In the everyday, strenuous monotony of engineering classes, it sometimes becomes difficult to remember what you are working for. Then every once in a while, something will happen or you’ll meet someone who will help you remember. This occurred for me during the ERAU Admissions Open House on October 17th.
The open house reminded me of several things, the first being why I’m doing all of this in the first place. “I’m really in awe of what you are doing and what my son wants to do’, said one of the fathers I spoke to on Saturday. “It almost seems like science fiction-what you work on every day.” I used to think of aerospace engineering as turning science fiction into science fact. I wanted to make a lasting technological difference to extend man’s abilities into the far reaches of space. Sounds pretty inspiring doesn’t it? It’s not something I think about everyday though.
It’s something you think about when someone asks you why you wanted to be a rocket scientist, or what you do as a rocket scientist. On an everyday basis, however, it’s hard to think, I’m solving Orbital Mechanics problems, and I can solve for exactly how long it should take a satellite to travel from Earth to Mars, and I can write a program that will generate a computer model of it. Usually my thoughts are something along the lines of how on Earth am I going to finish all of this homework? Why did I pick something so hard? Would I be happier with something simpler?
The truth of the matter is that what I am working on is amazing. The mission of the Dryden Flight Research Center is to “Fly what others only imagine,” and when I am working my co-op rotations there, I am a part of achieving that goal. How awesome is that? Plus, I get to say that I’m a rocket scientist! And of course that should never be anyone’s primary motivation for their studies, but it is definitely a huge perk.
Talking to perspective students whose excitement about aerospace engineering was fresh and unsullied was very refreshing. Speaking to students who were so interested in what I am doing was very rewarding. I was talking to several other engineering students and professors who felt similar. We all couldn’t help but feel recharged with a renewed sense of purpose.
Another thing that the Open House reminded me of was what I was like back and high school and then on the same train of thought, how much I have grown, changed, and accomplished since then. It’s kind of like when you were little and you hadn’t seen Aunt Edna in a couple years. You were able to see the gradual changes in your appearance and maturity. Aunt Edna didn’t though, and looking at you at time one, age eight and not again until time two, age ten, she saw the significant changes in your growth.
During open house I began to look at myself from a time one to time two perspective, and the results were somewhat dramatic. I know that I have said it before in other writings, but I honestly believe that I have changed more as a person in since I started college (about two and a half years ago) than I changed in the 13 years that I spent in public school.
It was a good feeling, being reminded of how far my hard work has really taken me. It reaffirmed that all of the hard work I have put in over the past several years has been worth it.