamics is a significant segment of Aeronautical engineering which deals with the science of passing through the air whereas Astronautical engineering involves navigation outside earth’s atmosphere (spacecraft, rockets etc.).


What after UG?

Students who want to enhance their knowledge can either go for M.Tech or MS programme followed by PhD. Prof. K Bhaskar, HoD of Aerospace Department, IIT Madras pointed that higher education will give clarity in which area to specialize. “At the UG level, one only learns basic principles that are usually enough to work in manufacturing industry. If you want to really go higher up the ladder and start looking up at some design, some new innovation and so on, then normally you need a higher degree.”  Institutes abroad like Imperial College, London; Cranfield University, UK; University of Toronto have flourishing aerospace departments.


Scope for research

With technology evolving at a fast pace, novel solutions can be developed only through research. Academicians say it is important for students to have a comprehensive understanding of the research area before entering the field. “R&D is very crucial and there is a substantial scope for research in areas such as avionics, cryogenic propulsion and composite materials. Especially in India, ISRO comes with ambitious plans. Rocket designing too has tremendous scope,” says Dr. R.Vasudevan,HoD,Aerospace Engineering Department, SRM University, Kattankulathur campus. “Laboratories like CSIR, DRDO labs, ISRO labs are constantly engaged in the research and development of space and defence area,” he added. Many universities in the UK have established research centres in collaboration with industry giants such as Airbus, Boeing and Rolls Royce.


Demand for aerospace engineers

According to Confederation of Indian Industry, the Indian aerospace industry is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world with an expanding consumer base comprising airlines, businesses and High Net Worth Individuals. There is also growing demand for aerospace engineers in military, civil aviation and space organizations. Dr. Dipak Kumar Maiti, Professor and HoD of Aerospace Engineering, IIT Kharagpur highlighted how India has gradually risen as a key player in this field. “Aerospace Engineering has a strategic significance in global leadership, national security and defence, big data etc. Aerospace Engineering in India has been growing steadily especially with the stupendous success of ISRO. The domain of Aerospace requires heavy investment and lot of R&D goes into it,” says Prof. Maiti.


According to Dr. Satish Shenoy B, Director – Research (Technical) & Professor and Head, Dept. of Aeronautical and Automobile Engineering, Manipal University, “We are leaders in the field of Aerospace Technology in academia, research, defence and industry. We have expertise in indigenous technology and even the top foreign manufacturing units have established their R&D centres in India.  We also have the capability to design, develop and manufacture all types of fighter aircraft and even UAV’s and MAV’s.”


Job opportunities

The top recruiters in India are DRDO, HAL, ISRO, Civil Aviation Department, Air India. Top recruiters abroad include Atkins Aerospace, Honeywell, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, AIRBUS etc. UAV (Drone) market has also experienced nearly exponential growth globally in past few years. With sheer hard-work, one can also get employed with NASA. The average package for freshers in this field is between Rs. 10-15 lakh annually which gradually increases with experience.  


Institutes offering Aerospace Engineering

Institute and Location


IISc, Bangalore

PhD, Msc

IITs (Bombay, Madras, Kharagpur, Kanpur)

B.Tech, Dual Degree, M.Tech, PhD


MIT Manipal

B.Tech, M.Tech


Hindustan Institute of Technology and Science, Chennai

B.Tech, M.Tech


SRM University, Kattankulathur

B.Tech, M.Tech, MS (to be introduced)


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