Elon Musk has announced a $10 million donation to the city of Brownsville, Texas, for downtown revitalization projects and an additional $20 million donation to schools in the area as part of a bid to attract engineers to work at the SpaceX launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
Musk says he will release further details of the donation sometime next week. He had previously expressed interest in establishing a “company town” near the launch facility, even kidding around about making the Dogecoin mascot, a dog breed known as a Shiba Inu, a leader in the town. The plans may still be in development.
It may not be a coincidence that the attempt to attract talented engineers to already-developed cities in the area more quickly comes shortly after the fourth failure of a Starship prototype in only a few months. Regulators are already looking into safety concerns related to the failures and Congress is also getting into the act with the announcement of a House of Representatives committee hearing on possible regulatory violations.
The so-far-poor track record of the Starship prototypes in high altitude tests may have sparked Musk’s desire to refresh his engineering team, or at least bring in a few fresh eyeballs to help determine what keeps going wrong. The problem is most likely to be in the engines, the mechanism that controls their ignition, or possibly even the fuel tanks’ ability to sustain their burns.
Although SpaceX’s headquarters is in California, Elon Musk has recently moved to Texas and announced plans to ramp up operations for both SpaceX and Tesla in the state, including the building of at least one new manufacturing facility for Starlink satellites near Austin. He has also called Austin a possible future boom town in recent interviews. His recent spats with California over the state’s handling of the coronavirus, which temporarily forced Musk to shut down the Tesla plant in Pasadena although California has since deemed it an essential business, may have sparked his move to Texas.
This upswing in activity will be good for engineers living in the area who may be seeking a job. The career pages of both SpaceX and Tesla indicate that there are plenty of job openings for anyone who may be interested in applying. Musk’s chief concern may simply be finding the right engineering team who can get Starship to the point where multi-million-dollar prototypes won’t blow up so frequently.
It isn’t like Elon Musk couldn’t come up with the cash to make $30 million in donations for improvements in education in Texas’ Cameron County and Brownsville’s downtown area. He has recently sold a few high-end homes in California to a developer as part of downsizing his personal property and dumping the state altogether. Tesla also holds more than $1 billion in Bitcoin besides its decision to accept Bitcoin for vehicle purchases.
The question is whether this will be tempting enough to entice engineers to relocate for a chance at a job at SpaceX or Tesla. If you are interested in taking a peek at job openings, be sure to check out Tesla’s career page or SpaceX’s career page.