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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    Momentum Member Spotlight – February 2015

    AIAA Congratulates L. Jane Hansen

    By Duane Hyland, AIAA Communications

     

    LJHansen_Region-VI-Director Swinging nearly 180 degrees around from its most recent overseas trip, the Spotlight sought out warmer climates this February, falling on Camino, California, focusing on long-time AIAA member and Associate Fellow, L. Jane Hansen – President of HRP Systems.

    Hansen joined AIAA in 1985 and has played an active role in the affairs of the Institute. She currently serves on the Board of Directors as the Region VI Director (western states). Hansen has been remarkably involved in the Institute’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programming. She chaired the Education Alley program in 2011; helped conceive and develop the “Engineers as Educators” program; and has been an active member of the Institute’s Student Activities Committee (SAC) for over a decade. She has also chaired the International Student Paper Conference; served as a liaison to the Region and Student Activities Committee (RSAC) as well as with the Technical Activities Committee (TAC). In her local section, Hansen has served as the Section Chair, the Section Education Officer, and the STEM K-12 Outreach officer. Now in the Sacramento Section, she serves as the education officer and acts in an advisory role. Hansen has also served as Region VI’s Deputy Director for STEM K-12 Outreach/Education/Technical, and facilitated the Region VI Student Paper Conference from 2002 to 2010.

    One must keep in mind that all of Hansen’s volunteer activities come after her day job is complete. Hansen leads HRP Systems, a firm that specializes in the development of avionics systems and simulation, both for aircraft and spacecraft. She provides technical/program management, and is responsible for new business development and fiscal accountability. Before joining HRP, she worked at Northrop’s Aircraft Division, Microcosm, and TRW. Among the systems that Hansen has worked on during her career are the F-20 “Tiger shark,” the F-16 “Fighting Falcon,” the F-15 “Eagle,” the F-23 “Black Widow,” and several other spacecraft and missile systems. She is the author or co-author of over 20 technical papers on “plug-and-play” technology applied to guidance, navigation, and control, and she also authored the “Computer Systems” chapter in Space Mission Engineering. Some of her other activities include scuba diving, skiing, and comedy improvisation.

    It was Hansen’s love of math and science “throughout school,” that inspired Hansen to think about aerospace, but it was a collection of math teachers that really ignited her desire. Her 7th grade math teacher made her “realize that ‘girls’ could be good at math and that it was OK!” In high school, another math teacher “worked with the local computer companies to get equipment into the classrooms for hands-on experience,” that ignited her interest in technology. And in college, she had a professor, “who worked for TRW” and would design tests with “real-world problems that made them fun and interesting.” When asked about her favorite aerospace moment as a child, Hansen replied, as many of her generation, “my parents were not very technical but they were very excited when we landed on the moon and I think that influenced me to want to apply STEM to aerospace-related activities.”

    When asked about her favorite career moment, Hansen took a cosmopolitan viewpoint, replying: “I have been very lucky to travel for my work . . . India, Brazil, Spain, and within the U.S. I think a favorite career memory is seeing other folks, in other countries and areas of the U.S., who are equally excited as I am about the work they do.”

    For college students thinking about entering aerospace as a profession, Hansen advised, “Work hard but enjoy the work and the people you work with. Life is short and if you are not having fun doing your work, you will not benefit or excel.” For high school students thinking about entering an aerospace degree program, Hansen, not surprisingly, isolated math as being a key to success, relating: “I think that math is usually the ‘hard’ part of engineering. For a career in aerospace, a solid understanding of mathematical principles will be required. It is important to have foundational skills to move forward and upward once you are in the workplace. So do all your math homework and make sure you understand the basics. Going forward in any technical field will be much easier when the math is well understood.”

    When it came to the people who will teach those students, both in the workplace and in the classroom, Hansen had several words of advice. For teachers looking to better engage students on STEM subjects, Hansen advised: “Real-world problems are essential to excite students. Everyone asks ‘Why do I need to know this?’ If you can answer that question it goes a long way to getting students interested. That is what the Educator Academy was intended to do – help teachers have real-world experiences that they could pass on to their students.” Additionally, for people in the profession already, Hansen reminded them that they too can help teachers, stating: “Members can go into the classrooms to demonstrate to the students and the teachers their passion and enthusiasm about STEM, with a real-world application as the “punch line.” Seeing someone who enjoys their job, and the foundational STEM elements, is often infectious and encourages students to investigate the types of jobs visiting professionals have – so they can determine if they too can have a job they enjoy that is challenging as well. Also, members can get ‘swag’ from their AIAA staff representative or Regional Director to hand out to students as part of a classroom visit.”

    We concluded the interview discussing the value of AIAA to STEM education, as well as to the aerospace profession. Hansen enthusiastically stated, “AIAA membership provides a means of interaction with all different types of professionals in the aerospace arena, trading technical thoughts and ideas, and engaging in leadership opportunities that may not be available in your job and are not necessarily related to your everyday job. Within a single company or discipline, a member might discuss specifics of the company or discipline, but through AIAA many other perspectives, different types of jobs, different disciplines, and different processes are available for understanding and evaluation. In terms of STEM education, AIAA provides a lot of resources to members, teachers, and students. Workshops for teachers and students, as well as members, are part of the ongoing conference schedule. Student paper conferences, design competitions, build/fly competitions, and scholarships are all provided by AIAA for university-level students.”

    AIAA congratulates L. Jane Hansen on her selection as the AIAA Member Spotlight for February 2015 and thanks her for her passionate commitment to STEM education and to helping the next generation of our community get the skills and training they will need to shape the future of aerospace.