Insights into the AIAA Domain Approach

AIAA has been setting intentions for the future to help accelerate innovation and progress in the 21st century in its three Domains—Aeronautics, Aerospace R&D, and Space. AIAA has tapped seasoned industry veterans to serve as Domain Leads: Ming Chang for Aeronautics; Scott Fouse for Aerospace R&D; and Julie Van Kleeck for Space. As a new calendar year begins, the new Domain Leads sat down to share their ideas and plans around this new structure for AIAA to move the industry forward by addressing key priorities and issues. The following column summarizes the Domain Leads’ responses to questions about their new roles and their outlook for the future.

Why is the Domain approach useful for AIAA now?

We believe the members of the AIAA community need the Institute to continue serving as the vital intersection of technology advances by providing the important role of collecting and disseminating research and information. Such timely and deep technical resources are shaping the very future of the industry. AIAA needs to continue doing what it does best – leading the community to address important strategic issues and tackle thorny technical challenges by convening, publishing, educating, and advocating.

We believe the Domain approach will help AIAA by establishing the priority issues and topics in each of the three Domains. Then, we believe the Institute’s programs and activities can be strategically coordinated for maximum impact. AIAA can leverage its unique position in the industry and impact the most relevant technology and policy challenges of the day by providing thought leadership and a trusted voice on behalf of the community. We agree this effort must move at the pace of innovation – which feels as if it is increasing daily. The timing couldn’t be better for us to help AIAA lead the industry into the future.

How do the Domains relate to each other?

In today’s world of limited resources and congested area, aeronautics and space are rapidly encroaching into each other’s sphere of influence. Airports are increasingly enveloped by the urban environment and launch sites are surfacing in record numbers. Our environments are no longer separate – solely airplanes or rockets – rather an integration of both in the future. We need to understand how the three AIAA Domains – Aeronautics, Aerospace R&D, and Space – impact the environment and what their impact is on each other. In order to maintain and grow a sustainable future for the air and space industries, we will need to leverage aerospace research and development.

In the history of flight, never has there been this much new, creative, and innovative activity across aerospace. In the “2021 AIAA State of the Industry Report,” more than 70% of respondents noted they are excited about opportunities in space exploration, artificial intelligence/machine learning, and advanced manufacturing. This varied perspective on innovation demonstrates that we must identify the priorities in a structure that will help us address them in the most meaningful ways.

According to Ming, the Aeronautics Domain is exciting because we are at the precipice of urban flight, integrating ground and air vehicles in new ways. “We also are building on the industry advances made since the early 20th century taking us further and faster, possibly commercializing supersonic and hypersonic flight. Certainly, addressing carbon emissions and sustainability with advanced materials and clean energy sources is an important area of focus for aeronautics.”

Scott believes the work being done in the Aerospace R&D Domain is very important. “We can continue to apply advanced information technology to aerospace systems. In addition, the integration of advanced modeling techniques will accelerate the development and certification of new, lightweight, and sustainable materials for aerospace applications. Advanced collaboration is bound to yield a number of breakthroughs in aerospace systems because of interdisciplinary work.”

“The digital revolution going on today will create some exciting opportunities for AIAA to provide thought leadership and be a trusted voice, guiding the larger community through some potentially revolutionary transitions. We also must address significant issues including potential cyber attacks on aerospace systems and building autonomous systems from a moral, ethical, and legal perspective. We also must find ways to accelerate the deployment of technology, with appropriate testing to help ensure success,” Scott concluded.

Julie recognizes that space is becoming more and more a part of our everyday lives and there are more and more entities getting involved. “This is making space more congested and complex, requiring new rules and norms so that all participants can coexist and prosper. Developing the low Earth orbit economy is key, while also pushing exploration out into the solar system and beyond. We also must address the climate crisis. We will benefit from the Biden Administration’s recently published space priorities.”

“AIAA can play a role in bringing the diverse perspectives together to collaboratively develop solutions. Based on its decades of technical heritage, AIAA can continue to foster the advancement of key future technologies and help play a role in developing newly required technical standards.”

Investing in the 21st-century workforce underpins the three domains. All the technical progress needed will be dependent upon a prepared STEM workforce who will tackle the problems and develop the solutions needed.

What’s next for the Domain approach?

Our immediate next steps include identifying the initial set of priorities for each Domain. We’re working closely together to ensure coordination across the Domains. To determine the priorities, we are evaluating the needs of industry, government, and academia, as well as technology trends and public policy issues. This prioritization process will be difficult based on the numerous challenges our industry faces today. To be most effective, we will select those areas where we believe AIAA and its members can make the most impact. We’ll synthesize the priority areas into a roadmap for our work.

We also are gathering a group of advisors, drawn from the community, to help guide us throughout the year. This coalition of influential aerospace leaders will be an integrated body covering the three Domains. We believe a unified body will be an important asset for us to rely upon for strategic direction.

We expect the next few months in early 2022 to be busy, as we build the roadmap and our advisory group. This immediate work will help inform strategic planning and budgeting across the Institute. The foundation of AIAA is its incredibly talented, experienced, and smart members. These scientists and engineers comprise the community we are proud to be part of. Together, we can accomplish technical goals and drive far-reaching visions. We will be building a framework upon this solid base to harness the treasure trove of your energy and ideas. We look forward to working with you on this incredible endeavor.

Ming Chang, Scott Fouse, and Julie Van Kleeck
AIAA Domain Leads

Ming Chang is an aeronautical engineer, specializing in flight sciences during his career. He recently retired from General Atomics, where he served as the Senior Director of Flight Technologies overseeing the functional activities of the Flight Sciences Department. Ming is an AIAA Associate Fellow.

Scott Fouse has dedicated his career to exploring the application of advanced information technology to a variety of systems including aerospace. He retired from Lockheed Martin Space Systems in 2018 as the Vice President of Research, where he oversaw the Advanced Technology Center. Scott is an AIAA Associate Fellow.

Julie Van Kleeck has worked to advance launch and in-space propulsion, and materials and manufacturing technologies throughout her career. She retired from Aerojet Rocketdyne in 2019 as the vice president of the Space and Launch Propulsion Business Unit. Julie is an AIAA Fellow.

Insights into the AIAA Domain Approach