First of all, great choice! Aerospace and aviation present a wealth of challenging and rewarding career paths, offering something for anyone excited about advancing the art and science of aircraft and their many applications. Ever-improving technologies are resulting in new and novel industries, and the growth of economies around the world ensures the continued expansion of both traditional and disruptive aviation markets.
At Generation Orbit, we’re proud to be pushing the aerospace envelope and are always interested in encouraging the next generation of great talent to consider the same exciting career about which we are so passionate. With that in mind, here are some pointers that may help you get started in aerospace and help you achieve success in your chosen field:
- Take advantage of any STEM opportunities you may have; no matter what direction your career takes you, a solid background in basic and applied sciences, and especially mathematics of any and all kinds, will give you a greater understanding of the challenges and opportunities in your own field and those of your colleagues.
- Strive to be “interdisciplinary” (I would have said “well-rounded,” but now my buzzword quota is fulfilled for this post!). There is an unfortunate tendency toward overspecialization in today’s science and technology industries, particularly in the academic arena. You can set yourself apart by gaining familiarity with tools and methods outside of your chosen field, and ensure that you’re never pigeon-holed or typecast into a particular role. Producing or operating a successful aircraft can be a titanic undertaking, requiring the coordinated efforts of many people working in concert – the more you know about the “bigger picture,” the more successful you’ll be in contributing to the project.
- Familiarize yourself with the history of the industry, and with as many historical aircraft systems as you can. I’m often surprised by how far back in time the current “state of the art” can be traced. We are often “standing on the shoulders of giants,” even when developing new aircraft. Our intention, of course, is to be giants in our own right as well, but a key to getting there is to learn as much as we can from the successes and failures of the great scientists, engineers, technicians, pilots, and businesspeople who have gone before us and faced down similar challenges.
- Most importantly, get your hands dirty and gain real-world experience in any field even tangentially related to your area of interest. Get into the shop or the lab and practice developing your ideas. Pursue internships or jobs that get you close to aircraft. Take up a hobby that will help you develop your skills while you do something you find fun and relaxing. These pursuits will help to fulfill all of the previously listed pointers, and will be a lot of fun to engage in along the way.
- Last, but not least: learn to code. No matter what branch of aerospace you would like to go into, the power of computing will touch on almost all aspects of your chosen career, and knowing the basics of computing and coding will often be an invaluable tool in your skillset. Huge time savings can be realized in any field by automating repetitive operations and by assigning the work of complex calculations to a literal calculating machine. This not only frees up your time to focus on the more exciting work that only a real brain can undertake, but also saves a lot of time (read: money) for your employer, and saving your employer money is one of the best things you can do to ensure a long, successful, and mutually beneficial career.
-Orion Wingfield, April 2017