Author Topic: Best Paths into space industry  (Read 1741 times)

Offline jedijeff123

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Best Paths into space industry
« on: 08/02/2018 09:07 PM »
Hello all,
Longtime lurker, L2 member. I'm here because I'm a little confused about what the best path is for me into the space industry education wise.

I'm currently a Sergeant in the Army, enlisted, working as a communications technician. I have about 15 credit hours that was the start of a degree in mechanical engineering. At the time I was a full-time student, young, and working as a fabricator. I've come to realize since that mechanical engineering isn't quite my cup of tea, and preferably I'd rather go electrical engineering/computer science if I stay in the engineering side of the house.

This is where it gets complicated for me. I am looking to finish my bachelor's degree in SOMETHING STEM related so that I can take advantage of an Army program that will let me become an officer after I finish a master's degree, without working during my studies and retaining my pay. I have about 4 years before I am able to use this program, so my only options to complete my bachelor's degree are online courses. Many soldiers do these courses, but they're almost always in non-STEM fields.

My long term plan here is to:

1. Spend a few years as an Officer, get out, and find a job working for either NASA or a commercial space company.

2. Continue as an Officer and apply to the Astronaut Training Program.

3. Finish my contract in 2021, utilize my GI Bill for a degree in Computer Science/Electrical Engineering, and cross my fingers I'm good enough to get hired by a new space company.

Right now, the problem I'm facing is choosing a degree I can complete online that will give me a viable career if I end up going option 1. I feel like having military officer on my resume will look better, and that also gives me the option to apply directly into the NASA Astronaut Program. Are there any recommendations on a reputable major that can be completed online that will set me up for success?

Offline krsears

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Re: Best Paths into space industry
« Reply #1 on: 08/02/2018 09:23 PM »
Look into Purdue University and/or Purdue Global.  Purdue is renowned for the space program.  Neil Armstrong is an alumnus.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purdue_University_School_of_Aeronautics_and_Astronautics

Kendall

Offline PhotoEngineer

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Re: Best Paths into space industry
« Reply #2 on: 08/03/2018 12:04 AM »
Whichever route you go, make sure your doing courses through an ABET accredited school for engineering. That will make sure you get the foundation you need, regardless of major.

Offline erikdurn

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Re: Best Paths into space industry
« Reply #3 on: 08/03/2018 01:28 AM »
Whichever route you go, make sure your doing courses through an ABET accredited school for engineering. That will make sure you get the foundation you need, regardless of major.

This.

Make sure whatever degree program you’ll ultimately pursue meets NASA’s definition of “accredited college or university”. A popular way to become a civil servant with NASA is starting with one of their support contractors for a few years and then applying for a federal job when the opportunity arises. I know many people that are unable to make that jump because they didn’t get the right degree. They degrees from Engineering Technology programs, etc.

Offline Jim

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Re: Best Paths into space industry
« Reply #4 on: 08/03/2018 03:37 PM »
I feel like having military officer on my resume will look better, and that also gives me the option to apply directly into the NASA Astronaut Program.

Not really.
a.  It doesn't buy you anything for engineering with NASA.
b.  And since you're not a pilot, it doesn't help with astronaut.  You need engineering or science experience to apply for an astronaut as a non pilot.

Don't do Computer Science, stick with engineering, Mechanical or electrical

Offline jedijeff123

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Re: Best Paths into space industry
« Reply #5 on: 08/03/2018 07:21 PM »
Thanks for all the replies. I am looking at doing an online program at ASU in electrical engineering.

As far as the officer part of things, a Major in my unit is transitioning to be a 40A space operations officer and previously had made it pretty far into one of the recent astronaut selection processes. So that's why I am considering it.

Offline D_Dom

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Re: Best Paths into space industry
« Reply #6 on: 08/03/2018 10:04 PM »
Looking at the course descriptions for that program they introduce you to the deep end of the math pool right away. Always a good sign.
 Just took a quick glance but I didn't notice ABET accreditation as PhotoEngineer mentioned, it may be there. Look at a variety of job qualifications you might be interested in, I have seen where the words "or equivalent" are used when describing the accreditation of engineering degrees. As in everything engineering, details matter.
Space is not merely a matter of life or death, it is considerably more important than that!

Offline jedijeff123

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Re: Best Paths into space industry
« Reply #7 on: 08/04/2018 12:02 AM »
Just took a quick glance but I didn't notice ABET accreditation as PhotoEngineer mentioned, it may be there.
The ASU program is indeed ABET accredited.

Offline Danitron

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Re: Best Paths into space industry
« Reply #8 on: 08/05/2018 10:04 AM »
I'm in a similar situation, but a little further down the career path. I'm looking at Masters programs and have boiled my selections down to two online masters programs; UCCS in Colorado and FIT in Florida (Spaceport).

Attached is a file I used to track programs.  There are programs from the EU/UK and USA, if anyone has experience with UCCS / FIT, please comment. I was looking at labs, professors and their research, proximity to space companies for internships, and of course, cost.  I decided to work through it so online programs with access to on site resources are key for me now.  Take a look at the xls, maybe it will help make a decision.

Also, any advise for transferring from a non-space industry into space would be helpful for BS grads to know, most people I see on Linkedin have been in aerospace most of their careers.

My methods to answer this subject for myself have been as follows:
I started looking at the companies making an impact on the space industry, then the people at those companies through linked in, then the career paths they've taken and what schools they attended for BS and MS/ME degrees.  Also, keeping track of who is competing in NASA funded projects leads to a great selection of schools with space industry ties and interesting reading on where the industry is headed.

Offline TripleSeven

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Re: Best Paths into space industry
« Reply #9 on: 08/05/2018 11:41 AM »


Right now, the problem I'm facing is choosing a degree I can complete online that will give me a viable career if I end up going option 1. I feel like having military officer on my resume will look better, and that also gives me the option to apply directly into the NASA Astronaut Program. Are there any recommendations on a reputable major that can be completed online that will set me up for success?

I dont know what the Army is like,, but the lucky break in my life came after TPS and an overseas assignment flying another countries planes...I got the chance to go work on programs, that involved a major builder of planes :) .  the contacts made there were invaluable to me in figuring out what came next.  I walked right out of the military and into the test pilots shop of that contractor...and it changed my career.

My oldest managed to get her masters from Perdue more or less on line.  But once you get the degree thing worked out...if you can get attached to some program in the Army ...the contacts you can make in industry will be invaluable (at least they were for me) in terms of what you do afterwards.

Good luck...main thing is pick something that you enjoy doing no matter where and how you end up doing it


Offline Jim

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Re: Best Paths into space industry
« Reply #10 on: 08/06/2018 04:29 PM »
Thanks for all the replies. I am looking at doing an online program at ASU in electrical engineering.

As far as the officer part of things, a Major in my unit is transitioning to be a 40A space operations officer and previously had made it pretty far into one of the recent astronaut selection processes. So that's why I am considering it.

Does he have an engineering or science degree?  He might have gone far within the Army's selection process but not NASA's. 

NASA doesn't hire people with degrees.  They hire people with experience using their degrees. 

from:  https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/postsecondary/features/F_Astronaut_Requirements.html

1.  A bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics.
2.  At least three years of related professional experience obtained after degree completion OR at least 1,000 hours pilot-in-command time on jet aircraft.

And to be competitive, an advanced degree or more experience is required, since many of the others will have either of them. 

No where does NASA's requirements have anything about commissioning.   The only reason officers become astronauts is because either pilots or engineers have commissions.  You don't see an enlisted person using using an engineering degree in their military job and hence there is no way to gain experience in that degree.
« Last Edit: 08/06/2018 04:37 PM by Jim »

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