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Test Pilot

Gliderpilot321

New Member
I was wondering if a person with a degree in environmental science would not only qualify but be competitive in the Navy or Air Force test pilot programs. The programs require a STEM degree, but are these branches really asking for engineering or math specific degrees? Also, while on the subject, would an environmental science degree make you competitive for NASA's or the new and upcoming private space companies (i.e SpaceX or Virgin Galactic) astronaut selection. Many of the past and current astronauts have been graduates of test pilot school. Is NASA and the private companies also asking for more engineering and math specific STEM degrees if that is the case. Many thanks!
 

xj220

Will fly for food.
pilot
Contributor
Engineering degrees help, but we had a public relations major in our class. They took extra math courses ahead of time to bolster their resume. I don’t jnow you background but that may be an option. A lot of it is what your platform and position is and if they have any openings. If it’s something you want, apply and keep applying.
 

sevenhelmet

Uh oh...
pilot
A Navy TPS board will look at your transcript, review what classes you have taken, and determine whether you meet the minimums and how you stack up to the rest of the applicant pool. Generally, math up through differential equations and at least one physics course is a good rule-of-thumb to start, and it alleviates a lot of the academic struggle if you've seen the math before. However, if you're unsure, it's worth contacting the school for guidance on what you can do to strengthen your application. A technical masters' degree will help a lot, but it isn't required.

NASA also prefers technical majors and requires at least one accredited degree. On the last round of applications, environmental science appeared to fall within that scope. However, if applying as a pilot, a TPS diploma and technical masters' degree have traditionally been the minimum stakes to have a shot (and even that doesn't guarantee an interview).

From the 2016 NASA astronaut candidate position announcement:

"Applicants must meet the following minimum requirements before submitting an application:

1. Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics.

Notes on Academic Requirements:
Applicants for the Astronaut Candidate Program must meet the basic education requirements for NASA engineering and scientific positions; specifically, successful completion of standard professional curriculum in an accredited college or university leading to at least a bachelor's degree with major study in an appropriate field of engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics.

The following degree fields are not considered qualifying:
--Degrees in Technology (Engineering Technology, Aviation Technology, Medical Technology, etc.)
--Degrees in Psychology (except for Clinical Psychology, Physiological Psychology, or Experimental Psychology, which are qualifying)
--Degrees in Nursing
--Degrees in Exercise Physiology or similar fields
--Degrees in Social Sciences (Geography, Anthropology, Archaeology, etc.)
--Degrees in Aviation, Aviation Management, or similar fields"

Source: USAJobs.gov
 
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Griz882

Well-Known Member
pilot
No Social Science types? No wonder NASA can’t pass a fart without killing six or seven astronauts.
 

jmcquate

Well-Known Member
Contributor
A degree doesn't make you competitive for NASA (or anything else except an entry level position), a body of work does. The private space types aren't flying people yet, so I'm guessing they're hiring guys who can build and fly rockets.
 

Pags

Well-Known Member
pilot
A degree doesn't make you competitive for NASA (or anything else except an entry level position), a body of work does. The private space types aren't flying people yet, so I'm guessing they're hiring guys who can build and fly rockets.
Unless those jobs have OPM degree requirements. If you want to build rockets for NASA or the others odds are you’ll need a legit engineering degree.
 

jmcquate

Well-Known Member
Contributor
Unless those jobs have OPM degree requirements. If you want to build rockets for NASA or the others odds are you’ll need a legit engineering degree.
Good point about the OPM..............Jackasses keeping talent away from the Federal Government for decades.

Wow, that's in poor taste and uncalled for.
Yes it was.
 

Griz882

Well-Known Member
pilot
Wow, that's in poor taste and uncalled for.
Nah, I disagree. NASA is a shell of what it once was and it smacks of needless elitism in selecting for certain positions. They need strong, flexible minds, not rigid ones defined by GPA’s. Neil Armstrong was an average student from a state school and in this day and age wouldn’t make it past the first gate.
 

jmcquate

Well-Known Member
Contributor
Nah, I disagree. NASA is a shell of what it once was and it smacks of needless elitism in selecting for certain positions. They need strong, flexible minds, not rigid ones defined by GPA’s. Neil Armstrong was an average student from a state school and in this day and age wouldn’t make it past the first gate.
NASA is a shell of it's self because the cold war is over. Armstrong got to were he was was in NASA because of how the system worked at Murock(sp) Field, now Edwards AFB. Good sticks were favored over intellects. Hell, Yeager didn't have a college degree. It's different now.
 

Pags

Well-Known Member
pilot
Nah, I disagree. NASA is a shell of what it once was and it smacks of needless elitism in selecting for certain positions. They need strong, flexible minds, not rigid ones defined by GPA’s. Neil Armstrong was an average student from a state school and in this day and age wouldn’t make it past the first gate.
Also happened to have a couple of engineering degrees, was a combat experienced naval aviator, and an experienced experimental test pilot.
 

Griz882

Well-Known Member
pilot
Also happened to have a couple of engineering degrees, was a combat experienced naval aviator, and an experienced experimental test pilot.
All of this is true. But if you think NASA is as good as it once was then you are fooling yourself.
 

Pags

Well-Known Member
pilot
All of this is true. But if you think NASA is as good as it once was then you are fooling yourself.
I’d think that would have more to do with money and guidance. NASA in the 50s and 60s has very clear guidance to put Americans in to space and eventually on the moon and was given consistent funding to achieve these goals. No bucks, no Buck Rogers.
 

Griz882

Well-Known Member
pilot
I’d think that would have more to do with money and guidance. NASA in the 50s and 60s has very clear guidance to put Americans in to space and eventually on the moon and was given consistent funding to achieve these goals. No bucks, no Buck Rogers.
I fully agree.
 
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