Momentum Member Spotlight – July 2013
AIAA Congratulates ATK’s Timothy “Tim” Dominick
By Duane Hyland, AIAA Communications
The AIAA Member Spotlight for July 2013 falls on Timothy “Tim” Dominick, an AIAA Associate Fellow, and Senior Thermal Analyst, ATK Missile Defense & Controls Division. Tim is also AIAA Region One’s Deputy Director of Public Policy. He joined AIAA in 1996.
Whereas many have found the inspiration to enter the aerospace profession in the classic lines of a P-51D “Mustang,” or the steely nerved flying of the early test pilots, or in Armstrong’s historic “leap,” Tim found one part of his inspiration “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.” As Tim put it, "My inspiration to join the aerospace field came from George Lucas. As anyone who grew up at the same time can attest, his movies captured my imagination, and I’ve always had the dream of building my own X-Wing fighter.” The second part of Tim’s inspiration came from his grandfather. “My grandfather was also an important influence on my interest in aviation. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and would tell me stories about his experiences. I remember him always wanting to learn more about the history of aviation, and everything that he learned he shared with me. From there, I continued to develop a passion for all things related to flight.”
When it came to his favorite aerospace related memory, Tim, like so many others in this column before him, had more than one. His first “had to be the day we fired the first development motor for the Orion Launch Abort System Attitude Control Motor. I served as the lead analyst for that program, and we had been on an accelerated development schedule, including implementing numerous new technologies. Saying there were a significant number of challenges to us being successful is an understatement. When the DM-1 motor fired and was 100% successful, I experienced a flood of emotions including excitement, relief, and exhaustion. It is a day that I will never forget.” Tim’s second favorite memory was one he had a hand in creating: “I was also very proud of the day that I learned the Stardust heat-shield was going to be put on display at the Air & Space Smithsonian museum in DC. As a young engineer, my college roommate and I worked that program together as designers and analysts at the heat-shield manufacturer, Fiber Materials, Inc. To have something you’ve built fly in space and return to be put on display for others to see is really special. I’ve taken both my children to see it and have used it to inspire others to achieve their dreams.”
To those students still in college, but thinking about entering the aerospace profession, Tim counseled: “Never stop asking questions. Those graduating in the next few years are the fifth generation to enter the aerospace industry, and many consider our industry to be mature, as there’s a push to standardize many designs and processes. However, our success professionally and as an industry will be limited if we don’t take the time to understand the fundamentals behind what we’re doing.”
He provided similar advice to those already in the profession, but who are looking to move ahead in their careers: “If at first you don’t succeed, try again. So much of our culture and profession is built on a success oriented approach, and many are afraid to fail. I’ve learned more through my failures than I ever did with my successes. Many senior members of the industry have had that opportunity to learn, and it’s important that they share as much of that knowledge with the next generation.”
For those still in high school, but considering the pursuit of an aerospace degree in college, Tim urged them to adopt a broad-minded vision of the aerospace industry, advising: “Study what you’re passionate about. You don’t have to have a degree in aerospace or aeronautical engineering to work in the aerospace industry. Our industry needs chemists, materials scientists, manufacturing engineers, electrical engineers, and software engineers, in addition to the traditional fields of mechanical and aerospace/aeronautical. It’s very possible to do what you love and still be a part of the aerospace industry.”
AIAA congratulates Tim Dominick on his selection as the AIAA Member Spotlight for July, 2013, and wish that the Force will be with him in his future endeavors!