Thursday, September 21, 2006

NASA and Astronautic Engineering: Aging Workforce in Space Industry

Reporting from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics's (AIAA) Space 2006 Conference, Robert Lemos writes that NASA's corps of engineers that designed, built and maintained the space shuttle are reaching retirement age.
"The average age of my civil servants is 49 and we only have nine people under the age of 30," said S. Peter Worden, director of the NASA Ames Research Center, who jokingly added: "Then I talked to Google and they only have nine people over the age of 30."
In fact, for all aeronautic and astronautic engineers, the average age of AIAA membership in now in the low 50's. Lemos reports that Lockheed Martin has began several initiatives to try to transfer knowledge from the older, experienced engineers and technical staff to the younger hires, including mentoring programs in which a young engineer is assigned to a senior mentor and ones that sponsor occasional roundtable classes between a senior engineer and younger staff, focusing on specific technical problems and how to solve them.

Source: Wired News "NASA Fights Premature Graying" (September 21, 2006)

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