Aerospace Engineering in Seattle

Aerospace Engineering in Seattle

Software isn't the only thing that needs engineering expertise in Seattle.

Aviation is one of the largest industries in Seattle, and employs a number of Seattle engineers to work on commercial and defense aircraft, satellite systems, missiles, and research and testing.

The aviation industry holds a special place in Seattle history and in the hearts of Seattleites -- from the first flight in Seattle in 1910 to the founding of the Boeing Company in 1916 to the popularity of seaplanes in Lake Union.

The Seattle-based Museum of Flight has one of the largest collection of aviation-related artifacts in the world, including the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and the classic Piper Cub.

More aerospace engineers -- roughly 6,550 -- work in Washington state than in nearly any other state. Only Kansas can boast more. Seattle specifically has the fourth highest concentration of aerospace enginereers in the U.S., with 6,270.

The Work

Like many engineers, aerospace engineers apply the principles of science and mathematics to find the most efficient and economical solution to technical problems.

In aerospace, the problems revolve around machines like missiles, aircraft, and spacecraft. Aerospace engineers may specialize in design, navigation, control, or production.

Those who work with aircraft are called aeronautical engineers, and those working specifically with spacecraft are astronautical engineers.


Nearly all engineers begin with a Bachelor of Science in an engineering specialty. Most aerospace engineers have an aerospace engineering degree, though some have come from other engineering specialties, such as electrical or mechanical engineering.

In addition to the standard engineering degree, many colleges offer 2-year or 4-year degree programs in engineering technology. These programs, which usually include various hands-on lab classes, prepare students for practical design and production work, rather than for jobs that require more theoretical and scientific knowledge.

Most aerospace engineering jobs, however, require a 4-year degree in engineering.

In a typical 4-year college curriculum, the first 2 years are spent studying mathematics, basic sciences, introductory engineering, humanities, and social sciences. In the last 2 years, most courses are in engineering, usually with a concentration in one specialty

The ability to use logic in problem solving is key for all engineer training.

Continuing education to keep current with rapidly changing technology is critical for aerospace engineers, particularly as more emphasis is placed on cybersecurity and fuel efficiency.

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