How I came to be where I am today – Professional Perspective

I am blessed in the sense that I’ve always known what I wanted to do when I grew up.

Back when I was 10 years old, watching all those sci-fi based cartoons (like “Futureboy Conan”, “Galaxy Express 999”, and “Mazinga Z”), I have always wanted to be a rocket scientist! Little did I know that I actually would be one!

Well, it wasn’t that simple. It was rather I knew what I didn’t want to major in college. I hated reading and writing so anything literature, history, poli sci… I couldn’t draw or paint for crap. Music? Ha… That eventually left only sciences and maths. Well within science, I hated biology (can’t stand blood) and chemistry (too conceptual and tiny scaled!). I loved physics but even within that, I didn’t enjoy electrics portion at all. I am a visual person so I was more keen & drawn towards mechanics. However, I still wanted to major in mathematics as I excelled in that having taken AP Calculus and the AP test in junior year. I loved maths and believe it or not, I started to “see” things in life in the manners of derivatives and integrals!

But my mom, being more “practical”, she strongly suggested I get into the engineering major instead. So mix the mechanics and maths together, and you get mechanical engineering! Within that, the specialty that I found myself into was aerospace engineering.

After the degree and more studying, I landed on my first job at United Space Alliance doing “proximity operations”. To clarify, it involved in astronautics and physics of a space vehicle (Space Shuttle) maneuvering in close proximity to the target vehicle (International Space Station). It was fun at first but quickly lost interest due to few factors, one being a manager who was out to get me, per se. But also, I just didn’t fit into the job, or so I felt.

So I left the job to be working at Boeing as “entry aerodynamics engineer” for the Space Shuttle. It involved lots of trajectory analysis and its performance during entry. It was just vanilla. But then huge excitement got added in. I was soon exposed to the world of CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) thanks to David. He was hired into our group as the sole CFD expert, and he was just that: an expert. Over the two years or so of his time with our group (he left to different job), I picked up a lot on pre- & post-processing CFD runs, and eventually delved into the world of CFD using DPLR and Overflow, NASA-developed CFD codes, all thanks to David. Lots of times, it felt overwhelming trying to learn from him mainly because he knew so much!

And when he left the company, I was worried at first if we would transition well. I guess I did learn some things from him after all as we seem to have transitioned well with new contract work and flight support. I think CFD is becoming more and more of what I want to do professionally. Analyzing the data, figuring out if the maths is making sense, and processing the data visually, it just feels like… me.

The big point was that CFD was never in my original job description. The opportunity came out of nowhere and was given to me via a true CFD expert, and I am blessed because of it. So just keep your mind and brains open, and learn whatever you can!

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