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Space Log: Sally Ride and engineering

George Leopold
7/28/2010 01:56 PM EDT

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ANON1241272637112
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re: Space Log: Sally Ride and engineering
ANON1241272637112   9/22/2010 4:05:22 AM
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If my sampling of kids coming out of university with engineering degrees is any indication of our committment to engineering in this country...I am fearful for the future of this country. Most of the kids, that I know, coming out of school (with a bachelor's degree) these days consider themselves blessed to find a job that pays even $20 per hour. When they go to recruiters looking for a job, they get told to go back to school and get a degree.....in something else.... We are better than this.....

ewoelk
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re: Space Log: Sally Ride and engineering
ewoelk   7/28/2010 9:01:29 PM
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35 years ago I and my highschool friends could not wait to get our drivers license and an old car. Driving and fixing the car was fun. 3 years ago my son and his highschool friends showed little interest in cars or the engineering that went into them. Their interest is social interaction as ours was engineering and cars. I doubt that television could done more to get young people interested in engineering. And there are attempts. Mythbusters was entertaining and conveyed the sweetness of failures and successes in science. How many college students did this show inspire to pursue science and tech? Not too many, I'd think. I am very curious to see what our kids will end up doing for a career.

Bob Lacovara
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re: Space Log: Sally Ride and engineering
Bob Lacovara   7/28/2010 8:10:36 PM
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Agreed, finding a job in the aerospace industry is difficult at the moment, and likely to remain so for some time. I spent 14 years as a contractor to NASA/JSC with MITRE and then Draper Laboratory; I would find it hard to recommend aerospace to an engineering student unless that student was highly motivated to begin with. I think you need to nurture a love of science way sooner than the university: sometime in grammar school kids begin to find out what they are interested in and not interested in, at least in a general way. As to glamorizing engineering or science in film, hm... there are some pretty neat stories out there, but I can't see the excitement that you would want being generated by the stories of the likes of Sikorsky, Armstrong, Boeing, Goddard: you pick. (Although these stories might fascinate me or you!) Screenplays require drama, and I'm not sure where the drama is in my job. (My daughter, by the way, delights in telling me that I'm dull. Perhaps.) The interest and sometimes even excitement are there, but I can barely communicate this to lay adults, let alone my kids. Engineers, I think, would work for free if they could afford it: this isn't perhaps the best advertisement for the career, though.

nicolas.mokhoff
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re: Space Log: Sally Ride and engineering
nicolas.mokhoff   7/28/2010 7:09:28 PM
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With hundreds of Space Shuttle workers being laid off in Florida, Texas and Alabama finding a job in space work becomes hard. When potential engineers choose their career path this disheartening news makes them wonder how they will earn a living in the next frontier. We need more than a festival on the Washington Mall to light the fire under future scientists and technologits; we need more interdisciplinary programs at universities and get some "boob tube" time to make it interesting and fun to become engineers. Any screenpalys out there that Hollywood would be interested in producing, and in 3-D for that matter?

Bob Lacovara
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re: Space Log: Sally Ride and engineering
Bob Lacovara   7/28/2010 3:07:11 PM
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Getting the "young 'uns" interested in engineering is an interesting problem. Dr. Ride has a particular interest in this area, and that's a good thing, as she is an iconic figure in space/science/engineering. Certainly, she has easier access to the audience than say, I might. That aside, the more basic question is "why are so few students interested in engineering or science?" There are two aspects here: one is that for every person who has a bend or interest in engineering or science, there are 50 who don't. And of the 50 who don't, I propose a controversial explanation: many have been brainwashed away from the hard discipline of (engineering, law, medicine, science: insert your favorite) by television. Starting with the flicker cuts of Sesame Street and moving on, kids spend an astonishing amount of time locked into (what used to be called) the boob tube. And I suspect that something that might have been nurtured is squashed and pushed aside. Your mileage may vary: I'd like to hear your opinion. This is an important issue: the newcomers to our respective fields have to carry the torch on for us.

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