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Engineer James Doggett Shares His Educational Experiences and Advice with the Science NHS

by Caleb Engle

Last night, SNHS members listened to Aerospace and Systems Engineer James Doggett – who happens to be the son of Media Specialist Cindy Doggett – as he talked about his scientific field, and his work and academic experience within that field.

After graduating from Middletown High School, Doggett went to the University of Maryland where he got his undergraduate in Aerospace Engineering. Doggett described much of his work experience, which ranged from working on GPS systems at the Naval Research Lab (NRL) to his time at the Pentagon as a systems engineer.

Doggett’s speech was directed towards students interested in studying STEM related fields – appropriately so considering his SNHS audience. Doggett described his transition from High School to College, in which he faced many challenges in the new and uncharted learning environments.

Although Doggett initially became interested in the field of Aerospace Systems due to his dreams of becoming an astronaut, he became involved in a variety jobs and projects that he could have never foreseen, such as small scale research satellites, GPS jamming prevention research, rocket thruster equations, and even traffic pattern research consultations.

Senior Joey Moss, who plans to double major at Wheaton College next semester found the information Doggett gave to be very useful. Moss is not entirely sure what he wants to major in yet, so hearing Doggett give his college and career experiences was very helpful. “He was really relatable because he addressed everything from someone who was in college,” said Moss. “He talked about what it was like transitioning into his undergrad, and then again into the workforce.”

Junior Susan Foster found that Doggett was very in depth in his speech.. “I thought it was useful how he went into detail about all of his experiences and what he did, as well as what he may have done wrong so that we can improve from him,” said Foster.

Other than his many rigorous math and science courses at UMD, Doggett said that he found a few rather peculiar classes in college to be more useful than he had expected. “I took a psychology class that was all about cross cultural communication and how you approach people from different cultures or from cultures within a different organization,” said Doggett. “I really liked it as a class and found it really useful after college.”

Doggett also gave advice to students who are exploring very general careers. “A lot of science careers at the entry level are extremely narrow,” said Doggett. “If you’re in a biotech lab, you are probably working on one process, or inventing a process, that is your entire job. If you find a career that allows you to do your very narrow job, but also allows you some cognitive time to explore other ideas to work on other projects, that’s great.” Although most STEM careers tend very specific, at least at the entry level, Doggett added that “if you are interested in a very general field of study, consulting would be a good option.”

Other than his very in depth accounts of challenges in college and navigating the workforce, Doggett also treated his audience of upperclassmen with some candy for answering questions throughout his presentation. “The candy was delicious,” said senior Austin Lajoie, who received a Hershey chocolate for correctly identifying the force equation.

Doggett ended his presentation with several valuable messages directed towards high school students going on to study anything in college, not just STEM related fields. Doggett advised students to always look for opportunities, not just in things related to your own field or study, but anything that will expand you horizons, and stressed that there are “many ways to there, and there are many ‘there’s’ to get to.”