How I Used My Science Education in My Career

by on March 25th, 2015
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When I took science courses during my early college years, I never expected that the stuff of science would be a major factor in my careers. I expected to go into business or law.

I majored in Sociology in the early 1970s when the field was ridiculed as a “soft science”, and graduated as one of only two students in America who were seriously studying medical sociology.

It was unusual to be a generalist during the mid 1970s when specialization was the fad. I never worked with the title of “Sociologist” but used the education and discipline.

In the late 1970s, the Air Force decided that I would be one of the first non chemical engineers to serve as a Fuels Management Officer. Otherwise, I was a Requirements Determination Officer and a Munitions Accountable Officer.

I had a fuels testing laboratory and a massive system of tanks, pumps and pipelines that were either a Civil Engineer’s dream or or a Civil Engineer’s nightmare. Statistics, military science, the stuff of nuclear and conventional explosives and strategic planning and forecasting were science enough for me!

I learned that the relationship between computer programming and accountability was co dependent, but not healthy. So I learned computer programming, then wrote complex inventory analysis programs.

I was not alone. My military peers and mentors were practicing scientists, too. It was less so in the civilian world.

The sociology degree paid off in the biggest ways. Workplace culture and group dynamics were either my responsibility or they were my environments, and I knew how to work within them or to improve them.

It truly is the journey, not the destination that has been the most important part of having and using a generalist’s approach to science, work and life. I write about this occasionally in order to give hope to any student who happily ends up in a career field that has nothing to do with their field of study.

A generalist’s education will provide ways for the creative, curious, open minded and passionate practitioner to apply aspects of their knowledge to many career fields. This provides more options for attaining excellence.

Science does not always begin in the lab, nor does it always end in the office. That understanding is how I came to use many sciences in my career as many scientists.


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