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Doing hands-on work provides people direct experiences with components, objects and circumstances to encourage personal understanding of a specific subject matter.

This direct work experience – or learning by doing – can lead to a deeper understanding and possible expertise, allowing a practitioner to draw upon what was learned to help with future work. Doing hands-on work leads to learning with increased engagement and retention.

For the Academy of Program/Project & Engineering Leadership’s fourth Masters with Masters event, Bobby Braun, former NASA Chief Technology Officer, and Steve Altemus, former Director of Engineering at Johnson Space Center, shared stories and experiences. In the video clip at time marker 14:37 through 15:52, Altemus talks about the importance of doing hands-on work with hardware and the deep understanding this work brings to young engineers and designers.

Video key learning points:

    1. 1.

      NASA should keep doing in-house, hands-on work to build experience in younger engineers.

    2. 2.

      Hands-on work allows young engineers to develop and sharpen their skills.

    3. 3.

      A lot of hands-on experience with hardware at the start of a career will build the intuitive knowledge to recognize successful design and the ability to spot design problems.

Related Resources

In-House Projects: Investing in the Agency, Today and Tomorrow

NASA Virtual Project Management Challenge Session: SAGE III:  Developing Internal Capabilities while Driving Mission Success

Systems Engineering Leadership Development Program

NASA Virtual Project Management Challenge Session: Engineering Leadership Development


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