Rocket Science

Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

Papers were sprawled on my desk. Books were stacked two feet high. I was sitting in my cubicle, hunched over old lectures, trying to learn the jargon of rocket science. My eyes squinted at the tiny text as I stumbled through the abstruse vocabulary. Hydrazine, MEOP, PED delta pressures, annealed material properties...those terms were all Greek to me.

It was my first week of work at Boeing. I was busy learning about propulsion and satellites systems. Every time I found something I was unsure of, I would rush over to my mentor and ask him to explain the concept. Drawing on the little whiteboard in his office, he practically exhausted the entire spectrum of propulsion. The obscure terms that once seemed so foreign to me soon became a part of my everyday vocabulary.

As the days passed, I began to interview various scientists for my research project. I asked Mr. Dave Bronson, a metallurgical engineer, about tensile testing of titanium. I chatted with Dr. Jeffrey Hollender, an attitude control scientist, about the buckling and burst pressures during launch. I also talked with Dr. Ray Kushida about the theory behind fracture mechanics.

During the eight weeks, I was also able to gain hands-on experience. Wearing a smock and a pair of...

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