Hearing directly from the experts
By Ben Iannotta|February 2018
If I had to label this issue of the magazine with a single word I would say: “Brainpower.” We always aim for a single Q & A with a prominent aerospace personality, but in this issue we provide three, plus a feature with insights from members of the millennial generation who are involved in groundbreaking aerospace work.
I can’t say this coverage was our vision from the start, but we took our opportunities and ran with them. There’s something uniquely powerful about hearing from leaders in their own words.
Tom Risen’s interview with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg is timely given the company’s acquisition last year of Aurora Flight Sciences, its reported interest in regional jet maker Embraer of Brazil, and the industry’s growing determination to make personal aerial vehicles and urban air mobility a reality.
My interview with our new executive director, Dan Dumbacher, was a treat because I knew of Dan mainly from his management roles in the 1990s on the DC-XA and X-33 experimental vehicle projects, when I was writing for Space News. We discussed everything from his management philosophy to the future of AIAA to one of the top issues of the day: the attraction of the moon as an exploration target before heading to Mars. I would encourage readers to also check out the longer version of our discussion. We present a compressed version in this print edition.
For this issue, I also interviewed Dave Bowles, the director of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia (pictured above). Our discussion captured the diversity of work at Langley, and touched on some of the big decisions coming up for the center. The interview was unusual, because we conducted it live in the HUB area of the SciTech exposition hall. I appreciate Dave’s willingness to help us try something new.
Regarding millennials, we here at Aerospace America are always mindful of the perils of using a single word to describe a generation consisting of millions of people. Single words can sometimes subsume stereotypes. Our feature does a nice job of exploding those stereotypes and putting the remaining grains of truth into context. Millennials are doing serious aerospace work, as demonstrated by this issue’s Engineering Notebook article about a computational tool for predicting the performance of aircraft with long, narrow wings.