Tim Pickens is an entrepreneur, inventor, innovator, engineer and educator. His business, Pickens Innovations, specializes in commercial space, technical product development and solutions, and business consulting and strategy for space and technical companies. He is known for applying a lean philosophy to develop creative solutions and innovative partnerships to provide responsive, low-cost products and services.

Pickens’ 20+ years of experience in the aerospace industry, specializing in the design, fabrication and testing of propulsion hardware system, has earned him a reputation as one of the industry’s leaders in these areas.

Early in his career, Pickens served as propulsion lead for Scaled Composites on SpaceShipOne, winner of the $10 million Ansari X Prize. He also worked for small hardware-rich aerospace companies in Huntsville.

A serial entrepreneur, Pickens founded Orion Propulsion, a Huntsville aerospace company, in 2004 and sold it to Dynetics in 2009 after growing it to a 40-employee, $6.4 million business. Within five years, Orion had received multiple Small Business awards and become AS9100-certified to build man-rated flight hardware.

Pickens served as Commercial Space Advisor and Chief Propulsion Engineer for Huntsville-based Dynetics and as Vice President of Propulsion for Moon Express, a privately funded lunar transportation and data services company.

Popular for his inspiring, genuine and humorous speaking style, Pickens is recruited to give presentations at business, space and motivational conferences all over the country. He has also been featured in national media for his inventions and innovative accomplishments.

Pickens has received numerous awards for business and technical accomplishments.

His hobbies include building things – like rocket-powered vehicles – in his Man Cave. His passion for rockets began when he was a small child in Huntsville and continued into his adult life as a serious hobby. He led multiple amateur rocket design efforts in his garage for community service and recreational clubs and worked as an independent aerospace consultant at night and on weekends. He had a long-time interest in studying applied engineering and science, but the desire to own and operate a space company would drive him to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Pickens also likes to buy, sell and trade space collectibles. He has a passion for space history and artifacts and is interested in bartering.

Recent Posts

Why Kids to Love’s KTech Program Resonates with Me (Part 2: My Story)

I am a product of the public education system that included attending a local trade school. This was half of my curriculum for my junior and senior years while I was at Lee High School in Huntsville Ala. I wasn’t a great academic student because I had focus issues that stemmed from my home addictions aka I always wanted to build something fast, test a homemade rocket motor/rocket system, or just blow something up.

Not everyone will be at the same place in career planning just because of their age. I was a very late bloomer. My dad was the same way! He was a late bloomer, but a brilliant designer and builder. He dropped out of high school and used his creativity to join the Navy as an underage youth! He excelled in electronics and radar. His love of electronics stemmed from his tinkering at a very young age in his home garage. After leaving the Navy, Dad took a few college courses, got married, and over time had six kids. He decided to attend the University of Alabama in Huntsville at night and weekends working towards a physics degree. He eventually finished it. He then launched himself into industry for a bit, but was too free spirited to fit the mold! He would later go on to create many great products in telecommunications as well as aerospace! He also received many patents along the way.

As for me, I went to college for a year after high school, but was not yet ready to get serious. I returned to Huntsville and fell back on my electronics training as well as my go-fast gasoline engine experience to plug into companies using my trade skills. I hired into Chrysler at age 19 and was making $30k a year in 1983. That was big money then. The job was good, but after a few years I felt I had more potential. I decided to take a few classes in math and science and even machine shop at a local vocational school to learn both manual and CNC training.

I finally received a bachelor’s degree in business. I then left Chrysler via an employee buy-out program. After a few months of tinkering, I later went  to work as a BMW mechanic making less money, but having fun! They claimed my electronics troubleshoot training was a unique skillset they desperately needed. Later I went from being an instrumentation technician at Wyle Laboratories to being promoted to an engineer, all within three months of being hired. Miracles can and do happen! I was blessed and did not feel worthy, but I tried my best to not fail. I was now an engineer, but not the typical engineer with an engineering degree. I have to be honest and tell you the learning curve was steep, and this was the beginning of naps for me when I came home from a crazy day of engineering. I have since outgrown the daily power-nap routine. I guess I finally acclimated.

My tech school experience helped ground my garage tinkering – taught me how to build hardware and test things. With every failure, I reached deeper into the math and science so I would not repeat my past hardware failure history. The science and the fun dragged me deeper into the textbook learning, and it was an iterative process that is still going on today! My dad is 83, and he is still developing products that people are buying! Everyone is not excited or disciplined to do equations and analysis. At the end of the day, someone has to take the formula that another smart person has come up with and make it into something real.

Creativity and passion are innate – these characteristics cannot be taught, but people can be great when they choose to be so!

Kids to Love KTech provides an advanced and accelerated industrial robotics program (15 weeks to graduation post certification testing). The program that was set up by industry partners to generate quality graduates with the training to accept good-paying jobs where they can make a difference, and ultimately help fill a need in industry.

For more information about this program, see my previous post.

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