Category Archives: Kickstart Your Aerospace Career

Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – Freelancers, Clouds, Crowds, Open-Source, and Makers

A trend over the last 20 years is that of freelancers, or contractors, as they are also known. Knowledge workers who hire themselves out to companies temporarily.

In the 1980’s it was comparatively rare. You only went freelance if you:

  1. Were extraordinarily bold, and had no fear of being unemployed;
  2. Had a particularly high-value set of skills that were hard to find, and that companies were prepared to pay a premium for;
  3. Were approaching the end of your career, and had a great network of powerful contacts who were prepared to compensate you handsomely for some consulting (often business-development-related).

Continue reading Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – Freelancers, Clouds, Crowds, Open-Source, and Makers

Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – What it feels like on the inside

The typical aerospace engineer went into the industry because . . . .

Designing aircraft was cool.

You’d get to stick your name on one of those birds up there, and tell your kids about it. You’d get to do detailed technical work, work with smart people, come up with new ways of doing stuff, make birds fly really fast, play with cool software that had pretty pictures, etc, etc. And, well, the pay would be enough to support you and a family, house, two cars, and an occasional holiday in the south of France.

And the best? You’d get to see the first flight.

(Not much gets aerospace types excited and emotional. Believe me, you get excited about first flight.)

Wow! Awesome, right?

Continue reading Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – What it feels like on the inside

Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – The State of the Industry, continued

In the 15 years I’ve been in aerospace, everything has changed. And it’s still changing.

Airbus has FALs (Final Assembly Lines) and parts factories in China and the USA. It has significant design offices in Bangalore (India) and Wichita (USA). Boeing has a big design office in Russia.

Far more design work is outsourced to suppliers, often small firms, all over the work. Some is done for a fee, some on a risk-sharing basis (i.e. they are paid per aircraft sold).

Airbus (and Boeing, and the other major airframers) have moved towards the Integrator model.

High-value-added technical design and support work is outsourced to wherever, and the airframer manages it from a distance. (Boeing didn’t do this very well with the 787, hence have been talking about pulling more design work back in-house. However, economic and talent recruitment pressures will limit this.)

The driver for this is economic, not political.

Continue reading Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – The State of the Industry, continued

Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – The State of the Industry

You are leading a blinkered life if you don’t think that we live in a time of great change.

Aerospace is no exception.

When I started at Airbus in 1998, the vast majority of design work happened in-house. Or more simply: The lion’s share of the work was done by the employees of the Airbus partners. (It wasn’t a single company in those days, rather a consortium of partner companies.)

The employees all worked on the partners’ premises in four countries (France, Germany, the UK and Spain), and roughly ten locations within those countries.

Airbus had suppliers as well. Mostly smaller companies, in those same countries.

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Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – What on earth is going on?

Your second most important technical skill is Awareness.

Of yourself. Of what’s going on around you. With your colleagues. In the department. In the company. The industry, the world, politics, new technology, etc.

Again, not so much of a skill as a habit.

What I do know is that as you stay aware of how you and the world around you is changing, you stay ideally positioned to seize opportunities and avoid problems.

Techies tend to prize themselves on being just that, technically-minded.

Continue reading Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – What on earth is going on?

Kickstart your Aerospace Career – Your Most Important Technical Skill, continued

Want to know how I turned the corner on a self-confidence problem?

Apologies if it sounds lame, but I started:

The Action habit.

Up to that point, I had more or less been assuming that I would naturally just slide into the career situation that was perfectly suited to me. (It may sound weird that a grown man would think like that, but I did.)

Surprise, surprise, that hadn’t happened.

A friend who did corporate training for a living (and has since morphed into a life coach) told me, “Dude, cream rises to the top. But it’s got to be in milk first. If you’re not excelling, are you in the right environment for you to excel?”

He had me pegged.

Continue reading Kickstart your Aerospace Career – Your Most Important Technical Skill, continued

Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – Who on earth are you?

NOTE TO THE UNPREPARED: This post will initially seem like it has nothing to do with aerospace.

It does. Stick with it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Who are you?

Why do you get up in the morning, and go to this place but not that place?

What makes you tick? What scratches your itch?

What makes for a great aerospace career?

What makes for a great career in any field of endeavour, for that matter?

Does what I do make any positive difference to anyone else?

You need to ask yourself these questions.

Continue reading Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – Who on earth are you?

Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – Post 1

Boy oh boy, can things change in just 20 years.

In 1993, I was not long married, getting very little sleep (due to the new baby howling in the middle of the night), and less than a year into my second permanent job (with 7 months of unemployment in between them).

On New Year’s day, I vividly remember sitting in the hospital holding my one-day-old daughter, thinking, “Darn. If I’m going to attempt a career change, I’d better do it fast.”

I was already losing interest in my new job, and I suspected that my employer might also be losing interest in me. (They were.)

I’d been fascinated with flying machines ever since the age of three, when my grandparents had taken me to watch them at the nearby municipal airport. I’d been transfixed then, as I still am whenever anything flies overhead.

Continue reading Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – Post 1