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xray328
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« on: July 18, 2019, 12:50:43 AM »

So as some of you know my son’s a rising Sophmore at MIT majoring Aero/Astro.  He’s also in AFROTC (they’re paying the bill).  The strange thing though is he has zero interest in flying, he just wants to work on the design side.  Is that odd?  We were discussing/debating/arguing that him getting his PPL might be something to consider. He says he has no interest though and doesn’t see any advantage. 

For those of you in the field, any thoughts?

Thanks.


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Gunsotsu
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« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2019, 12:58:43 AM »

There's zero benefit to being forced into flying. If there isn't any interest, there isn't any interest. Besides, the earning potential for an aerospace engineer is much higher than a stick jockey.
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xray328
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« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2019, 01:00:59 AM »

I guess I was thinking there would be more earning potential as an AE with a PPL than without.  Just something to add to his resume. 


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PHall
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« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2019, 01:42:35 AM »

It's not unusual for an aerospace design engineer to not have a pilot's licence. In fact I'd say the majority of them don't have one.
Having a pilot's licence has nothing to do with how good of an engineer they are. Their engineering skills is what gets them and enables them to keep an engineering job.
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xray328
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« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2019, 01:48:29 AM »

I’m not even sure he’ll be doing actual engineering, I’m hearing most AF engineers end up as supervisor.


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sardak
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« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2019, 04:14:43 AM »

So as some of you know my son’s a rising Sophmore at MIT majoring Aero/Astro.  He’s also in AFROTC (they’re paying the bill).  The strange thing though is he has zero interest in flying, he just wants to work on the design side.  Is that odd?  We were discussing/debating/arguing that him getting his PPL might be something to consider. He says he has no interest though and doesn’t see any advantage. 

For those of you in the field, any thoughts?

Thanks.
Why do YOU think it’s strange that he has zero interest in flying?  Why are YOU asking if it’s odd?  Combine those with “discussing/debating/arguing that him getting his PPL,” it sounds like Dad wants him to be a pilot but he doesn’t, and the issue has nothing to do with aerospace engineering.  There is far more to aerospace engineering that doesn’t involve pilot knowledge than does.  I know far more engineers with boats and fast cars than I know ones who have pilot licenses.

I started my aerospace engineering career at the Douglas Aircraft Division of McDonnell-Douglas.  Before I got there it never crossed my mind that a pilot license would be helpful, because it wouldn’t have been.  I wasn’t there to fly airplanes, I wanted to work on primary structure.  Even when I watched the first takeoff of the first KC-10, nothing inside me said, “Man, I wish I was sitting in seat 0A.”

Unlike most “aerospace” engineers, I have both aero and space experience.  From big airplanes I moved to little airplanes to little missiles to big missiles, to really big rockets.  I applied to NASA to be an astronaut, twice.  I met the requirements so they told me I didn’t have enough experience.  What? How does one get experience as an astronaut?  Of course, what they really meant was I didn’t have the advanced degrees and all the science stuff that the competition did.  Here again I wasn’t applying for a pilot slot, which required a lot more than just a PPL.

As for  your statement ”I’m hearing most AF engineers end up as supervisor,” I question most, but the idea is true outside the AF, too.  The supervisors of engineers need to be engineers themselves.

Please let your son pursue his engineering degree without trying to force the pilot stuff.  Let him make his own decisions about what is needed and what isn’t, and what he wants to do.

Mike
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PHall
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« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2019, 04:28:51 AM »

I’m not even sure he’ll be doing actual engineering, I’m hearing most AF engineers end up as supervisor.


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Yeah, they end up as a supervisor, after about 6 to 8 years. Just like they would at any aerospace company.
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xray328
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« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2019, 12:09:52 PM »

So as some of you know my son’s a rising Sophmore at MIT majoring Aero/Astro.  He’s also in AFROTC (they’re paying the bill).  The strange thing though is he has zero interest in flying, he just wants to work on the design side.  Is that odd?  We were discussing/debating/arguing that him getting his PPL might be something to consider. He says he has no interest though and doesn’t see any advantage. 

For those of you in the field, any thoughts?

Thanks.
Why do YOU think it’s strange that he has zero interest in flying?  Why are YOU asking if it’s odd?  Combine those with “discussing/debating/arguing that him getting his PPL,” it sounds like Dad wants him to be a pilot but he doesn’t, and the issue has nothing to do with aerospace engineering.  There is far more to aerospace engineering that doesn’t involve pilot knowledge than does.  I know far more engineers with boats and fast cars than I know ones who have pilot licenses.

I started my aerospace engineering career at the Douglas Aircraft Division of McDonnell-Douglas.  Before I got there it never crossed my mind that a pilot license would be helpful, because it wouldn’t have been.  I wasn’t there to fly airplanes, I wanted to work on primary structure.  Even when I watched the first takeoff of the first KC-10, nothing inside me said, “Man, I wish I was sitting in seat 0A.”

Unlike most “aerospace” engineers, I have both aero and space experience.  From big airplanes I moved to little airplanes to little missiles to big missiles, to really big rockets.  I applied to NASA to be an astronaut, twice.  I met the requirements so they told me I didn’t have enough experience.  What? How does one get experience as an astronaut?  Of course, what they really meant was I didn’t have the advanced degrees and all the science stuff that the competition did.  Here again I wasn’t applying for a pilot slot, which required a lot more than just a PPL.

As for  your statement ”I’m hearing most AF engineers end up as supervisor,” I question most, but the idea is true outside the AF, too.  The supervisors of engineers need to be engineers themselves.

Please let your son pursue his engineering degree without trying to force the pilot stuff.  Let him make his own decisions about what is needed and what isn’t, and what he wants to do.

Mike

The discussion was just about whether or not flight experience would be valuable to have when looking for jobs outside the Air Force.  It sounds like it's not really something that matters though.  That's the reason for the thread, I wasn't sure if it was something companies looked for. So thank you for answering that question.

And I guess I just thought it'd be similar to a race car designer without a drivers license.   Someone that's totally passionate about the design side but doesn't enjoy driving.  The two seem like they'd go hand in hand.  It would seem that the passion for the design of the machine would translate into a passion of getting behind the wheel.  But maybe not?
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xyzzy
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« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2019, 12:50:39 PM »

I never pursed a private pilot's license. I'm an engineer, and have several friends who are private pilots, but I don't think I'd make a good pilot. It requires certain organizational skills such as
  • remembering to bring everything you need; a single missing item can be critical
  • following fairly long sequences of steps without forgetting any item
Engineers need to be able to do complicated things, but have ample opportunity to check and re-check, or do it in two different ways and see if the results are the same. Sometimes re-checking is possible in flight, sometimes not.

Another consideration is being aware of spacial orientation and recognizing landmarks.

A person who is perfectly capable of working in many technical environments may consciously or unconsciously realize he/she wouldn't be good at some of the skills needed to be a pilot.
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Spam
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« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2019, 01:41:31 PM »



I've worked as a cockpit engineer for pushing 30 years.  I'm on a USAF call right now and at a break asked the engineering team about this... about 30 percent of the team have or had pilots licenses (I passed my own FAA written on base, back as a junior engineer in 91).

Because I've concentrated in specifically aerospace, specifically crewstation engineering (fighters, transports, rotary but mostly fighters) understanding aircrew tasks has been very beneficial. When I was at NAVAIR we actually had an engineer coworker who was a CFII teach an FAA private pilot ground school for our junior engineers to be better rounded cockpit engineers (coincidentally, he was a CAP pilot in the local MDWG unit I then commanded).

Had we been fuels engineers, or propulsion... PPL might be of less utility.

When I taught at USNTPS (test pilot school) many of the DoD engineers who went through as flight test engineers had PPLs as well.

V/r
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TheSkyHornet
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« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2019, 02:33:05 PM »

There's zero benefit to being forced into flying. If there isn't any interest, there isn't any interest.

I'm with this one.

Don't force someone to fly. But what can be eye-opening is at least conducting an orientation/introductory flight or two (outside of CAP flying). Go up with a CFI and really understand how the aircraft works from a pilot perspective. You'll be such a better engineer having practical knowledge for design application.

At the airline, we've been fairly encouraging of employees going out to take introductory flights so that when they sit in on safety-related discussions, their impression isn't just their experience in an aircraft cabin or on the ramp...it's the whole in-and-out of how an airplane operates (minus the technological and system-based differences).


Think of is as a person who does Orientation Flights (and nothing else) taking Training Leaders of Cadets. You're learning something, at a minimal level, that interfaces with what you specifically do in your function.
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Spam
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« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2019, 03:40:28 PM »




Suggest getting him a copy of the recent Hiyao Miyazake movie "The Wind Rises" about the chief engineer at Mitsubishi in the 30s-40s. Absolutely amazing and perfect for AE majors.

It speaks to the different passions of those who dream of flying and those who dream of creating beautiful flying machines.

Dreams can be different. Vive la difference!

Vr
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Ps 2 of my own 3 cadets are now engineering students as well and are aiming at aerospace careers but aren't interested in a PPL. Your cader isnt alone.
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Kayll'b
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« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2019, 08:40:33 PM »

The only way that being a pilot would help is comradere.

For example I work at a board game prototype company. Probablly half of the employes (including me) are board game nerds. Everyone gets along, but there is this special understanding we have with eachother, and we get to admire the games we make.

So while it's not neccicary, it does make a spectial comradare.

As a CAP Cadet not in any way interested in flying OR military, I am really an odd one out, but it still works.
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