Momentum Member Spotlight - May 2012
AIAA Salutes Lt Col Ravi Chaudhary
By: Duane Hyland, AIAA Communications
AIAA has selected AIAA Associate Fellow Lt. Col. Ravi Chaudhary, U.S. Air Force, for its Member Spotlight for May 2012. Lt. Col. Chaudhary is the commander of the Air Force’s 317th Recruiting Squadron, based in Washington D.C., as well as a C-17 pilot who has logged over 3,000 hours of flight time, with 700 of those hours being combat missions amassed during his four deployments since September 11, 2001. Chaudhary most recently completed a tour at the Pentagon, where he served as a speechwriter and Strategic Planner in the Secretary of the Air Force’s Executive Action Group and Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs.
Chaudhary joined AIAA in 1994, and became an Associate Fellow in 2005. He is a member of the Institute’s Air Transportation and Flight Testing Technical Committees.
When asked what inspired him to enter the aerospace profession, Chaudhary said that his parents were his first influence. “Mom and dad immigrated to the United States in 1968 and worked hard in their respective professions to realize the American dream. Watching them work definitely taught me that hard work is valuable, and that we need to follow our dreams no matter how difficult attaining them might seem.” He continued: “In addition to mom and dad’s examples, and the lessons I learned from observing them, I also had a desire to serve my country. I thought the best way to achieve that goal was to work hard in school, attend the Air Force Academy, earn an engineering degree and become an Air Force officer.” Chaudary’s career in the Air Force has allowed him many experiences during his career, but when asked to name his favorite one, Chaudhary said it would be hard to chose, stating: “No single moment is better than another.” From “diving with our astronauts at the Johnson Space Center’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab during ISS assembly training, to launching GPS satellites, to serving in my current role as commander of the 317th Recruiting Squadron, they have all been my favorites.” Chaudhary did say, however, that his career’s most poignant moment was “flying the 101st Airborne in Kandahar during the early days of the conflict in Afghanistan.” He continued: “While all of those moments were great – for one reason or another – far more memorable to me are my friends, and the camaraderie and fellowship that stems from working on so many high performing teams. I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to learn and grow along side so many incredible people.”
Chaudhary is definitely optimistic about the future of aerospace, counseling: “The future of aerospace lies in our future generation of the workforce. Regardless of budget constraints or current technological breakthroughs--we have to develop and mentor people who not only have the technical capacity, but also the creative passion to innovate and develop unique ways of solving problems.” He ended by urging us to remember aerospace’s largely unglamorous beginnings and the amount of work that had to be done to even get the concept of manned flight off the ground, stating: “We must not forget that our profession was started by two brothers in a small bicycle shop in Ohio!” For those students who in college and working on aerospace degrees, and for those students still in grades K-12 who are thinking about obtaining an aerospace degree and pursing life in the industry Chaudhary gave similar pieces of advice. To those in college, he counseled: “Always be guided by your passion, energy, and enthusiasm. And no matter how bad it gets, never quit!” To those still in grades K-12, he advised: “Study hard early – the true payoff is in the incredible adventure that awaits you!”
AIAA congratulates Lt. Col. Chaudhary for his contributions both to AIAA and the United States, as well as for his selection as the AIAA Member Spotlight for May 2012.