Stay on the leading edge of the drag curve

“Oh, the times, they are a-changing’ . . . . . . ”

It’s a necessary, if unfortunate, feature of the aerospace industry, that it is highly regulated. Of course. The flying public has this irrational desire to want to arrive at their destination in one piece. With their baggage. Therefore, the process of designing, making, and operating aircraft must be regulated tightly.

Which means, those working in it live in a very conservative little bubble. You tend not to have much clue of what life is like in other bubbles.

And you tend to attract people who are conservative and blinkered in outlook.

I’m still meeting people in aerospace who say, “Yeah, I’ve heard about this LinkedIn thing. What is it?”

In a fast-changing world, that approach to life is fine, as long as your nice little bubble stays intact.

Don’t count on it.

The drag curve

In a fast-changing world, the best place to be is on the leading edge of the drag curve. (To use aerodynamic parlance.)

So here are Six Trends/Things you would be wise to check out, to stay on the leading edge.

You don’t have to sell your soul to them. But at least be aware of them, and how they are changing the world. Your world. And, as Calvin would say to Hobbes, “Zounds! We might have just discovered fun!”

  1. LinkedIn. Facebook for professionals. In some industries, it has completely replaced CV’s. Get your own profile, and start selling yourself. (Unless you are independently wealthy, and intend to spend the rest of your days as a hermit.) There are plenty of places to learn how to optimise your profile, but TheLinkedInMan is one I’ve found particularly helpful. 
  2. Crowd funding. Of these, Kickstarter and Indiegogo are the best known, but new crowd-funding apps are springing up every day. These tools make it easier than ever before to find out if there’s a market for your idea, and raise the funds for it, before you’ve manufactured a thing.
  3. Crowd sourcing. Tools like eLance and oDesk have been around for a decade, allowing you to hire or outsource work to virtual assistants, copywriters, web developers, etc. But GrabCAD has now come along, doing the same thing for mechanical engineers and CAD jockeys. The trend will spread. It levels the playing field on a global scale, and suppresses incomes for professionals in highly-developed countries. However, it also enables professionals anywhere to compete for work anywhere.
  4. The Maker movement. This includes, but is more than, 3D printing. It includes Arduino electronics. It is now incredibly easy to commercialise your own ideas. It has already given rise to new businesses (Sparkfun, DIY Drones, and Adafruit are examples), with more to come. People who just enjoy hacking around with stuff (e.g. electronics, weird furniture) are finding that they can make fans of their work, and sometimes even make a living doing their hobby.
  5. Cloud engineering. Amazon Web Services have been around for a while now, allowing you to develop and host your own web app remotely. IBM are climbing onto the bandwagon now with OpenStack. Of the trends I’ve listed here, this one stands to be the most disruptive to aerospace.
  6. Big Data. Google, Facebook, Amazon and eBay have now collected a massive amount of data on us. They are slowly making that data available to you and me. But what does the data mean? How to make sense of it? New tools and companies are springing up to do just that. Goes hand-in-hand with cloud engineering.

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