Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering

Aerospace Engineering

Find your place

in space.

CSU is the place to be for students interested in aerospace education, research, and access to industry partnerships.

Pursuing an education in aerospace engineering will expand your knowledge of the design, manufacturing, and operating techniques of air flight capable machines. At CSU, world class faculty lead four hands-on academic programs and will guide you through the understanding of engineering disciplines such as fluid mechanics, chemical propulsion, stability and control, combustion, laser diagnostics, systems and structures as they apply to aircraft and rockets that fly within and above Earth’s atmosphere. Our curricula is continuously evolving to prepare our students for the demands of an ever-changing industry.

With over $16M in active aerospace-related research in our department, our experts work closely with government laboratories and industry partners to solve complex technical challenges. Students have the opportunity to work on many of these projects, contributing to research breakthroughs and helping to grow Colorado’s thriving aerospace economy.

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A message from Tory Bruno, CEO of United Launch Alliance

Academic Programs & Advising Contacts

UNDERGRADUATE

Undergraduate Concentration in Aerospace Engineering

Earn an Undergraduate Concentration in Aerospace Engineering when you complete 12 credit hours (four technical electives) of approved coursework. 

For information on courses and how to declare, download the guide in English or Spanish.

GRADUATE

M.E. Master of Engineering, Aerospace Engineering Specialization

The Master of Engineering, Aerospace Engineering Specialization is an on-campus or online degree program that offers courses in disciplines such as propulsion, fluid flow, structures, and materials and manufacturing. This program is intended for professional students who have an undergraduate degree in engineering and are working in the aerospace industry. This is a coursework-only degree program with no thesis requirement. Systems engineering courses are available.

Admissions criteria and requirements can be found here.

View course catalog here

M.S. Mechanical Engineering with Master's Thesis in Aerospace Engineering

Students pursuing a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering conduct research under the supervision of a faculty advisor who is usually the Principal Investigator for a government- or industry-sponsored project. The student’s research, in conjunction with coursework and aerospace engineering thesis credits, will culminate in an article for submission to a peer-reviewed journal and a final thesis. This degree is available on campus only.

Admissions criteria and requirements can be found here.

Details on program coursework and requirements can be found here

Graduate Certificate

Our Aerospace Engineering Graduate Certificate provides an introduction to aerospace engineering disciplines. The certificate requires completion of 9 credits of 500-level and above graduate coursework. Students may apply for and complete just the certificate, or may apply for both the certificate and a degree program. The certificate is available on campus or online, and is intended for working professionals looking to stay competitive in their field, advance their knowledge, and obtain additional training. 

  • Bachelor’s degree in engineering, science, or a related discipline
  • Prerequisites: Calculus 1, 2, and 3; Ordinary Differential Equations; Physics 1 and 2 (calculus based)
  • Strongly recommended 3.0 or higher GPA
  • International students must submit TOEFL or IELTS that meet our minimums

View course catalog here

Click here for CSU Graduate Certificate FAQs.

“An engineering degree from Colorado State University is unlike any other in this country. My degree provided me with a strong set of skills and hands-on experience, which made me a valuable asset on day one in industry. As an engineer at Boeing, I rely on this skill set to solve complex problems, and use my knowledge of manufacturing and material science to assist our team in keeping the F-15 moving down the production line.”

- Adam Grabish, Structural Analysis Engineer, Boeing Defense, Space & Security

ADVISING CONTACTS

Undergraduate Academic Advising Team

Connect with undergraduate academic advising here

Graduate Advising Contact

Connect with the graduate academic advisor here

Research

Our department has a long history of aerospace research programs, beginning in 1962 with the Electric Propulsion and Plasma Engineering Laboratory. Initial research focused on developing a “plasma” wind tunnel to simulate the space environment that satellites in low-Earth-orbit experience. The lab’s research expanded shortly after to include the development of electric propulsion devices used on satellites for both deep space and near Earth missions.

Mechanical engineering researchers work closely with government research laboratories and currently execute on over $16M in aerospace-related research grants. Sponsors include NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Energy, United States Air Force, National Science Foundation, Woodward, Lockheed Martin and more.

Major Research Disciplines

Meet some of our researchers and students who are making advancements in the aerospace industry in fluid flow, propulsion, and materials and manufacturing.

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Fluid Flow

Active Project Example: Accurately-Posed Direct Numerical Simulation of Turbulent Combustion at High-Reynolds Numbers

Research Focus: This Air Force-funded project aims to develop high-performance CFD software and computational analysis tools to accelerate the development of predictive models for practical propulsion and energy devices where turbulent combustion occurs under challenging operating conditions. The goal is to reduce the turnaround time for the expensive design cycle of clean, sustainably-fueled combustion devices and accelerate their implementation into the US energy ecosystem to curb and eventually eliminate GHG emissions.  

Principal Investigators: Associate Professor Xinfeng Gao and Assistant Professor Stephen Guzik

thruster 3x2

Propulsion

Active Project Example: NASA Joint Advanced Propulsion Institute (JANUS)

Research Focus: NASA is exploring high power electric propulsion systems for human exploration of the solar system. CSU is part of the JANUS institute working to develop strategies and methodologies to surmount limitations in ground testing of high-power electric propulsion systems and to improve characterization of the wear and performance of these devices representative of in-space operation.

Principal Investigators: Professors John Williams and Azer Yalin

Materials and Manufacturing

Active Project Example: Erosion of Graphite Rocket Nozzles in Hybrid Rocket Motors

Research Focus: This project studies the correlation between combustion chamber pressure and graphite rocket nozzle erosion in non-metalized hybrid rocket motors – i.e. how fire breaks rocket nozzles. Tests are performed on Sierra Nevada Corporation’s rocket motor thrust stand. This project was originally part of the Storable Clean Ethane-ethylene Nitrous Engine (SCENE) project supported by the Missile Defense Agency. CSU was a sub-contractor under prime contractor, Pioneer Astronautics. 

Research Team: Master’s student Matt Kronwell, Assistant Professor Bret Windom, undergraduate student Nate Freeman, and Professor Anthony Marchese.

Facilities

Careers

Colorado’s aerospace industry is an economic driver and has the leading employment concentration in the United States with over 33,000 people working across all aerospace sectors. There are hundreds of aerospace companies in Colorado working on a range of projects including space craft, satellites, systems, and communication. We have a substantial national defense and civil space presence, with significant research funding from NASA, DOD, DOE and others. A strategic location, top engineering talent, and network of government entities, private companies large and small, and academic institutions set Colorado apart from other states. 

The Colorado aerospace industry continues to outpace growth at the national level, with employment up by 10% in 2020, compared to 3.7% in the United States overall. The average industry salary in Colorado is $142,990, with the industry contributing more than $4.3 billion to Colorado’s annual payroll. 

$142,990
Average industry salary of Colorado aerospace engineers in 2020 – US Bureau of Labor Statistics​

Internships

Many Colorado aerospace companies offer internships that lead to employment opportunities. Some that have participated in CSU’s internship program include Northrup Grumman, Ball Corporation, United Launch Alliance, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Sierra Nevada, Raytheon Technologies, and Woodward.

Internship opportunities come and go on a rotating basis and are advertised through Handshake, or you can apply directly with the company. 

Organizations, Programs and Clubs

The CSU Rocket Team formed in 2014 as a senior design team. Since then, the group has grown from four to fourteen students, and innovations to the Aries rocket have record-breaking wins in intercollegiate competitions.  

The four female leads of the 2019-20 team were one of the winning teams at the Colorado Space Grant Consortium’s (COSGC) Undergraduate Space Research Symposium.

Read about the team’s journey to the 2019 Spaceport America Cup, an intercollegiate competition held in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Over 120 teams participated. CSU was the only one to launch a liquid rocket, and they made it to 9,500 feet, which is more than twice as high as any liquid rocket ever traveled in the contest.

Read With liquid-fueled rocket, CSU team aiming high at Spaceport America Cup

The American Institute of Aeronautics is the world’s largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession, with over 30,000 members worldwide. 

The AIAA student chapter at CSU is an organization dedicated to introducing students to aerospace industry connections, as well as providing opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience in the fields of aeronautics and astronautics through a collection of lectures, seminars, and competitions centered on the aerospace industry.

AIAA welcomes students from all degrees at CSU. Learn more and join via the link below.

SEDS is an international student-run aerospace organization dedicated to promoting the exploration and understanding of space through meaningful engineering projects, outreach to local schools and communities, chapter-based competitions and scholarships, and annual networking events and conferences.

Interested in joining the CSU chapter? Learn more about SEDS goals, membership benefits, and time commitments by emailing sedscsu@outlook.com.

The NASA Space Grant Program at CSU has a 30-year history of providing undergraduate students with educational and professional opportunities in aerospace studies through the Colorado Space Grant Consortium’s (COSGC) project-based team challenges and competitions. 

In spring of 2020, employees from NASA, Ball Aerospace, and Lockheed Martin were on the panel of judges who presented awards to three teams of CSU Mechanical Engineering students at COSGC’s Undergraduate Space Research Symposium. 

Read “CSU students win big for space grant anniversary”

Research on Martian propulsion, testing a mixture of nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide as oxidizers with a high metal content fuel grain.

Mechanical Engineering at Colorado State University is about using our knowledge of materials, energy, and health to solve society’s global engineering challenges.

Mechanical Engineering at Colorado State University is about using our knowledge of materials, energy, and health to solve society’s global engineering challenges.

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