VASEM Announces Aerospace Study

“This is what we do best. This is why we created VASEM” – Jim Aylor, Study Chair

Virginia needs a blueprint upon which to enhance the foundation of our aerospace and aviation industry, create new, good paying jobs here in the commonwealth, and better compete for large and small scale economic development projects, according to Delegate David Yancey (R-Newport News). Delegate Yancey, a builder by trade, wants to have a clear set of plans – a blueprint – off of which the General Assembly and related aerospace interests in Virginia can use to grow.

The legislation, House Joint Resolution 97, passed the General Assembly in the spring and requires a study titled “A Blueprint for the Growth of the Virginia Aviation and Aerospace Industry” to be completed by the Joint Commission for Technology and Science, a General Assembly in-house research agency, by December 31st, 2016. Because of the technical nature of the study, Delegate Yancey requested the Virginia Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine by name in the legislation to assist with the study.

“This is what we do best. This is why we created VASEM” according to Jim Aylor, Secretary Treasurer of VASEM and co-chair of the study. Dr. Aylor, a former Dean of the College of Engineering at UVA is no stranger to aerospace or working with the Commonwealth. As a UVA Dean, his department invested heavily in high tech training facilities that placed UVA as the only engineering school in the country to use a serious flight simulator in an engineering lab. Dr. Aylor recently served several years on the Board of Directors for the National Institute for Aerospace, a Hampton Virginia based national organization that leads research with government, academia, and industrial partners to stimulate innovation and creativity.

Study chair, A. Thomas Young, may just be the Dean of the Aerospace research and business community. Mr. Young, also a VASEM board member, was executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Corporation. Prior to that, Mr. Young was Director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland from 1980 to 1982. During a 12-year career with NASA, he served as Deputy Director of the Ames Research Center in California, Director of the Planetary Program in the Office of Space Science at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and as Mission Director of the Project Viking Mars landing program at Langley Research Center in Virginia.

“Our (VASEM’s) caliber of expertise allows me and (study co-chair) Tom Young to get the right people at the table, ask the right questions, and turn around an actionable report to the General Assembly in a short amount of time” However he added “I can see this study requiring follow up with additional input if the General Assembly requests.”

This is a new effort for the General Assembly and JCOTS. The technical expertise required by the study and provided by VASEM is a deviation from the typical work plans. This first-of-its-kind partnership with the state government is a primary goal of VASEM: to be a science and technology advisor to Virginia, when called upon.


-Drew Densmore, VASEM