When I think of 2016…
Whew, okay! Now that that’s out of my system….
This was a weird year. In my professional and academic life, I’ve probably had one of my best years in a long time. I am a semester away from graduating with my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, and I’ve somehow prevented my grades from cratering despite being a irresponsible fuck with no redeeming qualities. I consider that an accomplishment!
My rocket team is doing excellently:
- We’ve beaten our fundraising goal by a substantial margin and we’re not done yet!
- preliminary computational models are mostly done and the rest of winter break will be spent producing prototype airframes for the structures team, designing antenna and data aquisitions systems for the payload team, algorithms work for the avionics team, and helping the propulsion team with getting a test stand ready for this year and next year’s test fires
- we’ve found a lot of mentors who have been helping us, helping patch up gaps in our knowledge that we needed to cover up to be successful
- although I wish we were more aggressive about our timeline, I was prepared for that reality, and my teammates seem to be gearing up for the rough semester of work we have ahead. If they can put in the kind of hours we put in last year, we should be fine for our first launches in March and our final one in June.
This team is my baby, and the magnus opus of my years at this school. Though I am disappointed that I will likely not get to work in the commercial space industry after graduating, I am glad I got to be a part of this.
Let’s just hope we don’t explode like the CRS Orb-3 mission…
My self-driving car team has been going…yeah. Uh. It’s going? I don’t really care about it, but whatever. It’s cool, even if not a lot of progress is being made, although frankly I’d rather drop it. Too bad I need to work on that project to graduate lmao :v
Also, I have a job offer! It’ll have me moving back home, but that’s nothing in comparison to the benefits – the pay is already double what my parents made combined for the past few years, and if I’m living at home, that means I can probably pay off my student loans in a year or two. Exciting!
My social life has been…okay. It’s better than before, but I still don’t have a lot of friends at school. I wish I could fix that easily, but senior year of college is hardly the time to do that. But I’ve gotten to party occasionally with my friends from high school whenever we got the chance over breaks, so I can’t say it was a total wash!
But while my personal life has gone quite fine, the spectre of rising fascism and the collapse of liberal democracy across the West as nationalists take control of the most powerful nations on Earth, the spread of extremist attacking civilians, Putin going from just some half-naked weirdo on a horse into a James Bond villian, and the prospect of our first meme president taking office in 20 days have been getting me down, man.
I’m really hoping this is the darkest before the dawn, and I would like to find out how to make it so. That’s one of my resolutions for the year: talk and act to make life better, and make America kind again. That’s big talk, so in practice, I just hope to be a good person who can make people care. And that’s my advice to you all – try giving a damn. Giving a damn usually get results. It’s important, or at least I think so.
I have two other things I want to do most for the next year.
Number one: I want to become a hard worker. Inevitably, someone is going to come in here, read this, and go “oh please, you work hard enough, this is you being hard on yourself.” What these people do not realize is that I have the time and the energy to get great grades, not just good grades, and spend more time designing components and systems for the rocket, and reach out to more people, and do even more systems engineering work, and overall do an even better job than I have been. I’d like to do all of that, but I haven’t been able to, for reasons that I think are entirely mental (i.e. I’m a lazy sunnovabitch.) And that bothers me, a lot. I want to work as hard, as relentlessly, as some of my friends do. I am someone who is not naturally lucky, and I don’t get a lot of advantages from my status, or my family, or my position. The only thing I have is the ability to work hard, so if I don’t use that, then I have nothing. Life’s not a party if you don’t work hard to make it one.
Number two: I’d like to make a lot of friends. It’s not that big of an issue at school – I’m busy enough and spend enough time with people my age in work to not worry too much about it – but I remember reading an article on Quartz where they say the age when we start to lose friends is, for guys, about 25. I turned 23 just over two weeks ago. Further, the industry I’ll work in isn’t filled the youngest guys, and I’m truly worried I’ll end up not just somewhat alone for those three years I got to spend in university, but into my twenties and beyond. That’s scary – no point to a party if no one’s there.
I want to talk for a second about my favorite movie, Apollo 13. For those of you who don’t know, Apollo 13 was NASA’s one failed human space mission of the Apollo human space program, a mission to land humans for the third time on the moon. It was their failure, yet also their finest hour. Busted oxygen tanks, CO2 oversaturation and scrubbers that didn’t work, not enough power from the fuel cells, a potentially broken heat shield, no heat, and no inertial measurement unit data available during a burn into their re-entry corridor – the men on the ground and the men in space for Apollo 13 were faced with the greatest time challenge of anyone in their stations, and they handled it professionally, and successfully, brought Jack Swaggert, Fred Haise and Jim Lovell home. They did this by talking, calmly, and not guessing. By being relentless, and knowing that failure meant more than billions of dollars down the drain, but the future of human spaceflight. I don’t know if it’s hyperbolic to say this, but I think we face a crisis like this nowadays, but on a much bigger scale. So the cross-communication and the dedication to excellence as engineers and pilots that the Apollo 13 crew displayed? I think we need to do that at larger scales, as citizens. I hope you’ll join me in that.
2016 sucked incredible amounts of donkey dick. But I’m hoping to make 2017 into a better one. I hope that’s true for all of us – true for the world, true for me. If nothing else, let 2017 be fun. Dance a little. Take life seriously, but lightly.
‘Night everybody. Happy new year!