Aerospace Engineering

robotic arm astronautAerospace Engineering involves the science, design, manufacture and operation of aircraft, spacecraft and robotic systems travelling within or beyond the earth's atmosphere.

Engineers in this field work on aircraft, space systems and spacecraft for space exploration, communications satellites, and rocketry. Aerospace engineers also work on wind-turbines for sustainable energy, urban air mobility, unmanned aerial vehicles, self-driving cars, and balloon-borne telescopes.

Canada has a long history and unique strengths in the aerospace sector. EngSci's Aerospace Engineering major has been a part of our program for over 60 years and has a greater emphasis on theory than many other aerospace-related undergraduate programs.

The Major provides a broad but comprehensive and multidisciplinary curriculum. Topics include aerodynamics, dynamics and control systems, structures and materials, combustion and propulsion, and aeroacoustics.

The program prepares students to contribute to advances in leading and emerging aerospace companies and research institutions within Canada and around the world. It is also excellent preparation for entry into top graduate programs leading to advanced research degrees.

Students receive instruction on aircraft design and flight (within the atmosphere) and spacecraft (beyond the atmosphere), with a strong focus on the fundamentals of the related science and engineering topics. Courses also touch on sustainable aviation and environment, and space exploration.

Students are taught by professors from the internationally recognized University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS), who have outstanding research strengths in these areas. UTIAS is the university's hub for aerospace engineering and is Canada's space research powerhouse. Guided by its world-leading researchers, students gain design experience, access to unique, cutting-edge facilities and industry and government partnerships, including with the Canadian Space Agency.


Is this major the only way to study aerospace engineering at U of T?

EngSci offers the only undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering within the university. However, aerospace engineering is a multidisciplinary field and students with undergraduate degrees in mechanical, electrical, computer, or materials engineering are able to pursue graduate studies at UTIAS and similar institutions, or work in the aerospace industry.

That said, an undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering is excellent preparation for working in this field and may provide more focused training that may be especially valued by some employers.

To learn more about other programs at U of T Engineering, visit our Discover Engineering website.

Do I need a special certification or license to work in the aerospace sector?

In Canada, no special certification or license is required.  However, some jobs in the aerospace industry may require licensing as a professional engineer. All U of T Engineering undergraduate degrees will make you eligible to become a licensed professional engineer in one of Canada's provinces or territories.

Why are there so few electives in the Aerospace Engineering major?

Due to the multidisciplinary nature of aerospace engineering, our curriculum includes subjects across all areas of engineering. This material is required background for Year 4 courses, leaving less space for electives in Year 3.

What types of summer opportunities exist for students in this major?

In addition to support for summer research and employment offered through EngSci or the Engineering Career Centre, students in this major have close contact with professors at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS). Many of these offer summer research positions. Students can also take advantage of UTIAS's long-standing relationships with industry and government to find summer employment.

How many students from this major do a PEY Co-op after third year?

Over half of students in the Aerospace Engineering major have participated in the PEY Co-op Program in the past few years at companies like Airbus, AMD, Bombardier Aerospace, SAFRAN Landing Systems, the National Research Council of Canada, and more.

Did you know...?

Students can further their knowledge in student clubs
like UTAT, RSX, and
Blue Sky Solar Racing.

Find more student clubs here.

Sample Courses

AER302 - Aircraft Flight

The course covers fundamental aspects of fixed-wing flight mechanics including performance, steady-state and dynamic flight characteristics, and stability and control. It begins with an introduction to the earth's atmosphere, aircraft anatomy, and the static and dynamic equations of motion. Important performance metrics such as range, endurance, maximum climb rate, stall speed, and take-off/landing field length are derived from first principles based on physical models. Classical static and small perturbation dynamic stability analysis, including lateral and longitudinal dynamic modes, is covered in depth. In addition, classical feedback control approaches for improving the dynamic behaviour of aircraft are covered.

AER307 - Aerodynamics

This course answers two questions: How are forces on a wing generated by the fluid flowing around it, and how can they be predicted? Starting from the basic governing equations of fluid dynamics-the Navier-Stokes equations-dynamic approximations are made to reach simplified Euler and potential flow equations that can be used to solve for different aerodynamic flows. From this basis, thin airfoil theory can be derived and applied to increasingly complex situations, from 2D airfoils to 3D wings in incompressible and compressible flows. The fundamentals of boundary layer flows are also presented and used to improve drag predictions.

AER406 - Aircraft Design

Students work in teams to design, build, and fly a remotely piloted aircraft. The goal is to optimize a complex cost function that includes take-off distance, flight speed, payload fraction, payload volume and weight. Teams are assigned an aircraft configuration (e.g., bi-plane, flying wing, etc.). Weekly meetings with instructors keep teams on track. Using special facilities at UTIAS and provided motors and R/C equipment, the teams build their aircraft from a combination of foam, balsa, special plywood and carbon fibre. The course ends in a fly-off where the aircraft perform a set of flights to evaluate their "as-built" cost function score. Deliverables include preliminary and final design presentations and reports, an aircraft that competes in the fly-off and an "as-built" report that compares the predicted and measured flight performance.

AER407 - Space Systems Design

This course introduces the real-world engineering of designing a space system with the classic top-down design methodology. It is very hands on and is largely taught by experienced engineers from MDA and Microsat Systems Canada. Students work in teams to design all aspects of the proposed space system. Each team member is responsible for one of the following areas: Operations, Systems, Mechanical, Electrical, Control, and Science. Classes consist of lectures, followed by workshops culminating in the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) and the Final Report.

AER506 - Spacecraft Dynamics and Control

This course teaches the mathematics behind the motion of spacecraft.  Students learn the fundamental kinematics and dynamics that describe translational and rotational motion of a free rigid body.  The former is studied in the context of orbital dynamics and the latter in the context of attitude dynamics.  Orbital dynamics is developed in detail by examining the two-body problem, orbital perturbations (such as Earth oblateness), orbital maneuvers, interplanetary trajectories, and the restricted three-body problem.  Students also study spacecraft attitude dynamics through torque-free motion of a rigid body, spin stabilization, dual-spin stabilization, disturbance torques, and gravity-gradient stabilization.  They also learn active control of spacecraft attitude through the application of feedback control theory.  An example that combines passive and active attitude control is provided in the form of bias-momentum stabilization.

Where this major can take you

Our graduates include leaders in industry and research.  Meet some of our alumni.

Employers for recent graduates include MDA Space Missions, Accenture, Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Honeywell, Messier Dowty, CSA, NASA, and others.

Entrepreneurial graduates have started companies like Kepler Communications, Aerovelo, and 2XL Games.

Recent graduates have attended graduate school at UTIAS, CalTech, Cambridge, ETH Zurich, MIT, Standford, University of Michigan, and more.  Many have also gone on to academic positions around the world.


Peter Grant

Chair of the Aerospace Engineering major

Professor Peter Grant (UTIAS)

Professor Grant's research includes flight dynamics and simulation, virtual flight testing, and human control of vehicles.

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