Without doubt, there is high demand for engineering specialization, and Aeronautical is not spared. Perhaps with the sending of our first angkasawan into the space, many students now aspire to be in the aerospace and aeronautical field. First of all, Aeronautical Engineering is a sub-branch of Aerospace Engineering, which is related to aircrafts, spacecrafts and related topics.
Generally, Aerospace Engineering is defined as engineering work that deals with crafts leaving the atmosphere, while Aeronautical deals with crafts staying within the earth’s atmosphere. Some of the scientific topics covered in Aeronautical Engineering course are Aerodynamic, Control System, Materials, Heat Transfer, Fluid Mechanics and Aircraft Structures. Aerospace and Aeronautical industry in Malaysia are still considered new especially when design, research and development are concerned. Despite the country’s achievement to become the 14th country in the world who managed to send an astronaut in the space, Malaysia is way lacking behind in terms of technology and development.
UTM or Universiti Teknologi Malaysia is the first institution in Malaysia that offered Aeronautical Engineering course with the introduction of Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering in 1980, a joint program with the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF). Then, the degree Aeronautical Engineering course was introduced, which is an area of specialization in Mechanical Engineering. Apart from providing the education courses, with its long presence, UTM is considered one of the best institutions that can provide students with facilities for research and development. My brother in law is one of those who completed a Degree in Mechanical Engineering, majoring in Aeronautical in UTM.
Another government initiative to support the aviation need in Malaysia is the collaboration between Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) under the Ministry of Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development and Northrop Rice Institute USA Inc. In the partnership, Northrop Rice Institute was assigned as the technology provider for development of aircraft maintenance technology. The initial set was in Jasin, Melaka and with the growth and increasing demand, a new facility was designed and completed in 2002, which takes place in Dengkil, Selangor. It is now known as Universiti Kuala Lumpur Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology (MIAT). Additionally, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) has their own School of Aerospace Engineering which offer two specializations – Aeronautical Engineering and Astronautical Engineering.
In February 2008, AirAsia Berhad and TAFE College in Seremban signed a memorandum that is tailored to initiate AirAsia support program, which includes the use of TAFE’s workshop facilities used to complete training in basic engineering skills. The memorandum will also see how TAFE college can assist to accommodate the long term need of aircraft maintenance engineer training. AirAsia adopt more than 60 modules of training programs, which enable the trainee engineers to qualify as licensed aircraft maintenance engineers who are recognized both by European and international standard.
With the recent happenings and news, it looks as if the market for the Aeronautical and Aerospace is booming. However, a little research on the job outlook and prospect for Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering reveals otherwise. A search in JobStreet.com, presently the largest recruitment portal in Malaysia, to find jobs with the keyword ‘aeronautical’ or ‘aerospace’ today only resulted 2 related jobs. Both vacancies are advertised by Avcen Limited Malaysia which belongs to a foreign company specializing in aircraft design having its main headquarter based in London, United Kingdom. Similar search conducted with JobsDb.com and JenJobs.com produced zero result.
So what does this tell us?
It gives an indication that Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering related courses will potentially present a challenge to an aspiring engineering wishing to go into the said specialization. However, all is not over yet. Since Aeronautical and Aerospace themselves are branches of engineering field, it is highly likely that some specific subjects and syllabus covered during your studies can be made good use in other specializations. For example, design, maintenance, control, material, fluid mechanics, aerodynamics and others are useful in other fields such as structural, civil, utility and even Formula 1. In case of my brother in-law, he did not get a job with in Aeronautical related company, but ended up as an engineer with the national utility company, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, TNB.
Aviation companies like AirAsia and MAS (Malaysia Airlines System) periodically advertise engineering related positions in their websites, many of which requiring people with Aeronautical background. Also, it is worth to note that Aeronautical is an important element in defense, particularly military air. Many local engineering entities related to aircrafts and Aeronautical are initiated and founded by those who served the Royal Malaysia Armed Forces before.