First formed as an Aeronautical Engineering Department in 1927, the Aerospace Department has continually been at the forefront of Hands On and Learn-by-Doing education. The purpose of the program was to teach students about the maintenance and repair of aircraft and their engines. Using a laboratory equipped with airframes, engines, propeller balancing equipment, and engine test stands, airplanes were dismantled, overhauled, and rebuilt.


A proud moment for the students and the department occurred in 1935 when Amelia Earhart, world-famous aviator, landed on campus for structural repairs on her plane.a

archive photo of Amelia Earhart with students during a visit to Cal Poly
Amelia Earhart with group of students and plane

Today, the Aerospace Engineering Department prepares students for work in the exciting field of aerospace engineering. Students are prepared for engineering work dealing with aerodynamics, propulsion, stability and controls, and structures of aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft. Throughout the four-year program, there is constant interplay between theory and application. Opportunities are available for advanced undergraduate and graduate work in the student’s field of interest, with laboratories available for course work and research projects in the following disciplines:

Aircraft and Spacecraft Design


Structural Test and Analysis


Control Systems

Subsonic and Supersonic Wind Tunnels

Water Tunnel

Flight Simulation

Computational Fluid Dynamics

Finite Element Analysis

Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems 

Thermal Control

Orbital Debris Analysis

Nano-Satellite Design