Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory - Space Department has incredibly talented scientists & engineers, lead by PhD's instead of those with real experience. | Glassdoor
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Helpful (4)

"Space Department has incredibly talented scientists & engineers, lead by PhD's instead of those with real experience."

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  • Work/Life Balance
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
  • Comp & Benefits
  • Senior Management
Former Employee - Senior Engineer in Laurel, MD
Former Employee - Senior Engineer in Laurel, MD
Recommends
Negative Outlook
Approves of CEO

I worked at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory full-time (More than 3 years)

Pros

Superb technical personnel and some great opportunities if you get in with the right groups. Great atmosphere for learning and continuing your education with a great engineering curriculum brought onto the Laurel campus (The Whiting School of Engineering). Great location (read NOT Baltimore and NOT DC)! This is a great place to start your career. The APL moniker is one of the finest around and they have the technical breadth to do the job right.

Cons

If you don't have the sheepskin, your experience is not accepted as valid.
Little fiefdoms protected fiercely from outsiders.
High expectations from middle managers with no consistent knowledge of the customer. The customer's needs were considered secondary to securing the next round of funding or securing a foothold in their spaces. I was told repeatedly not to be so forthright with my NASA counterpart; my job was to sell our technical position and our people to do a job, not to teach others the how-to or know-how. I have some real heartburn with that, and I am glad I have moved on. Project Managers here are considered the necessary evil as bookkeepers to schedule and budget, but not respected for their technical input. That's a shame and a waste of good technical hands-on experience. The Space Department has a wonderful new building that they could not afford even before we moved in. Feels like a mausoleum. Especially since the projects keep dying off in the current budget fiasco and good people are told to find work outside of the department or be shown the door.

Advice to Management

You have way too many middle managers that have no business managing people, let alone customers. Your technical wizards should be the faces your customers see and interact with; not the smarmy folks you call Program Managers. The PMs have technical talent, but most appear in the customer's eyes as self-centered and not serving the customer needs. Do you really want that as your first line of exposure with your clients?

Other Employee Reviews for Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

  1. Helpful (4)

    "Not a good place for Software Engineers"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Associate Professional Staff I in Laurel, MD
    Current Employee - Associate Professional Staff I in Laurel, MD
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    You share an office which (depending on your building) is fairly nice.
    Everyone is equipped with dual monitors as they should be
    Low stress for the more junior employees
    You can take masters level classes on site

    Cons

    I'm a recent college graduate and my salary/compensation feels significantly lower than people I know working at neighboring contractors.
    Stack ranking favors giving raises to people who have more "visible" or "glamorous" tasking.
    Some projects are horribly mismanaged, weeks of virtually no progress aren't uncommon for the worst of them.
    Poor software practices across the board with many people writing software who are effectively taught as they go(Mechanical/Aerospace engineers) causes tons of headaches and slow progress. Once you learn the core technologies to do your job you will stagnate as there is no opportunity/desure to explore new tech.
    Matrix organization, I have three bosses and the one who never talks to me decides my fate.
    Matlab is used to do unthinkable things.

    Advice to Management

    Salaries need to be higher across the board but especially for new hires who tend to leave after a year or two for greener pastures.

    You need to hire Software Engineers to develop software products. Having a team of people with no formal education in Software/Computer Science leads to expensive, slow, brittle products, unsustainable products.

    Fix your performance appraisal process.


  2. Helpful (1)

    "Creative, academic environment and good work-life balance."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Associate Professional Staff I in Laurel, MD
    Current Employee - Associate Professional Staff I in Laurel, MD
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Great benefits, good job security.

    Cons

    There is not very good age distribution overall. Some departments are almost exclusively young people, who could use the wisdom of more experienced engineers. Other departments are almost exclusively older people who could use some fresh ideas.

    Advice to Management

    Don't allow people to become lazy due to job security. It is more difficult to lose your job here than in private industry and people know it, for better or for worse.

There are newer employer reviews for Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
There are newer employer reviews for Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

See Most Recent

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