1. Not finding help here? Sign up for a free 30min tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Other I want to start an Aerospace Company

  1. Jun 2, 2016 #1
    Hey guys, so I am currently a freshman in college and I want nothing more in life than to combine two things that I love...Entrepreneurship and Space Exploration, I want to follow in the footsteps of Elon Musk, Robert Bigelow, and Richard Branson. I know that the odds are stacked against me because I am not some Billionaire tycoon but I still want to pursue this. I have a choice to make I can either study Business Management with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and get a minor in Mech. Engineering (They offer a minor at my school) or should I just major in Mech Engineering? Which do you think will be more beneficial and give me some sort of credibility since I lack the bank account necessary to fund my own project? Any and all advice is appreciated. Thank You!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 2, 2016 #2
    Read a bio from Musk, Bigelow, and Branson. Then look at what you just posted and ask yourself if you have sufficient background and experience, never mind education, to do it.
     
  4. Jun 2, 2016 #3
    I can offer a few thoughts from the professional perspective. There are relatively few courses of college study that will get you what you are specifically looking for from a business and capital perspective. The value of the engineering degree is whatever it is and what you make of it, but in terms of business classes and education you might do well to be somewhat more focused in your actions.

    In the interest of full disclosure, it is worth noting that I am _not_ a big fan of business degrees. They rarely offer what people are expecting from them, and in most cases are really best suited for someone seeking a career in management, notwithstanding the hype we have so often heard about 'teaching entrepreneurship.'

    Are either of your parents in the aerospace field? How about your parents friends? This is a great time to try to take advantage of any personal or family contacts. Try to get yourself a summer job or internship working for such a firm. Write your own letters and make phone calls (and lots of them), but there is nothing like a personal connection or a family friend for making a phone call on your behalf in a situation like this. Try to get such a position in the 'business' rather than the technical side of a company. I bet that relatively few position seekers do this, and it can be a way of making yourself stand out. Accentuate that you are trying to learn the business side of things. (The business side of aerospace is very complex and specialized). The very best of all possible circumstances might be to get a cheap or unpaid assignment as a gopher/assistant to some executive (family friend, etc? check your rolodex... ask around...) and just pay as much attention as possible and ask questions when convenient to all parties.

    I realize that my prescription was a bit specific and dependent on circumstances, but my broader point, perhaps, is that a formal 'business education' will be far less valuable than some actual field time, particular under the watch of an interested practitioner.

    That all said, there are some basic business skills that are _very_ valuable to have:

    Basic bookkeeping and reading of financial statements. (Forensic bookkeeping is an incalculably valuable skill but it comes over time and with education and practice). I cannot overstate the importance of this. There are always stories in the numbers. There are many college classes on this, however they always managed to confound me - the classes that is, i managed to learn mostly by reading and doing both before college and after.... it is almost exactly like learning a foreign language. Something that you can start doing right now and which will be of enormous value will be to start reading 'Annual Reports'. Make a list of all the aerospace companies that you find interesting. If they are public companies, and many are, get their annual and quarterly report and read them cover to cover. They will be very happy to send them to you for free. You used to have to call them on the phone, but now you can get all of this through their websites. They will send you the glossy and expensively produced annual and quarterly reports (and other materials) but if you want to see the distilled public infomation, you can look for their 10-K and 10-Q filings (annual and quarterly financial filings) and other interesting releases, like 8-K filings at http://www.sec.gov . There is a box in which to enter a company's name and it will link to all the public filings.

    Those reports, plus any industry periodical literature you can get your hands on.... magazines, newsletters, what have you, will offer a source of information and business insight that is about as good as you could seek on a practical side.

    Again, these are just a few starting points, and all must chart their own courses according to their interests and abilities... YMMV.

    best of luck, and I hope that this was of some small assistance,
    diogenesNY
     
  5. Jun 2, 2016 #4
    I suggest looking at the life and times of Abraham Karem, who might be a more realistic and achievable role model. Karem was an aerospace engineer and entrepreneur who helped develop the drone technology that is widely used in military applications today. Karem strikes me as an engineer's engineer, he was building model planes and gliders as a teenager, and he founded several companies in the aerospace business. A very nice account is contained in the bookhttp://amzn.to/1TYluce [Broken], or in this article in Air & Space magazine.

    Aerospace, and military aerospace even more so, is a heavily political business to be in. Technical competence is not enough to guarantee success. If I were cynical, I might say it isn't even required. Connections, political and business savvy, and a healthy dose of luck are needed. While in some ways Abe did very well, in others he got outmaneuvered by people with more political clout. If you really want to do this, this should be required reading.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  6. Jun 3, 2016 #5

    Chronos

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The aerospace business has always been cutthroat, and in the current market a startup is little more than ritual suicide. If you are hell bent on aerospace, try Boeing or Lockheed to get a real taste for the business.
     
  7. Jun 4, 2016 #6
    I think your best chance would be to start with a engineering bachelors degree rather than a business/ entrepreneur degree. Anyway, you can always get graduate degrees specializing in business and entrepreneurship. Ideally, you would want to be in a very strong engineering school which will put you with strong colleagues with technical skills as valuable points of contact. One problem you may have, as some of your colleagues may think of themselves in your proposed role. Another value in your points of contact, as your fellow students may have older (and richer) mentors who can counsel you and possibly monetary support your (groups) effort.

    My advice is this will all take time. You are currently a Freshman. I expect you probably will take several years to earn the credentials (establish your chops) to begin a startup.
     
  8. Jun 6, 2016 #7

    analogdesign

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Following on mpresic's advice I would like to add that a personal friend of mine has started a *small* aerospace company (he does have larger ambitions). So far it is successful in the sense it is breaking even and paying his bills. Here is his background:

    1. MS in Electrical Engineering at one of the top schools in the USA
    2. 20 years experience as fighter pilot in US Marine Corps
    3. MBA from one of the top business schools in the USA
    4. Personal experience building custom airframes

    Even for him, it was a stretch lining up funding. He was able to use contacts all over the world he had cultivated over 20 years in the Service and in business school. He is also probably the single smartest person I have ever met.

    My point it that it is possible, but it should come after you spend decades laying groundwork.

    I should also say that my friend would most likely be making more money doing technical management at an established firm, but this is his passion.
     
  9. Jun 8, 2016 #8

    Dr Transport

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Both are in a tailspin, the whole aerospace industry is in turmoil. I know for a fact that both are going thru reduction in force contractions, Boeing has announced somewhere in the range of 6K - 10K layoffs this year and Lockheed has just gone thru a layoff cycle. Northrup Grumman is the only one hiring and they aren't doing it fast.
     
  10. Jun 8, 2016 #9

    mheslep

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Boeing and Lockheed are no longer the "whole" aerospace industry. SpaceX is hiring, with about 5000 already on hand, a large launch manifest, and many suppliers.
     
  11. Jun 8, 2016 #10

    Dr Transport

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member


    True, but I dealt with both the military and commercial portions of aerospace, rotor-craft and fixed wing. Even the astronautics portions of Boeing and Lockeed are drawing down. SpaceX, I never considered, they may be a major player now, but I'll never consider them to be the entire industry or even a large portion of the industry. Boeing has laid off more people this year than SpaceX has ever employed, Lockheed isn't too far behind. I would hazard a guess and say the SpaceX is probably using a vast majority of the suppliers that Boeing/Lockeed used in their joint venture and will not take up the slack.

    I rather doubt that SpaceX will ever be chosen to send a manned rocket to the moon or Mars in the near future. Yes, it might be exciting to work for them but they are way behind the curve in aerospace compared to the major players.

    When I say aerospace is in turmoil, that is what I mean, I see more jobs being eliminated than created and the industry is shrinking. These are the words that a friend of mine at NASA said, we just had that conversation the other day.
     
  12. Jun 9, 2016 #11

    chiro

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Hey TheOriginalOP.

    The thing that all of these people have in common has to do with economics - not science or engineering.

    This isn't just the study of university economics but real world economics.

    These people created things that people used and paid for and that has way more to do with your chances of doing this than any university course.
     
  13. Jun 9, 2016 #12

    mheslep

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    In terms of space launch, why is that? If SpaceX ends up holding most of the launch manifest for the industry because of its dramatically lower cost, why would one never consider the firm a large portion of the industry? SpaceX is already the sole US carrier for the ISS.

    Way behind in what regard? In addition to the numerous demonstrated innovations for lift vehicles, SpaceX has exhibited its prototype manned capsule.
     
  14. Jun 9, 2016 #13

    mheslep

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Are you aware of the startups in the in the aerospace industry over the last couple dozen years? In addition to new non-traditional launch firms, the drone industry is growing fast.
    http://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-...ellites/venture-money-flows-to-space-startups
    Companies to watch, startup and established: http://horizonwatching.typepad.com/horizonwatching/2007/11/30-companies-to.html
     
  15. Jun 9, 2016 #14

    Dr Transport

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member


    My opinion, nothing more, nothing less
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted



Similar Discussions: I want to start an Aerospace Company
  1. Starting a Company (Replies: 9)

Loading...