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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    Eye on tomorrow’s leaders

    by Stephen Brock, AIAA Membership, posted 17 June 2014, 10:55 a.m.

    Rising-Leaders-ForumThe Monday evening Rising Leaders in Aerospace Forum offered younger professionals and students an opportunity to learn how to get involved in AIAA.

    Ben Marcionna of Lockheed Martin moderated the panel, which was part of AIAA’s AVIATION 2014 forum in Atlanta, Ga. Other panel members were Kathleen Atkins of Lockheed Martin, Russ Cummings of the U.S. Air Force Academy, and Cees Bil of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. The group shared stories of how they first became acquainted with AIAA and how their experiences with the group have helped them.

    Asked by one audience member how he came to join AIAA, Cummings joked that walking through the halls looking lost was how he got approached and asked to join. But he and other panelists said it was as simple as asking to get involved.

    The speakers encouraged the audience to review the committee meeting list in the final program. They said anyone who was interested in a particular session could simply ask to listen in and find out what the committee is doing. They added that AIAA members are happy to discuss the work experiences they’re passionate about and to meet new people who want to become active in the institute.

    Asked how much time being an AIAA volunteer usually entails, one panelist said it could be “as much as you want.” If you have a lot of time or are intensely motivated, then you can get involved in activities that are hundreds of hours long. For people who don’t have as much time, there are opportunities that may require only four or five hours a month.

    Marcionna noted that becoming active at the local level is a great way to get involved if you have limited time. As chair of AIAA’s Antelope Valley section he knows there are opportunities to help with local events. A section meeting may take only a few hours to arrange, and the whole project can be completed in about 45 days from start to finish.

    Atkins said serving on a technical committee can also afford flexibility, depending on whether you choose to join a subcommittee, or on how many projects you volunteer for. She also noted that as personal priorities change, with a growing family or added work projects allowing less time for outside activities, AIAA roles can be adjusted. But there are many opportunities for people to participate – it is a matter of matching the opportunities with your own goals, she said.

    Bil also said that participating in the local student branches can be a great way to be involved in AIAA. He has been active with several of the local student branches in his area, and they have done very well. Bil has helped them to organize student paper conferences in Australia for the past several years, and he said it has been a great experience.

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