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The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

is the world's largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession.

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    Momentum Member Spotlight - April 2013

    AIAA Congratulates Lockheed Martin’s Mary L. Snitch
    By Duane Hyland, AIAA Communications

    Mary_L_SnitchThe AIAA Member Spotlight for April 2013, shines on Mary Lassiter Snitch, Senior Manager, External Business Relations, Lockheed Martin Corporate Engineering and Technology.

    An AIAA Fellow, Snitch has held several leadership posts throughout her membership with AIAA. She is currently the Vice President-Elect for Public Policy. Previously, she has served as a Director – International from 2011 to 2013, and as Vice President for Member Services from 2008 to 2011. She currently serves as an appointed member of the Compensation Committee. Other active Committee engagement includes Corporate Member, International Activities, and Public Policy. Snitch is also a former Chair of AIAA’s National Capital Section 2002–03.

    Snitch’s inspiration to enter aerospace as a profession came from the times she was raised in, explaining: “I was a child of the Sputnik era and to this day I have a vivid memory of watching the news coverage on a black-and-white television in my classroom. As I progressed through high school, I was very interested in math and science and was fortunate to have strong and very memorable teachers on those subjects, but I opted for business degrees in college – B.S. in Business Management, George Mason University, and MBA, Business, Economics and Public Policy, George Washington University.”

    Snitch’s earliest inspirations in aerospace were many, “I had a number of positive influences in my youth and into college – teachers, my family and a small town community – all who constantly impressed upon me the critical importance of a good education.   By the time I entered college, and particularly during pursuit of my MBA, I held a management position at the US Department of State and Arms Control Agency, focused on US and international S&T program issues and policy.   I was surrounded by experts in those fields who served as mentors and further motivated me to continue a career in or related to aerospace.   Two weeks after receiving my MBA, that aerospace career was launched at TRW in 1983.   That was followed with moving to Pasadena, Calif., to join the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as the Manager, Legislative and International Affairs, and then returning to Washington, D.C. to join Lockheed Martin Corporation.”

    Snitch’s fondest career moments stem from her volunteer work with AIAA and ARCS Foundation, as well as the work she has done representing Lockheed Martin with U.S. and international based organizations like the International Academy of Astronautics and the International Astronautical Federation.

    When asked about the ARCS Foundation, Snitch explained: “The ARCS Foundation dates to 1958 – it was founded as a direct response to Sputnik, answering the critical need to support young US scholars pursuing advanced studies in science and math (today’s STEM fields). Fifty-five years later, there are 17 ARCS Chapters that raise over $4.0 million annually for scholar awards. 100% is distributed to undergraduate and graduate scholars at 55 of America’s leading universities. Since 1958, nearly $90 million dollars has been distributed to some 9500 scholars who are now integrated into the US workforce in industry, academia or government. While we don’t have exact numbers, many ARCS scholars were also members of an AIAA Student Chapter and are now in the US aerospace community. Many are indeed active members of AIAA – individuals such as Dr. Glen Henshaw (University of Maryland), Naval Research Laboratory; Dr. Kristen Bloschock (Georgetown University), Lockheed Martin Corporation; Dr. Suneel Sheikh (University of Maryland), ASTER Labs, Inc., and Mr. Falcon Rankins, an ARCS scholar while pursuing his PhD at the University of Maryland, School of Engineering.”

    “I discover ARCS scholars and alums wherever I go, as well as faculty, advisors and administrators from ARCS partner institutions. Many of these distinguished individuals are also active members of AIAA. Others should be. Closer ties between AIAA and the ARCS community (scholars, partner colleges and universities, and the ARCS Foundation) would be a professional win-win for all.” Snitch concluded our discussion about the  ARCS Foundation by asking all AIAA members to get involved with the organization, stating: “As AIAA members, you know that we too have a strong focus on supporting STEM-related education and career development – K-12, undergraduate, graduate, through early career. We understand that the promise of sustained networking and support through each level motivates and helps to retain the next generation of scientists and engineers as they pursue and achieve lifetime careers. Engaging and integrating ARCS scholars and alums from aerospace fields more fully into AIAA would provide an instant network for their own career interests as well as expand the networking and collaborative opportunities of AIAA students and young career members. It would also expose AIAA student members and their advisors to another potential avenue of financial support.” For more information about the ARCS Foundation, please visit: www.arcsfoundation.org.   

    As for the future of aerospace, Snitch sees “the future through the eyes of students pursuing STEM-related degrees, and, of course, the hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students, who each year receive significant scholar awards through ARCS Foundation.   These scholars, and indeed other students pursuing STEM degrees at universities across America are a critical sign-post.   They are pursuing degrees in science, technology and mathematics because they see an exciting future in aerospace -- be it in industry, government or academia.  I am betting on the foresight of these outstanding future aerospace leaders!” To those students still in college seeking their degrees, she counseled: “The single most valuable thing a college student, studying in the STEM fields can do is to find a mentor in the professional ranks of their career path. That mentor will help them understand and progress along that path. I have been privileged to serve as a mentor and role model for many students who may not have identified a starting point for their career.  I also maintain contact with scholars who are new entrants to the aerospace community, and I also promote the great value of AIAA membership early in their career.”

    When asked for her advice to high school students, Snitch replied: “They should be helped to understand, early on, that a tremendous amount of pride and satisfaction can be derived from an aerospace career, and that as a dedicated member of the aerospace workforce they will help ensure that US global competitiveness and US leadership in advancing technology is maintained and promoted.  They should also be helped to understand that there is a place for many academic fields in the aerospace workforce – of course, scientists and engineers, but also finance, law, contract administration, communications, public policy and others, and that is what makes aerospace such a special profession – we need students with diverse skill-sets, so that even a student with difficulties in math or science, but who has strong speaking or writing skills can help the industry thrive!” “Perhaps if students knew this about aerospace, and I hope our members will help them realize that, then many more would enter our ranks.”

    Snitch closed our interview by discussing the value of AIAA to aerospace professionals. “Membership in AIAA has proven over many years to have invaluable benefits through every phase of one’s aerospace career.   As a young professional, AIAA provides tools for professional development and career development.   As middle-management through senior executive years, the AIAA provides a forum to interact with many companies in the industry as well as government customers and academia a non-competitive environment.  AIAA also provides highly distinguished honors and awards to members typically in this career phase.   For retirees, AIAA provides a direct and constant link to remain actively engaged in the aerospace community.  These members continue to serve on and make significant contributions to AIAA committees, and receive recognition through honors and awards.”

    AIAA congratulates Mary Snitch on her selection as the AIAA Spotlight Member Spotlight for April 2013, and thanks her for his years of outstanding service to both AIAA and the ARCS Foundation.