What can a Rocket Scientist do in business?

Designing an aircraft is the Ultimate Expected Rate of Return Problem

Even to the untrained eye, the amount of work required for an aircraft’s design and construction is immense. As such, development takes decades in many cases. However, an aircraft must be exploiting bleeding edge technologies when it is introduced. Thus, during the initial design phase, analysis about the probability of a technology’s readiness for production ten to twenty years in the future must be done. The complexity of this problem increases as one must consider a portfolio of hundreds of emerging technologies – that may or may not be mutually exclusive. To develop an aircraft which will be relevant, an “Expected Rate of Return” on all of these technologies must be developed for each relevant subsystem, and thus the aircraft design as a whole. I’m used to being able to develop the best solution not just for now, but for the lifespan of a system.

Complex Problems are the Norm

The aircraft design process requires application of problem solving methodologies in order to get an optimized solution. Georgia Tech’s Aerospace Engineering department doesn’t provide a “Solve your homework problems and come back tomorrow.” type education. It provides a “Here is a problem, you have three months to figure out the best solution possible. Go.” type education. To quote one of my favorite professors when a student asked for help on how to design a ballistic missile intercept system, “Well if I knew the best way to do it, I wouldn’t have asked you to figure it out.” I don’t need someone to hold my hand. I don’t need an example to follow. I’m used to independently researching a situation, defining the problem, developing a solution roadmap, implementing the tools required, and delivering an optimized solution.

Teamwork is the Norm

Many Aerospace projects simply required more man hours of work than an individual was capable of doing. I have worked in groups of various sizes, some were as large as 13. Meetings were run efficiently and quickly when in person, and the use of collaborative software was required because of dealing with the schedules of that many individuals. The pièce de résistance of my college career was a collaborative effort of 9 people. The final product couldn’t have been accomplished without the input of everyone. The final result reflects the success of the team. I would relish the opportunity to work with all of them again, in any environment, and they would all say the same of me.  I have experience delegating and working in a large scale team environment, with a documented history of success.

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