Monday, August 22, 2005

Exit Strategy

(No, this is not an Iraq War post... )

Well, it's official. All the details of my leaving NASA/ASU have been negotiated. I have agreed to work half-time from home doing nothing but writing these curriculum projects to which we are already committed. I have five activities related to the recently-launched Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in alpha test that need to be put in beta form (quite a bit of writing yet to go on those, but it's mostly background material), plus I will produce the beta version of at least one of the Phoenix Mars lander (Mars '07) activities (we are committed to two of them, plus some distance-learning programs that our new distance-learning specialist can handle). I've committed to working half-time until the end of February, but if she hasn't found a replacement by then, I will consider continuing until April so as to finish the beta version of the other main Phoenix activity. The nice thing about this arrangement is that I've got a paying gig to ease me into the transition to freelancing, and I will also have my tuition paid for next semester (the policy is that if you leave in the middle of a semester, they will continue to pay your tuition for that semseter). There may be a limit of 9 hours for half-time employees, but even so, that leaves only 3 hours that I'd have to pay myself to finish all the requirements for my Ph.D. I can handle that.

I also agreed (volunteered, actually) not to take a Mars-related contract while I'm working half time, since I would see that as a conflict of interest. I don't think that will really be an issue, as I happen to know there aren't any major missions being proposed until late next year at the earliest. Morally, though, I feel this is still the right position to take. I've spoken with our business manager, and everything is set up and ready. I just need to go over to the benefits office today and stop our health insurance through ASU (we were planning to switch to my wife's insurance regardless). My boss did make an attempt to get me to change my mind, but I think even she knows it's too late for that. My last day in the office (i.e., full time) will be 1 September.

Ten days to freedom and adventure! I'm probably out of my mind, but I'm really excited to be able to focus on my Ph.D. and writing career. I may never get an education contract (though I will be looking), but I really want to focus on fiction and articles anyway, so I'm fine with that. Things do seem to have a way of working out, so I'm not terribly worried...

No comments: