The ASE Department

In keeping with the university’s goals, the Aerospace Engineering program at MSU focuses on combining academic work with hands-on experience in state-of-the-art laboratories and in research with faculty members, all of which is reinforced in the classroom. The department is recognized across the southeast for its student/faculty relationships. The courses are small and informal, which allows more interactions between the student and the faculty member. Students who study Aerospace Engineering at Mississippi State know they will have access to the department’s faculty members. Undergraduate involvement with the research faculty programs gives students experience and understanding in areas not yet covered in textbooks. This experience enhances their value in a competitive job market. The quality and range of faculty research projects present undergraduates with invaluable opportunities not found at most engineering schools around the country.

What is Aerospace Engineering?

Aerospace Engineering is the branch of engineering concerned with the design, development, testing, and production of aircraft and related systems that fly within the Earth’s atmosphere (Aeronautics) and of spacecraft, missiles, rocket propulsion systems, and other equipment operating beyond the Earth’s atmosphere (Astronautics).

The major areas of study comprising Aeronautics are

  • aerodynamics
  • flight mechanics
  • structural mechanics

Aerodynamics is the study of the flow of air around an aircraft and the forces that this flow produces on the aircraft. Propulsion, the flow of air or other gases through the engine, is usually considered part of aerodynamics.

Flight Mechanics is the study of the flight path or trajectory of an aircraft. It is concerned with determining the maneuverability of the aircraft and how to control the aircraft.

Structural Mechanics is the study of the aircraft structure. It involves designing the structure of an aircraft strong enough to withstand the loads that result from aerodynamic forces and aircraft maneuvers and also light enough to operate economically.

The applications of these three areas of study are not limited to the design of aircraft. The aerodynamics of cars, trucks, and other ground vehicles are very similar to those of airplanes, and most large car manufacturers operate wind tunnels that are used in the aerodynamic design of ground vehicles. The process of designing an automatic control system for industrial machinery is identical to that of designing an automatic control system for an F-16. The structures of items ranging from barrels to buildings are essentially the same as that of the fuselage and wings of a 747. Indeed, a well-trained aerospace engineer has the capability of working on a large variety of projects, inside and outside the traditional aerospace industry.

The major areas of study comprising Astronautics are

  • astrodynamics
  • spacecraft propulsion
  • spacecraft design
  • controls

Astrodynamics is the study of orbital motion, dealing with topics such as spacecraft trajectories, ballistics and celestial mechanics.

Spacecraft Propulsion is the study of methods used to accelerate rockets, spacecraft and artificial satellites using a variety of propulsion systems.

Spacecraft Design deals with systems engineering that centers on combining all necessary subsystems toward designing launch vehicles, spacecraft or satellites.

Controls is the discipline dealing with controlling a satellite or a rocket to maintain its desired orbit (spacecraft navigation) and orientation (attitude control).

Program Mission

The Department of Aerospace Engineering at Mississippi State University provides an accredited undergraduate curriculum with the mission of preparing students to enter the workplace as qualified entry-level aerospace engineers or to enter any aerospace engineering graduate program adequately prepared for advanced study. The mission is accomplished by a strong foundation in mathematics and physical and engineering sciences upon which student problem solving and application skills are developed. The curriculum stresses analytical and communication skills, with particular emphasis placed on engineering design throughout the curriculum. A capstone design experience in the senior year provides the opportunity to integrate design, analytical, and problem solving skills along with communication skills in a team environment that emulates aerospace engineering practice.