2015-07-30

I Was Supposed to Pursue an Aerospace Engineering Degree… Woops

I was supposed to pursue an aerospace engineering degree. Woops.

I was supposed to get Helio Space off the ground this summer. Woops.

Major Changes

I changed my major to computer science. I’m rather surprised myself by this decision, but looking back, it’s actually been months in the making. Last semester I was constantly lamenting the lack of space-oriented classes in the aerospace space track curriculum (there are three I would take, consisting of ~6% of all my classes). I spoke with a friend and mentor about pursuing computer science, and he encouraged me to do it. So I added it as a second major.

That was at the start of the summer. For the next couple of months, every time I played with my coursework track I found myself excited for the CS classes, and dreading the non-space aero classes. So I decided to switch, and I’m happy with my decision as it stands. Here are some of the reasons I came up with over the past few months that played a role in convincing me:

  1. I want to be involved outside of school. If I stayed aero I’d have no life balance. CS 13dde58ed3c862b5325172e073d841f333f436fd1e86538efdff42b33e872cbcrequires fewer credits, so more time for everything else!
  2. CS = $20k+ more than aerospace. So you’re telling me I can do less work in school and make more money?
  3. More opportunities in the space industry. Word.
  4. It’s more entrepreneurial. I actually am interested in more than just space, and it’s easier to apply CS to other entrepreneurial projects.
  5. And finally, I like it. This is probably the most important part. I really do enjoy it.

All said, I fully intend to stay in the space industry. And with that said, I’m now going to talk about how I’m moving out of the space industry.

Stopping a Startup

Okay, calling Helio Space a startup may be a stretch, but I did put a significant amount of time into setting up customer meetings, general planning, and research. With Helio Space I wanted to make a laser communications package and ground network for small satellites. Turns out, the problem I wanted to solve with this is being solved right now and in the near future by companies essentially doing Ground Stations-as-a-Service (GSaaS! Can I claim that acronym?). I still think it’s an awesome idea. To expand civilization into the solar system, laser communications is essential. However, the near-term business model is insufficient, so I’m putting it on pause.

I need to be working on something this summer, however, and I’ve stumbled across what I think is a simple and great idea. Its core is found in three “arguments”, specifically:

  • We don’t have enough valuable social interactions.
    • And we want more valuable interactions.
  • Social media is a good way to maintain contact with friends.
    • But we want to do more than maintain, we want to develop relationships.
  • A human can maintain 150 meaningful relationships.
    • How many meaningful relationships do you have?**

      **Assuming you’re not Justin Graves, who probably has double that.

If I choose to pursue it more seriously, I’ll write up a more detailed post about it and follow my progress on the blog.

Ad Astra!

Posted by:
Andrew Newman
SEDS-USA At-Large Board Member
Virginia Tech

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