Jack-of-All Trades: Chemistry, Engineering and Beyond

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by The Blue Baron, Sep 5, 2018.

  1. The Blue Baron

    The Blue Baron Banned

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    Hey
    Future Cadet here.

    Of all the Engineering Degrees at USAFA , if Im chill with all and wish to be a Pilot and Test Pilot also, which degree is better in the sense that I can take it and lvl up on the others by way of electives, off-hours, clubs, activities, hobbies, reading and more? The most exclusive one in that hands-on learning.

    Between Biochem vs Materials Chemistry?

    And MSS vs Foreign Area Studies vs Geospatial Science?

    And is it elementary that Computer Engineering > Computer Science and Cyber Science in that respect?

    Wanna do a 2x( Triple Major if possible) and willing to study from now for it to max my time there.

    Tips welcome.
     
  2. BBBRRRTT

    BBBRRRTT Banned

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    Sounds like you are MIT, Harvard material! Learn all that you mentioned above, and you can buy your own plane and fly when you want, where you want:)
     
  3. Humey

    Humey Member

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    To be a pilot, it makes no difference what degree. To be a Test Pilot, i hear you have to be an engineer
     
  4. USAFA10s

    USAFA10s USAFA Class of 2012 WPAFB 10-Year Member

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    I agree with Humey, if Test Pilot is something you want, you need a STEM degree, something in Engineering, Math or Science, not just the B.S. that everyone gets at USAFA. I would say that doing a double major is no easy task at USAFA unless you validate at least a few classes. If your plan is a technical major and you want to double, you really need to validate at least a few courses or you are going to be in a world of pain with multiple 7 or 8 class semesters. As for your question, it really comes down to what major/majors will interest you the most. Your major's courses need to be enjoyable, or at least interesting or you are going to hate studying and struggle to keep top grades.

    I'd say both biochem and materials chem will be very tough to "level up" as you say on your own as they normally require a lot of lab work at the high levels, however, they are great as a basis for a graduate degree, AFIT even has a materials program. Computer anything will by far be the easiest to improve on your own and what you pick amongst the choices you listed again should be based on your INTERESTS. Do you want to build and design computer systems? Is your strength algorithms and coding?

    There is a major's night at USAFA where you can talk to professors and upperclass cadets about all the majors that might interest you. That is the time to pick a major. Now is the time to master calculus and figure out what else you can validate (http://www.smartcatalogiq.com/en/Ca...nternational-Baccalaureate-IB-Transfer-Credit) if your goal is truly to do a double major.

    You may think you want a double or triple major now, but doing a double at USAFA is NOT AT ALL like doing one at a regular college. Just like many come in thinking they want to do Astro or Aero engineering, they quickly decide the pain and likely GPA hit is not worth it and choose something else that is of interest.

    Source: The not so smart choice of doing a double Physics and Math major at USAFA. So. Painful.
     
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  5. Hoodlum15

    Hoodlum15 Member

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    Also something of note, if you double major but do poorly in your classes and let other duties lag, you'll end up with a poor class rank and it doesn't matter what your major is. No pilot slot for you.
     
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  6. Sam2018

    Sam2018 5-Year Member

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    DS validated 6 and will be taking the Stats validation test soon. Also validated another class that was not in his degree plan. He could double major but on the advice of his Academic Advisor he plans to just do well in his major and take other classes that interest him for "fun" :) He is an Astro major and loves, loves, loves it. Hopes to get a grad school spot then pilot.
     
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  7. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator 10-Year Member

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    This is from the USAF document that lists requirements for USAF TPS (Test Pilot School) which is AFD-131008-020:

    Course: Experimental Test Pilot
    Time in Service (at time of entry): < 9 yrs. and 6 mo. (helicopter 10 yrs and 3 mo.)
    Education: BS in Engineering, Math or Physics (GPA > 3.0 on 4.0 scale)
    Experience: 12 mo AC in MWS and 750 hr or IP (MWS) 1000 hr if dual IP Note: 250 hrs. of manned non-MWS time may be included.
    Physical Qualification: Annual Flying Class II

    That's it.

    Oh yeah...you have to get past a really SERIOUSLY tough selection process!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
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  8. fencersmother

    fencersmother 10-Year Member Founding Member

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    I love to hear that kids are willing to put in the work to get what they want!

    That said, let's back things up a bit and call on our PIMA's sound advice: You are on step 3 of about 2977 to get to test pilot school, and some of those steps are REALLY REALLY difficult.

    Got great grades & test scores at the top of your class (and don't tell me about "I got to one of the toughest/most respected/biggest/strongest... high schools in the world.")? Captain of two varsity sports plus hold down for three years a 20 hr/week job, and spend each Saturday helping old ladies do their grocery shopping (because you started your own company that does that, as a non-profit)?

    OK, you get my lazy drift here, I'm sure.

    The Essentials:
    Do very well in the most difficult high school curriculum you possibly can.
    Stay VERY physically fit through sport or documented other activity.
    Find and participate in one or two (not 5 or 9) extra curricular clubs or organizations, and dedicate yourself to those pursuits. You won't always be ADAF, and it's good to know/have something you are passionate about- it'll both open doors and keep you grounded.
    As you are able, get a part time job (a REAL one), with documented time (even your own lawn business if you can keep a ledger). Stay with it during the academic year.

    Do these things take up a lot of time? YES. Will you miss the prom? Maybe. Will you miss the senior picnic? the class trip? Depends. Will you have your whole schedule filled to the brim? That's the idea.

    Anecdotal: my sons had an acquaintance who double-majored in EE and Physics. SHE was exceptionally smart - really, just like a walking computer. It was AMAZING to talk to her. Her sis at the time of graduation was an Army Captain out of USMA - also some kind of genius.

    Can YOU double major? Maybe. Let's see how you handle a high school career packed full of stuff.

    Let us know your stats, Future Cadets. It may help others thinking the same way you're thinking now.

    Best of luck! Keep your nose to the grindstone.
     
  9. Pima

    Pima 10-Year Member

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    Pima chiming in. I agree with Fencer you are on step 3 and you have hundreds of hurdles to clear. Not trying to be Debbie Downer, just a realist.

    Double majoring in engineering because your end game is TPS is foolish for many reasons. Let's assume you commission out of USAFA as a double major, so now you are at step 1657 out of 2997.
    1. You need to wing out of UPT.
    ~ STEM does not equate to being able to handle the stick.
    ~ Nor does it guarantee you will get a fighter if you have a PPL.
    2. You need to be Command sponsored for the TPS board.
    ~ As flieger showed it will take years. Timing is everything. You may get to a base where the board is meeting 60-90 days after you report, the Wing King/Queen placing you as their top pick over somebody that has been there for 2 yrs is probably very low. Thus, you will have to wait even some more time.
    ~~ Nobody knows the needs of the AF in 2032. That is basically what you are looking at if you are class of 2023.
    3. Paths veer and change as you age, again TIMING
    ~ Wing King/Queen comes to you and says, LOOK, I can't support you for TPS this yr because my number 1 will be Captain Smith since he is older and close to PCSing, however, I will support you for the Weapons school board in Vegas, do you want to take it, you have 48 hrs to decide. Yes, this indeed occurs. You opt for WIC because a bird in a hand is better than... Now you get back, and realize that your true passion is the weapons world. WIC usually occurs much sooner than TPS.
    ~ Notice the avg yr that TPS students get there. That is @ the time that for pilots where they are up for O4, or have been selected for O4. If selected for O4, and maybe you have WIC under your belt, do you go to TPS and be a student again, or roll the dice with the idea of....If I stay this course and no TPS, I have a chance of going in residence to ACSC and on track for a squadron command.
    ~~ Additionally, that is about the time where you must decide to take the bonus or bolt. You are 17 (?) You have yet to think about marriage and kids. Stealth, Devil, Fencer and I have children that are all married. Fencers and mine got married @24. We are both proud grandparents of their kids. Like Stealth and Fencers's DSs our DS has been deployed more than he has been at the home he pays his mtg. I believe Stealth's DS has just PCS's for his 3rd time in @8 yrs. including UPT. My DS started UPT 4/2013. He winged 2014. Moved to Little Rock until 2015. Moved to TX in 2015 and is up for PCSing again within the next 6 months. So in essence within 6 yrs from starting UPT he will be living in his 4th home. Combine the moves, constant deployments, many find the 6 figure bonus not as appealing as going to the airlines, being just a line number and never moving again.

    Honestly, that is probably the hardest point in your life. You really have to choose which of these paths you want to follow, with none of them being a for sure.

    FWIW, Bullet and I have 2 friends that went to TPS out of the F111. The 1st was the example of Capt. Smith. He was older and about to PCS. He got the slot. He went onto NASA. If this is your goal, than please google Col. Mike (Bueno) Good. Note how long it took him to get accepted to the NASA program. I know he has no regrets, but don't assume that if this is your real end game that you immediately get into NASA. It took him 6 yrs to be picked up by NASA and another 9 to get into space.
    The 2nd decided not to take WIC. He waited it out and got picked up his 3rd go. However, during this time he missed the opportunity to go to PME in residence. He had no desire for NASA. He stayed operational with some great assignments, but because of not going to PME he never made it passed the DO in the squadron (still great), however, it also meant that he was moving more and would retire with a lower pay since no PME at O5 typically equals no O6 even if you went to TPS.

    Again, not being a downer, just a realist on how this is running a marathon over and over again for yrs to come.

    FWIW just to drive home the fact that you are at step 3 out of 2997, I placed on purpose acronyms. If you have to use the list here to figure out what ACSC is or TDY or PCS, than it illustrates the point. I am honestly not trying to be mean, rude or unkind. I am trying to illustrate that take every step 1 at a time and don't have tunnel vision.
    ~ 30 yrs ago when my DH was awarded DG out of FTU as a WSO, I never saw him being the go to guy at the Pentagon for the F35 when he retired, yet there he was a WSO working on the newest plane, because along the way he became known as a weapons expert in the fighter world, regardless of the fact that he was never in a single seat fighter.
    ~~ Nor did I see him jumping out of perfectly good airplanes with the 82nd for 2 yrs. Yet, that assignment catapulted his career and changed his future within the AF.

    Good luck, and from a parent, don't plan your life away. It goes way too fast and there are too many forks in the road. Live the moment, and readjust your future as it happens. Sorry for the novella.
     
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  10. The Blue Baron

    The Blue Baron Banned

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    Thanks all for the Advice and Tips.

    Well, my stats are the following.

    I'm currently 21. Started entrepreneurship thing as kid. From the Lstand to car washin' to lawn mowing to courier/delivery gig and other odd jobs. (Don't have ledgers due didn't think would need them.)

    Never really varsity Captain but for hobby, local or friendly tournaments tended to be captain, be it Bball, softball or baseball(southpaw) and others and participated in MMAs, mainly Judo.

    I did miss prom and many senior stuff 9-12th(The multiple birthdays parties, bashes and etc didn't make me miss it)

    As for Top of Class, had that big rep thing. Even to college it got.


    Helping old ladies? Yep. In hindsight it's kinda funny the cliche. As for non-profit, most that did has been in the help the local charity before/after thing

    College currently. Taken all basic management courses, currently Science courses(Math, Biology & Chemistry) and looking to hobby on the others. Also have being active in sidequest activities on those areas on college. Weekdays Judo, Swimming and Wrestling practice and train off-hours accordingly to be competitive. I even do the Pai Mei training sequence thing but with the classes-sports bags (20kg-50kg) during the class week.

    Member in a couple of boards + helping hand and/or honorary in others
    (I like a lot of things)

    As for how to manage..
    Luckily some boards member/coaches 2x as tutors/background in the topics and/or other areas.

    And on Chem vs Biochem vs Materials Science..which major of these allows me to learn more/work of the other(that I could just hang with some mates in the other majors or on off-hours lab or as "tourist" on the lab class or read)

    Same for MSS vs Geospatial vs Foreign Area Studies

    As for Computer related degrees same. I like Cyber Sec and but the curriculum seems limited and wanna choose one that allows me to be more rounded on the others while also being good with electronics and cyber world.

    Same for Engineering. Is Mechanical the best for this vs Electrical Engineering and Aero/Astro ?
    I like a lot of things.

    And I want to be mainly, mainly an Ace Pilot, like Top Gun and the ones in history, with option to TPS.

    By what you all say, it's very very hard. Hence I want to know what can I do to increase my chances.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2018
  11. Hoodlum15

    Hoodlum15 Member

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    Do you know what an Ace is? Not to belittle you or anything, but even having the opportunity to shoot down 5 enemy aircraft hasn't been bestowed on any recent generations of fighter pilots.
     
  12. The Blue Baron

    The Blue Baron Banned

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    Hence the TPS option.
     
  13. USAFA10s

    USAFA10s USAFA Class of 2012 WPAFB 10-Year Member

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    1. Stop thinking about your major at USAFA and doing lots of different things - if you are serious about wanting to go to USAFA, you need to focus on taking classes that show you will do well there/prepare you for the challenging curriculum. Like others have said, you are on step 3 of 2012
    2. Use the search to look at the many many reapplicant/college applicant threads on here and the courses they take in college. Make sure you are taking those and getting As
    3. Read everything on the USAFA admissions website and get cracking on your application, USAFA has an age limit for entry (you cannot be older than 23 on July 1 of the year you enter) so you only have a couple years left to try

    Finally, I recommend you really work hard on your writing skills. Not to be harsh, but I couldn't figure out half of what you were trying to ask and gave up trying. I know this is just an internet forum, but the ability to write clearly is critical for an Air Force officer.
     
  14. MidCakePa

    MidCakePa Member

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    @The Blue Baron, you can start by writing more clearly and coherently. Great communication is a hallmark of successful military officers. I only know of you what I’ve read here and how you’ve written it. You strike me as intelligent and ambitious. Also as scattered and flippant. Take the great advice you’ve gotten here and focus yourself. USAFA graduates are officers first and foremost, regardless of occupation.
     
  15. The Blue Baron

    The Blue Baron Banned

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    Thanks again for the advice.

    I will work on the writing.

    I have taken AP courses and am currently doing all I can to pass the classes with A's and the tests that @USAFA10s linked.(Thanks Again).

    Also browsed the USAFA admissions page like a hungry lumberjack in a buffet. Also for some of the questions both here and on reddit and other sites but didn't find what was exactly looking for.

    To clarify:

    From the view of taking a Double or Triple major, want to compare those degrees and see which major is more well rounded between them.
    I.E. Between Mechanical Engineering, Electronic Engineering , Astro and Aero, is Mechanical Engineering more well rounded and makes it easier for me to understand the other ones?
    (I ask this so due certain emphasis on the Majors page and more content on Mechanical Engineering when compared to the others..and also read that it is easier from Mechanical > Electrical than vice versa)

    Also, does that degree when compared exposes me more to those other disciplines? IE Does Biochemistry exposes me more to the other 2 Chemistry Degrees and Biology than the other two?

    Between Military Strategic Studies, Geospatial Science and Foreign Studies, which would also be the one?


    Finally, Apart from:
    • Studying all the courses in STEM I can and the ones for the course validation tests
    • Being in great shape
    • Working on my writing skills, what else can I do to increase my chances for both admission and then? I am trying and willing to study what it takes, no days off, just lighter day, if need be.
     
  16. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

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    Gee. If it were me I would start with "What do I want to do? What am I passionate about?" not with "What will make me more well rounded." But that's just me I guess.
     
  17. The Blue Baron

    The Blue Baron Banned

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    That's why I chose those degrees. I love those areas. Very passionate about them. But since I have to choose at the absolute maximum 3... I reached that after some Occam's razoring of areas I enjoy.
     
  18. Humey

    Humey Member

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    You got me curious, what is an ace pilot. I always thought it was someone who shot down 5 enemy aircraft. If so, why hasnt it ben bestowed on any rent generation of fighter pilots. Having said that, when is the last time a US fighter pilot engaged another an enemy fighter?
     
  19. MidCakePa

    MidCakePa Member

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    You’re correct about the definition of “ace.” And your second question answers your first question.
     
  20. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator 10-Year Member Founding Member

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