Monday, October 6, 2014

NASA Social - Just Do It!

With all due respect to Nike, I had to "steal" their slogan to convince myself to apply for my first-ever (and, so far, only) NASA Social event. Like many of you, I saw mention of these events pass through my Twitter feed, or my Facebook timeline, and wondered what it was all about...but never applied because I'd think: "Who am I? Why would NASA pick me for something like that?"

So I didn't apply.

And I'd see the next event come through the feeds and I'd think about how cool it would be to see some "behind the scenes" things that most people never have the opportunity to know about, let alone see in-person. I would have that same mental tug-of-war with myself about how many more qualified people would be applying for the spots. I'd click the link to the application, start to fill it out, but then talk myself out of it. What did I have to add to the social media space that others weren't already doing?

So I didn't apply.

So began the next iteration of this cycle - seeing more events pop up and going through these mental gymnastics trying to convince myself to apply. I saw one that piqued my interest: NASA was unveiling the Vertical Assembly Center (or, more colloquially known as the Welding Wonder) - the world's largest spacecraft welding tool (for more info about the Welding Wonder, click here) at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. I have a background in engineering (I attended Georgia Tech for nuclear engineering, and I'm currently a network and wireless engineer), so this is something that really interested me. Also, to be fair, it sounded less glamorous than many of the other NASA Social events, so I thought my chance to be selected may be improved.

So I applied.

Yes, I applied. When I received the confirmation of my submittal (not the actual selection notice, mind you, but the email that simply said "We're NASA and we received your application. Thanks."), I was quite excited. I told friends and family about it. I told coworkers about it. Now began the waiting game...and I had no idea how long it would be before I heard anything.

So I waited.

Finally, I received an email from NASA! Though I wasn't selected, I also wasn't rejected - I was on a wait list. OK...ok - I could deal with that. I was pretty happy knowing that I kind-of made the cut. I figured that I wouldn't hear anything else back, so I mentally filed it away.

Then, a few days later, I received another email from NASA - an email that initially confused me. I was told I was being removed from the wait list. Wait...what?!? Did I do something wrong? Hold a sec...let me read a bit more. Oh! I was being removed from the wait list because I was being selected! Woo-stinkin'-hoo!!!!! Yes!

They needed a reply from me within a couple days to secure my spot. I'm pretty sure I replied before a minute was done. Yes! Christmas in September! It was, without a doubt, one of the most interesting - and fun, for an enginerd (yes - that's a word...trust me - and thanks to Jen W. for introducing it to me) like me - things I've ever done simply for myself. I mentally kicked myself for not doing it sooner.

If you're "on the fence" about applying for one of the NASA Social events, take a cue from Nike: Just Do It! What have you to lose? It only takes a few minutes, and you might get a lifetime of memories...and a cool group pic with other like-minded space folk like yourself:


The whole NASA Social group at Michoud with Astronaut Patrick Forrester (center).
Just. Do. It.