I had the pleasure of being raised in the world of aeromodeling from a very early age by a father who was trained in electrical engineering and associated with the aerospace industry. For me, this included free flight, model rockets, and many types of RC aircraft, mainly RC sailplanes. I soloed on RC at age 9, and model aviation has been central to my life ever since. Aerodynamics became intuitive, and my playground - the great sky above us - was a wind tunnel for experimentation. I’ve been a member of the Torrey Pines Gulls since the 1970s, as well as other AMA clubs, and am a Leader Member, Contest Director, and Fellow of the AMA. It’s very important to me that the public understands the importance of model aviation to STEM education and that we preserve locations that allow us to enjoy the hobby. In the early 2000s I helped establish the National Aeromodeling Heritage Program as a way of preserving historic aeromodeling sites for future generations. More recently I helped the AMA as a member of the Model Aircraft Standards Committee that helped work through the dynamic challenges of FAA airspace legislation.
As CEO of a computer science firm in San Diego, I work with science and engineering every day. I enjoy using really smart computers to help solve large-scale human problems. During my Ph.D. at UCLA, I had the pleasure of assisting the school AIAA team as their pilot in the annual Build-and-Fly competition. We didn’t place, but it was a great learning experience for everyone involved. As Adjunct Faculty at San Diego State University in the Computational Science Research Center as well as the Department of Aerospace Engineering, I enjoy conveying an interest in STEM to college freshmen. In the Fall semester I teach an introductory course on Aerospace Engineering (AE123), and use model airplanes as instructional tools. Students are required to build free flight rubber-band models and compete in either duration or distance tasks as a part of their grade. Over the last 5 years, the number of students in the course has doubled from 85 to 160. I also volunteer my time as an advisor to AeroED Group, an association of aerospace professionals in San Diego advancing STEM education.
I enjoy doing research and writing about aviation history. It is interesting to realize that many pioneer aviators used model airplanes to test their theories before developing their larger “full-scale” designs. Model aviation predates manned aviation! I provide regular lectures to the public about these stories and have authored three books, mainly about the history of gliding. It is particularly enjoyable to give such lectures to elementary schools and watch as kids think about what it was like to grow up in a time when heavier-than-air flight was considered “impossible.” Whenever someone says that something is impossible, just consider it as a challenge to dream big, work hard, and convert the impossible into reality.
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