There are newer employer reviews for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
There are newer employer reviews for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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So much for a young engineer to learn from the masters of mechanical systems...

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer in Pasadena, CA
Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer in Pasadena, CA

I have been working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory part-time (Less than a year)

Recommends
Positive Outlook
Approves of CEO
Recommends
Positive Outlook
Approves of CEO

Pros

-Projects are heavily mechanical in nature
-Real responsibilities, real soon after joining the lab
-Awesome training: design of bolted joints, parametric modelling, etc
-Great resources for knowledge sharing: JPL Wired. Its like Wikipedia style database of everything we do.

Cons

-Pressure about whether funding will come through
-The charge number system. Its terrible when your task suddenly runs out of money and you stop all work and often forget about all progress that was made.

Advice to Management

Make job offers to the students who work hard and demonstrate their merit.

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  1. Helpful (4)

    A Very Unique Place to Work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Electrical Engineer in La Canada Flintridge, CA
    Current Employee - Electrical Engineer in La Canada Flintridge, CA

    I have been working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time (More than 10 years)

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    - Work/life balance is very good
    - Unique projects/missions that no other company has done or attempted
    - Unique blend of engineers and top scientists and PhD's in the world.
    - Good benefits overall (new employees earn 3 weeks + 1 day vacation and 12 sick days per year)
    - Great employer contributions to Key Staff retirement plan
    - Casual environment

    Cons

    Like most companies the size of JPL (5000+ employees), there are "companies within the company" which means that certain sections or divisions may be vastly different than others. As a result, it is difficult to provide a sweeping, all inclusive company wide con. However, here is my attempt:
    - JPL is struggling financially right now because although often successful, they have been labeled as too expensive for many deep space or interplanetary missions. Consequently, they have been forced to compete for other types of contracts and have been failing because of their excessive cost. The days of receiving a blank check from NASA to send a rover to Mars (JPL's specialty that requires no competitive bidding) looks to be over or at least suspended for the next 8 years or so.
    - JPL has their share of common issues involving companies of this size - ineffective or apathetic group supervisors, too many levels of management on some projects, etc. However, nothing too far out of the ordinary and most of these cases are isolated rather than chronic.

    Advice to Management

    Anonymous feedback from employees regarding their opinion about line management and/or project management should be solicited and reviewed to identify problematic supervisors or project managers. If 90% of the employees say the same thing about a particular manager or supervisor, then it's probably worth investigating. However, if you do not provide a means for the employee to voice their opinions without retribution, how will you identify these troublespots in management?

  2. Helpful (2)

    No quick fix

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Systems Engineer II in Pasadena, CA
    Former Employee - Systems Engineer II in Pasadena, CA

    I worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time (More than 10 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Benefits were good. JPL used to be the best overall. It had leaders who had attainable and long range goals . It had managers who really know what was going on under their wings since they already had "hand-on experiences" and walked around to talk to their subordinates on the weekly basic.

    Cons

    Now, it becomes just like any other big commercial entity with more paper pushers, more bean counters, more of anything but competent supervisors who really know their stuffs to actually train or mentor newcomers. They let go key technical people and thought the younger engineers (both staff and senior levels) to pick up and run, but reality sinks in, and some tasks are left unfinished. Who will train personnel to do the unfinished tasks? Quick solutions: hiring back the same key technical people through outside JPL contracting houses. Legal? Yes. Ethical? No.

    Advice to Management

    Miracle can happen, or the fat level of management needs to trim down to only keep the real talented and know-how.

There are newer employer reviews for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
There are newer employer reviews for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

See Most Recent

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