My background with Southwest Texas Section I began work at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas in September 1988 – my first job out of college (U. of Utah). At the time I belonged to 3 professional societies, but not AIAA. I was reluctant to pay another set of dues (my employer pays none). (Now I belong to 7, and my employer is the same employer and still pays none.) However, the first two years of local section meetings were great, and I was asked to be section treasurer and (of course) I needed to join, so I did. I was told there was a plan that had worked for many years: secretary to treasurer to vice-chairman (programs) to chairman, but this year there was a hiccup. 1990-1991 I was section treasurer. 1991-1992 I was vice chairman (programs). In December 1991, the vice chairman left Kelly AFB and took a job in the Pentagon, so I became chairman, too, for the rest of the year. In 1992-1993 I was section chairman.
My Background with the Rest of AIAA In 1994 I was asked to be the Deputy Director Technical for Region IV (1994 – 2006). I was a deputy director TAC in the Space and Missiles Group (2005-2009). In 2006 I was asked to fill the regional director vacancy in Region IV (Merri Sanchez was elected VP Education), and have subsequently been elected regional director twice (2006 – ). I am a member of the Weapon System Effectiveness technical committee, and was vice chairman 1998-2000 and chairman of the committee 2000-2002, chairing the biennial conference in 2001. My favorite part of AIAA is the Southwest Texas Section meetings.
What does it take to have a successful year for an AIAA section? 1. Set some goals 2. Find some help 3. Work on things interesting to you 4. Have an advisor 5. Realize it will take time, and plan for it
1. Set some goals Hopefully youve had some experience with the section and know what it has done in the past. Goals can be continue on with the same if things have been going well. Goals can be a specific event you want to hold. Share your goals and try to get buy in – if you have big goals but no one helps, you are unlikely to achieve them. I passed out my list of goals at our executive council meeting in July, at the beginning of the year. This was our first planning meeting for the year. Houston Section has a half day (Saturday morning) retreat of its officers to discuss and plan the upcoming year, typically in early August.
2. Find some help Running a section and planning section activities is lots of work. Sections that are running well (i.e., historically they have run well for some time) typically have lots of positions and they are nearly always filled. What worked for us was having about 10 people, including 5 executive council positions, 4 officers, and another interested person, helping. In particular, they helped make an initial contact regarding events. However, in the end the program chairman usually needs to finalize all the arrangements. If you are having events every month, it is good to have executive council meetings 5 times a year: July, August, November, February and April were our meetings.
3. Work on things interesting to you At the end of your year as a section officer, you want to be able to look back with satisfaction on what you accomplished. If you arent interested in the meeting topics or the events, you will not be very happy at the end of the year. When (as they always do) roadblocks come up and problems arise, if you are not interested in the event you will only be annoyed, frustrated and angry. Its even worse if you work hard on something that you think others are interested in, only to find they werent interested enough to show up. So please, plan events that you personally want to attend. If someone says there is lots of interest in X, then let them run with it or let it drop. Not finding a volunteer for X implies lack of interest in X. My Hercules story…
4. Have an advisor Mine was P.A. Cox Across the hall from me in Bldg. 128 of Southwest Research Institute Former section chair of Southwest Texas Section Former regional director of Region IV His main role is to answer questions – not doing things for you, just someone to talk to Has the section done this before? Do you know if there is a restaurant near here? Do you know anyone who knows so-and-so or knows about such-and-such? What do you think of this idea?
5. Realize it will take time, and plan for it Setting up meetings takes time You have to talk to the speaker and follow up with him You have to make arrangements for the meals You have to send out announcements You have to send in a menu count You have to make sure the audio-visual equipment arrives You have to make sure the speaker arrives You have to have someone collect money at the event You have to report the event or keep some record of it Everything on this lists takes time, some of it over an hour It is likely that you will need to block out time on your calendar for AIAA otherwise it will not get done.
General comments on meetings If possible, you should contact the speaker/tour guide at the beginning of the year, regardless of when your event is. 2 months out : You should contact the speaker/tour guide again, to firm up the date and time. 2 months out : Then you should contact a restaurant, hotel, or other facility (often a cold call – but that is their business, so they want to talk) to make a reservation and begin the process of menu selection. Four weeks out (at the end of the section meeting) you announce dates and details on next meeting. Three weeks out you email/mail/post the formal announcement with topic, location, date and time, cost, menu choices, contact and reservation information. One week out you check reservation list and send out a reminder announcement by email. If necessary, you make a few phone calls to regulars who may not have signed up. 2 days out you turn in your count to the restaurant. Dont inflate your count. Most restaurants are prepared for 10% over. If more people show up, the restaurant can prepare them a different, last minute meal. It is very unlikely more people will show up. Day of event Show up 30 minutes early Set up sign-in table (hopefully the treasurer is there to collect money) Check out audiovisual equipment Smile and mingle as members arrive (dont be too busy to enjoy your success with your friends).
Examples from Southwest Texas Section Year 1 as Vice Chairman and Chairman
Kickoff for first year Mark Reinke began the year as chairman, and this was his invite letter to the first planning meeting, held in July. At this meeting we began planning meetings. An August council meeting was the second planning meeting.
September meeting We set up tables in a hanger and brought out a bar-b-cue lunch from a nearby restaurant. Sailplane rides were booked all day – I didnt get mine till late afternoon. Some members flew in.
Our airport rules and rides liability waiver Some activities demand written rules and a statement of liability waiver.
October meeting We ate at the officers club at Randolph AFB and then toured their life-extension kit modification line, set up in one of their hangars.
October meeting announcement page 2 All the meeting announcements have a second page, though only the first page will be shown. The second page includes An abstract of the talk or tour, A biography of the speaker or tour guide, A map on how to get there. Remember – you are trying to generate interest and inform attendees of what to expect. And make the speaker/tour guide pleased that you present them and their topic well.
November meeting An AIAA Distinguished Lecturer. Held at a downtown hotel. Pretty expensive ($14.00 per person – they probably charged around $18/plate). Also, the speaker wanted a large screen TV (old days) and we had a fairly large audio-visual bill.
December meeting Our annual open mike. Held at the patio party area of a local brewery. Outdoor venue turned out to be cold (all the hot cider went pretty fast) you might want to bring a sweater missed it by 20 degrees. (Yes, I know, its December. But its San Antonio!) Notice we used 35 mm slides.
January meeting Met at the nearby Brooks AFB officers club for dinner. Then went to Stinson air field for tour. Jet never went into production.
Remember to remind tour guides / speakers Give them something in writing (paper or email) as a reminder. It doesnt hurt to touch base by phone two or three days before to see if they have any last minute needs (and subtly to make sure they remember).
February meeting Southwest Texas Section is centered mainly in San Antonio, but we have one third our membership in Austin (mostly at UT Austin). Every section chair thinks he will solve the divide problem. This was part of my outreach – plan a meeting in Austin. We rented a 15 passenger van to help ferry more people up from San Antonio – I drove. 2/3rds of attendees were from San Antonio.
March meeting Held at a formal dining room of the University of Texas at San Antonio. Though I was adjunct there, we didnt have a faculty champion, but when we said the Chancellor of the UT System was speaking, they jumped on it. From a meeting organizers point of view, I got to spend about 45 minutes with Dr. Mark as he loaded his slides. He talked about current UT issues as well as some of BMD-related experiences. Very interesting.
Raising money for the student paper conference We regularly sent out fundraising letters to raise a small amount of funds. For a couple of years after being chairman, I still wrote some letters, but sometime after a time I stopped and no one in the section picked it up. You should support your regions student paper conference.
Sample fundraising letter I always felt a little awkward – this is a small company and we didnt ask big companies for the proportionate larger amount of money – just a little bit more. Dr. Rand always contributed. Winzen was subsequently purchased by Raven.
Council meeting before May Honors and Awards One of the topics is making sure we know all the awards we are going to be giving – including membership years pins. We also give a local high school science fair award.
Council meeting continued: Nominating committee Another topic is the nominating committee. It is a really good idea to set up a nominating committee headed by someone who is not a current officer to put together the slate of next years officers.
Minutes from council meeting Its good to always have a written account of what occurred. In our section, that was the Section Secretarys job (one of our officers).
April tour Nearby restaurant for dinner, then driving over the hangars at the San Antonio International Airport for the tour. This tour led to a good contact for an event we held next year.
May Honors and Awards meeting: Distinguished Lecturer Held at a Chinese restaurant which did family style serving – a good way to go, and they had a large private/sound isolated room. You should check party rooms at restaurants – in recent years more and more of them are not sound isolated from the restaurant, making it difficult or impossible for people to hear the speaker. Avoid those facilities. We went back to them over many years. One year we even set off a small hybrid rocket motor – the owner of the restaurant came to that meeting because he wanted to see the demo.
Examples from Southwest Texas Section Year 2 as Chairman
There should be a list in your community of organizations It doesnt hurt to get in the list or book of organizations maintained by groups like the Chamber of Commerce (it should be free)
Thanks and call for first council meeting First council meeting held July 16. At this meeting the year was roughed out (what topic or type of meeting for each month). Assignments were made for the initial contact Executive council members – usually more senior people – can be asked to do ONE thing, such as make a phone call to a potential speaker or facility operator for a tour.
My three goals 1. Have a large program to celebrate our 30 th anniversary This was prompted by the Houston section doing the same thing the year before We dated 30 years from Feb. 1, 1963, the joining of IAS and ARS (we already had sections of both in San Antonio) Perhaps consider doing something with the 50 th anniversary in 2012-2013 year. 2. Win the outstanding section award. 3. Raise funds for the Memorial Scholarship.
Have meeting minutes/summary of discussion You need to have a summary of your planning meeting that people have access to. Our section does not have a primary employer or area of interest, thus we have a wide range of topics of interest for meetings.
2 nd and follow up planning meeting 2 nd and follow-up planning meeting held August 11.
Regional support The regional deputy directors should be able to provide support and answers for their various topic. This letter from Neil Blaylock, DD Membership (later Director, Region IV) encourages us to fill out the membership award form, with advice on how to do so.
September Meeting At a small grass strip airport. We ate in the EAA building. We looked at peoples airplanes and had a radio controlled airplane demo. Some members flew in.
The inherited nascent scholarship fund Was the idea of the 1990-1991 section chair Randy Tullos. He moved to Georgia after announcing it, leaving all the leg work (i.e., fundraising) to other officers. Memorial was in the name due to donation(s) for Wilfred Baker, a former section chair who passed away, with the idea that we could ask for more donations as senior members passed away. Award primarily goes to UT Austin students.
Special hands-on finite element class to raise student scholarship funds The scholarship fund was an inheritance from a previous section chairman who had big plans. But after the announcement, we still needed to raise money. This course ($95) was quite successful both as a course and as a fundraiser.
October – a Distinguished Lecturer Held at a restaurant with a party room. Always take advantage of Distinguished Lecturers Those on the list have already agreed to give talks, so it just a matter of scheduling. Also, feel free to ask Stephen Brock for contacts in other sections who have invited a speaker if you want to hear their perspective on how it went. You can invite anyone you want as part of the program, but they have to say yes.
November council meeting Agenda shows main topics are plans for each of the upcoming meetings.
Notes from RAC meeting by our sections attendee Information on what other sections are doing is always helpful – hopefully your section has a representative at your RAC meetings and passes along program ideas.
2 nd page of notes from RAC meeting: Category III This 2 nd page of notes shows there was discussion Southwest Texas Category III request for funds for our 30 th anniversary celebration (note my boo hiss). You should ask for Category III money early in the year – typically for $500 – for first time or unusual events. It always helps getting approval if you have matching funds from the section or somewhere else.
November meeting A plant tour 60 miles from San Antonio (in San Marcos – about 30 miles from Austin). We ate at a nearby restaurant and then drove over to tour the facility (they made jet and jet engine parts).
December meeting Every Christmas we do open mike. Held at a restaurants private dining room. Great stories. My favorite: one of our members telling about his honeymoon shortly after WWII in the Caribbean. They went in his small private airplane, landed on beaches and walked up to the hotels to stay (Gene Norris).
January meeting Dinner at the AFB officers club (actually – just club). Then we toured the flight simulator.
February meeting – our big 30 th Anniversary Celebration Big event for us – 90 people attended. Our council and officers tried to call everyone in the section to invite them – we handed out call lists with 20 names to everyone. Held at Kelly AFB officers club. Fmr Chancellor of the University of Texas spoke, Fmr Secretary of the Air Force Fmr Deputy Admin NASA. We handed out our 30 th anniversary booklets. I should have informed the Air Force Base of this – I didnt know military protocol. No one was really annoyed, but there was a bit of dashing about at the last minute when they realized who was coming.
30 page 30 th Anniversary booklet We distributed a booklet to all attendees of our two big 30 th anniversary events. The booklet is scanned and on this CD. It had a history of the local section and speculation on the next 30 years. Southwest Research Institute helped with the layout and proofreading – we paid their editorial department a nominal fee.
March meeting – our 30 th Anniversary Panel Discussion This event was at a large private home in the Hill Country (80 people attended, I believe). The home owner was one of the panelists - they offered when I invited him to participate on the panel. It was expensive in that the tables and chairs were rented, people were paid for set-up, and a caterer was brought in, and there was a paid pianist (paid a lot more than the previous month). Arranging for 5 panel members was a lot of work, and there were two changes to the five who actually showed up after announcements. Notice the pin hole center top – this announcement I posted on a bulletin board at work.
Dont forget your thank you notes To the people who let us use their house for the meeting. A newspaper article appeared in the local paper (a columnist came) and generated some telephone calls and letters to me (all positive).
April meeting Mayor of San Antonio. Breakfast meeting at Southwest Research Institutes cafeteria. This was another I didnt know the protocol moment: Id arranged for a classic Texas dish of breakfast tacos. When the cafeteria manager heard who was coming to speak, he changed the menu to quiche without consulting me. An SwRI management person showed up and took over the mayor, even though this was an AIAA event. The mayor, though well meaning, primarily spoke about medical research and biotechnology – he had little knowledge of AIAA or SwRI.
Dont forget your officer elections Succession plan partially worked this year – i.e., two of three people moved up to the next higher office. It did not the next, and for the most part in recent years has not occurred.
May Honors and Awards Meeting Held at a local restaurant. Their party room was not very well isolated from the rest of the restaurant. Family was interested in his talk, and they attended, recorded and transcribed his remarks.
Our sections award for section service: Carl Crane Award Named after Carl Crane, a local member who pioneered instrumented flight. We gave this award this year to Jimmy Turner, a former and future (repeat) chairman. One of the things Im proud of is that this award has only been given to those who have contributed lots of work to the local section.
Submit your awards forms Now these are electronic. Having now reviewed these award applications, please be succinct (really – padding doesnt help).
Awards We received 1 st place Outstanding Section. We received 1 st place Membership (Neil Blaylock). We received 1 st place public policy (Scott Mullin). We received 2 nd place Newsletter (Scott Mullin). We failed to file for Young Member Activity (and all the officers were YMs). This set a trend that ran for many years – the next year our section had 4 first place and the next year we had first place in every category (Jimmy Turner).
First place awards are presented at ASM Back then, they were given at the May meeting in Washington (black tie). Now they are given at the January Aerospace Sciences Meeting awards luncheon. If you win, please try to attend.
Houston Section: A Large Section with a Primary Interest 1. Dinner meeting at Space Center Houston: Mike Coats, Johnson Space Center Director and featuring music by Dane Bryant and Lydia Salnikova. 2. We were in the astronaut gallery after hours (so after the tourists were gone). It was quiet. The space can fit 300+, we had 230 at our dinner meeting. 3. We talked with them several months in advance of the event. 4. $20 per plate, plated dinner. Have since had a subsequent event there also at $20/plate but a buffet - this food was very good. We charged attendees $15/plate. 5. We had to have the section insurance for this venue. Logistics of checking people in at the door of Space Center Houston and then directing them to the back of the facility are less than ideal. Sound system/support was very good for musical guests. Houston also regular does events at the NASA Gilruth Conference center, which caters meals., etc., and is very reasonable. Houston also does an annual full-day technical symposium – this is a lot of work. Chair/Sarah Shull
Houston Section Communications Improvements Have switched to a weekly e-mail to membership Have received positive feedback Utilizing Social Media LinkedIn Facebook Twitter Low participation so far but remain hopeful 62 Chair/Sarah Shull
Associate Fellow member upgrades for Southwest Texas (2010) Doris Lampe spearheaded an effort for ugrades Southwest Texas/REGION IV (9 of 24 nominations) 1. Srinivas V. Bettadpur 2. KuangTsan K. Chiang 3. Christina T. Chomel 4. Dale A. Cope 5. Michael T. Frye 6. Richard A. Gramann 7. Troy Irwin 8. R. Grant Lannon 9. Belinda G. Marchand Excerpt from an email: Thanks for the list, Dr. Walker. ALL NINE of the people who were nominated from the AIAA Southwest Texas Section got selected. That is so great! Thanks again for your help with references for the people who didn't have their own. When I was active in the AIAA Vandenberg Section, everyone who was reasonably active in Section activities, and especially those who worked on Vandenberg AFB, knew just about everyone else. That's definitely not the case here. The only one of the people for whom I put in nominations that I knew was Dale Cope, and that was only because I met him at council meetings when I was the Section Secretary last year. My day has been made! Doris Lampe
What does it take to have a successful year for an AIAA section? 1. Set some goals 2. Find some help 3. Work on things interesting to you 4. Have an advisor 5. Realize it will take time, and plan for it