# Do you know who guides our youth???

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##### Well-Known Member
I have been reading about different TRF members going to college and different schools and it reminds me of something I would like to share with you.

This does have a point to it, so hang in there.

I was about 10 or so and had real hard time in school because of family problems at home and so forth. Anyway, they gave us this aptitude test in school to sort of help us decide what we wanted to do with our life. I was into rockets and planes at about that age and had seen an advertisement in a book for a school called Northrop Institute of Technology (I think) and i sent away for a school catalog. I was psyched! Imagine, a 10 year old kid setting goals like that?

So I take the test and then went in to see a counselor. I showed her the book after she reviewed my test and told her that's where I wanted to go when I was done with school, I wanted design either rockets or airplanes. She flipped through the book and then looked at me, "You really should set your sights more realistically young man, how about carpentry?" I was crushed, and really peeved. "She went on to tell me about trade schools in the area and that I should align myself with taking courses that would benefit me as such. When I left her office, I felt like the wind got knocked out of me. Never said anything to my parents either...we didn't really talk too much then.

In high school, I had another counselor fall asleep on me right in the middle of discussing college and what i needed to do to bone up and prepare. When he finally woke up, he asked me to take his lunch tray since I was heading that direction. Something inside sort of clicked and I threw it across the room and stomped out. Two days detention for me...oops. I tried to write about it in the school paper....they wouldnt have any part of it.

Mind you, I'm extremely happy as to the course of my life but it was only when I was older was I able to re-direct the course of where I wanted to go. When you're younger, you depend on the advice of the others to help set your course.

Moral of the story? Do you have kids? Do you ask about their dreams or what they think theyll become? Have you talked to the counselors and teachers that guide them? I live in an area of 5 colleges and trust me when I say this, I wouldn't give two nickels for some of the teachers and counselors in our school systems, college or K-12. Some of them just dont seem to have clue.

#### Steward

##### Well-Known Member

To coin a phrase... "you get what you pay for"
At least that's the way it seems...

To me it seems that there are too many "specialists" without enough quailifications guiding our kids...
Colleges just seem to pump them out... but if you don't know... it takes a really special person to be an educator... and make a living... (at least in my area)

In reality...
I think the most important issue in regards to raising our children lies with the parents... among other things... communication and support...

#### GL-P

##### Well-Known Member
I've had real great teachers who have taught me stuff w/o being a pain in the @ and I've had ones who seem to not like working with kids. No question that it's a hard job but if a teacher makes his/her job look easy, then they may attract others to the job who will respond the same way. I've had teachers which challenge me but still don't push too hard when I get A-s instead of As. Those are the ones I like. The ones who have spunk for teaching teenagers but still teach stuff are really the best ones, not the old ones who seem to live for English book reports.

#### illini

##### Well-Known Member
Geez, John. You must have gone to my high school! Didn't happen to be raised in the south suburbs of Chicago, did you? Very *very* similar things happened to me as a youth. My high school seemed to specialize in discouraging kids from their aspirations. I remember when my typing class had a special guest from the local business school one day. Their message? You ain't good enough for anything but us. Even those of us who were more academically inclined were continuously assaulted. I remember going to the regional JETS (Junior Engineering Technical Society...a statewide competition in disciplines like chemistry and physics) competition at the local community college. In the middle of the contest, we aspiring engineers and scientists were forced to endure a lecture by one of the community college faculty telling us to forget about getting into Illinois. South siders weren't good enough...should just stay at home and go to his school. Similar stories from many of my teachers. Don't know what came over me, but I applied to Illinois anyway and was accepted into the aero engineering program. I shoved it in my teachers' face, but all I got from them was, "you'll be lucky to get a C average...you may be hot stuff here, but there you'll be nothing there...you'll be kicked out within a year." I believed them. Dumb as I was, I believed them. Apparently so did the few classmates of mine that went to Illinois...most of them *were* gone in a year. I went to Illinois in '82 quaking in my boots, believing all the stories about how the kids from the northwest suburbs were going to be kicking my keister all over the classroom. My first exam was in Chem 101. The professor (ironically named Haight) was noted for his terrifyingly tough exams. This was my first chance to see how I measured up and I studied my brains off. I was determined to get a C to prove to myself that I could at least keep up. Took the test. Got the grade: A. Not only could I keep up with the "elites," I found out I could kick their flabby butts. Never looked back after that. Ph.D. 10 years later.

I contrast that with the area where I live now. Schools are good. Education is highly valued. Expectations are high. 90% go to college and the SAT scores in Fairfax County are amongst the best in the nation. The difference is not what's being taught. The difference is an environment where kids are encouraged to set their sights high and expected to achieve their goals...and its not just the teachers. The parents are pretty fanatical (sometimes *too* fanatical) about it too. Too bad it isn't like that everywhere.

#### sandman

##### Well-Known Member
I had a science teacher that was not only my inspiration, after high school he was my friend and mentor.

This man taught high school science and it wasn't until after high school I learned he had a PHd in Physics!

I was very very lucky to have known this man!

A few years ago I joined the Big Brother program in my area and was asigned a wonderful young man with an awful homelife.

Through my assistance, advice and direction (yes I WILL take credit for it!) the local department of Social Services and police we made arrangements for this young man to move in with his uncle in Texas.

His uncle is retired military chaplin and a minister. This young man is now being home schooled with a religious education (something he has never had before!) and has even started college courses.

Although he is now 2,000 miles away from me we talk for at least an hour and a half every Saturday (well, untill his uncle's cell phone batteries go dead...unlimited weekend minutes! )

This was my way of "Paying it Forward".

#### bsexton

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by sandman
This was my way of "Paying it Forward".
You deserve a pat on the back -- well done.

#### GL-P

##### Well-Known Member
Yeah, you definitely deserve a pat on the back. You kept that kid off the streets and outta drugs. Great job!!! You gave that kid a life he can look forward to,

#### sandman

##### Well-Known Member
You gave that kid a life he can look forward to
Believe me when I tell you I "got back" as much as I gave!

#### wwattles

##### Well-Known Member
Sandman,

Your physics teacher sounds like mine - brilliant, but engaging. In his "former life", he was a highly-paid troubleshooter for the phone company. You know, the guy that gets called in at 2 in the morning when none of the regular engineers can figure out what on earth is going on. After 20 years of that, he quit to become a high school teacher, where he used action figures of He-Man and Skeletor and a box full of toy cars to demonstrate physics in real life. He took a potentially boring subject and made it FUN!

As for the school and guidance, I didn't use much of the "counselling" or "guidance" service, so I can't really speak to its effectiveness. There was, however, a pervasive attitude within the entire community that NOT getting into a college of some kind was a failure, and that going through vo-tech was to doom yourself to menial labor for life. We were ALL told that we could become great in our own areas of expertise. Frankly, that message went a little too far with some, who believed that they could be great in whatever they did, even without working for it. After all, their teachers believed in them, right?

I was fortunate to have parents who believed in me, and still do. On many occassions, they told me that I could do well in whatever profession I chose, and for the most part, they've been right. It also helps that I got some good "smarts" genes from both of them, but hard work got me the rest.

I think the bottom line lies somewhere in being honest with kids about their aptitudes, but also encouraging them to be as good as they want to be, and most importantly, WORKING for it.

WW

#### Stymye

##### Well-Known Member
Do you know who guides our youth???
hopefully it starts at home !
the child should be raised to get the most from school regardless of who his/ hers teacher are.
I went to some very bad schools ,and it was solely up to me to get something out of it.

#### GL-P

##### Well-Known Member
the child should be raised to get the most from school regardless of who his/ hers teacher are.
Yep, but it helps greatly to get a good teacher who can make whatever you're learning more enjoyable. I had one horrible teacher that made it so that even with great support from home, I couldn't learn. She was one of those violent types that used physical in class punishment like throwing desks. No parent could make that teacher a good teacher. Yes, you can't pick your teachers but don't expect a student to make the best out a horrible teacher. Education begins with the teacher. It's very hard if not impossible to teach yourself in place of a horrible teacher. Hopefully we have had or will have more good teachers than bad ones !

My $0.02. Everyone has a different$0.02 and I'm not arguing, just stating my experiences. Pls don't take it the wrong way.

#### Stymye

##### Well-Known Member
I agree with you, In my case I had no choice but to deal with the awefull school.. the teachers do make a difference.
I had an english teacher that smoked pot between classes
not a very good rolemodel ! ofcourse that was many years ago

mabey that explains my bad grammer...lol

#### GL-P

##### Well-Known Member
I agree with you, In my case I had no choice but to deal with the awefull school.. the teachers do make a difference. I had an english teacher that smoked pot between classes not a very good rolemodel ! ofcourse that was many years ago
That sucks when you get a real horrible teacher like that (I've thankfully never had one!!!) Yeah, sometimes the best thing you can do is to try to come out in one piece with a decent education. Some teachers shouldn't be allowed into a school for various reasons.

#### DynaSoar

##### Well-Known Member
Moral of the story? Do you have kids? Do you ask about their dreams or what they think theyll become? Have you talked to the counselors and teachers that guide them? I live in an area of 5 colleges and trust me when I say this, I wouldn't give two nickels for some of the teachers and counselors in our school systems, college or K-12. Some of them just dont seem to have clue.
My first grade teacher was also an art teacher, so she had us doing a lot of drawing. I drew rockets and jets. One kid made fun of me, and lots of the rest laughed. She stopped them and said "You never know, he might actually build these things some day." I thought "I will."

My high school counselor asked me what I wanted to do. I said "Some kind of science, maybe astronomy or physics." He told me I'd never make it, that it was too tough for me. I thought "Bull".

I learned those two responses felt very different. I made sure I never made anyone feel the way my high school counselor made me feel. I made sure my kids felt good about their dreams, whatever they were.

My older son is working on his PhD at the Miami Center to Cure Paralysis, inventing new cloning techniques. My younger son is working on his PhD at Berkeley's Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems lab; he's a buckytube engineer. My daughter, at age 13 and after 8 years of Montessori, lacked only a semester of analytical geometry to qualify for a GED. She spent the summer doing the course, on her own. She never got a GED. Instead, again on her own, she applied to and got accepted to, Mary Baldwin College, and at age 14 was a college freshman.

Those well on their way, I'm looking hard to see where else I can smooth some roads and boost some self-assurances.

And me, the last two years have been my first two post-doc jobs, first at NIH then at Yale Medical School, both offered non-comptetively and with the assurance of being accepted, if I accepted them. They saw I was available, wanted me, and sought me out.

"Never make it." "Too tough". Bull.

Ad astra, and I'm taking as many with me as I can.

#### GL-P

##### Well-Known Member
Dude, so inspiring!!! Awesome!!! I've been thinking of some sort of Aerospace engineering career but I know it's hard and I'm afraid there'll be no jobs open. Get good grades (83-85% avg, as high as 93% in Science) so I'll keep working hard and you'll never know... I don't feel alone in my pursuit now. Good stories!

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by stymye
hopefully it starts at home !
the child should be raised to get the most from school regardless of who his/ hers teacher are.
Shouldis the operative word here.

##### Keel Loopy
Your story reminds me of something that happened to me in high school. They gave us some kind of coordination test that was supposed to give us an idea of where our potential skill level was if we were considering making a living with our hands. The two career choices it listed for me, and the only two, mind you, were Brain Surgeon or Box Maker. Well, biology was never one of my strongest subjects, so guess what was left. Talk about a letdown. (My mom and I still occasionally laugh about this one.)

#### illini

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by GL-P
I've been thinking of some sort of Aerospace engineering career but I know it's hard and I'm afraid there'll be no jobs open.
In the spirit of this thread, I will NOT be the one to discourage you from your goal. However, be aware that there are far more people with aerospace engineering degrees working outside of aerospace engineering than inside. That doesn't mean they aren't doing interesting things. And that doesn't mean it wasn't by choice (as it partly was in my case). But my advice to you and the many other aspiring aeros in this forum is to study hard, pursue your goals, but also keep your eyes and ears open and your education diverse. Don't go into aero engineering at State U. and study only aero engineering. Take some courses in business, social sciences, literature, and even other engineering disciplines. You'll be better educated and better prepared to adapt to whatever life throws at you.

#### jflis

##### Well-Known Member
An inspiring and important thread, beleive me...

I come from a family of 8 kids (i'm 7 of 8... ) My dad was a self taught, self employed service and sales man in the appliance business. He wasn't "book smart" and didn't give much credance to such. My mom is an artist in the truest sense of the word. An R/N by training, she also plays piano/organ and guitar, she was also a ballet teacher and dancer for NYC Ballet and a host of other things. She *is* book smart and knows the value of that.

Between the two of them, I think I did gud

A few points that I would like to make to those contemplating their educational futures and also to those who are looking back on their educational pasts...

I did very poorly in high school (heck, I was barred from graduation) and was voted "most likely to fail" (in PRINT in the year book - which is why I don't own one). From there I went on to college and graduated 8th in a class of 110. Got my associate degree and went to work as a test technician with Digital Equipment Corp.

I advanced through the ranks, enrolled in night school and earned my BSEE and aquired the rank of engineer. Over the years I've held hardware and software engineering titles, cumulating with Principle Eng.

In ALL that time, I used more of my college education training in personal enrichment than I did in my actual job. Sure the technical courses allowed me to design stuff. But it was everything *else* about college that taught me how to schedule, plan, interact, follow-through, dream, deliver and be successful. These things allowed me to run for public office, teach, learn, raise kids and interact with people of all walks of life.

What I am saying here is don't spend **too** much time focused on what schooling you need for a job that you don't know if you can get after college. Worry more about what you will enjoy doing and do it. What you learn can and will be applied in many different areas and will provide greater value than you could ever imagine. Heck, I never went to school to be a self employed rocket company owner...

If you *know* what you want to do and have a plan to get there, great. if you DON'T know what you want to do, you can get "there" too. Get your advanced education, in whatever field. You will discover that what you learn will be "how to be successful", if you just let it.

Now, for us "old farts" (i gotta make a t-shirt... LOL), you tell the wonderful stories about this teacher or that teacher who made a DIFFERENCE in your life. These are great stories, but don't just tell *US*...

I had three such teachers in high school. Dr. Ottersen (physics), Mr. Ron Luznar (Chemistry) and Mrs Ellen Darden (English, Drama). When no one else beleive in me, these people did. When no one else could put up with my teenage attitude, these people did. They weren't *easy* on me, rather then saw what I needed and delivered. Sometimes that *something* was "discipline". If it wasn't for these fine teachers, I never would have gone on to college.

And, yes, I *am* telling "you" this, but FIRST, I told THEM . It took a while, but I searched them out and found them again after all these years. Dr. Ottersen has passed away. Ron Luznar ownes a bar in his retirement. Ellen Darden is one of the officers of the Florida State School Board (or whatever the title of the org is). I had the chance to talk to Ron and Ellen and express upon them what they did for me, what they ment to me. It was a very exciting conversation and a very warm feeling.

Find them, tell them "thank you". They don't hear it often enough.

sorry to ramble on so long
jim

#### powderburner

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by GL-P
I've been thinking of some sort of Aerospace engineering career but I know it's hard and I'm afraid there'll be no jobs open.
I was in high school in the late '60s and early '70s. At that time several major aerospace programs had just been cancelled and the daily headlines (well, it felt like it was daily) all blared stuff about layoffs and cancellations.

Being the complete nerd that I was (am), I ignored all that and plowed on with my plan to go into Aerospace Engineering in college. All the counselors and all my parent's friends would ask me what I would be taking in college, and when I said aero, they would all remark "don't you know they're laying off all those people?"

Well, maybe it was stupid of me, but I had absolutely no 'plan B.' I went into Aero E and cranked through it in four years. Have no doubt, it was work---I won't tell you how many nights I sat in my room doing homework into the wee hours while the 'Fisheries and Wildlife Management' guys left the dorm to go drink beer.

Graduated in 1975 as the industry was beginning to recover; companies were looking around for graduates but the previous years had driven many of them out of Aero E degree programs. I had four job offers by about three months before graduation.

If you are that interested in Aerospace Engineering, go for it. You will need a strong interest in WHATEVER you do in order to endure the college, and to help motivate yourself on the job. Don't worry about the state of the industry in ten years because there will be a steady requirement for people.

In fact, the age profile in the aerospace industry right now has a huge peak in the 40-to-60 age group and a huge valley in the 20-to-40 age group. Guess what that means?

#### illini

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by powderburner
I ignored all that and plowed on with my plan to go into Aerospace Engineering in college. All the counselors and all my parent's friends would ask me what I would be taking in college, and when I said aero, they would all remark "don't you know they're laying off all those people?"
Yup, it was like that for me too. I remember arriving on campus freshman year and getting ahold of the employment statistics for the previous year's grads from the engineering school. All engineering disciplines were looking good except aero...only 50% of previous year found a job. I decided to switch to CS (12 fewer hours to graduate and more employable), but then as I was walking to the Dean's office to formally change majors it hit me that if I didn't at least give aero my best shot I'd be kicking myself for the rest of my life. I did an about face in the middle of the quad. In spite of the fact that I finished my Ph.D. in '91 when the industry was laying off in droves and prospects were slim, and I eventually pulled the "eject" on the aero industry, I *still* have no regrets over having pursued the course I did. Press on. Get smart. Be diverse. And like Jim said, don't miss out on the opportunity to learn things that enrich your life, not just your career.

#### GL-P

##### Well-Known Member
But my advice to you and the many other aspiring aeros in this forum is to study hard, pursue your goals, but also keep your eyes and ears open and your education diverse. Don't go into aero engineering at State U. and study only aero engineering. Take some courses in business, social sciences, literature, and even other engineering disciplines. You'll be better educated and better prepared to adapt to whatever life throws at you.
I'm totally going to do other Engineering programs but this is the one I'm really interested in. I'm not afraid to change my goals a little but this my first choice. I don't expect to get a career working with rockets but aircraft excite me also. ANYTHING over Mach 1 is cool!!! We'll see what happens...

#### illini

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by GL-P
I'm totally going to do other Engineering programs but this is the one I'm really interested in. I'm not afraid to change my goals a little but this my first choice. I don't expect to get a career working with rockets but aircraft excite me also. ANYTHING over Mach 1 is cool!!! We'll see what happens...
Don't give up on rockets too quickly. After all, the place I went to work for in '91 had incredibly low standards! Seriously, though, realize you may be a few years away from having to deal with some of these details, but if you want to work with rockets then find someplace where you can either co-op or do a summer internship and do whatever you must to impress the heck out of them so they'll hire you later. Getting that first job is hard. Everybody's resume looks the same except for GPA at that point. Companies prefer people they know. The other benefit of a co-op is that you get a chance to try before you buy!

#### Bill

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by powderburner

In fact, the age profile in the aerospace industry right now has a huge peak in the 40-to-60 age group and a huge valley in the 20-to-40 age group. Guess what that means?

Sort of like the demographics of model rocketeers.

Trip told us this at NARAM and also said that the 40-60 peak is moving up at a rate of one year per year as we age.

Bill

#### GL-P

##### Well-Known Member
Sorry, that first line should say: I'm totally going to do other Engineering programs if Aerospace doesn't work.

I totally dig aerospace and heck, my resume should be different from almost everyone elses because I was the first one (or at worst second) to junior certify in Canada. That has to count for something!!! Also holding an altitude record should help (my new project for next yr!!!)

I am planning on joining a summer camp or something next year at the Canadian Space Agency. Should be real cool!!!

#### DynaSoar

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by powderburner

In fact, the age profile in the aerospace industry right now has a huge peak in the 40-to-60 age group and a huge valley in the 20-to-40 age group. Guess what that means?
And engineering is usually a young engineer's job. Those that last tend to end up as management.

Plus, considering what's going on with such as CSXT, Scaled Composites and the like, there's better chances every month that there'll be space (not aerospace -- space) start ups coming along soon.

Having the degree makes it possible for one to be the person doing the starting up.

On the other hand, the degree isn't the deciding factor. Jeff Taylor at Loki Research has a PhD. In biochemistry. Not a lot of biochem in HPR motors.

#### illini

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by DynaSoar
And engineering is usually a young engineer's job. Those that last tend to end up as management./B]

...or a senior consultant of some kind. I've been fortunate enough to dodge the management bullet so far, but I'm clearly moving more into an advisory role. My company has recently been hiring young guys to basically be my proteges. They cost my customers less than half what I do, so allows us to keep the cost of jobs down. (Still, I feel old when they call me "Dr." or "Sir"...drives me nuts.) Companies are more likely to hire young engineers because they're cheap and drive costs down to make them more competitive. Problem is finding the right ones to hire. You gotta find a way to make yourself stand out if you're light on experience. Co-op. Extracurricular activities. Whatever it takes to distinguish yourself.

#### seo

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by illini868891
I remember going to the regional JETS (Junior Engineering Technical Society...a statewide competition in disciplines like chemistry and physics) competition at the local community college. In the middle of the contest, we aspiring engineers and scientists were forced to endure a lecture by one of the community college faculty telling us to forget about getting into Illinois. South siders weren't good enough...should just stay at home and go to his school.
Interesting. I remember JETS as well.

I graduated HS in 1981 from Belleville (downstate, near St. Louis). I had a different experience. My high school guidance counselor was an Illinois alum and couldn't believe that I would want to pursue an engineering degree at any school but Illinois. He tried to discourage me from looking at any other colleges for engineering. But, big schools didn't interest me so I went to Rose-Hulman in Terre Haute, IN instead. Turned out to be the right school for me.

Nothing against Illinois, it's a great school, just wasn't what I wanted or needed at the time.

Scott

#### DynaSoar

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by illini868891
Companies are more likely to hire young engineers because they're cheap and drive costs down to make them more competitive. Problem is finding the right ones to hire. You gotta find a way to make yourself stand out if you're light on experience. Co-op. Extracurricular activities. Whatever it takes to distinguish yourself.
I went to Purude. I saw what shiny new engineers made, every year in the school paper at graduation time. You mean "cheapER".

My younger son went there too, M.E. Co-op at JPL his sophmore year, working on the transmission for the Mars Rovers. Filled a post-doc slot at the National Ignition Facility his junior year, doing nonlinear holographic lens optics. And he headed a Rube Goldberg team every year, except the year he was "adopted" by the Women Engineers team. Those are the things that got him into the Berkeley MEMS lab.

I suspect playing slide trombone in "Uncle Stumpy's Porn Funk Band" helped too. It is, after all, Berkeley.

#### illini

##### Well-Known Member
Originally posted by seo

Nothing against Illinois, it's a great school, just wasn't what I wanted or needed at the time.
Frankly, I'd have a real hard time recommending Illinois. It is definitely *not* a school known for the quality of its teaching. The quality of its grads is not because of the school, but in spite of it. These days, I'm much more inclined to encourage people to attend schools that emphasize education...at least for their undergrad.

You mean "cheapER".
Cheaper than other disciplines, yes. But not cheaper than more experienced engineers. Also, the young guys tend to be more malleable...or at least the good ones are, anyway.