I am a former Rocket Scientist. Seriously, I’m one of those nerdy guys people make jokes about. I worked for NASA and helped design flight trajectories for the Space Shuttle missions. I also worked in the Mission Control Center, providing real-time support during missions.
The other exciting role I held at NASA was as a spacewalk trainer. The spacewalking group is a very competitive but spirited group composed of some of the finest professionals with whom I have ever had the pleasure of working.
As a spacewalk trainer, I was afforded opportunities to assist with experimentation on the zero-gravity parabolic flying “vomit comet,” manage multiple scuba and space suit dives in the Neutral Buoyancy Pool, and most importantly, interact daily with some of the highest achieving and most respected professionals in the world: Astronauts.
In fact, I was responsible for training astronauts on how to safely navigate outside the International Space Station in order to construct and repair it, and what a joy it was to work with them. Ironically, the astronauts I worked with often taught me more than I was able to teach them. The biggest thing I learned from them was how true professionals conduct their business to achieve results.
My road started at the University of Wisconsin – Madison (Go Bucky!) for my bachelor studies. I was fortunate to have a knack for Engineering.
While working toward my Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, I took a promising summer job with Southwestern. They are a sales-based company that employs college students to sell its books door-to-door each summer. The 80-plus-hour workweeks and the consistent rejection at each door provided a challenge that stretched me to deliver results. To meet my goals, I was forced to reach higher levels of discipline, determination, and work ethic.
This new level of work ethic and discipline helped me finish my degree on a high note and start my career off on a good foot. But it was most useful in helping me obtain my Master’s Degree while still working at NASA. My days were spent helping a team safely launch human-loaded rockets into space, while my evenings and weekends were spent working toward a degree in Technical Business Management from Embry Riddle. This degree has been useful for understanding the business and management side of organizations.
The question often comes up, why did you leave NASA? To many, working for NASA sounds like the greatest job in the world, and it really was a great time! I learned a lot from the people and challenges, and I wouldn’t trade my time and experiences there for the world.
Many reasons (too many to list here) contributed to my departure from NASA. The short and sweet of it is that I wanted to get back to the core of my degree, and following the Columbia tragedy, I watched NASA’s future dim before my eyes.
So, what next? What can match all that excitement and opportunity?
We lived in Houston while I was working for NASA. As I researched various opportunities, the one that stood out to me the most was in the field of petroleum engineering. Yes, I had learned how to hurl thousands of pounds of metal into orbit while keeping those inside safe and sound, but it was now time to head in the other direction; deep into the earth.
Fortunately for me, a hiring manager with a petroleum engineering company took a gamble on a NASA boy, and I was able to get my foot in the door. The rest of the story has been a track record of high performance, resulting in a run of promotions and increasing responsibility.
I currently manage a staff of ten engineers responsible for generating and optimizing drilling plans that will be used to drill over three hundred oil and gas wells this year. Last year I helped my company add $50 million of value to their bottom line through new innovative methods and techniques.
Over the years, I’ve found ways to strike the challenging balance between engineering analysis and common sense. I’ve been recognized for being a quick learner, having good communication skills, leading with integrity, and being committed to helping the team. I’ve received multiple awards and promotions for high performance.
My specialties include solving problems, working under pressure, and maximizing individual and team output.
My goal is to share with you my experience and lessons-learned to aid you in becoming the best employee possible. With over twenty years of engineering and various industry experiences under my belt, I have worked with a lot of smart folks, been exposed to many ways to solve problems, and have seen what works and what doesn’t. I believe it is a natural progression for me to provide others advice on becoming a high performing employee in the work place. This blog will serve as my springboard for doing that very thing.