Crisis of Plan

The times they are a-changin’.

This post seems to be older than 12 years—a long time on the internet. It might be outdated.

I think there’s a misconception floating around that everyone things I know exactly what I want to do in life. This is a myth, kind of: if right now was 1959, I’d be working for the McDonnell Aircraft Company building the capsules for Project Mercury. I’d later work on Project Gemini, Apollo, and SkyLab programs before helping design the Space Transport System. If I was lucky, I’d even get to ride up into space to do a stint on the International Space Station.

For the longest time, I thought programs like those still existed. Over the years, I’ve found that the “glory day of engineering” jobs don’t really exist anymore and working at Boeing has proven a big eye-opener to that fact. I think I also romanticized the idea of being an engineer working on the space program.

These two issues put me in what I’ll call my crisis of plan. You see, I had the future mapped out. Not in step by step detail, but more or less what type of job I wanted to do. To discover that I was a half-century too late was heartbreaking. I happened to come across something that I think captures my feelings pretty accurately, on the topic of Engineer at Uncyclopedia:

Star Trek is famous for its unrealistic, but very exciting, portrayal of engineers. In fact, nearly 83% of engineering students claim that they chose to pursue their specialty with the assumption that after passing their PE exam, they’d be assigned to a starship (NCC class or higher) and would spend their remaining days reporting warp core status to smooth, attractive captains or having sex with a diverse array of alien life forms. These engineers are incredibly disappointed to learn that their “captains” are mediocre managers who were promoted so the company wouldn’t have to clean up their engineering.

So where does that leave me now? Well, the search is on. I think I’m in a better position now then I was – even a year ago – to understand how engineering is done. I still want to work on space programs and that’s what I’m going to pursue because that’s what I love, even if it’s not the romanticized engineering I dream of.

I’m still holding out hope, though, that there I’ll be able to find my Shangri-La. I’m confident it still exists somewhere, it’s just not where I expected it to be.

Image caption: An engineer at the Instrumentation Laboratory inspects a mockup of the guidance and navigation system that will be used aboard NASA’s Project APOLLO spacecraft. The spacecraft will carry three U.S. astronauts to the moon and back. Instrumentation Laboratory, together with several participating contractors, is designing and developing the guidance and navigation system.
Image credit: MIT Office of Public Relations, undated MIT Photo


5 thoughts on “Crisis of Plan”

  1. “mediocre managers who were promoted so the company wouldn?t have to clean up their engineering.” This one (sadly) really applies to my job… like REALLY does… LOL

    After a year in the workforce I think it is really important to just relax and enjoy the ride. I’ve always been someone who needed everything planned out; I always knew exactly what my next year looked like, and had a pretty good idea what the next two or three would hold. However, after school you really need to let go of that idea.

    Find a job you like in a company that will take care of you and just buckle down and do your best while keeping your eyes open for other opportunities out there. Sure there will be assignments you don’t like (just like there is Physics II) but you do your best, and in the end it looks good on your resume.

    It sounds like you already understand that (“I?m confident it still exists somewhere, it?s just not where I expected it to be.”) Besides, half the fun is finding it!

  2. I loved reading this Ferg! It’s okay to not have your whole life figured out…trust me. I mean, you still have a year of school left to work on figuring out the next step! I’m out in the real world without much of a plan, and though yes, it’s scary, God’s got a bigger and better plan for you! You’ve just got to trust him that things are going to work out. There no perfect path for your life…do what brings you joy! That’s how you’ll have a full and happy life. Don’t stress dude. I think you’re in a great place.

  3. While on one hand you feel you are a half-century too late on the other hand the fact that you have come to this awareness so early in your career actually puts you light years ahead.

    Your talk of space brought this to mind:
    Apparently most of the fuel that is used by spaceships traveling to the moon is consumed in just getting them beyond earth’s gravity. After they have done so, NASA scientists count on lunar gravity to pull the spaceship toward the moon. Similarly, it is “escape velocity” that requires most of the energy, moving us away from our former way of life. A compelling vision must be so clear and so powerful that its very magnetism and gravitational forces will literally pull you toward it.

    Your ?escape velocity? has nearly been consumed in your launch toward this seemingly thwarted goal – clearly there will need to be lunar gravity from a different ‘moon’ to pull you. While it is true only one moon is visible from this earth, I believe that in your galaxy there will be others.
    I encourage you to be attentive to what may be pulling you ? initially it may just be at the outer edges of your awareness. Recalibrate your settings for the possibility of a different moon or perhaps even a different compelling vision. You?re not lost in space as long as you know who put it there!

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