Once a Rocket Scientist, Always a Rocket Scientist


Earning this degree was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life.

In my childhood I watched humans set foot on the moon via television.

I stared at my dad’s moon map on the wall of our family apartment in the Married Student Housing at Purdue, memorizing crater names
such as Copernicus at the age of three.

My dad fed our mutual fascination about outer space, indulging me with trips to the local planetarium, watching the Space Shuttle coast overhead
on a brilliant June afternoon on our side lawn, and a family trip
to the NASA Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.

My passionate memories helped sustain me
during the sometimes-punishing load of coursework.

Staying awake for more than 24 hours in a row to finish a semester project. For most classes in my major. Not because of procrastination. If you skipped one assignment, you were lost for the remainder of the semester and would likely fail the course. Plus your regular course homework due every week.
No late homework accepted. No relief for 16 weeks  at a stretch.

Muscle fatigue so bad during my junior year that in order to handwrite the non-programming homework,   I had to pick up the mechanical pencil in my left fingers, place it into my right hand, then squeeze my left fingers
around my right ones to close my right hand into a writing position.

Exhaustion so deep that I fell asleep sitting straight up in the study lounge.
I remember hearing footsteps enter, then halt,
and in my mind begging for their owner to let me sleep.
Professor Kathleen Howell told me later that day, she was the one who saw me and wondered why I didn’t say hi, then realized
I was sleeping with my eyes open.

Writing a seemingly endless stream of FORTRAN computer programs, including an 800 line beast for the senior year project, because that’s how you plan an accurate trajectory for your designed-on-paper
atmosphere-braking shuttle.

Worth every minute.

They don’t call it Rocket Science for nothing!

One response to “Once a Rocket Scientist, Always a Rocket Scientist

  1. Pingback: Thank you | LYnn Selwa, The Rocket Science Coach (tm)