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Do all engineers secretly wish to work for nasa?

  1. Mar 14, 2009 #1
    A lot of us engineering students can never agree on who has it tougher, but the one thing we can agree on is ...


    that we all wish we could work for nasa.

    I doubt this is just us.


    This came up when we found out we can see the latest images of mars on google earth
    http://earth.google.com/mars/index.html

    We were all stoked.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 14, 2009 #2
    I think everyone wants to work for nasa/google.
     
  4. Mar 14, 2009 #3
    Google no longer has free food :)
     
  5. Mar 14, 2009 #4

    BobG

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    Yes, everyone wants to work for NASA. On midshifts, they sing songs about their satellites.

    Swift Satellite

    This page shows the lyrics. Click on "Listen to the Song" on the left.
     
  6. Mar 14, 2009 #5

    russ_watters

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    All engineers are just grown-up kids who wanted to be astronauts.
     
  7. Mar 14, 2009 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    I wouldn't want the pressure of working for NASA. Nor would I enjoy the limited scope of activity. They do cool stuff; no doubt about it! But the people that I have met who worked for NASA described the experience as rewarding, but grueling. Many people may not realize just how hard-core the NASA heroes are. If you want NASA and only NASA as a life, that is fine, but if you want to be at home with the spouse and kids every night, forget about it! Also, I tend to prefer being a big fish in a little pond, rather than a little fish in a big pond. I enjoy having control of a project.

    I guess it would be different if I was twenty... so for the kids out there, I say go for it. But I would not want to be working for NASA at this point in my life.
     
  8. Mar 14, 2009 #7
    Not on your life! I had the opportunity to work for NASA right before the moon landings and I turned it down. It was an absolutely insane environment! I wanted to preserve some sense of sanity, plus it was obvious, I thought, that there was a huge bust coming right after the moon shot, as there in fact was.
     
  9. Mar 14, 2009 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    On a related note, I once met someone who had worked on the X-Ray LASER system through Lawrense Livermore Labs. He said the pressure was so bad that they had three guys in their thirties drop from heart attacks.
     
  10. Mar 14, 2009 #9

    arildno

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    Most engineers are level-headed individuals satisfied with the nuts, bolts and screwdrivers they have at their disposal.
     
  11. Mar 14, 2009 #10

    Ivan Seeking

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    Until they enter the dreaded world of management. Then they go insane. :biggrin:
     
  12. Mar 14, 2009 #11
    you say "If you want". But that's mostly taking it backward. One does not choose a passion. Usually, the choice for individuals passionate about research is in attempting to have a family life, or any other occupation outside research, not in attempting to become a researcher !
     
  13. Mar 14, 2009 #12

    turbo

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    My cousin went to a 2-year technical school and learned a lot of programming skills. He got a job with GE setting up a microwave backscatter early-warning system, ended up heading up the programming team, and he was off and running. He got transferred from one defense project to another and ended up having to move his family to Australia for years. He is currently heading up the Hubble servicing/upgrade project. Not bad for a kid from a small-town HS (the largest graduating class ever was mine - 42 kids).
     
  14. Mar 14, 2009 #13

    Ivan Seeking

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    So you are arguing that all options are identical? I don't think so. NASA is probably one of the most competitive environments on earth; simply because we are talking about some of the most talented and driven individuals. Why? See the title of the thread. :biggrin: I would bet that a very small percentage of scientists and engineers, in the US at least, were not inspired by NASA, as kids.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2009
  15. Mar 14, 2009 #14
    I do not know NASA. But I know research in particle physics. One thing I have noticed makes me uncomfortable with the idea that one "wishes to work for" this kind of research. I personally never dreamt of "working for a national lab". I always dreamt of "understanding the stuff". I think it's quite different. The majority of people I work with grew up the same, and I also know of (a few) individuals who "dream of becoming a physicist", attempt to do so, and most often succeed very poorly. Because this is not a choice one makes to become a physicist, this is something that happens to you and, unfortunately !, refusing it would only make you unhappy, permanently. The reason people who "want to become" fail is not just that they do not relate well with other passionate people form the majority of this community. It's also because eventually, you do compete with people who work day and night, every day, permanently. Just come to the lab over the week end, and you find that a good percentage of them are there. Go over to their house, you'll find they do not spend a single day without working. Send them a professional email during the night at christmas break, and you'll find out they answer within a few hours. They are not driven by success however, happy that their wish of working in physics came true. They are slaves of their need for physics, and joke about the unhappiness this brings in their life. Really.
     
  16. Mar 14, 2009 #15

    Evo

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    My ex father-in law was an engineer that worked for NASA, he was part of the team that got Apollo 13 down and got honored by the President, he has a nice plaque from the President for what he did.
     
  17. Mar 14, 2009 #16
    It's amazing. In the context of this discussion, did you have a chance to talk with him about how he felt when he was young ? I'd be interested if he ever mentioned his childhood dream. Note that the subtlety is small, but crucial for what I'm trying to say, between working "with" and working "for".

    I still remember, when I was a teenager, I dreamt only of playing in the NBA. It made me think a lot when I read in several interviews that it was not the case for actual players. Jordan once said "don't repeat it, but yes, even I sometimes don't know how I did it".

    Also think of the movie Amadeus by Forman. Salieri wants to be a musician. Mozart is born musician. It's really striking the difference between one person who is focused on becoming something, and one person who simply lives it.
     
  18. Mar 15, 2009 #17
    I secretly wish to work in Nassau.
     
  19. Mar 15, 2009 #18

    Evo

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    :rofl:
     
  20. Mar 15, 2009 #19

    Chi Meson

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    I think I posted this before. I was studying astrophysics specifically because it had been my dream to go into space ever since I watched the Apollo missions in the early 70s. My dream fizzled a bit on January 28, 1986.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_Challenger_disaster

    ...then I discovered rock climbing and I didn't spend enough time studying 'coz rocks are more fun than blowing up and NASA doesn't want the guy with the 2.something GPA...
     
  21. Jul 3, 2009 #20
    I just receive my first copy of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine for free. It is a very cool magazine available for free to engineers in some selected countries. I found this magazine here:

    http://mathalino.tradepub.com/free/nasa/
     
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