A Year Of Change
By Sandy Magnus, AIAA fellow|December 2017
It has been a very busy year for the Institute. Through the hard work of our volunteer leaders, members, and staff, AIAA is focused, financially strong, and poised to provide our members the programs, content, and leadership that will help the aerospace sector grow and thrive as a global enterprise. It has also been a year of change on many levels, changes that I believe will help the Institute continue to grow, flourish, and serve you—and the aerospace community—even better.
This is always one of my favorite issues of Aerospace America. Reading about all the amazing things being done in the aerospace community by AIAA members is eye-opening and inspirational. In that spirit I wanted to share with you some of the Institute’s highlights of the past 12 months.
The biggest institutional change was our formal transition to AIAA’s new governance structure which began in May. We transitioned from a single Board of Directors to a new Board of Trustees and Council of Directors. This structure allows for the addition or deletion of both Board-directed or Council-directed committees and groups as the evolving vision and strategic plan of the Institute dictate. The member-directed committees under the Council of Directors will generate ideas to shape our future vision and strategy and will then communicate those ideas to the Board through the Council. The Board will weigh those suggestions and will set the Institute’s strategic vision as well as develop a Strategic Plan to achieve the vision. The Board-directed committees supported by the professional staff will create and execute the plans necessary to implement the Institute’s strategy and vision. The Board will oversee this entire process and will monitor our collective progress.
On 1 June, the new digital edition of Aerospace America, AerospaceAmerica.aiaa.org, debuted. This welcome change to our online presence was the result of a multiyear modernization effort that began with the print redesign that debuted in September 2016. Since then, the magazine has garnered multiple regional and national awards.
The ongoing need to offer AIAA’s members engaging and relevant programming as well as expand the scope of the aerospace profession into adjacent but critical technology areas drove another major effort—the continued refinement and expansion of our growth plan. The elements incorporated into the plan this year focused on commercialization of space, aerospace cybersecurity, and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and autonomy.
Our planned second Space Commercialization Executive Summit was dealt a blow by the unprecedented cancellation of the 2017 AIAA SPACE Forum because of Hurricane Irma, but we have rescheduled it to coincide with the 2018 SciTech Forum.
Building upon the slow but steady emphasis on the critical challenge of cybersecurity in aerospace, AIAA took several deliberate steps in 2017 to inform and assist the industry. These focused on understanding the myriad threats and threat actors, and the management and mitigation of such threats. To that end, we’ve been publishing Protocol: Aerospace Cybersecurity News, a monthly e-newsletter available to all members. Also, at our 2017 AVIATION Forum, we held a cybersecurity workshop aimed at educating aerospace professionals about the very real cyber threats that could adversely affect their businesses or organizations.
And we are providing a new and direct benefit to our valuable corporate members. In August AIAA in partnership with TruSTAR launched the AIAA-TruSTAR Threat Intelligence Exchange. Corporate member participation in the exchange will enable companies to enhance incursion investigation and mitigation, collaborate and share information and best practices, and access actionable content. We are pleased that three AIAA corporate members have already joined the exchange.
In terms of UAS and autonomy, we hosted a second successful DEMAND for UNMANNED symposium as a part of the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum. In addition, AIAA, as you may know, is a proud sponsor of the Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum’s Drones: Is the Sky the Limit? exhibit in New York City. Specifically, AIAA supports the In the News interactive education station created by The Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College.
The Institute has been quite active in the public policy arena. Associate Fellow Mitchell L.R. Walker of the Georgia Institute of Technology and I testified in two separate hearings before the House Subcommittee on Space. AIAA also partnered with sister societies to hold multiple widely-attended briefings: in January new House and Senate staffers were provided with an overview on “Aerospace 101” and in September House staff were briefed on the importance of government investment in aerospace research and development. Lastly, the Public Policy Committee reestablished the August for Aerospace program where several sections across the nation engaged their local elected officials in various outreach activities.
Heraclitus said, “The only thing that is constant is change” and I, for one, look forward to the year ahead and the positive changes it will bring. Here’s to a bright future—for the Institute and the aerospace industry. ★