Leading the AIAA Family
By Basil Hassan|June 2020
I want to thank you, the members of the AIAA family, for entrusting me to lead the Institute for the next two years. 2020 has started off as a challenging year for all of us as we each must deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and wonder what our future holds. Over the last few years, we have seen a lot of changes in our world, our profession, and the Institute we all hold so dear. I want to begin by thanking both Immediate Past President John Langford and Past President James Maser for helping to set our current direction.
My use of the word “family” is by intent. For the last 35+ years, AIAA has been a huge part of my life and my professional development. AIAA serves a wide cross section of members within the aerospace profession, providing many products and services in the form of conferences, publications, professional development, recognition, and networking opportunities. Even in these trying times, we must continue to broaden and enhance what we provide so that each of you can find a place within the AIAA family.
I want to also take this opportunity to reiterate my goals as your president. The first goal is to work with the Board of Trustees, the Council of Directors, and the AIAA staff to create and execute the programs that will increase our membership and engagement with the broader aerospace community. I want us to enhance the value proposition for all our current and potential future members, both individual and corporate. We need to make sure that the member experience is both value-added and timely for all involved. AIAA must be an agile and vibrant organization that can address the changing landscape of our profession.
Secondly, I want to ensure that AIAA’s many products and services remain relevant and avoid becoming stale. In November 2020, we will kick off ASCEND, an event designed to drive the space economy forward by addressing the engineering and business challenges and opportunities we face in the space market today and into the future. While we have had to postpone or cancel several events due to the COVID-19 outbreak, our diligent staff have been working hard to provide virtual content for all our future forums, starting with the fully virtual AIAA AVIATION Forum in June. This added virtual component will enable more members and aerospace professionals to participate in important information exchange, while at the same time providing the critical networking events for those who attend in person. To increase engagement, you will also experience investments in new products and content areas such as autonomy, cybersecurity, and space commercialization, just to name a few.
Finally, and most importantly, when I leave the presidency in May 2022, I want to know that we have invested in our future. I have a goal that every aerospace engineering student (and some from adjacent disciplines) becomes an AIAA student member, and I ultimately hope they transition into professional membership. This future investment will guarantee that our students and young professionals can reap the same benefits as those of us AIAA veterans to help them become future aerospace leaders. My hope is to enhance the student experience via state-of-the-art student conferences and design competitions, and facilitate the transition from student to professional life. For young professionals, I want to provide enhanced virtual offerings like professional development and networking opportunities through our Rising Leaders in Aerospace program and other professional mentoring opportunities. By laying the proper foundation, our students and young professionals will see the value of AIAA and make it a lifelong priority for them in their professional careers. The Board of Trustees, the Council of Directors, and the AIAA staff are all committed to invest the resources in our future, and we look forward to all members taking this journey with us.
The next two years will be a challenge, but we will continue to grow into a stronger and more influential organization. With the governance changeover now complete, we can focus on the future of this great Institute. As we must execute these plans, I ask each of you to provide our leadership with feedback along the way. Thank you again for your commitment and support, and I look forward to the bright future ahead. ★
AIAA President (2020–2022)