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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    Momentum Member Spotlight – November 2014

    AIAA Congratulates Dr. Lourdes Maurice of the Federal Aviation Administration

    By Duane Hyland, AIAA Communications


    LourdesandSydney1Tired from its recent swings west, the Member Spotlight stayed local in November, shining its beam into Washington, D.C., and falling on Dr. Lourdes Maurice, and AIAA Fellow, and Executive Director of the Office of Environment and Energy at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

    In her position at the FAA, Maurice develops, recommends, and coordinates standards, policies and research efforts both at a national and international level to determine the impact of energy and environmental matters as they intersect with aviation. She also represents the U.S. representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection. Maurice joined the FAA in 2002, serving as the Chief Scientific and Technical Advisor for Environment, a role in which she oversaw policy development, applied science, and technical research programs on the impact of aircraft on the environment – including their noise, emissions, and technological impacts. In addition to her role at the FAA, Maurice also founded and managed the Partnership for Air Transportation Noise and Emissions Reduction (PARTNER) Center of Excellence. Before joining the FAA, Maurice served as the Air Force Deputy for Basic Research Sciences and Propulsion Science and Technology in the office of the Deputy Associate Secretary of the Air Force for Science and Technology. She also worked in the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Propulsion and Power Directorate from 1983 to 1999 planning and executing both basic and advanced development programs for propulsion science and technology – especially those focused on state-of-the-art aviation fuels and propulsion systems. Maurice’s areas of expertise include: pollutant formation chemistry, combustion kinetics, hypersonic propulsion, and aviation fuels.

    In addition to her work at the FAA, Maurice made substantial contributions to the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and shared in the recognition of that group’s receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. She also serves on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Aeroacoustics. She has authored more than 100 technical papers.

    Maurice has also been very involved in the Institute. She is an Associate Editor for AIAA’s Journal of Propulsion and Power, and has sat on the Propulsion and Combustion Technical Committee, the HyTASP Program Committee, and the Honors and Awards Committee. She received an AIAA Special Services Citation in 1998 for her contributions to the AIAA Symposium on Aerospace Sciences and Technology.

    We started the interview by discussing Maurice’s inspiration for pursuing a career in aerospace, and like many of her generation the answer was obvious, but it came with a surprising twist: “The landing on the moon. I was a small child living in Cuba. We did not have much access to outside news – but the moon landing was broadly covered.” Making Maurice the first person the Spotlight has covered to have watched the moon landing in a Communist nation – something special for those times. She continued: “At the time, I thought I wanted to be an astronaut. But to be honest, it passed. I was good in science and math, and there was a lot of outreach to get women into engineering, so I did want to be an engineer. But a chemical engineer, so I could work in the cosmetic industry.” However, Max Factor’s loss was aerospace’s gain when Maurice “met Herb Lander at the Air Force Labs. He was working on alternative fuels for aviation. He is an incredibly charismatic man – and the next thing I knew I was in aerospace.”

    Maurice’s favorite aerospace memory is her time in London, England. She explained, “My favorite memory thus far was the time I spent in London. My husband was working for the Air Force Lab as well; the lab assigned him to a post in London. In order to let me go with him, Colonel Herrelko, who now teaches at the University of Dayton, arranged it so I could work on my PhD at London’s Imperial College under Air Force sponsorship. I had a 3 year old and I never worked harder – but it changed me and opened a lot of doors.”

    For those entering the aerospace profession, Maurice had this advice: “Be flexible. Say yes to opportunities. There is no way to plan a decade that spans decades. But if you are flexible you will get to do amazing things.” For students in high school and college who are thinking about aerospace as a career, Maurice advised, “The technical courses are important and a sound foundation critical. But people skills and the ability to work in teams and to negotiate are also essential – work on those skills. And look across borders for experiences. Our industry is global and we have to effectively work with colleagues across the globe.”

    Turning to the subject of mentoring, specifically how can long-standing members of our community helps those who are new to it, Maurice opined that communication is key, advising: “Be available to offer advice. But also listen. Things change. Senior personnel can perhaps offer young professionals opportunities. And young professionals can help senior personnel see the world through different eyes.”

    When asked about the future of aviation, especially the future of environmentally sound fuels, Maurice had an optimistic view, stating: “I think aviation will be a leader on how we handle environmental issues. It already is – the progress we have made abating aircraft noise is amazing. But of course we have to do more to abate noise – it is our number one issue. And I think sustainable fuels, new aircraft technology and more efficient operations will help aviation continue to grow and thrive while preserving our air quality and abating climate effects.”

    We closed the interview by discussing Maurice’s thoughts on the value of membership in AIAA to members of the aerospace community. Maurice was enthusiastically positive about an AIAA membership, explaining that there are three reasons why people should join: “Networking definitely. You will meet colleagues in many different fields and at different levels in their careers. Service – in the U.S. we have a culture of service and AIAA allows combining public service with the careers we love. And technical exchange – for me the conferences and the exposure my work got was very important.”

    AIAA congratulates Dr. Lourdes Maurice on her selection as the AIAA Member Spotlight for November 2014, and thanks her for her passionate commitment to minimizing the environmental impact of our community’s technology, while working to maximize that technology’s quality and efficiency.