How Star Trek got me into engineering

With the recent passing of Leonard Nimoy, a.k.a Mr. Spock from the original Star Trek, many news outlets and people have been talking about the influence Mr. Nimoy, Spock, and Star Trek have had on culture and the world. This is m story.

I never really watched the original Star Trek series, it was before my time, and by the time it was in syndication, The Next Generation was already on and I was hooked on that. I liked Star Trek for the adventure, the visuals, but most importantly the technology and crazy science. The character I really idolized was actually Geordi La Forge, the chief engineer of the Enterprise.

                        Geordi La Forge and the warp core

If you think about it, the amount of stuff Geordi was responsible for was crazy. He ran the engineering department, which took care of the entire ship, from engines, to weapons, to life support, to the replicators, and the shuttles. Basically everything technology related was under his purview, and the Enterprise was a big box of technology. While in the real world, a chief engineer tends to be more of a management person, responsible for oversight and planning, Geordi was also a good old fashion hands-on engineer. He could fix any problem his staff could, and often took on the most dangerous tasks. Now that’s probably because he was a main character. But his level of expertise and knowledge was always something I aspired to.

My time watching Star Trek gave me a love for space, technology, and science. That was further cemented by a visit to the Kennedy Space Center where I saw up close one of the two remaining Saturn V rockets build for the Apollo program. The other Saturn V is actually here in Huntsville, and I’ve had the privilege to see it many times since I’ve been here. The first time, and every time, I was awed at the marvel of engineering, build by man. To this date, the Saturn V is still one of the greatest accomplishments of engineering to this day. It was done in a time when technology was playing a lot of catch up and everything was done by the seat of the pants. I hoped to be able to participate in such a great endeavor in my own lifetime.

To this day, I still daydream about being the chief engineer for some great mission and having the skill and knowledge to make the missions succeed, just like Geordi La Forge.

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