During 2020 and 2021 the section conducted a series of online presentations and panel discussions which are available for viewing.

In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) Technology Development

April 2021

Article By Tracie Prater

In this 2-hour seminar held on April 14th, three researchers in the field of in situ resource utilization (ISRU) technology development discuss their past and current research. Dr. Jennifer Edumunson, the project manager of the Moon to Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction (MMPACT) project at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and a planetary geologist, provides an overview of planetary resources and how they can be used on space missions. Dr. Peter Curreri, formerly of NASA MSFC and currently chief science officer and co-founder of Lunar Resources, discusses O'Neill colonies, space solar power, and space homesteading. Dr. Ed Ethridge, also formerly of NASA MSFC and currently CEO and chief scientist at Space Resources Extraction Technology, focuses on techniques to extract water from indigenous materials on planetary surfaces.

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Women History Month with the Section's first Chairwoman Wanda G. Reece

March 2021

Article By Tracie Prater

The AIAA GHS celebrated Women's Heritage Month 2021 on March 31st by hosting a talk with the section's first chairwoman, Wanda G. Reece. Wanda was the first chairwoman in 1989 when the section was called Alabama/Mississippi Section. Ms. Reece spoke about her career and how she came to Huntsville, AL, and started working for NASA MSFC. During that, she was introduced to the Section and volunteered for the Section and soon became the chairwoman of the section. The talk was attended by several of the section's former chairpersons and council members who worked with Wanda. Wanda discussed how she worked for AIAA's success and how AIAA helped her with her career success.

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AIAA GHS celebrated Black History Month with Colonel (Retired) Clyde Romero

February 2021

Article By Erik Nielson

On February 23, the Greater Huntsville Section of AIAA celebrated Black History Month by hosting a moderated discussion with Colonel (Retired) Clyde Romero to discuss his aerospace journey from flying helicopters in Vietnam through a transition to commercial aviation. Colonel Romero flew over 4000 hours in military aircraft, with 1100 hours of combat time and flew over 33,000 hours as a commercial pilot in the B-727, B-737, Airbus 310/320/321/330 platforms. The discussion was lighthearted and provided insight in multiple aircraft, leadership and life lessons for the broad aerospace community.

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Challenges and Benefits of Excavation and Construction on the Moon

February 2021

Article By Naveen Vetcha

As part of Engineers week activities, on February 24th, AIAA Greater Huntsville Section organized a webinar titled “Challenges and Benefits of Excavation and Construction on the Moon” by Dr. Jennifer Edmunson. Dr. Edmunson is currently the project manager of the Moon to Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technology (MMPACT) lunar construction project at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). The Moon has a wealth of resources to enable sustainable human exploration. These resources are primarily in the form of regolith (Moon dirt), and cold-trapped volatiles in the Permanently Shadowed Regions of the lunar poles. Obtaining resources in the lunar environment is not easy. The lunar environment is particularly harsh, and engineering feats are needed to overcome the difficulties of mining and building on the lunar surface. Dr. Edmunson provided an overview of the lunar surface environment and the resources known to be present, in the context of excavation and construction on the Moon. At the end of Dr. Edmunson’s presentation, webinar attendees were informed about an open innovation challenge called, Break the Ice Lunar Challenge ( organized by NASA’s Centennial Challenges Program. The goal of this challenge is to incentivize innovative approaches for excavating icy regolith and delivering water in extreme lunar environmental conditions. The webinar got a tremendous response with 80 registrations and about 50 attendees.

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Starting Small Business during COVID-19 Pandemic?

February 2021

Article By Alex Vasenkov

This webinar sponsored by the AIAA GHS has discussed the major hurdles in starting a small business in aerospace and defence. Mr. Tim Thorton, President and CEO of nLogic, and Dr. Alex Vasenkov, President of Sunergolab Inc, shared their experience and lessons learned as well as discussed the current implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, Ms. Mary Fleming, a Certified Procurement Professional at the Small Business Development Center & Procurement Technical Assistance Center in Huntsville, identified a sequence of steps to be undertaken towards applying for the first grant or contract under the Small Business Innovation Research Program, also referred to as SBIR; or the Small Business Technology Transfer program, also referred to as STTR.

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Aerospace Frontiers of Engineering Community Tech Talks (AFECTTs)

November 2020

Article By Nishanth Goli

The first Aerospace Frontiers of Engineering Community Tech Talks (AFECTTs) was conducted on November 12th from 6-7:30 pm. The webinar featured four speakers spanning academia, industry and government from within the Section. These members presented mini-presentations on their papers that were published at the AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum.

The speakers and their mini-presentations are:

  • FlightStream: Fast Aerodynamics with Fidelity by Dr. Roy Hartfield, Walt and Virginia Woltosz Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Auburn University.
  • Development of an Optically Accessible Racetrack-Type Rotating Detonation Rocket Engine by Evan Unruh, Graduate Student, MAE Dept, The University of Alabama in Huntsville
  • Human Landing System Architecture Trade Study by Dr. Tim Kokan, Principal Engineer, Aerojet Rocketdyne
  • Mars Ascent Vehicle Hybrid Propulsion Effort by George Story, Solid Propulsion Systems Engineer, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
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AIAA and Aerospace Cybersecurity

November 2020

Article By Nishanth Goli

AIAA GHS invited Steve Lee, AIAA Aerospace Cybersecurity Program Manager, to talk to section members about Aerospace Cybersecurity and the program started by AIAA for its members. This event was attended by 7 members, including some from outside the Section. Mr. Lee spoke about the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead in our industry and answered questions about how students and/or early career professionals can make a transition to the Aerospace cybersecurity industry.

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AIAA GHS Career Workshop for Aerospace Professionals

October 2020

Article By Ragini Acharya

AIAA GHS presented a workshop for career guidance and job opportunities on October 30, 2020 between 12:30-3 pm CDT. In this widely attended workshop (over 50 attendees), panelists from leading defense contractors as well as NASA described job opportunities for aerospace professionals in their organizations as well as described company culture and their own experiences that helped them during their successful careers. Panelists also interacted with the attendees for over one hour and answered a wide range of questions as well as addressing some issues arising due to COVID-19. This workshop was organized and moderated by Dr. Ragini Acharya.

The panelists included:

  • Dr. Jennie Horne from Raytheon Missiles and Defense
  • Dr. Robert Hiers III from QuantiTech, Inc.
  • Dr. Erik Nielsen from Northrop Grumman
  • Dr. James Meehan from NASA MSFC
  • Mr. Shane Prestegard from Dynetics
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AIAA GHS First Career Pathways with Mr. Steven Roth

September 2020

Article By Nishanth Goli

The AIAA Greater Huntsville Section started to offer a new career pathways webinar series for K-12 STEM students, particularly focusing on the high-school students. The focus of this webinar series was to bring young AIAA professional members who recently completed college and discuss their career path and career decisions, challenges and opportunities with high school students. These webinars were intended to provide guidance to the students when they are not able to access in-person guidance and mentoring due to the ongoing safer-at-home and virtual school conditions. Attendees asked questions to our speaker during these 1-hour long sessions.

The first webinar was conducted on 8 September 2020 from 4-5 pm. The Section STEM K-12 Director, Dr. Ragini Acharya, led the webinar. Steven Roth was the speaker at this event. Mr. Roth is a young professional who has started his first job as an aerospace engineer recently. He received his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of California – Berkeley and his M.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. When he is not working, he spends his time traveling to remote areas across the country for rock climbing. The event went smoothly with about 10 participants and had interest from many parents and educators who could not attend but wanted to watch a recording of the event. Dr. Acharya received great feedback and she plans to conduct a few more Career Pathways webinars in the following months.

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Technical Panel Discussion on NASA MSFC Role in the Commercial Crew Program

September 2020

Article By Nishanth Goli

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center provides engineering support for the Commercial Crew Program. This includes human rating certification of the Atlas V and Falcon 9 launch systems for the CCP mission and verifying each launch vehicle complies with flight certification. MSFC provides expertise in nearly all aspects of launch vehicle design and performance including solid motors and liquid engines, stage propulsion, thrust vector control, structural and dynamics, safety and mission assurance. AIAA GHS organized a virtual technical panel discussion on September 30th via Zoom from 6-7 pm to highlight the role of NASA MSFC in the Commercial Crew Program. The panel of NASA Commercial Crew Launch Vehicle Propulsion Engineers presented an overview of countdown and launch operations and explained how the new commercial partnership model has changed the way we conduct human spaceflight.

The Panel consisted of the following members:

  • Deborah Crane - Launch Vehicle Chief Engineer
  • Adam Butt - Falcon 9 Launch Vehicle Lead Engineer
  • Catherine Sanders - Launch Vehicle Engineering Propulsion System Manager
  • Miranda Holton - Launch Vehicle Main Propulsion Sub-Systems Manager
  • Sean Kenny - Launch vehicle propulsion systems expert
  • Patrick Mills - Falcon 9 Engines Systems Sub-System Manager
  • Jason Thrasher - Atlas Centaur Engine Systems Sub-System Manager

AIAA GHS thanks each of these NASA engineers for participating in the panel discussion. The Section also thanks Ken Phillippart, Theresa Jehle, Naveen Vetcha and Nishanth Goli for facilitating this event.

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Presentation Slides

Slides from some of the section's past technical presentations are available for viewing.

A Disruptive Transformation of Aerospace and Defense Tools, Processes, and Culture

March 2018

Dr. Ed Kraft
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Aeronautics or Astronautics. Why must We Choose?

January 2018

BG Robert L Stewart (USA ret.)
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Using Data Science to Improve Air Safety

September 2017

Mr. Daniel Wade, Aviation Engineering Directorate
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Aerospace consultant: Difficult Decisions from a career in Aerospace

August 2017

Dr. Michael D. Griffin
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Mars Exploration

October 2017

Dr. Tom Percy, NASA MSFC
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Space Shuttle History - Super Lightweight External Tank Development

December 2017

Dr. Myron "Mike" Pessin
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The B-52, Boeing’s Stratofortress, a Half-Century of Excellence

November 2016

Russell (Russ) Lewey, Col, USAF (Ret)
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Acoustics Overview and Aerospace Acoustic Test Systems Short Course

October 2015

Mr. A. W. Mayne III
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Selected Problems in Dynamics: Stability of a Spinning Body & Derivation of Lagrange Points

July 2014

John Fay, Technical Fellow, Jacobs TEAS Team
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