Answers by Dr Anne Spence
Yes, aerospace engineers (as well as mechanical engineers) might work on building newer engines or power systems for space shuttles and/or rovers. AEs will probably do more with rocket engines or turbo-fan/turbo-prop/jet engines but MEs can play in that space as well. The lines are blurring on what constitutes an AE vs. a ME. The best news is that you think that both are cool! Either pathway will get you to where you want to be!
Sounds like you might be interested in creating your own major. We allow students to do that here at UMBC. Maybe a combination of engineering and visual arts. Faculty in our department of mechanical engineering are working with a visual arts professor to create better devices for use in pediatric medicine â€ something that might not look so scary to kids.
If you donnâ€t have that option, I suggest that you pick a major like mechanical engineering and then take some time to attend the meetings of the student chapters of professional societies on campus. This will give you an idea of the types of things that those types of engineers do. Mechanical engineers like to know how things work and how to make them better. And, you are right, your creative side will be very helpful in engineering!
Dr. Anne Spence
Make sure that you choose a university that is accredited by ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). This assures you that you can apply to become a PE (Professional Engineer) after 5 years of working as an engineer. Next you should try on a school to see how it fits. Go there, talk to some students, think about want kind of environment you like (big/small; engineering only campus; research opportunities).
As far as getting into grad school and getting a job, I would talk with all of the universities that you are interested in and ask them where their students go to graduate school. Ask them how many go to each school and how many go to graduate school in general. I would be happy to give you feedback on specific schools.