Tag Archives: aerospace

Cannibalize your present to optimize your future.

I hate to be a killjoy. So apologies in advance for starting off on a negative foot.

The bull run for engineering opportunities in aerospace has ended.

For most of the last two decades, good- to well-paying work opportunities in the western aerospace industry have not been hard to find. Indeed, the opportunities usually came hunting for you. and when one gig ended, there were five more lined up outside, waiting to snap you up.

Not any more.

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A student’s take on studying aerospace

It’s time for another guest post!

I mentioned a few weeks ago that there was a sudden spike of traffic on this site. Well here is the guy who was probably responsible for it. Seems he liked the site, so he told a few friends, who told a few friends, who told . . . . . .

I quickly found myself chatting online with a very switched-on graduate student named Ilhan Akcay. We agreed that he should write a post.

This will obviously be of interest mainly to those approaching or in their university years, and less to those who are post- university. Nevertheless, I’m grateful for his writing this post. Now that I’m in the second half of my ball game, my memories are bound to be a little hazy, and times and technology have changed a lot.

Here is Ilhan’s take on what it’s like to actually do a course of study in aerospace engineering.

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Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – Final Words of Wisdom

Some of these you may have already heard of. It’s good to be reminded of them. They are good habits to live and work by, not just in aerospace.

If you can apply them all, every day . . . . . . . I salute you. You should be my teacher.

Here they are:

Pareto’s Law

20% of the inputs generate 80% of the outputs. I quoted this to you earlier in this series of posts. It applies to everything.

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Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – Five Myths That Need to be Slaughtered

(1) My manager should help me achieve my career goals.

(Also known as: When I get bored of this job, my manager will help me move to a more interesting one.)

Maybe he should, but almost certainly he won’t.

Your manager is primarily concerned with his own career objectives.

If he’s got his eye on a promotion, or even a sideways move, the last thing he wants is a vacancy on his team. That’s another problem that his manager will point to, and say, “We can’t promote you until you sort that out.” So he’s going to do everything in his power to dissuade you from leaving.

He may say, “Just do me this one favour, I’ll make it up to you”.

No, he won’t.

Continue reading Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – Five Myths That Need to be Slaughtered

Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – Five aerospace career strategies

If it’s so hard to get started in aerospace, and it’s so hard to have a long-term satisfying career in aerospace, is it even worth making the effort?

Yes.

Here are five strategies for doing so. (And just for the record, I am applying a couple of these strategies myself currently.)

(1) Identify a need or an inefficiency that’s overlooked, and develop a solution.

Paul Graham, one of the early web pioneers and founder of tech startup VC firm YCombinator, wrote a brilliant post that condensed the process of starting a new firm down to five simple rules:

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Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – The opportunity gap

I started writing this post in response to a comment from a reader, who is curious about a perceived opportunity gap in aerospace between the US and Europe.

It’s not purely a perceived gap, of course. If the gap is perceived, then, to borrow from Marshall McLuhan’s famous phrase, the gap is real.

If you live in the US, which has for the last 50 years invested most heavily in its aerospace industry (commercial, military, and all other sub-sectors), then you have the best chances of launching and growing a successful aerospace career.

If you live in a Western European country, your chances are not as good, but they’re still pretty good compared with the rest of the world. Things are improving, but slowly.

Let’s ask the questions, then.

Why do so many young people in Europe and in the US (let alone the rest of the world) still find getting an aerospace job so hard? Why is it so painful?

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Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – Quick anatomy of an aerospace project

What’s an anatomy of an aerospace project? How do all the processes, design, construction and testing, pull together?

Phew. You want me to discuss this? In a single post?

It needs a book!

And there are books available. I recommend Prof. John Fielding’s book Introduction to Aircraft Design, simply because I studied under him, and I never met anybody else with such a comprehensive engineering knowledge of aircraft and the industry that produces them. You could ask him any question, and if he couldn’t answer it directly himself, he’d point you in the direction of a book or a person who could.

People like that are few and far between. And you almost never find one inside a company that actually makes aircraft. They’re usually academics who have deliberately removed themselves from the business in order to study it from a distance.

That’s the problem with aerospace. The process (really, the process of processes) is so damn complex that it’s almost impossible to see the whole picture.

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Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – How on Earth Does This Place WORK? Continued

As I said in the last post, in every office . . . .

All is not as it seems.

In every office, in every university, in every street gang, in places of worship, in organized charities . . . . . there is office politics.

Every human being entering a room brings a soul, an ego, a temperament, a collection of past experiences, values, joys, and fears, etc. Some positive, some negative.

It affects how they interact with other individuals. It affects how they interact in groups of people.

You’ve experienced this already, of course. It exists in every community of people who meet daily to share common values or achieve common aims.

What you may not know is the degree to which it can make a mockery of org charts.

It is quite possible, for example, for a programme manager or integrator to have less real influence than a section head or a project manager. On the surface, one should have more authority and influence than the other, but in practice, because of temperament or personality, the reverse is true.

Just understand that for every org chart you see, there is an unofficial org chart that isn’t written down anywhere, but that everybody has in their heads.

Get familiar with that unofficial org chart. Learn to work with it. It can save you a lot of time and heartache in the long run.

Here are some of the “unofficial” job functions you will meet:

Continue reading Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – How on Earth Does This Place WORK? Continued

Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – How on Earth Does This Place WORK?

Once you’ve got that first engineering job, you’ll have to deal with an array of new faces, names, job titles and processes. Someone will probably push a series of organizational charts (org charts, for short) in front of you, illustrating the hierarchy and reporting structure of the company, the department you’re in, who does what, who reports to whom, etc, etc.

It will be bewildering at first.

It will be bewildering later on, when you change departments or companies. A whole new set of face, names, processes, etc.

These org charts exist in aerospace companies for two reasons. One is obvious: Just as a map helps you navigate from one place to another, an org chart helps people understand how to interact with each other day-to-day.

Continue reading Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – How on Earth Does This Place WORK?