Call me a geek if you like, but working in space has to be one of the coolest careers out there. However, it’s fairly well known that there is a shortage of pupils signing up for the kind of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) courses that would give them the skills to obtain such a career.
Suffice to say, it isn’t for the want of trying. Last year NASA teamed up with Silicon Valley darling Khan Academy to produce a number of space related videos that were aimed at giving viewers the kind of skills needed to do various space related wizardry.
Indeed, at the back end of last year I wrote about a new study highlighting just how lucrative some of those STEM related subjects were in terms of career earnings. When researchers told students how much extra they could earn by studying maths at school, interesting in the subject soared amongst pupils.
Anyway, on the off chance that your teachers didn’t inform you of the large amount of money you could earn, the talk in the video above might prove adequate inspiration instead. It was filmed at a TEDx event and is given by the astronaut Dan Burbank. The talk sees him talk about his time spent on both Soyuz and the International Space Station (ISS) whizzing around the world at 28,000km/hr.
Burbank talks about his background prior to becoming an astronaut. His academic background is in electrical engineering and aeronautical science, and he spent time with the coast guard service prior to joining NASA, where he recently spent a total of 188 days in space, with over 7 hours of that spent spacewalking outside of the ISS.
He is currently the Director of NASA operations at Star City in Russia, from where he has been on three space missions, consisting of a Soyuz expedition in 2011 and two space shuttle flights.
He discusses the kind of roles and tasks he performs whilst up in space, and the role those tasks have for our own lives here on Earth, including in fields such as medicine, environmental protection, the physical sciences and a whole host of other fields. Whilst in space he has personally worked on around 200 different experiments to help improve our understanding of things such as human physiology, combustion physics, fluid dynamics, technology development and space science. The huge difference he can make to life on Earth is major motivation for him in his work.
Hopefully, by listening to his talk, he will inspire some of you to get into STEM related fields and provide a similar level of motivation in your own careers. I hope you enjoy the presentation.