We attended Pat’s Pi day party at Pi. Pat & I are now both retired from Boeing. As a fellow physicist, Pat led a toast to the late Stephen Hawking. I was asked by one of the other guest, what did I do at Boeing. I said that I was a computer person. That was a reflexive answer, which seemed to satisfy, but left me less so. In my career, I’ve worn many hats. I’ve parlayed computers and math into many fields, including physics. In my tenure at aircraft manufacturing I have worked, researched and published in three computational physics fields, fluid dynamics (CFD), electromagnetics (CEM) and infrared (CIR). Some of my colleagues joked that I couldn’t hold a job, but I think that my flexibility has been my best attribute. It helped me to thrive in times of adversity, by switching fields. I always brought cross-pollinated knowledge to each new endeavor.
To future generations, I recommend that you strive to become generalists. Like me! It’s hard to be the best and there is little room at the top. In these changing times, disciplines and the careers that they are built upon can come and go. The secret to success is adaptation, ask Darwin. Don’t get pigeonholed. Keep your options open. The future always holds promise, just be ready to get there!