What everyone gets wrong about working at NASA

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Paul Sean

• Former NASA flight director Paul Hill told Business
Insider about some

misconceptions about working
for NASA.

• He said the space program isn’t made up of
super-geniuses who “don’t even need computers because they do all
the math in their heads.”

• The Texas A&M grad added NASA is made up of “normal
engineers from schools from across the country.”

Flying people and expensive machines into space is an intense

But former NASA flight director Paul Hill said the people
who work on the space program are a bit more down to earth than
you might think.

People tend to overestimate what it takes to work at
NASA, according to Hill, the author of “Leadership from the
Mission Control Room to the Boardroom: A Guide to Unleashing Team

“We must all be the 4.0s from MIT and we’ve got all these guys
who don’t even need computers because they do all the math in
their head,” he told Business Insider, of the incorrect

Hill worked on 24 different space shuttle and ISS missions as a
flight director over the course of his career. He was also
appointed to lead the investigation into the 2003 Columbia
disaster. The Texas A&M grad said the reality of working at
NASA is a bit less flashy. He added many of the engineers and
scientists who work there are state school graduates, like

“We’re a normal cross section of normal engineers that actually
have this incredible work that we do,” he said. “Normal engineers
from schools from across the country — and, in some cases, from
around the world — who just got the opportunity to do these
phenomenal jobs and then took them seriously and did them well.”

He said the reason NASA is able to do incredible work is that its
team members are hyper-focused on solving specific problems.

“When we sit back and look at it we realize, ‘This is cool. I
can’t believe they pay me to do this,'” he said.

But he said the idea that employees of the space program are all
human computers is flawed.

“Outside NASA, you get, ‘Wow you guys must all be geniuses and
you’re not scared of anything. You must have ice water running
through your veins,'” he said. “Not true, we’re just really,
really well prepared, and that level of preparation helps keep us
focused rather than panicking when many of us would love to
panic. I’ve had those moments where you think, ‘Holy s—.’ But
you need to put that out of your head and do what you need to

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