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Defense Engineer

The Real Poop

You're saving the world. Or, if not protecting the planet itself à la Superman, at least you're saving it from the Bad Guys out there (some of whom even admit they are bad guys). What could be better than that?

You won't make tons of money but you'll make tons of friends. Unfortunately, when those friends ask "Exactly what is it that you do?" you won't be able to tell them. Not because the swelling in your tongue still hasn't gone down from that nasty bee sting you got yesterday, but because you’re dealing with some pretty Top Secret information.

Military technology has advanced a lot in recent history. We don't have too many soldiers on the front lines launching spears in the general direction of the enemy or taking the ol' bow and arrow out of storage. Today, there are thousands of amazing mechanical gadgets and do-dads that provide for efficiency, secrecy, and stealth. Someone has to design, test and operate these do-dads. Enter defense engineers.

Here's just a sampling of some of the stuff defense engineers do:

• Design a UAV (Unmanned Air Vehicle). Attack of the drones. The benefit of these robotic devices is that our military can acquire information without risking human life. The life of the drone, on the other hand, is a different story. If something should happen to it, at least its funeral would be well-attended. It has a lot of robot friends.

"I'll be there for you…."

• Perform maintenance. Not quite like taking your Corolla into the shop. You are dealing with complex machines that are comprised of many intricate, delicate parts, and survival may be dependent on the quality of their condition. Okay, so it’s a little like taking your Corolla into the shop.

• Create software. Just because your job relates to the military doesn't mean you can't be a computer nerd. In fact, most defense engineers are a little on the nerdy side. You just know most of them grew up hosting Risk marathons in their parents' basements.

• Secure military servers. More jobs for the computer geeks. Obviously, privacy and the covertness of our nation's military secrets is vital. You may be needed to lock that stuff down. Make those hackers look like a bunch of slackers.

• Work in R&D. Not as relaxing as R&R, unfortunately, but essential. R&D stands for Research & Development, and you might be doing plenty of both. It goes along with designing equipment and vehicles, but before you design something, you’ve got to know why and how you need to design it. Otherwise, you might wind up with a really cool-looking robot that's only feature is the ability to win every game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

• Monitor quality and suggest methods of improvement. We don't just create a piece of equipment and then sit on our hands. Our military continually strives to improve on our existing stuff, so that we can always stay ahead of the curve. Because we really don't want to be the next Roman Empire. Even though their togas were nifty.

Aristotle is turning over in his grave.

• Go into battle. Wha-huh?? Yep…in certain instances, you may be required to actually go onto the battlefield. Your expertise may be required in a critical circumstance, and most soldiers don't have training in sophisticated engineering knowledge. So you may be needed to race in there and save the day. Don't get your head blown off though, because that won't do anybody any good. 

Defense engineers can work for major companies that supply the US military with planes or equipment (think Boeing, Raytheon, etc.) or for any of a gazillion private contractors who do…little things. On a "need to know basis," of course. Your skills will be in high demand, and because the job doesn't generally pay a fortune, you shouldn't run into too much competition for job openings. 

Do you like your nice, comfy American lifestyle? Want to protect it so that our children and our children's children can enjoy it as well? Every defense engineer is like a mini-national hero. You can play an unsung part in the preservation of our country's freedoms. Which is perfect, because we've heard you sing in the shower, and it isn't pretty.