May 2020

AIAA Announcements AIAA Calls Upon U.S. Policymakers to Protect Mission-Critical Aerospace and Defense Workforce and Supply Chain

Infographic showing key economic impacts: 2.5M+ jobs supported, $928B+ generated, $348.3B created in value-added goods/services, $237B paid in wages/benefits, $151B exported, $105.9B invested federally.
According to the Aerospace Industries Association, the 2018 A&D sector Credit: AIAA

On 20 March AIAA released the following statement asking for U.S. policymakers to assist the mission of the aerospace and defense workforce and supply chain.

The coronavirus pandemic is stalling the global economy, impairing businesses, and changing how we go about our daily lives. Its impact is multiplying, and the effects reach far beyond this year’s balance sheets. 

Here in the United States, the aerospace and defense industry supports more than 2.5 million jobs and 17,000 suppliers from large manufacturers to small businesses that form the backbone of the supply chain. It represents more than $928 billion in economic output for the United States and more than $237 billion in wages. The industry has improved our quality of life by transforming transportation, medicine, defense, and security, among other things. 

In times such as these, the aerospace and defense sector is essential to protect our national security and provide much needed logistics capability to bring critical supplies to areas of need. Its highly skilled workforce has made significant advances in areas such as autonomy, cybersecurity, air mobility, and space exploration. The aerospace and defense workforce is an essential driver of innovation for the U.S. economy, our national security, and expanding the utilization of space for future generations. We need the industry to survive the crisis and build our future.

The aerospace and defense industry is vital to the prominent position of the United States in global competitiveness, innovation, and technical leadership. The coronavirus pandemic presents a new challenge and our global leadership in this sector will falter if the industry is not protected during this time of crisis. The aerospace and defense contribution to the economy on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis will be crucial for restarting and building the economic engine to its pre-crisis momentum. 

The industry is experiencing an economic downturn that’s worse than 9/11. Airlines are laying off thousands of workers and cutting flights. Maintenance, repair, and overhaul workers are also feeling the impacts. We’re in the initial stages of the COVID-19 crisis and can expect to see more jobs affected as the world responds to the pandemic.

We call on federal government officials and lawmakers to be mindful of and support the aerospace and defense industry during this challenging time.

AIAA and the Coronavirus Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we all do business. AIAA is on the job and ready to help. Find event updates, AIAA coronavirus-related information, and working from home resources for professionals, university students, and K-12 students on our expanded Coronavirus Updates page (aiaa.org/coronavirus).

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Award Announcements Tomorrow’s Technology Leaders: The 20 Twenties

A group of 16 people dressed in business attire, most wearing name badges, pose for a photo outside a building with pillars and a flag in the background.
The 20 Twenties. Credit: AIAA

On 12 March, the 2020 winners of Aviation Week Network’s “Tomorrow’s Technology Leaders: The 20 Twenties” were recognized at a lunch in Washington, DC. The awards recognize students earning STEM degrees who are nominated by their universities on the basis of their academic performance, civic contribution, and research or design project. In addition, the program brings together technology hiring managers, students, and faculty around the world to recognize what’s needed for business and academic success. Winners receive a membership to AIAA.

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Award Announcements 2020 Sperry Award Winner Moving Technology Forward As Fast As He Can

A bearded man wearing a Neumann Space polo shirt stands in a lab next to machinery, smiling. The background features a banner with the Neumann Space logo and the words
New premises for Neumann Space in Adelaide, South Australia. Credit: P. Neumann

By Michele McDonald, AIAA Communications Manager

A fascination with asteroids drew Lawrence Sperry Award winner Patrick “Paddy” Neumann first to aerospace and then to developing a miniature electric spacecraft propulsion system.

“As a child in a part of the world with such a beautiful view of the stars and planets, it’s not surprising that I was drawn towards aerospace, but that was not the only factor,” Neumann said. “After being fascinated by dinosaurs, as many children are, I was then drawn to understand more about asteroids, because the asteroid impact theory was becoming more accepted and filtering into children’s books on ancient life.”

Born in Subiaco, part of Perth, Western Australia, Neumann spent most of his childhood in Lesmurdie, which is in the Darling Range just to the east of Perth, as well as some of his childhood in Southern Cross and in a couple of remote communities on the Nullarbor Plain.

He recalls avidly watching Voyager 2’s flyby of Neptune on Quantum, the science and technology TV show produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Neumann’s childhood fascination with space grew and “after this, I began reading everything I could find on space exploration, as well as more general topics on science and technology, while consuming a lot of fiction and focusing my school studies on science and maths.”

As a high school student in 2001, Neumann attended a highly regarded summer camp at the University of Sydney called the International Science School. He enjoyed the camp so much, and since the University of Sydney has good programs in both aerospace engineering and physics, he applied to study there and also won a scholarship. 

During his undergraduate work, he was drawn to plasma physics and began studying the pulsed cathodic arc as it could apply to spacecraft propulsion. He founded Neumann Space after earning his doctorate in order to further develop and commercialize the technology and works as the company’s chief scientist. Neumann also has partnered with Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Group to develop domestic capability in test apparatus for spacecraft propulsion systems.

His hard work has resulted in him winning the 2020 Sperry Award “for continued development of miniature electric spacecraft propulsion systems and ceaseless advocacy for the development of Australian space capabilities.”

Established in 1936, the Lawrence Sperry Award recognizes a notable contribution made by a young person, age 35 or under, to the advancement of aeronautics or astronautics. The award honors Lawrence B. Sperry, pioneer aviator and inventor, who died in 1923 in a forced landing while attempting a flight across the English Channel. Past recipients include fellow Australian Michael West, Karen Berger, Sally Ride, Eugene Kranz, and Katya M. Casper.

Miniature Electric Spacecraft Propulsion System

In his work at Neumann Space, Neumann is developing a pulsed cathodic arc plasma source, similar to those used in thin film deposition, into a propulsion system that could be used to give small spacecraft a broader range of capabilities. He explained that “pulsed arcs work using the same physics as an electrical welding arc, in that the arc discharge erodes material from the cathode (the negative part of the circuit, which is the welding rod), ionising and energising it, while accelerating the ions in the plasma away from the cathode surface.”

Neumann described how pulsed cathodic arc applies to spacecraft propulsion: “While welding and coating systems direct the plasma towards either the work piece or the substrate to be coated, we let the plasma escape from the system, which means that the plasma is the exhaust of our thruster, and momentum conservation pushes the spacecraft along. This system has a number of benefits compared to other technologies, since like other electric propulsion systems it has a high specific impulse (fuel mass efficiency) compared to chemical propulsion systems; uses a dense, solid, robust and chemically inert propellant; does not require an exhaust charge neutralisation system and operates at much lower voltages than other electric propulsion systems, increasing ease of integration and operation.”

“His technical work is novel and important, since developments in propulsion technologies will enable greater mission flexibility and capability for spacecraft operators,” noted Pamela Melroy, an AIAA Associate Fellow and former astronaut, in her Sperry nomination support letter for Neumann. “The efficiency gains from electric propulsion are being realized today, but novel thruster technologies face a long qualification pathway.

“Patrick is moving his technology forward as fast as he can, with initial demonstrators on cubesats planned in 2021 to show that pulsed arc thrusters can deliver on the promises of terrestrial lab tests,” Melroy continued. “The benefits of arc thrusters for CubeSat applications as an alternative to Hall and ion thrusters include operational benefits such as higher specific impulse and lower operating voltages, inert propellants, propellant density and exhaust neutrality. These benefits combine to make his work relevant and important for the future of space. It’s clear to me that his technical contributions will continue into the future and bring great credit to AIAA and the industry.”

The Value of His AIAA Membership

Neumann is described as a ceaseless advocate of Australia’s growing space sector, serving as chair of the AIAA Adelaide Section and also as a member of the AIAA Electric Propulsion Technical Committee. He has published his work in several international peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings.

“Patrick is a talented and inspiring public speaker and regularly works with the AIAA and other professional and interest groups to promote aerospace and science in Australia,” wrote 2018 Sperry Award winner Michael West in his support letter for Neumann’s nomination. “He has given numerous public talks, invited lectures and guest presentations throughout Australia and overseas.”

Neumann said while he originally joined the AIAA University of Sydney Student Branch to get the book discount, belonging to AIAA has helped his work. “Being an AIAA member has helped my career by allowing me to read more widely in the technical details of my field, including in test hardware and instrumentation.”

Neumann’s Advice to Future Aerospace Engineering Students

“I would recommend that they pay close attention in mathematics classes and learn to code as early as they can. Solid foundations in these disciplines will help a student to excel in any modern engineering discipline but will also give you the time to learn more of the parts of your chosen discipline that are more art than science.

“It is this latter one that is the most important; there are many specialties within aerospace engineering, and aspiring students must have the chance to investigate them all, so that they can find which one excites their passion and can anchor their professional life. For me, this was a combination of structures and propulsion, with electric spacecraft propulsion being my chosen field, but for others this may be aerothermal design, aeroacoustics, human factors engineering or fluid mechanics.”

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Award Announcements Making an Impact: Education Achievement Awards

Three individuals are shown in separate portraits. The first person is wearing a blue top, the second person is wearing a black jacket, and the third person is wearing glasses and a striped dress shirt with a tie.
Elizabeth L. Bero, Beth Meade Leavitt, and Scott McComb. Credit: E.. Bero, B. Leavitt, and S. McComb

Each year, AIAA presents its Educator Achievement Awards, which honor three outstanding K–12 educators for their contributions to the continued study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics within the classroom and beyond. Each of these teachers has had a significant impact on creating the next generation of aerospace professionals who will shape our community’s future. Since 1997, the award has honored more than 65 educators from the United States.

The nominees must be a K–12 educator who supports AIAA in its efforts to bring real-world STEM experiences to students, and they must be AIAA Educator Associates. AIAA looks for enthusiastic educators who promote active learning and encourage students to think imaginatively, critically, and independently.

The honorees each received $5,000 for themselves and $5,000 for their respective schools to continue their efforts in STEM education. They also receive a trip to Washington, DC, to be honored at the AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala.

For more information about how to become involved with AIAA’s educational outreach or make a donation, please visit aiaa.org/get-involved or contact Merrie Scott, merries@aiaa.org.

Three K–12 Educators Win AIAA Educator Achievement Awards

Three K–12 educators from across the United States have won the 2020 AIAA Educator Achievement Awards, honoring their efforts to promote STEM education. This year’s honorees are:

Elizabeth L. Bero, Gifted Specialist at Horizon Elementary School in Madison, Alabama, for “instilling a sense of wonder in students through curiosity-based learning and for her four-decade-long service to the community as an educator.”

Beth Meade Leavitt, Teacher of Physics and Astronomy and Director of FIRST Robotics Team 283 at Wade Hampton High School in Greenville, South Carolina, for “believing that with the right tools and mentors all students can become STEM literate with the confidence they can solve any problem encountered.”

Scott McComb, Science Instructor, AIAA Advisor, Green Energy Team Advisor, and Science Olympiad Coach at Raisbeck Aviation High School in Seattle, Washington, for “implementing an outstanding program of aerospace education and creating a supportive classroom community of learners.”

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Section News Northern Ohio Section Livestreams Distinguished Lecture

A woman on a video call is shown next to a diagram depicting the New Horizons mission's journey to the Kuiper Belt, with notable dates: Launch (Jan 2006), Jupiter (Feb 2007), Pluto (July 2015), and Arrokoth (Jan 2019).
Credit: Alice Bowman

By Joe Connolly, Vice Chair, Northern Ohio Section

On 25 March, the AIAA Northern Ohio Section (NOS) for the first time livestreamed their Distinguished Lecture series via the Zoom web conferencing platform and 37 section members attended. Alice Bowman, who serves as the Space Mission Operations Group supervisor and the NASA New Horizons Mission Operations Manager (MOM) from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, gave the lecture on “Mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt.” Ms. Bowman supervises approximately 50 staff members who operate deep space and Earth-orbiting spacecraft, including NASA’s TIMED, STEREO, New Horizons, and Parker Solar Probe. As the New Horizons MOM, Ms. Bowman leads the team that controls the spacecraft that made a historic flyby of the Pluto system in July 2015.

The lecture covered the voyage of NASA’s historic mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, which culminated with the first flight past the distant dwarf planet on 14 July 2015 and the first encounter with a Kuiper Belt object (KBO) on 1 January 2019. She spoke about the New Horizons spacecraft’s continuing journey through the eyes of the mission operations team and described some of the technical, scientific, and personal challenges of piloting the spacecraft across the solar system on its voyage to the farthest reaches of the planetary frontier.

With the success of their first virtual Distinguished Lecture, AIAA NOS is planning more such events in the future.

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Section News “First State, First Step” Hosted at University of Delaware

Three men standing and posing in front of an AIAA banner.
Left to Right: Michael Oates, Dan Nice (AIAA Delaware Section Chair), and Daniel Klopp Credit: AIAA Delaware Section

As E-week was winding down in February, the viewing of “First State, First Step” was the one last hoorah for the week for the AIAA Delaware Section. With approximately 30 people in attendance, 302 Stories founder Michael Oates was able to illustrate the impact such a small state had on the space race and helping to put the first humans on the moon.

The video (www.302stories.com/first-state-first-step-delaware-to) captured the contributions of the many people who helped, from those who sewed the space suits to the leaders of Gore and ILC, and the engineers involved. The close-up view of those involved in that era stirred up an effervescence of energy as we look to the moon and beyond once again.

After the video, Oates provided further insight into the stories that were told. Also present at the event were several folks currently working at ILC, including Daniel Klopp, who supported an impromptu Q&A session.

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AIAA Student Branches FIT Dinner Meeting Hosted JPL Propulsion Engineer

A group of nine people stand side by side dressed in formal attire, smiling for the camera at an event with banners from the Florida Institute of Technology and AIAA in the background.
Todd Barber (wearing blue shirt, near center) with some of the student branch members, including FIT Student Branch President Archit Srivastava (left of Barber) and Vice President Sean Dungan (right of Barber). Credit: FIT Student Branch

The AIAA Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) Student Branch welcomed Todd Barber, Senior Propulsion Engineer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as speaker at their annual dinner meeting on 27 February. Mr. Barber gave a lively, informative, and humorous presentation about his experiences as a propulsion engineer with the Curiosity mission, as well as a brief look ahead to the Mars 2020 mission. The meeting created an opportunity for students to get inside information on one of JPL’s signature missions and to learn from his successes and mistakes (watch out for open mikes when working the console).

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Section News AIAA Delaware Section Adapts to the Coronavirus Pandemic

A newsletter features book recommendations, including
Credit: AIAA Delaware Section

The AIAA Delaware Section, like so many of our other sections, is adjusting to the new normal. They included resources in their most recent newsletter to help members who are spending time at home find activities, experiments, good reads, and even a design-your-own rocket simulator. Above are a couple of the resources they put together.

AIAA is interested to see what all our sections are doing during the coronavirus pandemic.

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May 2020 AIAA Bulletin