Collin Anderson graduated from ERAU – Daytona Beach in December 2018. He is currently working at the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation.
How did you land your current position?
I got my position when the AIAA chapter president sent an email to all members one month before graduation (November 2018) saying that the FAA was looking for a graduating aerospace engineering major to join them at Cape Canaveral. I was told to email my resume to someone, and within two weeks, I had an interview lined up. The interview went well and, due to the government shutdown happening immediately following graduation, I got the job offer in April 2019 and started in June.
What impact did your internships with NASA and SGT have on your full-time job search?
My internships at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center cemented my wanting to work in the space industry. While I enjoyed working on satellites and propulsion systems, and learned a lot in doing so, I learned I was more interested in the launch operations aspect.
What does your current role with the FAA entail?
My job with the FAA is pretty unique. I work in the Office of Commercial Space Transportation in the Safety Inspection Division at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. My job is ensuring public health and safety through the review and monitoring of FAA licensed and permitted commercial space transportation activities, including the launch and reentry of expendable and reusable vehicles and operation of launch and reentry site operators. My job can take me all over the country and even internationally depending on what’s launching and where. My job duties include going to the rocket hangars for certain operations, attending readiness reviews, and sitting on console for launch.
What advice do you have for students and recent grads who are seeking a career related to space?
Join a professional organization, go to a conference, and talk to people in industry. In this industry, it’s less about what you know and more about who you know. Networking, especially in the age of LinkedIn, is critical.
What is the best career advice you have ever received?
The best career advice I’ve received so far is to never be comfortable with being content and always look towards conquering the next obstacle.
What motivated you to pursue a degree in aerospace engineering?
When I was three years old, my stepdad took me to my first airshow; The Great New England Airshow. One of the main staples of the show were the static and flying C-5 Galaxies. Being able to sit in one and see one fly at such a young age made me realize I wanted to do something in aerospace. Over the following several years, I learned I like to build and problem solve, and, with a bit more fine-tuning, I came to the realization that aerospace engineering was the perfect combination of all three of those.