NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Senior Engineer Reviews | Glassdoor.co.in

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Senior Engineer Reviews

Updated Nov 27, 2018

To filter reviews, or .

Found 16 reviews

3.0
StarStarStarStarStar
Rating TrendsRating Trends
99%
Recommend to a Friend
100%
Approve of CEO
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory CEO Michael Watkins
Michael Watkins
1 Ratings
  1. Helpful (14)

    "Working for the Government Presents its Own Challenges"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Systems Engineer in Pasadena, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Interesting projects. Incredibly smart coworkers who are usually very willing to help get you up to speed. Current upheaval of the old guard is actually presenting some new opportunities to lay down the foundation for the lab for many years to come. Name-drop-ability is real. People's ears perk up when they hear JPL and NASA, and if you're the type that likes to work at a place a lot of people are interested in,... and flat out envy at times, JPL will do the trick. It's also a conversation starter when talking to recruiters, and most will be very interested in chatting with you to hear what you were up to at NASA. 9/80 work week is observed by most people on the lab, and yes that means every other Friday off. Unlike most engineering jobs, it's not a trick, either. People take it off and the lab basically shuts down every other week on Friday. I've had a few Fridays I felt like I would use the day to catch up, but that was my call and overall the lab tries to practice what it preaches and does honor a good work/life balance. Remote work is also available, and depending on your team could be encouraged, due to the parking issues the lab does have. Those are real... You'll see people complain about parking a lot on here, and it's a serious problem. When I can, I work from home, which helps greatly get work done and not have to worry about running all over campus, and especially not waste time hunting for a place to park in the morning.

    Show More

    Cons

    Work can move at glacial pace. Constantly fighting the old way of thinking, and there is a lot of push back toward anything new (whether it be a tool, a different way of working, or even a messaging app). Some missions are fully agile, with a slew of modern tools and technology, while others are using software and build practices that would have looked outdated in the late 90s. There is a constant bucking of new and... smart grads and younger techs against the old-been-there-forever engineers. Most employees are also on matrix based project schedules, and it is rare to be assigned to more than 25-33% on any one project. Most engineers are juggling three to four projects, each with unique requirements, tools, and processes. It's actually closer to working three to four completely separate jobs, and with the variance and meeting schedules it can really feel like all you're ever doing is running around from meeting to meeting. Not a lot of guidance if you want a structured role. Most folks are so busy bouncing from meeting to meeting, and doing their own time juggling, that they expect you to pick up the ball and run with it. Sometimes even getting basic requirements can be a challenge, and on one hand that's very liberating, but on another when you're dealing with limited time, it is costly to have to go back and forth on a bad design, or just a completely wrong direction, due to not understanding the scope or requirements for an assignment. Government work can be hard to stomach at times. Big shock, but, yes, things get political here. There are a lot of rules, a lot of cautions, and I've heard numerous times that, "If this is mishandled, you're going to prison," and it's not a joke. It can be stressful. Zero perks around the office, and it may sound petty, but those coming from private industry might be shocked to see there's no free coffee, no tea, not even water coolers. If you want to drink water, a few groups have started water clubs (no joke) where you pay a little money each month to have access to a water cooler. Same with coffee. Otherwise, you're huffing it to the cafeterias for water or Starbucks for an overpriced drink. Forget free meals. There are some parties once in a while on lab, but don't expect food, drinks, or anything really that you don't need to get work done. Likewise, trips, travel, conferences, and what have you, are all paid for by your projects, meaning you need to have at least three groups sign off on anything you do. As a taxpayer, I'm happy that spending is so closely monitored and controlled, but as an employee it can be a pain to simply do things that might better all of my projects as a whole. This isn't a place where you come and work for a group, and work on several projects while being paid by your Org. You're actually assigned projects and paid a fraction by each, so you really have to constantly work at keeping all your projects up, hunting for new projects when things are ramping down, and manage your relationships with people on lab to make sure you always have work to do. Group supervisors can help, but mine hasn't been very present in my day to day work, and half the time he's busy with his own tasks and can't really spend time with his reports. Great guy, but sort of a hands off and never present supervisor. Perhaps other people have a different experience there. Parking is a real problem. There aren't enough spaces. It's a gag around JPL. If you try to park after 9am all bets are off. If you dare leave at noon for lunch, you're screwed. People park illegally all over the lab. There are cars crammed next to cars, parked almost blocking roads, sometimes completely blocking lanes in the parking lots. I don't blame them. I've circled for an hour plus to find a spot before, and didn't. I ended up calling my teams and told them I was going home and working there. It's bad. It's really bad.

    Show More

    Advice to Management

    The matrix accounting system is hard to deal with for a lot of people. It's working, but it's barely working, and I can see more and more people getting stressed out of having six plus projects they're maintaining. Please keep an eye on that. If it isn't working, then getting people on more dedicated projects, even if it's 50/50 with certain missions, could make work so much better on the lab. Parking is... disastrous. I know there isn't much we can do about that, but it's really bad. Keep encourage remote work where it makes sense to cut down on the burden to employees that have to be onsite. You have a great workforce that wants to work, and if you could push more of them to at least 50% FLEX, that would probably save a lot of parking spaces on lab. IF you have a day full of WebEx meetings, do those at home.

    Show More
    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory2018-11-28
  2. Helpful (1)

    "Space is cool - interesting place to work."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Pasadena, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Space is cool! Smart people.

    Cons

    Overcrowded facility, so cramped shared offices. Entrenched not-invented-here syndrome. Section infighting causes an absence of system architecture, resulting in half of all spacecraft lost. People tend to be lifers. The side effect is there isn't much upward mobility. Beaurocratic semi-governmental org can be a bit painful to deal with for simple matters.

    Advice to Management

    Start with needs and system architecture for missions outside section squabbling over who gets the work. It would be easy to cut the number of spacecraft lost from software errors in half.

    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory2018-11-09
  3. "Engineer IV"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Aerospace Engineer in Pasadena, CA

    I have been working at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time for more than 10 years

    Pros

    Great place to work and friendly enviroment

    Cons

    Long commute distance, less office space

    Advice to Management

    Career development

    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory2016-05-19
  4. Helpful (2)

    "An amazing place to work. Relaxed, laid-back, yet professional and challenging. A breath of fresh air in aerospace."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    Current Contractor - Senior Principal Engineer in Pasadena, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory for less than a year

    Pros

    Working here is like working on a college campus. Not completely surprising since it is really owned and run by Cal Tech on NASA's money. People are far more concerned about the quality of the job you do than on exactly what time you arrive in the morning or whether you wear button-down shirts. Great work/life balance!

    Cons

    1) Parking can be challenging. The lot that is accessible by foot fills up before 8:30 in the morning and the other available lot is literally miles away and requires a shuttle bus to get into work. That's supposed to be fixed soon with a new parking structure however. 2) This is an engineering/scientific/research environment. For a single man, the male/female ratio is dismal.

    Advice to Management

    I've only been here a few months, but so far I have no advice to give. I'm happy with all the management I have seen thus far.

    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory2014-08-14
  5. Helpful (6)

    "Challenging goals, but abusive culture."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Pasadena, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time for more than 10 years

    Pros

    Work on expanding the experience and knowledge of all of mankind. Very difficult technical challenges. Very proud of everything I did. If you are unconcerned about personal advancement, and have a tough enough skin to withstand the anger of your management, you can introduce dramatic technological innovation due to the tremendous need for it.

    Cons

    Archaic technology not used elsewhere results in many having unmarketable skills. Leadership exhibits consistently aggressive resistance to adopting new technology, training or advancement. Work very hard, then get kicked to the curb at the end of the project. Aggressively secretive management ensures uncertainty and unneeded stress. Its collapsing.

    Advice to Management

    Replace yourselves with talented managers, or at least people who are up to date in the technical areas of your responsibility. Hard to attract such people of course, because real companies have stock and bonuses. Weight of overhead and inefficiencies is causing the collapse.

    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory2013-03-13
  6. "Good Place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Manufacturing Process Engineer in Pasadena, CA
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time for more than 8 years

    Pros

    It is a pleasure and proud to work for NASA space exploration projects with thousands of brilliant scientists and engineers in addition for the excellent benefits and competitive salary.

    Cons

    Less opportunities for career advancement and a lot of unfair/wrongful terminations/ laid-offs due to some bad line supervisors & managers.

    Advice to Management

    Should reward and retain good employees based on their hard works, performance, experience...

    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory2013-02-27
  7. Helpful (2)

    "Tradition is Glorious. Tradition is an Albatros"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Pasadena, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    Super creative minds. Varied ages. Rich history. We make real space robots, and have a substantial investment in Earth Science. As rich in intellectual tradition as any university.

    Cons

    Deep bureaucrary. Entrenched interests. Protected fiefdoms. Huge inertia. Easy to forget that you are working on space robots when you have to run around the campus sending emails to accomplish small things.

    Advice to Management

    Look at Google and Facebook for models of dynamic business.

    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory2012-08-14
  8. Helpful (8)

    "Incompetent management, oblivious oversight, risk aversion."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    Former Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Pasadena, CA

    I worked at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time for more than 10 years

    Pros

    Contribute to the expansion of knowledge for all of humanity.

    Cons

    Watch your skills atrophy. If you want to innovate, look elsewhere.

    Advice to Management

    Time to start over.

    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory2012-08-21
  9. Helpful (3)

    "JPL is demanding and challenging , sometimes with unreasonable expectations from management"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Senior Engineer in
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

    Pros

    You get exposed to the most challenging problems in aerospace if your expert knowledge is in demand. Salaries can be above industry average if they really want you.

    Cons

    As budgets have become tighter in recent years, management has been asking more for less to the point where it has become unreasonable. Employees have been asked to take time off without pay.

    Advice to Management

    Hire only people you need in the long term. Reduce administrative overhead. Be aware of groups protecting outdated technology. Teach your division and section heads some management skills to increase efficiency

    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory2011-09-13
  10. Helpful (1)

    "Fascinating to work on planetary and research programs"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Senior Engineer in Pasadena, CA
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

    Pros

    One of few places to work on spacecraft missions that are bound for the far reaches of the solar system. Many interesting and intelligent colleagues.

    Cons

    Some difficult personnel issues are not being professionally addressed by management at all levels for retention of laboratory talent during this crisis layoff period instituted by the Lab's Senior management.

    Advice to Management

    A more structured and fair approach needs to get applied for career growth and retention of talented personnel

    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory2011-07-09
Found 16 reviews