Your chances of going to Mars – based on your study (part 2)

| Bas Leijser

‘The Lister’ is a biweekly series created by Bas Leijser, a UT MSc-student and writer at U-Today, who seeks to create order from chaos through the use of listicles. This time, in line with Elon Musk's proposed colonization of Mars, Bas looks into which MSc-programmes give you the best chance of being one of the first colonists on Mars.

In this two-part article, I will critically assess what your chances are to become a Mars colonist with your current study. Only MSc courses are included, so if you are a BSc student and reading this, use it as a guide to make a well-informed decision on your future. Note: the author is not responsible if your choice turns out to be detrimental for your career. 

Parental Advisory: the text below may contain obvious sass, ridiculous author bias, and dangerous levels of sarcasm. Viewer discretion is advised.

Biomedical Engineering – 70% chance

NASA actually has a laboratory focused on Biomedical Engineering for Exploration Space Technology (called BEEST, I doubt they are aware of the Dutch meaning of the word though), so you have a good shot at it. There’s just one downside: you’ll essentially be the space dentist (and doctor, per NASA). Imagine going all the way to Mars and still you receive a letter from your dentist that it’s time for your yearly check-up. Can’t escape it. On the bright side, one year on Mars is roughly 1.9 years on Earth, so there’s that.

Business Administration – 0% chance

Someone needs to manage the colony, right? Well, unfortunately for you, NASA is going to give a crash course in management to one of their mechanical or chemical engineers. You know, people with actual practical skills.

Business Information Technology – 0b0% chance

This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.

See also: Business Administration.

Civil Engineering & Management – 80% chance

Who do you think is going to build the actual colony and drill all the tunnels for underground habitats? The movie Armageddon got it right, it’s easier to teach civil engineers how to be astronauts than vice versa. Plus you might get a chance to work for The Boring Company.

Construction Management & Engineering – 48% chance

Take the score for Civil Engineering & Management and reduce it by a safety factor of 40%. So the odds are 52% not in your favour.

Electrical Engineering – 16.021766208% chance

If you get the following joke, then you deserve a ticket to Mars:

The first Polish spaceplane was on its way from Earth to Mars. While descending to the surface, the plane started to shake uncontrollably and became unstable. The captain said to the passengers: “We need to make the spaceplane stable. All poles please move to the left half of the plane.”

Geo-information science and Earth observation – •% chance

EARTH OBSERVATION? You are studying EARTH OBSERVATION? And you want to go to Mars?

Do you know that Earth, as seen from Mars, is essentially as big as this: •

Good luck observing that. Not to mention that your skills are far more useful here. We’re at war, you know. Against the Flat Earthers. Go and smack them in the face with a plush, spherical Earth.

Industrial Engineering and Management – - % chance

See Business Administration. Sorry, the truth can be painful.

Mechanical Engineering – 20% chance

Unfortunately, there are no bicycles on Mars for you to fix. But there is hope! If you have already learned how to fix electric bicycles, then you might be able to transfer those skills to Mars. Add +30% to your chance, do not go through Start.

Public Administration – 42% chance

Similar to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, three colony ships will depart from Earth and go on their journey to Mars. The third ship, containing lawyers, politicians, and Public Administration students, will actually follow a collision course with Mars itself. So, you’re going! Congratulations.

Sustainable Energy Technology & Environmental and Energy Management – 60% chance

Your progress in these study programs is directly correlated to your depression about the current state of Earth and the (lack of) potential to save it. So, I can see why you would want to go to Mars and you might be able to save it before Curiosity discovers oil and before the first Martian McDonald’s is opened.   

Water Technology – 18.01528% chance

How dare you think about going off to Mars, when there are serious water problems here on Earth? Water is our most critical element of life – since it is needed to make coffee – and the people in South-Africa are running out of it and will soon enter a period of hibernation. Not to mention that most of the water on Mars is as frozen as your heart. So, why don’t you first find a way to efficiently desalinate seawater or build an aqueduct from Rome to South-Africa? The latter is still more realistic than you going to Mars.

Educational Science & Technology / Teaching in Social Sciences / Science Education and Communication – 100% chance to go to Mercury

If there’s one reason why people will want to go to Mars, it’s to escape the education system. Please keep your exams, deadlines, and assignments far away from Mars. I heard Mercury is nice this time of year.  

Health Sciences – 69% chance

I tried to figure out the difference between this and Biomedical Engineering, and all I saw were pictures of smartwatches and running apps. Those would be pretty cool, though. Imagine turning on your fit tracker right as your rocket is initiating the transfer burn to Mars and going at 3.5km/s. So many calories burned. Just like you.  

Interaction Technology – #SYNTAXERROR% chance

If there’s one thing more dangerous than sending Public Administration students (read: future politicians) to Mars, it’s the creation of artificial intelligence. Have you seen how interacting with these killer robots turned out in several movies? While the interaction went pretty well in The Matrix, it was all an illusion. Just like your hope of going to Mars.

See also: Business Information Technology. And if you don’t get the reference, then what are you doing at this study program?