AFROTC and pilot slot vs degree

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by jwarren, Feb 18, 2012.

  1. jwarren

    jwarren New Member

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    If my son gets an EA but subsequently does not get the pilot slot he had hoped for, what are his chances of using his Aerospace Engineering degree in the Air Force? With all the cuts it is a little scary to think that we'd paid $160,000 for his BS Aerospace Engineering degree only to find that he isn't able to use it.
     
  2. bsherman92

    bsherman92 Member

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    I think it's important that you know that a BS in Aerospace Engineering is worth A LOT more than to secure a pilot slot by commissioning through AFROTC. In fact, if anyone were to go through the coursework of the field itself, he/she would realize it has very little directly with getting through flight school and learning to be an aviator/pilot (although the Air Force probably has it that technical degrees are preferred for 'technical' jobs). Yes, compared to a student who majored in business, economics, or basket-weaving, the aeronautical engineer will know substantially more about the principles of flying, but I wouldn't say that having the degree is actual preparation for the rigors of flight training. That being said, you also asked whether your son will be able to effectively utilize said degree while commissioned. My opinion: probably not directly. The primary mission of ROTC is to produce officers... Which, in the most vague way possible, can be best described as an upper-level manager of personnel, if using the business model. Life as an flight commander will leave little room for your son to directly apply hours spent in fluid mechanics, linear algebra, thermodynamics, and calculus to his AFSC. Of course, the problem-solving skills he has inherently gained from these courses should prove most invaluable to him as an officer... A trait most desirable in officers of all branches, I'd hope. If he were to hope to go directly into a career that directly utilized this degree, he'd have probably tried out for employment with an actual firm or business that was involved in this discipline, as you can probably tell. To illustrate this, for example: the Army has suddenly gained an interest in engineering and science majors (STEM students) and has allocated slots in both the Corps of Engineers and the Signal Corps for students undertaking these studies. Does that mean a BS in mechanical engineering will mean Lieutenant John Doe will be drafting 3D models in Solidworks and developing prototypes? Absolutely not... He doesn't even have a master's degree. The hope here is that the amount of problem-solving and mathematical skills developed in studying engineering will produce an officer who can use these skills to effectively lead his platoon. There are aviators and pilots who've majored in business and other obscure, non-technical majors that are flying right now. However, that also doesn't mean your son didn't make the right decision in choosing his major to try and gain a flight school spot: the two are still highly related and not mutually exclusive.

    All of that being said... Here's hoping your son gets what he wants. That degree is not easy to complete and it will be very valuable to him outside of the Air Force, as well as it serves him inside. Hope this helped.
     
  3. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I agree with bsherman92, the fact is he most likely will not be utilizing that aerospace degree the way you may perceive most college grads do. The 22 and 35 were not designed by AF officers, they were designed by outside companies, such as Lockheed.

    That being stated, yes they have positions, but there are not a lot of them and again, it is not in design per se.

    As bsherman92 stated upon commissioning they are not Pilot jwarren or Aero eng. jwarren, they are 1st Lt. jwarren. Their 1st job is to lead as officers, their second job is to be a pilot, etc. For rated officers, they have a 3rd job which is their desk job. They do not fly 5 days a week once operational. They may fly 2-3 times a week on a good week, but other days they maybe working at wing weapons, or squadron scheduling, or IG.

    Many cadets select the engineering path for multiple reasons, but typically as an 18 yo it comes down to 2 reasons.
    1. Scholarship chances
    2. Future career paths as a flier. To go to Test Pilot School (TPS) you must have an engineering degree, no if, ands or buts.

    Now as far as him getting SFT and than UPT there are a few things to remember.
    1. SFT places into the equation that he is an engineering major, and statistically 75% of engineers last yr were selected.

    2. For UPT how he ranks out of SFT will be part of the equation for his OML. That means if he is bottom 50%, it will hurt him.

    3. TBAS is a test they take for rated boards. That score is added into the equation too.

    Good luck, and as hard as it is to relax try your best.
     
  4. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Where on earth are you spending $40k per year on an AE degree? And who cares what you spent relative to his immediate employment? As a pilot he would not "use" his degree in any way that would satisfy you for what you paid, with the exception of becoming an XP way down the road as Pima mentioned. Flight training will teach all the aerodynamic factors he'd ever need to know to be a pilot.

    If he commissions as a 2LT, pilot or not, just be glad he's employed. Plenty of folks pay full freight for a degree and then have NO job.
     
  5. dunninla

    dunninla Member

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    Interesting question. Why would anybody spend $160k (actually full freight Tuition+Fees+books+transportation, forgetting about R&B, is now $180k at most top 50 private colleges) on an Engineering degree? Your possible implication is that why doesn't the student just go to local State U for anywhere from $50k - $60k for all that? Is that what you're asking?
     
  6. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    My question was where specifically. That is a ton to spend for an engineering degree, as many exceptional engineering schools don't cost close to that much. Some do. Judging by cost and the availability of AFROTC, only a handful of schools fit that bill.

    I assumed she meant tuition only. If not, then the question is moot.
     
  7. Aglahad

    Aglahad Member

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    AE with pilot experience seems pretty lucrative for a career with Airbus, Boeing or Lockheed. The only reason I say that is because my father has spent 20+ years in engineering (and is in charge of hiring in his dept) with one of the mentioned companies.

    Dunn-My current school is at a baseline of 168k a year and most of the majors involve the humanities (theater, music, English, Comm). Now hearing someone spend that much on a AE degree seems to make a lot more sense then what I am used to. The medical schools I am looking at (DO specifically) are around that and I look at them as a worthy investment. Why not AE? Sure there might be cheaper schools, but engineering is never a bad investment especially if the OP's son genuinely enjoys the program as well as campus.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2012
  8. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Aglahad,

    The point is come 2 yrs from now either way the child will have paid 168K as a newly minted O1. As Scout stated the degree will not matter at UPT. UPT is more than academics, it is also about their SA and their hands. Pilots, IMPO, are a different breed, they live by the seat of their pants. The AF will teach them how to fly, but they can't train them to have that touch when it comes to being one with the airframe. You either have it or you don't. JMPO

    I don't see an AE degree as being used as a pilot to the level I believe the OP thinks it will be used. That is why people are saying the major doesn't matter when it comes to success in the flying world.

    Yes, 5, 10, 20 yrs down the road it will assist in job placement, but for at least 4 yrs it is not as if they will be designing the 6th gen airframe. Many will become maintenance officers.

    Also, let's be honest, in 4 yrs from now if they get out, these companies are going to be looking for additional things, such as a Masters. Many of kids these days are doing the combined undergrad/grad degree, this is where they stay for 1 more yr. Their DS will luck out even if he doesn't get his dream AE job in the AF, because he will be able to get his Masters done, and have the AF pay for 75% of it, which will make him very competitive.

    OBTW I think you have a typo, I don't know any college that charges 168K a yr. I do agree there are many private colleges that are out the door expensive. Our niece's college costs 43K a yr, multiply it out, with no increases in tuition over the next 4 yrs, doubtful, she will pay 172K! Worse part is this is not a top notch college, and her major is interior design. At today's starting salary for that field, it would take her @ 6 yrs to repay the school cost, and that is just handing every penny over, including taxes. I don't get it, but she's not my child, so I don't need to do the come to JC meeting with her about this idea.
     
  9. Aglahad

    Aglahad Member

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    Yes, very much a typo my school is around 43k a year not 168k haha. Thanks for the info, I will admit I do not know all of the ins and outs of post-AF success for AE guys, I am just repeating what my father says he looks for when hiring ex-AF tech potential employees.
     
  10. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    You are right for an HR perspective they love the military, but it isn't just the experience of the military, it is that companies like Boeing, Lockheed, Grumman, Pratt, etc., want them for the golden ticket. TS clearance.

    Fliers, and maintenance officers are going to have TS clearance since they know classified info about the airframe. These companies work with the military and any employee that they have that will be connected with classified info will need a TS, especially if it has to do with engineering their next jet or tanker.

    TS's costs tens of thousands of dollars, and last for 5 yrs. If he leaves and just had his TS clearance renewed, he takes that clearance with him. A TS clearance can take up to 6 months. Hence, if they can choose between the AF officer with TS clearance, who will start working day one, or the non-military applicant that will cost them 10K+, and sits on their hands for 6 months, or worse yet doesn't get clearance, they will take the military applicant. It makes fiscal sense for a business.

    Anyway, back on topic.

    Jwarren, I know you are concerned, but honestly, as long as he has a strong PFA, a cgpa over 3.0, and depending on the school it could be lower (i.e. MIT) he will get FT.

    FWIW, when he takes his TBAS if he has flight hours, tell him to bring the log. They give extra points to the score based on how many flight hours.

    I would also suggest for him to start talking to his cadre now, about AFIT. AFIT is the AF grad school at Wright Pat, they must compete for the spot, just like SFT and UPT. However, this is one area where he can do ED. ED is where they go to AFIT for a yr to get their masters, and than go to their follow on assignment. The commitment owed runs concurrent with the ROTC commitment, but companies that have been mentioned also recognize how competitive this is, and will vie for him.

    The CC will assist him in explaining how to apply for AFIT or fellowships.

    Good luck.
     
  11. Jodie

    Jodie Member

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    AF active duty and civilian engineering is a great career..

    http://usafengineers.com/
     

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