It’s Time to Step Up

Commentary by Michael Mackowski, 2/9/14

It’s time to step up and get involved.

Many of you may know that besides leading the Phoenix chapters of NSS and TMS, I am also very involved in the local Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), a professional society for aerospace engineers. One of the areas I focus on is outreach to K-12 schools and educators. In our efforts to reach out to area schools, we are starting to get a lot of requests to send engineers to schools and related events like science fairs. The problem is that we do not have enough volunteers to meet all of these requests.

Some of the requests are unique to some of the programs the group has developed. An example is a cardboard wind tunnel we use to demonstrate basic concept in aerodynamics. One motive behind that demo is that it is something that can be built with a very low budget. This wind tunnel is stored in my garage and only a couple of our members are familiar enough with it to show it off.

But many other requests can be met by anyone with knowledge of science and technology, and that means you, my friends in the National Space Society and the Moon Society. Note that a lot of companies do not give employees time off to do volunteer work, which is shortsighted and unfortunate. So we, as a community of people who recognize the importance of science and technology to our society, must work together to inspire young people to pursue careers in those fields.

If you are at all interested in learning more details about some of these volunteer opportunities, please get in touch with me.

Another area that needs some new ideas and participation is one a bit more specific to our club, and that is Yuri’s Night (YN).

In the past few years, we’ve hooked on to a ready audience by having a YN social in conjunction with the Space Access conference that has been held in April for many years here in the Phoenix area. Unfortunately, Henry Vanderbilt will not be having the conference this year. With that, and inspired by the great job the ASU SEDS (Students for the Exploration and Development of Space) did hosting the SpaceVision conference last fall, I approached them about taking the lead on YN this year. It turned out that most of their members will be unavailable that weekend. Some will be in Houston working on a microgravity experiment or in Tucson at a conference.

In a way that’s a good thing – we are wide open on what we can do for Yuri’s Night. So I need ideas, and people who are willing to carry them out.

Please try to attend this Saturday’s meeting. Dr. Dave Williams of ASU will be talking about roving about the solar system. There will also be door prizes. And maybe we can find some folks willing to step up.

Mike Mackowski

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