June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
October 19, 2019
The aviation industry met its need to fill manufacturing, support, and design functions by the use of design engineers, engineering technologists, and technicians. Post-secondary programs focused on commercial space, while training the technician and the engineer, were not training the technologist. The commercial space industry used technicians, managers/operators, and expanded the role of the design engineer to fill the vacancy of the missing university trained technologist. As commercial space organizations have grown aviation technicians have been brought in to fill the need for detailed component manufacturing and assembly tasks. However, the technicians who are brought in to perform specific high skilled work, lack the education and experience to manage the higher level programmatic logistics issues. Additionally, the trained engineer were drawn further from their expertise and training in research design, to be responsible for the logistics and program support.
As the commercial space industry continues expand, the question begins to emerge as to whether the areas of expertise in design support, manufacturing, and vehicle support are fundamentally different than that traditionally seen in aviation. Intuitively, engineering and program support activities must evolve to mirror the structure of legacy aviation where the design engineers focus on the discipline of engineering and design while support and deployment activities are performed by a different specialization. The purpose of this study is to categorize and compare the content of traditional aviation programs and commercial space programs for differences in characteristics, traits, and paths of program focus. This paper examines the question of what training and education needs exist for commercial spacecraft technologist, and seeks to identify a gap in the skills and competencies that are relevant to the portion of the industry in which the technologist is to be engaged. This understanding leads to more questions regarding the traditional model used by legacy aviation and aerospace where engineering technologists are better equipped to serve the area between the engineering and the technician. The authors see this primarily as a workforce development issue, as more than not just an engineering issue. The concepts of workforce development and engineering are inseparably linked, due to the fact that without a support workforce adequately knowledgeable in the concepts of this field, advanced engineering cannot take place.
The authors see three options to compensate for the missing technologist dilemma. The first is to use aviation trained engineering technologists. The second is to modify existing technologist programs to switch their focus from aviation to the commercial space industry. Lastly, the use of the workforce from military space or legacy aviation/aerospace. It is unlikely only one path will be chosen. Regardless of the path, or paths, selected, there is ample work to be done.
Yother, T. L., & Burleson, C. G., & Thom, J. M., & Kozak, B. (2019, June), The Search for the Commercial Space Technologist: A Comparison of Aviation and Commercial Space-related Postsecondary Programs Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33423
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