i was in my early teens, in Minneapolis when Neil Armstrong set foot(s) on the Moon. i, also, had seen 2001 A Space Odyssey. I had, also, grown up with Mecury, Gemini and then Apollo. I was in Silicon Valley in 1976 when Engineers build companies from their garage, StarWars was at The Century Theaters (& then there was disco- sorry).
What-a-difference ... now that "MBA's", Accounting and HR are running "Silicon Valley" (really???). Apollo probably have been "different", also, if an "Administrator" and a "Bean-Counter" and H.R had to be included in the Lunar Module.
Location: I was in the delivery room. Yes, today is my birthday. My father told me that he's listening the radio and got these two news at the same time. That's why my parents trainned me to be a scientist/enginner. I'm an embedded system enginner for networking and lighting. Hope that I can have some project relate to space in the future.
Reader Tom Matheson writes in response to the EE Times Apollo digital edition:
. Thanks for the great article on the Apollo 11, the Epic mission to the moon. I was a 15 year old young Amateur Radio operator at the time on that night of July 1969. I knew at a young age I wanted (maybe even 5 years old) I wanted to be an engineer and build things and figure out how things work. Well, that night I was on my Ham set, an R. L. Drake R4-B receiver. I was just detuning and listening around the non-amateur frequencies and just happened to land on a communication with the Apollo 11 space craft and mission control giving telemetry (temperatures, nitrogen, various gases, etc) data on its way to the moon. I can?t even tell you how many miles they were from earth at the time. You couldn?t believe my excitement and unbelievable feeling that I had just by chance ?got? them giving that data on the HF freqs. I can?t even tell you what frequency I was on. I was so beside myself and being young didn?t even think to document the time and freq. Which is strange because has Hams we log everything. I was just blown away. I ran to my parents to tell them and come in to my Ham shack and listen. I had a reel-to-reel tape recorder but I didn?t get a chance to get it and set it up and record. I?m kicking myself to this very day that I didn?t do that.
That hobby and that epic day shaped my future and my career as I?m now an embedded software/hardware engineer and still love this stuff. I?ve been in this field for over 30 years. I have such a passion and it started at a very young age and has continued for all these years. My scenario is very familiar to the movie, ?Contact? when the young girl as W9HFO is a Ham listening around the Ham bands and wondering what is out there in space and that shaped her career in radio astronomy motivated by her dad which is exactly what my dad did for me.
June 20, 1969, I was at Ohio State, in the basement of Taylor Tower watching the landing on TV with other girls (only 6 others) and some 40 boys, all of us between our junior and senior years in high school. We were at a NSF 6-week long summer camp/course, held at OSU, to learn about engineering. Three of us girls roomed together a year later at OSU, two of us in engineering, the other in math. Two of us became engineers. I have lost track of my other fellow students, though, I?m hopeful more went into engineering too. Because the NSF engineering program is what opened my eyes to engineering, a young girl of 16 ... and that wonderful evening....
For me, this whole blog is interesting to read (I have read every message and will read more to come I hope) possibly for a different reason. After a career in high-tech, earning an MS in mechanical engineering working full-time, I worked mostly as a manager. Today, after a six-year turn in teaching young people, I am back in high tech for a few years now. Late in life, I am working on a PhD in Education at Walden University. Both my husband and I coached a high school robotics team for several years, and I?m on a BOD that runs a local annual competition. I have seen what an impact these programs can have. After I taught several summers for Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Program, teaching fifth and sixth grader about Newtonian physics and doing all sorts of hands-on experiments, I began to believe young people today were not having sufficient opportunities to learn with their fingertips. My young students taught me that.
Thus, my PhD focus is to analyze the true state of engineering, computer science, and physical science graduates today (are numbers declining, stagnating, or rising, does it matter?), and explore WHY and WHAT has changed?and to see if hands-on experiential programs, like robotics, can influence young people and grow more engineer and scientists. For decades, my focus had been to urge more women to consider engineering. When I graduated, less than 800 women earned a bachelor degree in engineering; now, I focus on both men and women, as many men who might have entered those fields in generations past are not. We need engineers to fuel our country?s innovation. And I know the race to the moon and the Shuttle after it that I worked on at Rockwell in my early career years, have always been inspirational to me. What inspires our youth today? How can we make a difference for them?
While as a kid I watched every moon landing and had a box of every NY Times article on the Apollo missions saved (probably tossed while I was at college), I think what really got my interest in engineering was the movie 2001. To me it wasn't the excitement of what we'de done, but *what could be*. Not that I wanted to grow up to build homicidal computers, but moon bases and inter-planetary travel by 2001 all seemed pretty plausible given how fast humans went from cars->planes->jets->moon. Guess it wasn't to be; OTOH we've explored our solar system with probes/robotic explorers and space telescopes that have provided more knowledge than sending meat in a tin-can to a planet ever would have...not that it would be bad to do both, but given the current political realities...
I was in my freshman year of college. By the time Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon, I KNEW I wanted to someday go to the moon, or at least be involved somehow. Even as a younger kid at age 8, as soon as the first man-made satellite (Sputnik) went into space, I wanted to go there too. After graduating from college with a degree in chemistry, I wound up working on the space shuttle project to develop adhesive and composite materials for aerospace applications.That was as close as I got to going into space, but I sure had a great time working with others to make it happen. Now I'm still involved in similar endeavors, but this time with the semiconductor industry, working with MEMS and nanotechnology.
Today, the world is different. We had something to look forward to when I was growing up. The President of the United States then was a true leader. He understood what had to be done and challengedthe citizens of the United States. When John F. Kennedy said in 1961 that we will land a man on the moon by the end of that decade, we had a national goal. We had to get there before the Russians. And we did! Since that time, we have not had a true national goal for this nation. We need one again if we are to survive as a FREE nation!!!
I suppose I would have been inspired by the Apollo landing. I was born the same day that Apollo 17 splashed down (Dec. 19th, '72). Nobody has set foot on the Moon in my lifetime, and I'm old enough to run for President. It's time we went back -- or like Buzz Aldrin has said, to Mars. Think of how inspiring *that* would be, for the next generation of engineers!
I was 15 when man first walked on another planet. I had followed the space program from the beginning. I got myself on a NASA mailing list and got all kinds of cool posters, and high quality books and photos from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. (I still have them) I was extremely excited that night. We watched on the old B&W tube model Philco TV with rooftop antenna with rotator. We knew this was so significant. In fact we wanted to save the moment and took photos of the TV screens.
My dad was a tool and die maker and always talked admiringly about Engineers. My older brother was already on his way in engineering school at the Univ. of Connecticut. I knew I would go too, and the years of avidly following the space program had a lot to do with it.
I forgot one comment - if you dont believe that engineering is vastly different status wise and opportunity wise look at the size and thickness of EE times in the apollo era -it was thick with the back several pages full of job openings - look at it today - you can shave with it its so thin and almost zero job openings listed in the back - this tells a lot. Maybe we can have china build us a space program cheaper - we can just outsource it.. ask finance they will take care of it for you. What do we tell the young people today about getting into engineering or what they can do once they graduate? or do we tell them to go to business school so they can manage the engineers who took harder courses in school or heck you dont need any engineers get rid of them - just send your best technology to a far off land and buy it back at a fraction of the cost.
Dear Mr. Carey:
Thank you very much for your article. I was in high school in Connecticut at the time and clearly remember watching on a neighbor's color TV. The era of intellectual excitement that existed then drove me to engineering school. I long for that same level of intellectual curiosity, adventure, and shared accomplishment to return.
Dr. Daniel N. Donahoe, Ph.D., P.E.
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