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“My passion has always (been) within space – exploration and manufacturing of future spacecraft,” says Joshua Harris, who was offered a job at Lockheed Martin after working for a year in the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co-Op Program. The Orion spacecraft hangs in the foreground in the Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building.

Launched at Lockheed Martin

From a dead-end job to a high-flying career in space manufacturing, Joshua Harris aims for the stars.

May 3, 2018

By Kylie Henson

Joshua Harris had lost his sense of gravity.

It was 2015, and the North Dakota native was working at a sales job he didn’t love, floating from one day to the next.

He happened upon an article about the New Horizons Space Mission. “I remember the day it launched,” he said. “And I couldn’t believe nine years had passed.”

He decided to write an article about the launch, rekindling a longtime passion he’d lost along the way. When he posted the article on LinkedIn and more than 350 people liked it, he was inspired to make a change in his life.

Harris enrolled in classes at Metropolitan State University of Denver to follow his true calling.

“My passion has always (been) within space – exploration and manufacturing of future spacecraft,” he said. “I’ve always seen the positive aspects that space exploration has brought us and the things that have come to fruition from it.”

Harris was not a traditional student. He’d already received a bachelor’s degree in energy management from Bismarck State College. MSU Denver proved to be the perfect fit.

He declared a major in mechanical engineering technology and dived headfirst into his courses. He got involved on campus, engaged with his peers and ate up everything his professors taught him.

Joshua Harris reflects on differential equations as he writes them on a white board in the Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building. Harris has landed a job with Lockheed Martin and will begin working three days after he graduates.

In spring 2017, he found his launchpad.

Harris applied to the Lockheed Martin Space Co-Op Program and was accepted. In the program, he was able to work alongside engineers at Lockheed Martin for a full year as a product-protection and packaging-design engineer.

“It’s a very competitive market,” he said, “so the relationship that MSU Denver and Lockheed Martin have created, which allows students to get a foot in the door, has really helped to accelerate my career.”

Harris says his favorite aspects of the Co-Op Program have been “the people, the ability to innovate and just being surrounded by all the cool space stuff.”

Upon completing his co-op experience, Harris was offered a full-time position at Lockheed Martin as a product-protection engineer and will start three days after he graduates in May.

One of the many benefits of working at Lockheed Martin is the company’s support in furthering the education of its employees. To that end, Harris has already applied to a master’s program in Space Systems Engineering.

At times, Harris is awed by his own trajectory. But he is taking it all in stride.

“Hindsight is 20/20,” he said. “If I could go back and redo it, I would’ve gone with mechanical engineering from the get-go. But at the same time, if it weren’t for those decisions, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

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