Come Join Our Community! Or Better Yet, Create Your Own!
By Allen Arrington and Nancy Andersen|October 2018
Over the past year, AIAA has been transitioning to its new governance model. This improved way of operating was developed by AIAA volunteers and staff with the goals of creating a Board that was strategically focused, giving members the voice they deserve through the Council of Directors, and perhaps most importantly providing the members with new opportunities for engagement. One of these new engagement opportunities is a concept called Communities of Interest. So, what is a Community of Interest (CoI)? We’re glad you asked!
Simply stated, a CoI is a way for AIAA members to interact on a topic of mutual interest relevant in some way to the aerospace community using our online community platform, AIAA Engage. A CoI is meant to be an informal means of sharing ideas and information on just about any topic that individuals involved with the aerospace community can dream up—think of it as a chatroom specific to your interest. A CoI can focus on a very technical topic, but there is no reason that the focus must be purely technical. Often our hobbies and our professional areas of expertise are intertwined. Perhaps there is a community for “airshow addicts” or folks who enjoy “amateur space photography.” Many members may also try to fit a little fun time into their travels when attending an AIAA forum, so perhaps a CoI could be created to help organize an outing to a local brewery, a hiking excursion, or a visit to an aviation museum, bringing together folks who might not otherwise get a chance to meet.
The CoI concept is essentially another opportunity for our members to interact with others who have similar interests, expand their knowledge base, enhance their networks, and sometimes just have fun. It is a way to build a member-driven and member-created community around whatever it is you and your colleagues want to focus on. They can connect folks from across the country and around the world. But they can also be more geographically focused, such as creating a CoI on stargazing in the Tucson area or a CoI for UAS pilots in northern Ohio. The possibilities are endless.
You might be asking yourself, can’t I just join a Technical Committee (TC), an Integration and Outreach Committee (IOC), or connect with folks in my local section? Sure, that’s a great way to get involved with your aerospace colleagues. The CoI concept is complementary in that it allows for a new group to be set up quickly and easily, and it does not have the organizational and product delivery demands of a TC, IOC, or section. TCs, IOCs, and sections are service oriented and exist in large part to develop the products and programs that the AIAA members use (standards, short courses, forum content, etc.). CoIs are not expected to develop any formal deliverables. However, CoI activities and discussions can result in great ideas that could develop into formal products or programs that could be adopted by a member committee, section, or one of the Board committees that oversee product development (such as Standards or Public Policy).
We encourage you to start a discussion thread on the Open Forum of AIAA Engage to see if there are people who share your interest. If so, AIAA staff can create a separate online discussion board space for you to have your focused conversations. The discussion board allows for the members of your community to share ideas and files, ask questions, and set up informal face-to-face gatherings at an AIAA forum, a local section, or a nearby industry site; basically it is your avenue to connect.
To date, four Communities of Interest have been established:
• Certification/Qualification by Analysis—An international team focused on developing high-level guidelines for predictive processes/simulations as a means of compliance for aircraft regulatory certification to safely improve efficiency.
• Complex System Sustainment—A focused community to develop and share sustainment best practices.
• Integrating the Aerosciences Toolkit Community—A clearinghouse and catalog of workforce development initiatives and discussion board to identify significant gaps not being addressed.
• Workshop for Integrated Propeller Prediction at the 2019 AVIATION Forum—This workshop will take place 16 June 2019 at the AIAA AVIATION Forum in Dallas, TX. The objective is to validate the aerodynamic efficiency benefits of wing tip mounted propellers and the ability of CFD to accurately predict them using powered low speed wind tunnel test data on a generic configuration representative of the X-57.
These CoI are focused on specific technical topics, but there is plenty of latitude on the types of topics that can be covered.
So, do you have a topic that really intrigues you? Do you think that there are other AIAA members who have the same passion about a certain aerospace problem as you? Maybe it is time that you all found each other and started talking about that topic. Start a thread on the Open Forum of AIAA Engage to see who else shares your passion, and maybe you will be forming your very own Community of Interest!
AIAA members can connect at Engage.aiaa.org. Log in using your AIAA.org credentials. ★