AIAA President-Elect Jim Albaugh Addresses Audience at AIAA AIVATION 2013 Written 5 September 2013

By Duane Hyland, AIAA Communications (2008-2017)

AIAA President-Elect Jim Albaugh Addresses Audience at the 2013 AIAA AIVATION Forum.

AIAA President-Elect, James “Jim” Albaugh gave the first keynote address of AIAA’s AVIATION 2013 on the afternoon of Monday, 12 August, delivering a clarion call for continued innovation, resolve and dedication throughout the aerospace industry.

Albaugh began his address by reminding the audience that “the job of engineers is to make the world better.” However, his tone changed very quickly, from celebratory to cautionary, as he reminded the audience that “we are at risk,  that our nation will be weaker and with less influence than before, if we do not act before it is too late. “ Albaugh continued “Other nations invest in aerospace aggressively, while we worry about what to cut, and not what to grow. Our competitors have set clear goals, as our own infrastructure decays. We continue on this path at our peril.” Albaugh then reminded the audience that “leadership is about making the right decisions, in the good times, and in the bad.”

Albaugh indentified several barriers in the economy that are hampering the aerospace industry’s success in the global marketplace: inconsistent regulations, competing regulations throughout separate regions of the nation, and a shift in culture – away from the harder problems posed by engineering, toward greater advances in entertainment technology and creature comforts. Additionally, Albaugh pointed out that the prevailing economic times are not conducive to program development and sustained success for programs. He also stated that while our industrial base is strong, “it is not a given that it will remain that way.” However, with “aerospace supporting 56 million jobs, generating $2.2 trillion dollars in income each year, and transporting 35% of the world’s commercial good, we must do everything we can to sustain the enterprise, to ensure its growth.”

Albaugh exhorted “Without clear direction and goals we will lose our heritage. For the first time since 1962, the US does not have the ability to put an American into space on a US vehicle. We need a policy and we need to start a dialogue with the industrial base. We need to ask, ‘what are the technologies we keep around, so that they will be there when we need them?’ Part of this involves leveling the playing field globally. The US can win victories in the World Trade Organization, but that organization is a paper tiger when it comes to enforcement.” He continued: “We need a fair, predictable tax code as well.”

Albaugh went on to comment on the lack of American students seeking degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), declaring “the lack of science and engineering graduates in our society is a form of intellectual disarmament.”

Albaugh finished his talk declaring that the future is bright, if only the community would come together and orient on goals that excite people, and create meaningful missions. He also discussed the need to continue to combat carbon dioxide emission levels throughout the aviation enterprise, noting that “aviation creates 2% of the world’s carbon dioxide, and we need to do more to reduce that.”