Advocating for the Aerospace Industry
Advocating for the Aerospace Industry
Now, more than ever, it is crucial for our government to support a technology-proficient aerospace sector to enhance competitiveness and security for our nation. Programs within the aerospace industry help contribute to national defense, our economy, education and, ultimately, our quality of life.
My passion for aviation and involvement in the aerospace community drove me to apply for the opportunity to represent Arizona as a member of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) at the upcoming Congressional Visit Day on March 21, 2018. As one of the selected Arizona members, I will be traveling to Washington, D.C., to represent our aerospace community and advocate for important policies that support the aerospace and astronautics industry.
The Congressional Visit Day is an opportunity to remind our lawmakers that aerospace is a key factor in creating an economically strong and secure nation. Each year, AIAA members ranging from engineers and scientists to researchers, students and educators travel to Capitol Hill to represent the broader AIAA community and to raise awareness for the aerospace industry in general. We endeavor to offer actionable recommendations on policies to our state lawmakers across the country in Washington, D.C.
The focal points of this year’s AIAA Congressional Visit Day are funding stability, research and aerospace workforce development. The aerospace industry faces a shortage of highly trained technical graduates, as well as an underrepresentation of women and minorities. Diversity is critical to foster innovation, and I would love to see an increased representation of different perspectives, cultures, points of view and life experiences in this industry. Through all of those points of views and experiences comes discussion, iteration and breakthroughs.
My love for the aerospace industry stems from my childhood in Alaska. Aviation is everywhere and crucial to Alaskans’ way of life. Although I began my first career in marketing for Walt Disney, piloting was always at the back of my mind. When I finally took the leap to get my pilot’s license in Alaska, I fell in love. The community of pilots was welcoming; they mentored me and encouraged me to do what I loved. I went on to obtain my Part 61 private pilot’s license through flight training in Alaska and southern California and completed a mid-career change earning a Master of Science in aeronautics with an emphasis in unmanned systems from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Through my graduate program with Embry-Riddle and with the encouragement of my mentor, Hernan Posada, a NASA Armstrong research pilot, I was offered the opportunity to work at NASA Langley Flight Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, in 2015.
I am so grateful to NASA and my general aviation and professional pilot mentors in Long Beach, California; Anchorage, Alaska; and at NASA Armstrong and NASA Langley Flight Research Centers. These special pilots and mentors encouraged me to advance my career in the aerospace industry, even though my background didn’t exactly match the typical NASA employee. After the birth of my daughter, Piper, in 2017, and corresponding with a series of underway deployments of my husband (active duty United States Navy, Chief Petty Officer, Nuclear MM) with the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, I departed NASA and joined Honeywell Aerospace.
It has been exciting being a member of Honeywell’s Greenhouses teams (Inertial Measurement Units led by Chris Lund and Commercial UAV Services led by Brad Westphal). My teams in Marcom, and in the greenhouses, are incredible. Working with these incredibly smart and talented folks has made my first year at Honeywell exciting. I learn something new from these teams every single day and it drives me to be better. IMUs are part of so many facets of the aero and defense communities and UAVs are fast becoming one of the important new technologies in the aero industry as well.
I am excited to be one small part of Honeywell and for the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C. I grew up in a time when cordless phones were considered a big innovation and watched the technology evolve from landlines to cordless phones to palm pilots and then to smartphones in a decade. I foresee a similar advancement in the progression and public adoption of UAV technology, albeit with a great need for safety, engineering rigor and proper regulation to ensure public safety. I am also learning how IMU and positing/navigation technology is changing industries outside aero – like autonomous cars and, drones! I believe we do not know all the uses for these technologies yet – and I can’t wait to see what the future brings.