, 13 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Everyone loves SpaceX, and thinks of Elon as the genius founder that invents new types of rockets that are cheaper, faster, more efficient.

It's fun to think of it as SpaceX versus NASA, or Silicon Valley vs Aerospace.

But let's talk about D&I, and logs. Logs as in timber. 🌲
If you've seen my talk on D&I, then you are familiar with under-matching: a phenomenon where bright kids from rural areas don't pursue intellectually rigorous careers.

Talent is everywhere. Opportunity is not.

Under-matching affects white folk too.
Stanford research shows that with minor intervention, you can connect under-matched kids with the opportunities to reach their potential.

A guidance counselor, college advisor,or mentor, can put a person on the right path.
In Idaho, a lumberjack had a son, who he hoped would also become a lumberjack. But this kid liked rockets... 🚀

He made rockets for fun in high school. He even made a rocket out of his dad's acetylene welder.

He went to college not at CalTech or MIT, but at the U. Of Idaho.
In high school, he wanted to be an aviation mechanic, a big step up from lumberjack for a kid that likes rockets. His geomoetry teacher recognized the under-matching, and asked him:

‘Do you want to be the guy who fixes the plane or the guy who designs the plane?’
Like I said, he was not a rich kid. He worked as a lumberjack all 4 years at Idaho to pay for his degree in mechanical engineering. Here he is, paying for school.

Photo credit: U of Idaho.

After college, he moved to California, to work in the traditional space industry.
He worked for 15 years at traditional space companies: Hughes, TRW. He got a masters from Loyola Marymount. He was the lead engineer for the TR-106, one of the most powerful rockets ever made.

But he felt stiffled by process at work. He had ideas for new types of rockets.
But building rockets is expensive, and they don't give kids from Idaho billions of dollars to start their own company, no matter what's on their resume.

So he built rockets at home, building the largest amateur liquid-fueled rocket in history. Elon Musk noticed...
He joined SpaceX as a "founding employee." He designed the Merlin engine. He's CTO of Propulsion. His name is Tom Mueller.

Everyone knows Elon Musk. No one knows Tom Mueller, even though Tom is the one currently designing a rocket that will put humans on Mars. 🤷🏿‍♂️
Somewhere in flyover country, there is an aviation tech who could be building rockets, but they didn't receive the right nudge in high school.

Somewhere in Georgia there is a black woman teaching HS math at a rural school, that could have advanced the state of the art in ML.
Talent is everywhere. Opportunity is not.

The goal of inclusion work is not "More black folk!" Or "More women!" The lack of black folk and women is a symptom of the root cause: opportunity to succeed and thrive is not evenly distributed.
Sometimes the interventions are easy: a nudge by a geometry teacher.

Sometimes the interventions are much more work: creating a company culture that is not hostile for black women.

But the net result is the same: more inclusion, better talent, and a better end product.
Sorry to burst the Tony Stark / Bruce Wayne diletante-billionaire-genius myth. 🤷🏿‍♂️

But to me, this is much more inspiring:

SpaceX is the brainchild of a poor kid, lumberjack, rocket nerd, who's been working on this his whole life. 👍🏿👍🏿

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