Newsletter /September 04, 2019

Cluster Newsletter vol. 2

Our second ever newsletter is hot off the press and ready to update you with the latest stories in engineering, manufacturing, and the future of work. If you like what you see then subscribe and we’ll deliver our next issue straight to your inbox.


September 4, 2019


Hi there,

It's already time for Cluster's second newsletter and a lot has happened since we last met. US Space Command returned after a 17-year hiatus. SpaceX's Starhopper completed its final test flight. And we've added a Marketing and Communications Strategist to the team. Now we're on the hunt for a Product Manager to lead the development of key pieces of our platform. If this sounds like someone in your orbit, forward them this newsletter so they can apply

Speaking of orbit, can you name the first satellite to carry science instruments into space? Keep scrolling for the answer. See you in a fortnight! 

Kim Taylor
CEO, Cluster

Avg weekly earnings, manufacturing workers

- $7.09
Monthly change

July 2019

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Source: "mar_05_5664_falcon_9_streak" by spiderman (Frank) 
This Theory Might Explain Stagnant Wage Growth 
  • While the national unemployment rate remains low, analysts are concerned that wage growth doesn’t appear to be rising. 

  • The average wage paid to American workers rose 6 cents to $27.90 an hour. The 12-month rate of hourly wage gains was unchanged at 3.1%. Wages generally increase at a rate of 3% to 4% when the economy is approaching full employment.

  • A theory may explain the lackluster wage growth – cutting middle managers. “There are fewer opportunities to get promoted,” says Brian Kropp, group vice president of the HR Practice at Gartner, a global research and advisory firm. 

  • Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, recently announced that it would cut some middle-management jobs. It piloted the new program in 75 stores and rolled it out to 50 additional larger big-box stores in June.

  • Companies like Zappos, Amazon, and Tesla have continued to reduce middle management positions as a means of eliminating hierarchies and cutting costs. Research has shown that reducing bureaucratic structure can improve cooperation and happiness among workers. However, the major unintended consequence has been a lack of opportunities for career advancement, thus, depressing wages. more here >>

Boeing’s 737 MAX Nearly Ready to Fly Again

  • Boeing’s grounded 737 MAX may get the greenlight to return to service as soon as October. The world’s largest aerospace manufacturer and the FAA announced that “a cross-section of line pilots from carriers that operate the aircraft around the world” have been invited to participate in simulator testing to help re-certify the model. 

  • The pilots invited to the tests all have experience at the controls of the MAX. Simulator sessions will examine new procedures related to the updated Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) flight control software.

  • The FAA’s Flight Standardization Board issued a draft report that found Boeing’s MCAS to be operationally suitable. It also said full-flight simulator training, which is time-consuming and expensive for airlines, would be unnecessary. Instead, the board recommended only a short computer-based course and classroom instruction about the new software update.

  • If the MAX wins FAA clearance in October, Boeing plans to ramp up production, moving from the current 42 planes per month to the pre-crash level of 52 jets per month by February, with the goal of hitting a new high of 57 jets per month by next summer.

  • Boeing intends to hire hundreds of temporary employees at its Moses Lake facility in Washington state as it prepares for the MAX’s return to the skies.  more here >>

Today’s roundup was written by Lawren Henderson with contributions from Kim Taylor and Justin Parker in Los Angeles.

Tweets from Elon 

The Latest from Cluster

Millennials Are UnKilling Manufacturing. Millennials get blamed for ruining every industry known to man, but they're reviving US manufacturing and creating a new category of "smart collar" worker.  Read All About It >>

A Master's Can Land Aerospace Engineers Six Figures. Leveling up to a mid-career position in aerospace engineering is tricky, but a master's degree from one of these SoCal schools can help secure a better job and a six-figure salary. Read All About It >>

Last Week's News Roundup. American consumer confidence is sky high. A Silicon Valley-startup unveils the world’s first self-building satellite. Billionaires Elon Musk and Jack Ma agree that humanity is doomed. Read All About It >>

Upcoming Events in SoCal

Sept 13: From Apollo 11 to Mars 2020 and Planet Earth
Beckman Center of the National Academies of Sciences & Engineering
Spend an evening with legends from NASA, JPL, and The National Science Foundation as they reflect on their distinguished aerospace engineering careers and discuss the future of space exploration. Info

Sept 19:  “Human Exploration: From the Moon to Mars”
College of the Canyons

If you're a propulsion engineer or into flight systems, you're gonna want to join JPL's Mars Program Chief Engineer Humphrey (Hoppy) Price for his talk on how NASA's Artemis Program will serve as a springboard to a crewed US mission to Mars by 2033.  Info

Check out our calendar for all the latest SoCal events here

The First Satellite to Carry Science Instruments to Space

Source: NASA

JPL engineers prep Explorer 1. Pasadena, CA 1957
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