Momentum Member Spotlight – July 2014
AIAA Congratulates Dr. Kimberley Clayfield
By Duane Hyland, AIAA Communications
With the hot months of summer upon us here in the U.S., the Member Spotlight decided it would seek cooler climes, and thus swung around to shine on Canberra, Australia, illuminating Dr. Kimberley Clayfield, Executive Manager, at CSIRO Space Sciences & Technology, winner of the 2014 AIAA Lawrence Sperry Award, a 2011 AIAA Sustained Service Award, founding chair of the AIAA Student Branch at the University of Adelaide, past chair of AIAA’s Sydney Section, and former AIAA Deputy Director–Region VII (Young Professionals).
A graduate of the University of Adelaide, Clayfield has helped guide Australia’s space technology agenda. In 2009 she coauthored a proposal that led to the establishment of Australia’s $40 million Space Research Program, and more recently Clayfield led CSIRO’s input into Australia’s first national space policy (released 2013). In 2011 she managed a national study that determined Earth observation data requirements for Australia’s R&D sector. A recent article in the Adelaide onLion, the University of Adelaide’s alumni magazine, noted that Clayfield’s satellite data study has been labeled a “key input into the National Earth Observations from Space Infrastructure Plan being developed as part of Australia’s national space strategy.”
An invited member of Engineers Australia’s National Committee on Space Engineering and the Australian Academy of Science’s National Committee for Space and Radio Science, Clayfield is the only person currently a member of both committees. In addition to those committees, Clayfield has served as the program director of the South Australian Space School and of Australia’s National Space Camp for over ten years—programs that help inspire and educate Australian schoolchildren about space, science, and technology.
Clayfield has won numerous awards for work in science and engineering, including inclusion in the list of Australia’s Most Inspiring Young Engineers in 2010; CSIRO’s CEO’s 2010 Study Award; a 2011 Australian Leadership Award; the 2013 NAB Women’s Agenda Leadership Award for Emerging Leader in the Public and Not-For-Profit Sector; and one of the International Astronautical Federation’s Young Space Leaders of 2013. Clayfield’s receipt of the AIAA Lawrence Sperry award, recognizing a notable contribution made by a young person, age 35 or under, to the advancement of aeronautics or astronautics, put her in the company of distinguished space leaders and legends who also won the award, including NASA’s Eugene “Gene” Kranz and Glynn S. Lunney, MIT’s Dr. Sheila E. Widnall, and Orbital Sciences Corporation CEO, David W. Thompson.
It’s not surprising that a Spotlight subject with as many achievements as Clayfield, all made at a relatively young age for our enterprise, would say “I have always been interested in and inspired by space, probably thanks to the many science fiction books I’ve read! Early lessons in astronomy fascinated me, and I still feel the excitement that goes with the realization of the vastness of the universe and how much is still left to discover and explore,” when asked what inspired her to get into aerospace. She continued, “Toward the end of my school years I heard about Mechanical Engineering and the many ways in which it is relevant to space applications, which led me into that field of study. But it was during my time as a PhD student that I learned more about space law and policy, which inspired me to follow a career in space policy and program development.”
Although her career has been relatively shorter than most of those who appear in this column, Clayfield was eager to talk about her favorite memories thus far: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my career to date, and I have lots of wonderful memories of special achievements, amazing people I’ve been privileged to meet and work with, and great events I’ve been a part of. But working with a small team to prepare the proposal for the $40 million Australian Space Research Program and then have that proposal approved by the Australian Government in the 2009 Federal Budget was a real highlight—it was the first dedicated industry funding for the Australian space sector in over a decade, and led to 14 successful industry development and education projects over the period 2009–2013. Having been able to play a role in creating such an opportunity for my sector is a terrific feeling.”
For those in college or tertiary education and thinking about aerospace, Clayfield stresses the importance of networking and self-education about the industry BEFORE you even get to the job interview stages, urging students to: “Start building your professional network and educating yourself about the industry now—attend conferences (there are often discounted registration rates for students), public lectures and similar activities, and get involved in a professional association or similar organization (even start your own branch of an established organization or a new amateur society!) in an area and a role that interests you. Think about what skills and experience you can acquire above and beyond what you will learn through your degree that will make you more competitive to potential employers.”
Clayfield offered similar advice to her peers in the industry, saying, “To my peers in the aerospace industry, I would emphasize the importance of continuing professional development—this includes further study (particularly in complementary nontechnical disciplines, such as business, management, and policy), involvement in professional associations like AIAA, and volunteering in the community. Aim to build the personal toolkit of experience and expertise that will enable you to create your own opportunities and take the next step in your career.” A proponent of practicing what one preaches, Clayfield continued, “I personally have found these activities to be enormously beneficial to my career progression, both in terms of experience gained and network development. I also believe that in the current environment it’s important to be mindful of national priorities, both current and future, and be prepared to seize emerging opportunities.” Clayfield also thanked two individuals that she credits with helping her achieve success: “With regard to more senior professionals, I am very grateful to both Dr. Gerald Schneider, former Faculty Advisor of the University of Adelaide AIAA Student Branch, and Dr. Ian Tuohy, Past Chair of the AIAA Adelaide Section, for offering and encouraging me in leadership roles in AIAA and other professional associations, which initiated my career-long involvement in such organizations and have been a springboard to other opportunities.”
She concluded her advice to professionals, by stating, “Knowing how much I have benefited from the support of these and other senior professionals, I would strongly encourage senior professionals to offer leadership and development opportunities to enthusiastic young professionals whenever circumstances allow—and not only does it benefit the individuals involved, it also benefits their organization by growing capability and strengthening succession planning.” For students in high school or secondary education who are thinking of pursuing aerospace as a possible course of study for their tertiary education, Clayfield advised, “I would encourage interested high school students to participate in an extracurricular program in the area that interests them—there are many space camps and other programs focused on science, engineering and technology available, such as the South Australian Space School, of which I am a volunteer coordinator—to get a feel for some of the many study options that can lead to a career in the aerospace sector.” She then also offered hope for those students who may love space, but who may find the thought of an engineering or science degree unsuited to their interests or strengths, reminding students that “If you have an interest in working in the space sector, the answer is not always an aerospace engineering degree—it is worth remembering that the sector includes economists, Earth scientists, communicators, biologists, lawyers, accountants, doctors, IT specialists, writers, mathematicians, policy advisors and many other professions. There is something for just about everyone!”
When asked about the value of AIAA to her, Clayfield was enthusiastic about our Institute, stating: “Involvement in AIAA has been fundamental to my career progress to date. I became a member in 1999, while I was still at university, and that year founded the University of Adelaide AIAA Student Branch; at the time, it was only the second Student Branch to be established outside of the USA. I have also served as the Chair of the AIAA Sydney Section, and as Deputy Director Young Professionals for Region VII (International). Active involvement in AIAA has afforded me leadership opportunities, responsibilities and experience that I may not otherwise have had the opportunity to take on through my regular jobs. It has also provided the opportunity to meet many professionals (local and international) with similar interests, both through local Section activities and through AIAA conference attendance, and build my professional network. Furthermore, there are many opportunities available for younger members (including international members) to access support and recognition from AIAA (such as scholarships, awards and grants), which can be of great benefit to the career development of students and young professionals.” She concluded with this endorsement, “In my experience, AIAA membership can be a powerful tool in creating opportunities for professional development and building a successful career in the aerospace profession.”
To finish the interview, I asked Clayfield about what’s going on in Australian space development and programs, and she assured me that the Australian space sector is humming with activity, noting, “There are lots of new and exciting things happening in Australian aerospace at the moment, including the establishment of a new $150 million Cooperative Research Centre for Space Environment Management, which will develop ways to monitor and manage space debris in orbit—the CRC is a collaboration between industry and research, led by Australia’s EOS Space Systems and including three international partners: Lockheed Martin [USA], NASA Ames Research Center [USA], and National Institute of Information and Communications Technology [Japan], as well as local partners; collaboration on the multibillion-dollar international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio-telescope, the world’s largest and most powerful radio-telescope (Australia is cohosting this facility with southern Africa); world-class scramjet research; the establishment of the Australian National University’s Advanced Instrumentation Technology Centre (AITC), which provides design, manufacturing and testing capabilities for precision instrumentation, particularly for astronomy, and a state-of-the-art payload development and systems integration facility; the development of sophisticated laser ranging technology for NASA’s GRACE Follow-on mission; the development of the Global Sensor Network, a wireless communication system that will enable remote data collection from a large number of sensors, particularly in remote and regional areas, via low Earth orbit satellites—this project, developed by a consortium led by the University of South Australia’s Institute for Telecommunications Research, received the 2014 Technology of the Year Award at the Wireless Innovation Forum's annual WinnComm Conference held in Illinois in March.” She finished the list by reminding us that “Adelaide, South Australia, is bidding to host the International Astronautical Congress in 2017, where we hope to showcase these projects and more to the global space community.”
AIAA congratulates Dr. Kimberley Clayfield on her selection as the AIAA Member Spotlight for July 2014, thanks her for her continued service to AIAA, and stands in awe of her service to the space communities of the world and Australia. We wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors!