No, this is not a review of the “Fast Five” movie with fast cars and fast women (it was alright…4/5 stars). On May 6, I will celebrate five years as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force, and 15-1/2 years total enlisted plus commissioned time. These five years have flown by quickly, and have been five of the best years of my life (although I do miss the ol’ PMEL days).
The plot of my “Fast Five” movie starts off at the Air Force Rat Lab (AFRL) engineering non-lethal, directed PowerPoint presentations. Like the opening setting of the “Fast Five” flick, the rat lab is a prison. Other than the people, I absolutely hated being there. I did whatever I could to get out of there, including taking a short-notice, six-month “deployment” building UAVs at [OPSEC sensitive]. Sure, that was not as interesting as meeting up with Vin Diesel in Rio de Janeiro, but the chance to work on UAVs again was a chance in a lifetime. That was a very rewarding six months away from home where I had to learn aerospace engineering on the fly, and think critically on the fly (sometimes as the aircraft was falling out of the sky). My team’s design won the AFMC commander’s cup back in September ’07, and I see that the Air Force has made follow-on projects using bits of our design and the follow-on. Alas, I had to return to the Rat Lab as a staff officer where not only was I miserable at my desk, but also seperated from the people I liked being around. I learned nothing there. Let us call that “the heist” part of the “Fast Five” movie, where the Rat Lab stole my sanity. Lucky for me I found a way out of that loony bin and PCS’d to the best job I have ever had–the Cubicle Systems Group (CBSG). At CBSG I have great co-workers (although they smell like burnt popcorn and Ben Gay cream), and plenty of opportunities to grow. Management allows me freedom to make decisions, engineer hands-on, manage entire programs, and lead people. At CBSG I have been a lead systems engineer, a hybrid engineer/ program manager, subject matter expert, and “sales engineer“. I started a master of science in radio-frequency engineering, then switched to a master of science in cyber security (information assurance)–and will graduate in 43 days. I love this job!
These five years at work have been great, but I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the family and friends that have supported me over the past five years. In five more years I will need to make that big, 20-year decision. Right now I am having a lot of fun, but I will wait and see what the next five years will bring.