An Undergraduate Minor in
Information Sciences and Technology
for Aerospace Engineering

Department of Aerospace Engineering
College of Information Sciences and Technology
College of Engineering
Pennsylvania State University

This Minor should dramatically help students in finding a job and for preparing to work in the 21st century. For more information, read Prof. Long's papers that explain the need for students to get this Minor:

You can apply for this Minor on

This Minor requires the following courses:

Plus two of these courses:

For a total of 18 credits. Students will need to get a C or better in all the courses. Some of these courses can also be used as technical electives for the Aerospace Engineering B.S. degree, i.e. you can often use a course both for a Major and a Minor. NOTE: The requirements for this Minor must be completed concurrently or before you receive your major degree. You cannot get this Minor after you receive your B.S. degree.

This minor will be of great benefit to the students who pursue it. Roughly 50% of the cost of developing an aerospace system is in computers, information, communications, and software. If our aerospace engineering graduates learn more about information sciences and technology, they will be more valuable to industry, government, and academia. They will be able to appreciate the entire aerospace system better, and will be better equipped to work side-by-side with experts in the computing and software fields. The Aerospace Engineering curricula was recently modified and streamlined, and one of the reasons for doing that was to make it easier for students to obtain Minors such as this one.

The role of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) in the practice of Aerospace Engineering is (and will remain) very important. Aerospace systems rely heavily on computers, software, and digital information; for control, sensors, and other onboard systems. The Boeing 777 has more than 1000 processors and roughly 20 million lines of software (mostly in Ada) onboard. Some aircraft (e.g. the F-16 and F-117A) cannot fly without their onboard computers. In addition, many future aerospace vehicles will be unmanned, and the software challenges will be even greater than they are today. The onboard memory has also increased exponentially, the F-106 had 20 kBytes of memory and the new Joint Strike Fighter might have 2 GBytes of memory. The hardware and software must be carefully designed and thoroughly tested, since most aerospace systems are mission- or safety-critical systems. In addition, computers and software are heavily used in the design, development, and manufacturing of aerospace systems. Large supercomputers are often used in the design process. Giving undergraduate aerospace engineering students the opportunity to minor in IST will not only enrich their educational achievements but it will also help them succeed in obtaining employment or entering graduate school. The NSF and DOD recently referred to computing and software as the "Achilles heel" of aerospace systems; and they are encouraging universities to enhance their educational programs so that we have well-qualified engineers for future systems.

Also, our Industrial and Professional Advisory Committee (IPAC) members have continually stressed the importance of IT for our students. An executive from a major aerospace company said this about the program:

    "It looks like a great curriculum...really good mix of courses, touches all the key facets of the technology. This minor should be a real plus for students entering the job market."
And the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) states:
    "Given the expected role of computers in the future, it is essential that engineers of all disciplines have a deep working knowledge of the fundamentals of digital systems as well as fluency in using contemporary computer systems and tools." from: The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century, National Academy Press, 2004.

See also the speech given by Dr. Charles Vest , MIT. He says:

    "Information technology is more or less the paper and pencil of the twenty-first century. For engineering students of 2020, it should be like the air they breathe --- simply there to be used, a means, not an end."

For more information on the IST for Aerospace Engineering (ISASP) Undergraduate Minor contact :

    Dr. Lyle N. Long
    Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Computational Science, and Mathematics
    The Pennsylvania State University
    229 Hammond Building
    University Park, PA 16802

    Email : LNL

    Phone : (814) 865-1172

See PSU Bulletin for description of this Minor

NOTE: A minor in Mathematics would also be very valuable for aerospace engineering students. And since you have to take Math 140, 141, 220, 230, and 250 for the aerospace degree; all you have to do is take four 400-level Math courses for the Minor. Some very useful 400-level Math courses would be: 401, 414, 415, 441, 451, and 455.

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Last modified: Tuesday, 12-Sep-2017 08:56:06 EDT