Former commander kicks off new association's debut event

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The debut of the Arnold Association of Professional Societies (AAPS) featured former center commander retired Maj. Gen. Pat Condon as the event's guest speaker.

Condon is the former president and chairman of the board of the Air Force Association (AFA).

The event at the Arnold Lakeside Club Oct. 29 marked the official signing of the AAPS charter by Arnold Engineering Development Center's (AEDC) Commander Col. Art Huber, Aerospace Testing Alliance General Manager Dr. David Elrod, representatives from the H. H. Arnold Memorial Chapter of the Air Force Association and local representatives of five technical societies making up the new organization.

These societies include the Tennessee Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the Tullahoma Chapter of the Tennessee Society of Professional Engineers (TSPE), the Volunteer Chapter of the International Test and Evaluation Association (ITEA), the North Alabama Section of the International Society of Automation (ISA) and the Highland Rim Section of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

Condon's presentation, "Why Air Forces fail," which followed the charter signing, outlined the underlying reasons why the air forces of different nations have failed over the past 100 years of powered flight.

In his talk, Condon also drew a parallel with ground testing facilities potentially facing the same fate. He said factors like budget constraints, limited perspectives of current conflicts and threats, failure to plan for the long term and the imbalance between an aging technical work force and new engineers and scientists, provide challenges an organization like the AAPS could help to address.

"In terms of what they're doing here today by signing this charter, I think it is exactly the right thing to do," he said. "In fact, I mentioned to Colonel Huber that I really applaud his efforts in trying to pull these associations and societies together because it is clear to me that you can do a lot more as a larger group than you can as six independent and smaller groups. Some synergies will come about just due to the larger numbers.

"In terms of emphasis on science, technology, math and so forth across the country, I think that we could do a lot better if there was some way to coordinate the efforts of all of these independent entities.

"Every college of engineering in this country has a program aimed at interesting grade school kids in math, science and engineering. Imagine the power if we could harness all of that effort. It's kind of like computing power, you take individual little computing cells all around the country, they're very capable and indeed would work.

 But imagine the power you could get by harnessing all those things together. We're trying to encourage a more collaborative effort. Emphasis from the commander and our contractor's leadership makes a huge difference."

Condon served as vice commander at AEDC and then commander between 1986 and 1989. His last assignment was as commander of the Ogden Air Logistics Center, Hill AFB, Utah.

Tom Best, Arnold's technical director of the plans and programs directorate, said AAPS will have a multiplier effect in helping to achieve the mission the different societies share.

"AAPS will help reduce the workload on the AEDC professional societies by having joint society meetings," he said. "The logistics of these meetings will be rotated among the member societies.

"Also, the individual members of the societies will be invited to all the joint meetings thus assuring a larger audience to hear the invited speakers. By having active professional societies at AEDC if helps us along the path of reinvigorating the technical excellence of our work force.

As was said by the societies, a person's technical excellence is enhanced by participation in a society through networking, presenting work at peer attended meetings, organizing society activities and participating in the society offered training."

Best said an organization like AAPS will enable active societies to present a more unified front and effective way to work with secondary schools and universities in encouraging students to pursue science, technical, engineering and math curriculums and careers.

"This will help address some of those concerns Pat Condon voiced in his talk - to replace the aging technical work force currently meeting the Air Force's needs," he said.