Inaugural Rising Leaders in Aerospace Forum Deemed a Success! Written 5 March 2013

By Christopher Horton, AIAA Governance Secretary


Darin Haudrich, Laura McGill, and Matt Cannella

In January, AIAA completed its first ever Rising Leaders in Aerospace Forum, held in conjunction with the 51st Aerospace Sciences Meeting in Grapevine, Texas, at the Gaylord Texan Hotel, January 7-10. The Rising Leaders in Aerospace forum offered the next generation of young aerospace leaders, age 35 and under, access to top aerospace leaders and their perspectives, and multiple opportunities for networking with those leaders and their peers.

Darin Haudrich from the Boeing Company, and Matt Cannella from the University of Colorado Boulder, Rising Leaders in Aerospace Forum co-chairs, started the forum by welcoming all attendees. Their welcomes were followed by a keynote speech by Sandy Magnus, AIAA Executive Director. Dr. Magnus’ talk described that everything you need to be a good leader you learned when you were in kindergarten. She also reminded the forum participants that while they should never lose sight of why they entered the aerospace arena, that theåir work-life balance is important, and they should always remember that.

On the second day of the forum, attendees were able to take part in the Leadership Exchange and Networking Reception. Hosted by the AIAA Young Professional Committee, the Leadership Exchange, or "speed networking" event, gave attendees the opportunities to interact with leaders from government, industry, and academia. The networking event provided participants the opportunity to meet top leaders and ask questions in a relaxed and personal environment. Joshua Locke from Spirit AeroSystems participated in the networking event, stating: “This was my favorite part of the entire AIAA conference. It was great to be put in an atmosphere where the mentors/experienced professionals were outside of their normal environment so that as young professionals we were not having to deal with attempting to meet and talk to them while they are catching up with old friends they see at the conference.”


Rising Leaders in Aerospace Forum - Leadership Exchange

The third day of the forum featured an address by Daryl Pelc, Vice President of Engineering and Technology, Boeing Phantom Works. Mr. Pelc discussed professional development in a changing aerospace environment. He advised participants to set goals in four areas; professional, financial, physical, and family, and to keep a victory list of achieved goals. Mr. Pelc also urged participants to get involved in both professional and personal communities to enhance their career and professional network.

The fourth day of the forum concluded with a luncheon, with keynote address from Laura McGill, Deputy Vice President of Engineering, Raytheon Missile Systems. Ms. McGill described the numerous lessons she has learned throughout her career, including dealing with failures and successes, to taking different opportunities that came her way even if they were different disciplines within her work. She reminded the forum participants to “make every day count!”

Prithvi Lopez, president of the AIAA student branch at the University of Michigan summed up the Rising Leaders in Aerospace Forum, stating: “I personally gained more in those few hours at the events than I have over the past couple of years while trying to figure out what direction I would like my career to take. I have also heard much of the same from the other Michigan students that were fortunate enough to attend as well. We have all made some lasting contacts that will serve us well for many years for career choices and career advice and are grateful for the opportunity.”

AIAA would like to thank The Boeing Company for sponsoring the Rising Leaders in Aerospace Forum at the 51st AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting.