Author Topic: Questions from a 7th grader  (Read 1840 times)

Offline Bdunne

  • Member
  • Posts: 2
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Liked: 3
  • Likes Given: 0
Questions from a 7th grader
« on: 02/10/2016 10:15 PM »
Hello, My name is Brendan Dunne and I am in 7th grade. I am posting this because I am doing a project for school on a career we would consider when we grow up. I chose Aerospace Engineering. We have to interview someone who does the job themselves. I was hoping someone could answer a few questions for me. Thank You.
1.What are the responsibilities of your department?

2.How long have you worked at this position?

3.What type of education do I need for this job?

4.What do you like most about your job?

5.What do you like least about your job?

6.What is the average salary range for this field?

7.Do you have any advice for me as I consider this career choice?

8.How important is time management in this field?

9.What activities take up most of your time on the job?

10.How are computers used in this job?

Offline mheney

  • The Next Man on the Moon
  • Global Moderator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 730
  • Silver Spring, MD
  • Liked: 338
  • Likes Given: 190
Re: Questions from a 7th grader
« Reply #1 on: 02/11/2016 05:09 PM »
Hi, Brendan -  it's so cool that you're here on NASASpaceFlight!  I've been doing space stuff for almost 40 years - ad this s one of the best places to get good information. 

I'm not an aerospace engineer per se  - I work as a computer specialist at NASA in Greenbelt, MD.   I'm in the Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics lab; we work on climate modelling and the ozone hole; I've been here for 23 years.

You're going to need at least a Bachelor's degree in an engineering field to get work; a Masters is nice, but past a certain point, work experience trumps education.

What I like most about my work is that it's not work.  I get to drive in to NASA every day, hang out with a bunch of really smart people, do stuff that I love doing (wrestling computer systems into submission...) - and they PAY me for this!!  I suspect it's a lot like being a musician or actor - if you do what you love, it's not really "work" ...

What I like least is upper management trying to manage things that they don't really understand. I'm in IT, and we keep seeing directives come down that don't make sense in our environment.  (Scientists use computers differently than office workers do.  We also have a need to share data with others all around the world - where the management position is that data needs to be protected and secured.  Attempts at "one size fits all" solutions end up not working very well ...)

Time management ... If you look at aerospace development programs, they're constantly slipping to the right.  One reason for that is that so many things need to be integrated together and  work right together.  So time management is critical - you need to make sure that systems are ready at the right time in the development cycle, otherwise you can end up delaying the whole project.

I don't know what entry-level engineering salaries look like these days - I've been working in my field for just about 40 years; so I make more than the entry-level folks do.

Computers.  I think you'll find that computers are mostly used for modelling.  That's what we do here (model the atmosphere) - but if you're developing a system or vehicle, you'll model it on-line before you ever start bending metal. 

And advice?  Make sure you go into a field where you love what you're doing.  That makes all the difference in the world.

Offline whitelancer64

Re: Questions from a 7th grader
« Reply #2 on: 02/11/2016 05:50 PM »
A bump for this kid's sake.

Any engineers online today?
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline Bdunne

  • Member
  • Posts: 2
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Liked: 3
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Questions from a 7th grader
« Reply #3 on: 02/11/2016 09:53 PM »
Thank you so much for your response mheney. It helps so much!!  :)

Offline 1

  • Member
  • Posts: 99
  • El Segundo, CA
  • Liked: 210
  • Likes Given: 3
Re: Questions from a 7th grader
« Reply #4 on: 02/12/2016 01:33 AM »
A bump for this kid's sake.

Indeed. I'm not a perfect match, but I'll contribute as well.


Brendan, I'm not an aeronautical engineer, but I do know one in real life. I directly work for one of major US aerospace companies; and peripherally work with most of the others. Hopefully you'll find this post at least somewhat useful.


1.What are the responsibilities of your department?

In my area, we deal with many of these components and sub-assemblies; pieces that go into the complete vehicle. My area specifically deals with hardware that's gone wrong, and figuring out why it went wrong; also known as failure analysis.

Quote
2.How long have you worked at this position?

10 years last November.

Quote
3.What type of education do I need for this job?

One thing to recognize about the aerospace world is that there's a lot more going on in an airplane or rocket than what you see on the outside of the vehicle itself. Every single thing that goes into a vehicle must be designed and tested, and this is often done by people who aren't aeronautical engineers. You'll have electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, materials engineers, lots and lots of software engineers, etc. etc. In the aerospace world, we even have the intentionally-vague sounding title of 'systems engineer' whose purpose is to try to help make everything all fit together.

In this, I'll echo mheney's words. Find a field that interests you, and pursue it. There's lots of room in the aerospace work for non-aeronautical engineers. I personally have degrees in physics and electrical engineering, but you shouldn't take that as an implicit recommendation to get either of those degrees in lieu of a degree that sounds more interesting to you.

Quote
5.What do you like least about your job?

The opposite side of failure analysis is construction analysis (or some equivalent term thereof) that simply requires you to verify that a part is built correctly. This is very important, but it can get very tedious or boring at times.

Quote
4.What do you like most about your job?

Getting in the charred remains of a piece of hardware that's failed catastrophically. We've had stuff burn up, blow up, corrode halfway to oblivion.... Figuring out what happened can be a lot of fun.  ;D

Quote
6.What is the average salary range for this field?

I don't know this anymore, but I'd guess entry level salaries are somewhere in the low to mid $70k range.

Quote
7.Do you have any advice for me as I consider this career choice?

See mheney. Pick something you love, and where you can continue to challenge yourself and learn.  When you stop learning, you die.

Quote
8.How important is time management in this field?

There's a lot of jokes to be made regarding aerospace and time management (and even more to be made regarding dollar management) but time management, as a general rule, should always be considered important.

Quote
9.What activities take up most of your time on the job?

Documentation. For every engineering decision made, every piece of hardware that passes testing, every failure root cause found, proper documentation must be made. This is also good thing. Aside from the normal checks and balances of day to day work, it allows you go learn from the past experience of others. Often, the lessons learned there just can't be readily taught in a classroom.

Quote
10.How are computers used in this job?

Computers are used for most everything from normal work to online meetings, modeling software, data backups, you name it. All documentation over here ends up digital, even if begins on paper. And of course, there's the occasional misuse of company time by "consulting" online resources such as spaceflight forums.  ::)

Good luck with your project!

Offline Prober

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10313
  • Save the spin....I'm keeping you honest!
  • Nevada
  • Liked: 700
  • Likes Given: 728
Re: Questions from a 7th grader
« Reply #5 on: 02/12/2016 08:06 PM »
Thank you so much for your response mheney. It helps so much!!  :)


Welcome to NSF


I'm going to recommend a couple of skills that I believe you will need in "any" path you take forward.


Communication......work on your communication skills.  Typing might be less stressed today. 
Example: But understand, I've seen 3 young ladies come out of high school in job training. Sadly they can't operate a keyboard, and computer. Their skills were tuned for moving their hands on an iphone, and texting.  They made known they hated computers.


CAD.......Learn some type of CAD or several types (flexible is good).   You need to develop skills to put your ideas, plans, concepts in 3D format.  This is also a part of communications.

2017 - Everything Old is New Again.
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. ~ by Thomas Alva Edison

Offline Lee Jay

  • Elite Veteran
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6618
  • Liked: 890
  • Likes Given: 135
Re: Questions from a 7th grader
« Reply #6 on: 02/12/2016 08:16 PM »
Hello, My name is Brendan Dunne and I am in 7th grade. I am posting this because I am doing a project for school on a career we would consider when we grow up. I chose Aerospace Engineering. We have to interview someone who does the job themselves. I was hoping someone could answer a few questions for me. Thank You.

I'm not an aerospace engineer, but I'm an engineer in an aerospace field.  I work at a national laboratory doing research.

Quote
1.What are the responsibilities of your department?
Primarily generating new information about our field by doing field research and analytical study (modeling).

Quote
2.How long have you worked at this position?
About 23 years.
Quote
3.What type of education do I need for this job?
I have a BS and an MS in Electrical Engineering.  Most of my colleagues have at least an MS in engineering, physics or math.

Quote
4.What do you like most about your job?
Get to do fun stuff with big toys and be creative in solving problems.
Quote
5.What do you like least about your job?
Bureaucracy and politics.
Quote
6.What is the average salary range for this field?
A lot more than the median US income.
Quote
7.Do you have any advice for me as I consider this career choice?
Do well in school and learn to spend your free time learning, whether it's in hobbies or games or whatever.  Learn every chance you get.
Quote
8.How important is time management in this field?
You can only do what you can do.  It's important to use your time effectively.
Quote
9.What activities take up most of your time on the job?
Unfortunately, dealing with the bureaucracy and going to meetings (meetings are mostly a waste of time).
Quote
10.How are computers used in this job?
How are computers *not* used in this job?  Communications, design, data collection, control, analysis, storage, etc.

Tags: