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Avionics refers to the electronics used in airplanes, missiles, space shuttles, and many other aircrafts. An Avionics Engineer, then, designs, constructs, maintains, and tests these electronics to ensure they work correctly, and makes improvements where possible.
You’ve seen it on TV: a group of Scientists standing around discussing what works and what doesn’t on a project. That’s basically what you do as an Avionics Engineer. Every aircraft requires a team of Avionics Engineers working together to incorporate the many parts of communication and navigation systems.
Because all aspects of aircrafts are very interconnected, you always work collaboratively. For example, you might work with the Aerospace Engineers in charge of engines, cockpit design, or communications. Taking all of their designs into consideration, you design a warning system for when the landing gear fails to drop.
To do this, you study the schematics and blueprints provided by other Engineers. Then you figure out how your design will work, and ways to incorporate your piece with the other designs. Once the whole thing is planned out and finalized, you monitor the construction and installation of parts. Then you test, make adjustments, maintain, and repair the system as needed. This work is very technical, so you’ll become very reliant on your computer-aided design (CAD) programs.
The above scenario describes times when you work a project from start to finish. Sometimes, though, you are called in to deal with specific issues within your area of expertise. Say you specialize in the computer software that controls defense missiles. If one of those missiles fails to perform, you get the call. The process here is much more targeted: you figure out why your part didn’t function as it should, and then figure out how to fix it.
This is an ever-evolving field as technology pushes the envelope of what’s possible. You keep up with the changes and invest in innovation for the future.