Appreciating Our Volunteers
By Laura McGill|April 2023
The month of April gives us an opportunity to focus on one of the most important aspects of AIAA – our volunteers. April has been designated National Volunteer Month, with the third week specially called out as National Volunteer Week. Thank you to our many volunteer members across AIAA who are so generous with your time and exceptional experience! I am immensely grateful for all you do. The strength of AIAA is built on the deep technical and programmatic expertise of its members. When our members contribute time, skills, and expertise to the work of AIAA, we see the results multiply.
AIAA membership has allowed me to engage in numerous technical and leadership activities that have enhanced my career and brought great personal satisfaction. I have gained immense professional and personal value through volunteering with AIAA. I am grateful for what I have gained from each volunteer experience with AIAA throughout my professional life.
I found it especially fulfilling when I served as chair of the Ground Testing Technical Committee (TC). In addition to developing leading-edge content for forums and publishing aerodynamic testing standards that have saved the industry millions of dollars over the last two decades, we also engaged with students to help develop the next generation of aerospace engineers. I have a strong appreciation for this deep network of experts who are extremely knowledgeable in the domains of aerodynamic, propulsion, and space environments testing. Since I left the TC, I have continued to benefit from their skills and experience. I want every member to realize the benefits of AIAA membership because they have played such a significant role in my life and career for the past 30+ years.
We see countless ways that AIAA volunteers show up to make a difference on a local, national, and international level. Here are just a few:
• Organizing a local section event on a professional topic
• Serving in a leadership role in a local section
• Serving as a judge for university student programs
• Mentoring our rising leaders, young professionals, and university student members
• Inspiring K-12 students to look toward aerospace careers
• Serving on an AIAA committee – technical, outreach, policy, etc.
• Helping oversee the develop of new industry standards
• Advocating for public policy regarding the industry
• Serving on a forum technical program committee or guiding coalition
• Serving in an elected role on the Council of Directors or Board of Trustees
Please read more about how you can volunteer with AIAA and consider how you might get more involved with the Institute in the coming year.
The role of an AIAA volunteer is personally rewarding and beneficial to advance your career. You will build networks with members who will help you to extend your domain knowledge and connect you to more colleagues who can aide your research and business endeavors. On a more personal level, volunteers form bonds with colleagues and networking contacts that endure for the rest of your career, and into retirement.
The benefits compound over time, as our members build technical and leadership skills that are applicable to your chosen career paths, while increasing your influence across the industry. We know that many employers place value on their employee’s gaining experience from involvement in professional associations like AIAA.
We have heard that some of the reasons members volunteer include the personal satisfaction of making a contribution to the aerospace community through applying your skills and expertise. I am curious about these personal motivations for volunteering, as well as the rewards that individuals have gained. During the first week of April, I will open up a dialogue on AIAA Engage and invite everyone to chime in with your perspectives. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
I am honored to be leading the Institute during this time of such great promise for the future. There is incredible strength in AIAA because of the enthusiasm and generous spirit of its member volunteers. On behalf of the full AIAA membership of more than 30,000 professionals, students, educators, and retirees, please accept our heartfelt thanks for all you do to shape the future of aerospace!
Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.Sherry Anderson