Not sure what I want to do with my life

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In summary, Ryan is still not sure what he wants to do with his life and he is having trouble deciding which college to attend. He has some Asperger Syndrome type traits and he is interested in space exploration. He is considering going to Texas A&M or Caltech, but he is worried about the cost. He is also worried about the fact that he may not be able to find a job in aerospace engineering after graduating from college. He should try to talk to the admissions office at his college of interest and see what kinds of scholarships and financial aid are available to him.f
  • #1
Hey guys,
I'm still not sure what I want to do with my life. I'm a senior in High School, and my parents are making me apply to Texas Tech as SOON as applications come out, and I would like to know what I want to major in by then, but that is proving to be quite a problem.

I believe I have some Asperger Syndrome type traits. Mainly the obsession over paricular subjects and photographic memory. As an example, I started lifting weights and watching what I ate about 3 years ago. I became so obsessed that I spent hours on end researching all kinds of information regarding weightlifting and nutrition. I read articles, ordered books, etc. I can tell you anything you need to know from Ketosis to Hypertrophy to Anabolic Steroids(I'm even a moderator a few weightlifting/anabolic sites). During this time, I read through our high school biology book 3 times just wanting to learn more about the human body. I was dead set on becoming a doctor. However, I tore my pec last year. I wasn't able to lift for months, and so I became so discouraged that I quit all the stuff; now the idea of becoming a doctor or even majoring in anything biology/chemistry related repulses me.

However, one obsession has never gone away: space exploration. When I was about 11, my dad bought a rocket for us to build. It wasn't much, but it sure fascinated me. I've always been enthralled by the idea of traveling the universe(yes, I know, quite fantastical), and would love to have a part in furthering this dream(and goal of many I'm sure). The reason for this post is to find out what I would need to study in college in order to get a job for NASA in doing this type of work. I know that Aerospace engineering would be ideal, and Texas A&M is only 4 hours away and has an excellent program, or so I'm told. However, money is somewhat of an issue, being a middle class family. I havn't talked w/ A&M yet about scholarships and the like, but w/ Tech, it would only cost about $4,000 a year out of pocket. The only problem is, they don't have an Aerospace Engineering program. If I went to Tech and majored in Mechanical Engineering, would I have the necessary skills/knowledge to help build space craft, etc.? It would definitely be possible to go to A&M and study Aerospace, but I'm just trying to keep the costs to a minimum. Thanks for the help, and sorry for the lengthy post.
  • #2
Hi Ryan,

I have heard that Caltech has a settlement with JPL. Why don't you try that?

Anyway, you are too young for thinking of such a large time period. Maybe you get in Aero and you don't like what you are taught, or perhaps you get in Mech Eng and you don't like it too. When you enroll one of these, and you have your hands dirty, then I assure you it is not too diffucult of changing your childhood dreams. If i were you, i wouldn't be afraid of what I am going to do in 2011, but be afraid of doing what you really like right now. What part of the physics science do you like? Choose this part, and the maths involved in it, and you will have an idea of to where point your thoughts. I don't think the employment of a NASA engineer must be occupied by someone mandatory graduated in Aero. On the other hand, as I have explored in JPL webpage, they need people with lot of experience (sometimes 12 years) in professional life. I assure you that after 12 years you scarcely remember nothing of what you learned in college.

Good luck.
  • #3
Don't worry about money. Just take a loan and then pay it later, once you are an Engineer making $70,000 a year. Just go for it and if you don't like it change it!

  • #4
Don't forget that there are A LOT of factors contained in creating a "space ship." NASA needs ALL kinds of engineers -- not just aerospace. If you're not interested in one type of engineering, try another. Look on NASA's website at the job listings.
  • #5
Don't let your parents decide where you are going to college too. That should ultimately be up to you.
  • #6
Maxwell said:
Don't forget that there are A LOT of factors contained in creating a "space ship." NASA needs ALL kinds of engineers -- not just aerospace. If you're not interested in one type of engineering, try another. Look on NASA's website at the job listings.

Great point and advice. A mechanical engineer gets much of the same education as an aerospace engineer minus some of the more Aero specific courses (fluids, orbital mechanics, etc..). One of my friends from school was a MechE and he is now working at KSC on shuttle ready and return crews. Many people who work at NASA are computer scientists and electrical engineers in addition to mechanical, aerospace, engineering physics etc... In engineering the early years develop a sort of 'universal' skill set used across disciplines and as you move to the higher level classes you can specialize in what interests you most. NASA needs all types as do NASA contractors.

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