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Is it really possible to self study Aerospace Engineering?

Posted by: sarah29 - Thu Oct 01, 2009 5:45 pm
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Is it really possible to self study Aerospace Engineering? 
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Post Is it really possible to self study Aerospace Engineering?   Posted on: Thu Oct 01, 2009 5:45 pm
How the heck John Carmack did that? I'm a 3D graphics programmer who is also interested with aerospace. Can anyone here tell me where should I start?


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Post Re: Is it really possible to self study Aerospace Engineering?   Posted on: Thu Oct 01, 2009 6:20 pm
Aerospace engineering is very broad. If you are interested in rocket science. I bought this book. It is a good starting point. Very well written and understandable.
http://www.amazon.com/Rocket-Propulsion-Elements-George-Sutton/dp/0471326429

If you want to get into fluid mechanics... I recommend starting with a basic laminar incompressible flow book to familiarize your self with the equations.

Of course with real vehicles the flow is rarely laminar or incompressible.

Have fun!


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Post Re: Is it really possible to self study Aerospace Engineering?   Posted on: Thu Oct 01, 2009 6:31 pm
Thank you DanielW. I found the book and I might order it maybe tomorrow.

I'm really interested with rockets, computer controlled missile to be specific would be great (guided). I know John was so damn smart and rich. Is it possible for me to build a guided rocket by just reading books and not getting an aerospace degree?

Oh, what's with the fluid mechanics? How important is that in rocketry? Please enlighten me.

Also, how about flight control, aerodynamics, thermodynamics, and heat transfer? Is it important in rocketry?

Sorry for making your forum an asking question about my interest in rocketry. My passion in rocketry just like John brought me here. :P


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Post Re: Is it really possible to self study Aerospace Engineering?   Posted on: Thu Oct 01, 2009 7:55 pm
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Also, how about flight control, aerodynamics, thermodynamics, and heat transfer? Is it important in rocketry?
.. those things ARE rocketry, essentially all of it!.. add materials science to the list and you've pretty much summed it up.

If you read through the AA updates, you'll see that they've had to deal with most of those subjects in everything that they've done. Aerodynamics hasn't really been an issue for them up to this point, but soon will be.

John has invested nearly 10 years and a lot of money, not to mention the unpaid labor that he and his team have contributed. He's certainly demonstrating that it's possible to get far without a formal science education... and there have been examples of that throughout history... but he is.. um.. how should I put this.. kind of a genius.

Seriously though... do you think that you'll get there any faster without the education?

I hope I haven't sounded too harsh, but there is a reason people use the term 'rocket science' to refer to something that is outside the normal range of human endeavors. That being said, if you have a reasonable grasp of algebraic math, you can probably make use of a lot of the reference material that's out there to get a little further down the road (Sutton being an excellent start) and if nothing else, have fun doing something really cool.

Best of luck!


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Post Re: Is it really possible to self study Aerospace Engineering?   Posted on: Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:59 pm
What you're asking about is more related to what's called Guidance, Navigation, and Control or GN&C for short. The definitive reference for that is:

Spacecraft Attitude Determination and Control (Astrophysics and Space Science Library) by James R. Wertz
Product Details
Paperback: 858 pages
Publisher: D. Reidel; 1 edition (December 31, 1980)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9027712042
ISBN-13: 978-9027712042
Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 2 inches
Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds

It's quite a tome and pretty expensive ($140+) but it's THE standard.

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Post Re: Is it really possible to self study Aerospace Engineering?   Posted on: Sat Oct 10, 2009 9:49 pm
Sutton's RPE is great, as is his "History of Liquid Propellant Rocket Engines", which gives you a good foundation on what's been done.

Huzel and Huang's "Modern Engineering For Design of Liquid Propellant Rocket Engines" is the other standard reference, and an old version of it is available free as a PDF from Nasa.

Honsetly, I haven't read through all of both of them, and I do rockets every day...


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Post Re: Is it really possible to self study Aerospace Engineering?   Posted on: Thu Aug 04, 2011 4:52 pm
Hi Sarah, i am an African with a degree in telecommunication Engineering, working for a satellite communication representative in Africa and very passionated to Aerospace. I would have appreciated studying Aerospace but can't because this is not offer in Universities in my country. I have decided like you to learn Aerospace by reading books and would like to know if you have already started your self study journey on Aerospace.


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Post Re: Is it really possible to self study Aerospace Engineering?   Posted on: Mon Oct 31, 2011 12:29 am
Sarah, I'm a 'retired' school teacher and we are building a rocket to go into space. Not saying it is easy without formal training but if you think about it, colleges and universities are simply books and an instructor. There are lots of books out there, internet sites (like sugarshot.org) and amateure/experimental rocket groups with people that love to share information with people (some don't which is unfortunate). That's how I got involved in 'serious' projects.


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