True story:

During my period of unemployment I went to a NASA job fair.

I have a MS and PhD in Metallurgical Engineering, a BS in Petroleum and Polymers Engineering, my PE license, and more than a dozen years of experience in failure analysis.

I have been published in both additive manufacturing and friction stir welding of aerospace grade titanium and aluminum alloys.

I met with several people interviewing for a job related to failure and reliability analysis of friction stir welded rocket bodies.

Seems like a perfect fit for me, right?

The interviews were going great.  I really knew my stuff. I brought copies of my papers with me along with me CV and the people that read them liked them.

I’ve been out of college for 14 years and have two graduate degrees, so I was shocked that they asked about my undergraduate GPA.

Well, it turns out that I had less than a B in some of my core curriculum classes and that disqualified me for working for NASA.

Seriously.  They told me that to my face.  NASA has certain requirements for GPA.

So how about NASA examine the barriers and challenges to unemployed engineers who didn’t figure life out until they were a few years into their undergraduate degree and had a few Cs and Ds but continued on to get a PhD and PE and actually know their shit because they did it in the real world.


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By J. Kb

17 thoughts on “To hell with NASA”
  1. You assume that the focus of NASA is on space exploration these days.

    It’s not. It’s become a rather inept, contemptible job program for ‘diverse’ employment.

    I had a huge row with someone elsewhere over this. They simply couldn’t comprehend that NASA is now a husk or shell of an agency, existing solely for social engineering.

    1. Who has been launching all those rockets lately?

      NASA and their favorite pet contractors? Boeing? United Space Alliance or whatever that huge conglomerate is called? Their next launch is in 2020-Whatever, and has already missed how many deadlines? The folks that said it will be how many more years and how many more billions to build a US rocket that can get a man to the US International Space Station?

      Or some asshole that makes battery powered cars?
      Or the other asshole that sells books on the inter webs?

      1. The internet asshole has yet to launch. For a company that promises 2 day delivery he’s managed to fail spectacularly on any goal.

        I don’t expect him to launch in July 2021. Maybe 2022. Or maybe not.

        1. Meanwhile, Musk may be batshit crazy but at least SpaceX has been getting rockets up and getting them back.

        2. Beans, not quite. He’s launched a bunch of unmanned tests; it’s only the manned test that is still in the future.

          I’m not surprised at this NASA thing. Consider that the shuttle existed to serve the space station, and the space station’s mission was to provide a reason for the shuttle to exist.

          Also, I recently learned a bit about the process failures behind the Columbia failure. A part of that is that NASA had specifications that were not followed and were waived without any analysis of the consequences. It also had specifications that, to anyone with a passing grade in ME 101 or Physics 101, would have obviously been absurd. For example, the leading edge wing panels, who by spec had to be just strong enough to deal with the impact of a rain drop at 40 mph or so.

          J, I think you were fortunate not to end up in that swamp of incompetents.

  2. Given how long it’s taken to develop the space launch system, I find it highly likely there’s a few C and D students currently employed by NASA. I’m over a decade out of school too. Not sure I’d be able to maintain a professional demeanor if someone across the interview table treated my less than 4.0 GPA as a undergrad as some sort of liability.

    Eff those astro postmen. I hope SpaceX eats their lunch.

  3. I can relate to that as well… Two master’s degrees (one in criminology, one in criminal justice), tons of professional accreditations and certifications in public safety, anti & counter terrorism, and emergency management (from FEMA), 14 years active duty in military law enforcement with combat deployments in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and all the police agencies I applied for told me the same thing” “we can’t hire you because you are an over-qualified white man”… The system is so broken!!!

  4. 6 years ago, I applied for a job as an ED mid-level at a rural ED. The place employing me had switched contractors, and I was not counting on making the transition.

    TINS: I finished my ED shift somewhere around 2200 hours, drove an hour or so, caught a motel, got up like ,7 hours later, walked into my interview.

    Now, I was 60 years old at that point. Been an ED mid-level for 10 years, after 30 years as an ED RN.

    No bs- the interviewing doc said, “I’m not sure this ED is the kind of place you want to be at this point in your career. It’s kind of busy.”

    Um, unlike the place I left, not 9 hours ago?

    So, I couldn’t figure out my own freaking career goals? Really?

    Flaming jackwagon.

  5. J. KB:

    First of all, why have you not applied at SpaceX or Blue Origin? (I would recommend SpaceX over Blue Origin because the CEO/President is not a massive leftist A-hole.)

    Next, you applied at NASA. A US Federal Government agency. Sorry, they do not do their own designs, manufacturing, testing, or well… anything really. They contract pretty much everything except following the regulations out to the big defense/government contractors. You are way overqualified for that.

    And, let’s add, you applied at a US Federal Government Agency. Their HR department is designed to prevent anyone from getting the job. I am telling you the truth here, HR at any Federal Agency will stop you from getting the job you want. Why? There are a ton of regulations and policies they have to follow (and, let’s not forget Title 5 USC). But, I think mainly because they are a bunch of petty tyrants that are also the lowest paid individuals in the agency.

    Now, you could go and apply at a Raytheon/Boeing/Lockheed level big government firm, but news flash, they might as well be the government. Just look at how Boeing responded when their Starliner had problems. Did they get their best and brightest on it? No! That is what Elon Musk would do. Instead they established an oversight committee to examine what happened, and establish policies to stop it from happening again, etc… (they acted like the damned Government is what they did.

    If you pursued multiple masters degrees after graduation, you will not be happy working for the Federal Government. (Unless you degrees were in spreadsheets and databases).

    Final note. The “equity” crap is simply to appease the angry mob (and the current administration.) That will go away soon enough. Remember when 0bama made celebrating the contributions of the muslim community a goal of NASA? Yeah, that lasted.

    1. Not Blue Origin, they are just a big govt contractor with no successes unless Bezos can turn it around. Everyone on earth wants to work with and is applying to Spacex so any individual application would not be noticed.

      J.KB’s additive mfg and polymers experience would be valuable to the other competitors or to the support or customer companies. 3D printing / sintering engines, at least, is becoming standard though the technology in the industry is still in its infancy, a lot of room for growth.

      China’s persistence and successes will force space competitors to deliver actual successes, and employees such as J.KB who can achieve them. Or start / become the supplier that delivers the solutions. Keep at it, the market is going to grow.

    2. I applied to both. My Blue Origin interview was a disaster.

      I was asked why I was quified for the position of Senior Welding Engineer. I said I was a metallurgist with experience in additive manufacturing, which was the job description. The interviewer said he wanted a Welding Engineer. I told him weld engineering is under the umbrella of metallurgy. Weld characterization is literally the topic of my dissertation. He said he didn’t need a metallurgist but a Weld Engineer and hung up on me.

      Later I found out from other people who left Blue Origin that they rarely hire experienced people. They prefer fresh out of college new hires. They are cheap. They don’t have families and can work crazy hours. Also it’s the Silicon Valley mindset where they anyone assume who has been around the block can’t think outside the box and be innovative.

      This is why I’m heading to consulting where they pay big money for guys with Ph.D.s and years of experience to tell the new hires how and why they fucked up and how to fix it.

      1. That interview sounds like it was conducted by a robot working from a script, without any understanding of the meaning of the words used. You said “metallurgist”, the script said “weld engineer”. The strings are different so you don’t fit.
        Stupid, stupid, stupid. But typical for modern HR organizations. Probably just as well you didn’t end up in such a dysfunctional outfit.

  6. As far as GPA is concerned: college today has a real problem with grade inflation. Work that a decade ago would have gotten a C is celebrated as A level work now. Our education system is more about “social justice” than actual accomplishment.

  7. Here’s what they’ll do:

    They’ll remove that GPA requirement, even for fresh-out-of-college new-hires, in the name of diversity and equity. But only for diversity and equity.

    Then they’ll look at complaints like yours and say “see? we fixed it!” but it still won’t apply to you (unless you change your pronouns).

  8. Chicken of the Sea wants tuna that taste good. Taste good is a euphemism for different shade. Good taste is the euphemism for being qualified… You know the jingle. You get the drill. You don’t get the job.

    Government service has become the new EEO economic releveler. It is absolutely and positively welfare/EBT on steroids.

    JoeBama had a plan to create 250K new federal jobs. All of those were high grades. Virtually all of those were reserved for candidates of color…

    DemonRATS in particular have made a scam of anything and everything they can to ensure wealth and power flow freely to their ilk and particularly to their supporters.

    Might I suggest you take up art? If that shit on a single that HUNTER produced is worth $500K a “crack”, then you just might be the next Rembrandt in waiting.

  9. FWIMBW, GPA is worth two things after ten years…


    I was a headhunter (among many other things) in the day. Client companies wanted to see evidence of demonstrated and consistent and relevant results. Anything else was superfluous.

  10. Darn dyslexia. I initially read the tweet to say “historically underrepresented and undeserved”

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