On March 30th, 2017, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket landed on the droneship “Of Course I Still Love You,” marking the world’s first successful reuse of an orbital-class rocket. On March 29th, just one day before, Garrett Reisman (M&T ‘91) spoke to the M&T Community as part of the Barer Family Lecture Series, sharing his experience as a former NASA astronaut and current SpaceX employee.
The most important quality Garrett emphasized about SpaceX was the company’s strong sense of mission. Every SpaceX employee knows the company was founded with one explicit mission: to make the human species multi-planetary. The world has been watching Elon Musk eagerly as he inches closer and closer to that goal. While that mission may seem crazy to most, SpaceX employees frame it as a challenge. In fact, there’s already tangible progress being made on the Interplanetary Transport System that will one day take us to Mars. Now that is astonishing.
Garrett spoke fondly about how M&T prepared him to not only go to space but also to work in industry. He emphasized that when people tell M&Ts they can’t do something, we see it as a challenge to prove them wrong. Culturally, that makes M&Ts a great fit for a company like SpaceX; we have a strong sense of purpose, enjoy a good challenge, and are willing to put in the work. Unsurprisingly, there’s a strong community of M&Ts who span both business and engineering functions at SpaceX.
While there are certain career paths that M&Ts gravitate to, being an astronaut is definitely not one of them. Hearing Garrett speak about his journey to NASA and SpaceX encouraged me to cast a wide net as I explore future career opportunities and think critically about my passions. Such valuable exposure would not have been possible without the generosity of the Barer family, who made it possible to bring Garrett to campus. We in the M&T community thank Garret, the Barer family, and all the innovative M&Ts that came before us as we pursue our passions and goals to make our mark on the world.
Sina Golkari is a mechanical engineering and applied mechanics (MEAM) major concentrating in finance and operations, information, and decisions (OIDD). He is a member of the class of 2019 and his favorite thing about the M&T program is the regular study breaks in Huntsman.