Akin’s Laws

Akin’s Laws of Spacecraft Design. Hard-won words of wisdom, offered freely.

I’ve been involved in spacecraft and space systems design and development for my entire career, including teaching the senior-level capstone spacecraft design course, for ten years at MIT and now at the University of Maryland for more than two decades. These are some bits of wisdom that I have gleaned during that time, some by picking up on the experience of others, but mostly by screwing up myself. I originally wrote these up and handed them out to my senior design class, as a strong hint on how best to survive my design experience. […]

  1. Past experience is excellent for providing a reality check. Too much reality can doom an otherwise worthwhile design, though.

  2. The odds are greatly against you being immensely smarter than everyone else in the field. If your analysis says your terminal velocity is twice the speed of light, you may have invented warp drive, but the chances are a lot better that you’ve screwed up.

[Via LinkMachineGo!]

Jobs versus careers

Rachel Paige King’s survey of books about finding a job and surviving in the modern workplace can’t help but highlight that the world of employment is not what it once was:

[Richard Bolles, Episcopal minister and author of 1970’s What Color Is Your Parachute? …] appears to believe that finding a “dream job” is possible if you stop hoping for any kind of external reward. For Bolles, the job seeker should not be looking not for a single position or even for a traditional career, but for a vocation. Secular people sometimes forget that that word was originally synonymous with the concept of a religious calling, but Bolles, with his seminary training, most likely never did.

Still, when he writes, “You must find work which feeds your self-esteem in the very doing of it, rather than depending on some future reward, some future raise, some future promotion,” it seems to me that he’s asking very little of employers.

[Via The Feature]