Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bolden's Talk to WIA and AIAA

Today, December 9, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden addressed a joint luncheon organized by Women in Aerospace and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Lori Garver gave a friendly introduction to Bolden noting that he was two star Marine General and a four time astronaut. A friend of Bolden's named Rocky told Lori "You have won the lottery."

Charlie then stepped to the podium. He began by stating that it was an honor to be here. He added that Lori was a key member of his team. The numbers of women in aerospace today is a tribute to the work of WIA in the past two decades. He also acknowledged the presence of AIAA President Dave Thompson.

Moving on to the meat of his talk, Bolden said he was not going to talk about the Augustine committee report.

President Obama has said to Bolden that NASA must inspire future generations of Americans Bolden stated that NASA is vital to national leadership in technology, the economy and STEM.

Bolden added that more than inspiration was needed. Young people needed education and experience as well. NASA is reaching out to teachers directly about STEM. Education needed to be about the real world, not theoretical models. He reported on work that showed that students from poor families can excel in educational achievement.

Bolden said it was important to attract the young to NASA. It will be necessary to attract the best and most diverse young people into tech fields, especially NASA.

Mid career people are looking to advance. WIA and AIAA have multiple career development activities to help such people. Currently eight out of ten NASA centers have mentoring programs to assist young people and mid career people.

Bolden said it was necessary to get the different generations talking to each other.

Bolden said that NASA must be the developers of technologies that drive the economy. It is necessary to work across centers and with private industry.

Bolden said that NASA must do a better job of explaining who we are and what we do.

He made a few comments about Copenhagen. He plugged NASA's Earth system science as vital to helping with the global warming phenomenon and much else.

He noted his vision encompasses much, but one that NASA and the industry can do.

Bolden concluded by saying that change is coming. There will be more international cooperation, some with nontraditional powers (e.g., China).

NASA would do whatever it could to advance this great nation. He observed that the United States, unlike other nations, is diverse in its population. People came here seeking freedom to do new things. We are the leaders of the free world. He once again brought up STEM education.

Bolden took a few questions. One was on the topic of ITAR. Bolden simply replied Google "Gates ITAR." Secretary of Defense Gates is taking strong action to address this problem.

That completes my report. I will have some thoughts of my own in the next few days.