Florida Space Coast Regional Cancelled

SAWE Blog - Wed, 2020-08-12 05:15

Recently, SAWE leadership met with Florida Space Coast Conference Chair, Pat Brown, to discuss the upcoming Regional Conference and Planning Meeting in October 2020. With an abundance of caution amid the ongoing Corona Virus pandemic and with cases and overall numbers in Florida not abating, we have decided to cancel the SAWE Regional Conference scheduled for 15-18 October.

The Planning Meeting will be moved one day to provide better scheduling with the local committee. A virtual Planning Meeting will be conducted on Friday, 16 October 2020. Agenda will be distributed to International Officers and local Committee shortly.

Virtual technical sessions will be discussed in the upcoming weeks. Virtual training will be considered for those courses that lend themselves best to that environment and aligned with the needs of the Florida Space Coast Chapter.

Categories: SAWE Blog

Update from the President

SAWE Blog - Tue, 2020-08-11 12:47

Your SAWE has been very busy and I’d like to share about several topics that I hope will excite and encourage your participation.  SAWE continues to be actively engaged in all aspects of our mission to provide technical support, industry guidance, training, and knowledge exchange.  If you’re not already involved, you need to get involved.  It will enhance your career and open new opportunities for learning, leadership, and development.

Developing The “New Normal” for SAWE

What is the new normal for SAWE?  Since I became a member in 1981, SAWE has had a model for international conferences, regional conferences, training, chapter meetings, and Board of Director’s meetings that has worked pretty well and hasn’t changed very much.  However, this year we were forced to make changes and hold events virtually.  While we were initially very nervous, apprehensive, and skeptical – it has worked well.  The TECH Fair and Training event experience provided a significant learning opportunity for enhanced capabilities and outreach.

Therefore we are considering new models for our activities.  Some of these will be temporary for the pandemic.  And some of them show promise for the long term.  These new models, based on online attendance, make it easier and more affordable to participate.

Energizing SAWE with Virtual Events

  • Standards and Practices workshops

Our industry committees will be meeting online several times during the year.  Typical agenda items are: developing new Recommended Practices (RP’s), review and update of existing RP’s, forum discussion of technical issues, and other industry guidance topics.  VP Standards and Practices, Doug Fisher, continues to facilitate progress on these vital committees’ work.

  • Technical Forums

This will be a new a new activity consisting of several online forum discussions.  VP Technical, Robert Zimmerman, needs your input for topics to discuss.  These forums will be about 1 hour long and scheduled throughout the rest of the year (thru May).  Your participation is required to make these forums a success.  So submit topics to Robert and look forward to the exchange of ideas with colleagues from across SAWE.

  • Training Courses

We will be offering several online training courses throughout the remainder of the year.  This worked well during the TECH Fair and want to ensure additional opportunities for training in the mass properties community.   Our instructors have adapted very well to this virtual environment and it is much easier for students to attend.  Not every course lends itself to the virtual version, but most of them are adaptable.  Be on the lookout for these opportunities and VP Training, Dan Rowley, schedules these training courses.

  • Certification Development workshops

We will hold a couple of online workshops for SAWE members to get an update on the status of the Certification Program development and to provide their feedback.  As our Certification Development committee progresses, we want to ensure that everyone gets a chance for input.  And we want to ensure that the program is well understood by mass properties certification candidates, companies that will sponsor employees to get certified, and the customer community anticipating qualification credentials.  These workshops will be facilitated by Certification chair, Andy Schuster.

  • Academic Advisor and Liaison development discussions

SAWE’s VP Academic Affairs, Dr. Donna Gerren, has implemented a program to increase student involvement in SAWE by creating direct links between chapters (Academic Liaisons) and universities (Academic Advisors).  There will be regular online meetings to discuss activities, opportunities, and brainstorm ideas as this innovative concept takes flight.

  • Happy Hours, a series

One of the opportunities at a conference is the informal Happy Hour.  Many relationships and even some useful work have been built during enjoyable conversation.  Happy hours were requested during the TECH Fair and we had several.  We found out that online happy hours work!  So we will be scheduling some regular happy hours for everyone to link in and visit.  It’s a great way to catch up with each other as well as meet some new folks.  Also, we learn more about each other’s background, hobbies, etc.  The Zoom tool has a feature called breakout rooms, so if a few folks want to talk aside from the big group, it’s possible.

Although “it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere”, we’ll schedule happy hours that are convenient for a few key time zones.

  • Shared Chapter Meetings

Chapter meetings are very important to SAWE membership.  This is where leadership and involvement in the organization usually begins.  Locally it is a great way to keep up with colleagues in your area and work on projects together.

The concept of shared chapter meetings mixes an online presentation to several chapters with separate chapter meetings in breakout rooms.  Since chapters cannot physically meet together, this is a great way to combine the program as well as have your separate meeting.

TECH Fair and Training: post conference report


Registration for the TECH Fair was about 120.  Attendance in each session ranged from 70-100.  Workshop attendance was higher than usual with the Military Aircraft session as high as 60.  Training enrollment was very good with AWBS topping the list at 47.  The Marine Estimation course was cancelled, however, due to only one person enrolled.  (we’ll be offering it again soon and try to get adequate enrollment for this very valuable course).


Each year SAWE’s International conference provides a substantial revenue stream for our yearly budget.  The TECH Fair and Training event raised much needed revenue toward replacing the cancelled Hamburg conference.  Independently the financial results were very good.  But with expenses of the cancelled conference, it fell a bit short.

General feedback:

Response from registrants of the TECH Fair and Training event has been overall very positive.  Folks liked the partial day schedule so that they were able to integrate it into their work day.  In addition, training budget was much more efficient and many companies were able to “send” their whole mass properties group.  Of course time wise, without need for travel, this virtual conference saved a lot of money and time.

Impact on the future:

This event was conducted out of necessity and was a significant challenge for the planning team to emulate the events and results of an in person conference with a virtual conference.  It was totally experimental.  The results are that we discovered opportunities and capabilities that can be very beneficial.  Especially as we define the “new normal”.

TECH Fair and Training planning committee team:

I want to thank the small team of dedicated SAWE members for pulling together the first SAWE virtual conference in such a short time and such a professional manner.  This effort was executed in about 2 months with no prior experience.  Every aspect of our regular conference was included (except handshakes).

President’s Priorities for 2020-2021 as presented at the Board of Director’s meeting May 23rd

  • Grow SAWE membership and participation
  • Successful SAWE TECH Fair and Training (virtual conference)
  • Training program continue to develop new courses and instructors
  • Cocoa Beach Conference, ensure it is a success
  • Academic Liaison Initiative – nurture and develop
  • Continue communication and workshopping activities
  • Mass Properties Engineer Certification – mature program development
  • Hamburg Conference contract cancellation – follow up
  • Develop additional ANSI accredited Recommended Practices

Best regards to all,

John Hargrave

SAWE President

Categories: SAWE Blog

Inclusion in Standards Development

SAWE Blog - Wed, 2020-07-29 06:09

The Women in Standards (WIS) organization is working to recognize and improve under representation of persons and groups in Standards Development. They have recently published the results of surveying Standards Developing Organizations (SDO’s) on this topic and SAWE was one of the participating organizations. See our response and encouragement in this area and obtain a copy of the survey results on the WIS website. here

Categories: SAWE Blog

SAWE Mass Properties Engineer’s Handbook Update

SAWE Blog - Fri, 2020-07-17 14:24

Over the past couple of years, the Southeast Region Chapter has been working to reformat the Handbook with the primary goal of improving the legibility of all text and figures. This post will give everyone an idea of our approach and current status as well as a look to the future.

Goals for this revision:

  • Use a consistent set of fonts and layout based on the SAWE Standards and Practices format.
  • Provide clarity to variables in equations.
  • Improve scanned images where possible.
  • Address some limited updates to the data (e.g. aircraft fuels, oils, etc.).
  • Reorganize some sections for better flow of information (e.g. Mass Properties Measurements section).
  • Add reference numbers for formulae, figures, and tables where possible.
Sample of the New Mass Properties Engineer’s Handbook

Current Status:

  • 15 of 20 sections delivered to the Technical Committee, and 2 sections in final edit.
  • 73% of approximately 400 draft pages completed with 54% delivered to the Technical Committee.
  • The Marine and Mathematics sections have been saved till last, and we are looking for help.

I would like to thank my team for all of the hard work and time they have volunteered to this effort. We hope to finish this revision in the very near future.

Future Vision:
Once we get this version complete I would like to propose that we revamp the Handbook to be more of a quick reference by moving most of the verbose text to newly created textbooks. We would keep general, cross-industry properties and equations in the front of the book, followed by sections for each industry (i.e. Commercial Aircraft, Ground Vehicles, Marine, Military Aircraft, Missile and Space, and Offshore). For instance the Commercial Aircraft section might include:

  • Definitions of Weight terms.
  • List of FAA and other countries guidelines on mass properties.
  • Standard weights for payload/passengers (by country/airline?).
  • Rules of thumb for departure weights.
  • Typical inventory items to account for during aircraft weighing (shortages/surpluses).
  • Tip-back prevention methods.
  • Engine weights for common engine types.
  • ?

Feel free to comment on this idea, and provide suggestions of quick reference items that would be useful in each of the industry sections. This blog forum is a great way of gathering and discussing any ideas that are out there on this topic, so please let me know what you think.


Categories: SAWE Blog

SAWE Tech Fair is almost here!

SAWE Blog - Sun, 2020-06-14 11:11

I’m very excited about the upcoming SAWE TECH Fair and Training. It’s only a week away! It’s the first time we’ve been able to offer an event with such affordable pricing and easy attendance. I’m hoping that if you haven’t signed up already, you will within this coming week. For details and registration go to

The TECH Fair has most all of the elements of our conferences without actually traveling to be together. We have special speakers, technical presentations, a forum discussion, vendor presentations, 5 training courses, 6 industry committee workshops, presentations of special awards, announcement of scholarship winners, and more. But the essential element is YOU! So please be sure to join us.

I want to thank the TECH Fair and Training planning committee for pulling this unprecedented event together so quickly and efficiently. Engineers are known for getting the job done, whatever it takes. And this is yet another example how talented, resilient, and resourceful our organization can be. The goal of the TECH Fair and Training is meet SAWE’s mission of providing technical exchange to the mass properties community. Please join us in completing
this goal with your attendance and participation.

Thanks – see you at the TECH Fair!
John Hargrave
SAWE President

Categories: SAWE Blog

DJI Drone Deadlift Test

SAWE Blog - Fri, 2020-06-05 10:31

Here’s a fun article. Got me thinking about new mission profiles from my #DJIMavicMini

DJI Mavic Air 2 can lift a lot more than its body weight
Categories: SAWE Blog

SAWE TECH Fair and Training: Question and Answer Session

SAWE Blog - Mon, 2020-06-01 13:17

Mass Properties Community,
I hope you’ve already heard the news, but if you haven’t, SAWE is holding a TECH Fair and Training Conference online starting June 22 that will run for 3 weeks!
Checkout for general information and registration.

We’ve designed the schedule to accommodate both US and European time zones. Also, we’ve spread the activities such that attendees can both attend the conference part of the day and take care of work the rest of the day.

This is a great opportunity to experience an SAWE International Conference without traveling, without extended time away from work, and at very affordable costs. The entire Technical Sessions, Forum discussion, Standards and Practices joint sessions, and Industry Committee Workshops (the first 2 weeks) are available at one low price of $199.
Five training courses are offered at all time low prices:
• AWBS $350
• Designing the Aircraft of the Future $600
• Structural Weight Optimization for Mass Properties Engineers $300
• Developing Basic Parametric Models $300
• Marine Vehicle Weight Estimating $300

This virtual conference is a first for SAWE. We’ll be using the Zoom tools to connect us all.
I want to invite everyone to join me in a pre-conference Zoom meeting to discuss details of the conference and answer any questions you may have.

Please join me and the TECH Fair and Training team this Wednesday, June 3rd, at 7am Pacific by using the link below. We’re looking forward to your participation.

SAWE Tech Fair and Training Q&A Zoom Meeting

John Hargrave
SAWE President

Download an Outlook Calendar meeting file (.ics) to add the SAWE Tech Fair and Training Q&A Zoom Meeting to your calendar:

Categories: SAWE Blog

Finder’s Fee for chapters recruiting a Corporate Partner or Company Member

SAWE Blog - Fri, 2020-05-29 02:56

APPROVED at the SAWE Board of Directors meeting on Saturday May 23, 2020 was the following proposal: “It is being proposed that the SAWE Inc offer a 25% one time “Finder’s Fee” to a chapter for enlisting a company to join/rejoin the SAWE as a Corporate Partner or Company Member for the first time or after at least a 3 year lapse. 25% coincides with the chapter portion of yearly individual membership dues. Web research has shown “Finder’s Fees” charged up to 35%. The 25% Finder’s Fee will be paid based on the first year dues of at least a 2 year stint as a CPCM at the same membership level or greater for years beyond the first year. The Finder’s Fee would be paid after the 2nd year dues are received. The recruitment of a new company to the SAWE membership will bolster both the local chapter and SAWE as a whole through increased participation toward the goals of the Mass Properties Engineering profession. A “Finder’s Fee” will incentivize chapters to increase efforts to gain new CPCMs as it will allow the chapter more capability to plan and host events such as a regional workshop / conference.”

Categories: SAWE Blog

Solicitation for Consensus Body Members – Flight Vehicle Coordinate Systems, ANSI/SAWE STD A-6

SAWE Blog - Sun, 2020-05-17 06:14

SA Layout Template (NY-FILEMAKER-18)

The second solicitation for Consensus Body members for development of ANSI/SAWE Standard A-6 has posted publicly at  ANSI Standards Action May 15, 2020, page 40. With a response end date of 6/14/2020. This is a Call for Members (ANS Consensus Bodies) notice for directly and materially affected parties who are interested in participating as a member of an ANS consensus body. You do not have to be an SAWE member to participate in this Consensus Body.

We are  particularly looking to achieve balance of the consensus body which is currently heavy with the category User-Government. Other categories are under represented and persons wishing to participate with one of those representations in mind are welcomed on a priority basis. Others are welcome to apply as well, The participatory categories are:

  • producer: the product design/developer typically the manufacturer of the product in question
  • user-industrial: Where the standards activity in question deals with an industrial product, such as steel or insulation used in transformers, an appropriate user participant is the industrial user of the product.
  • user-government: Where the standards activity in question is likely to result in a standard that may become the basis for government agency procurement, an appropriate user participant is the representative of that government agency.
  • general interest: where an overseeing interested party may participate or other possible participant not involved in producing, directly using, or acquiring the product as a government user

A current draft of the standard is available from the contact noted below:

SAWE (Society of Allied Weights Engineers)

Contact: Jeffrey Cerro, (757) 570-1386,;

NASA Langley Research Center, MS 451, 1 N. Dryden Street, B1209, Hampton, VA 23681

New Standard

BSR/SAWE STD A-06-202X, Standard Coordinate System for Reporting the Mass Properties of Flight Vehicles RP A-6 (new standard)

Stakeholders: Aircraft, space craft, launch vehicle developers, and users.

Project Need: The recommended practice needs to be updated to incorporate additional scope, update relevant aspects that have evolved since the last major update [1999], and also go through the ANSI process to provide accredited consensus across the industry. Specifically, the RP to be updated is to include the scope of inertia topics that have impacted the missiles and space industry in the past and possibly prevent possible issues in the future. Typically used coordinate systems have also evolved over time and the recommended references need to be expanded upon to be more relevant. Incorporating the proposed additional scope into the standard will allow mass properties engineers to reduce errors or technical challenges regarding inertias and also update the coordinate system and other reporting aspect to be more current with respect to daily practices in the industry.

This standard will provide coordinate system designations for flight vehicles and standards for the placement of flight vehicle mass, center of gravity, and inertia with respect to vehicle features. Launch, space, and atmospheric vehicles are included in this standard.

Categories: SAWE Blog

SAWE Tech Fair Flyer

SAWE Blog - Mon, 2020-05-11 07:07

We are excited to announce the SAWE Tech Fair, a three week virtual event! See the attached flyer for more information. Please share and save the dates! More information to come as everything becomes finalized.

Categories: SAWE Blog

How much does the ocean weigh?

SAWE Blog - Sun, 2020-05-10 12:42

Quick – how much does the ocean weigh?

Let’s say you’ve recently been spending a lot of time at home with a small child. You foolishly told them you can’t play right now because you’re busy doing important work calculating the weight of stuff. This has sparked their interest. And they won’t let go of that question.

Sigh. I don’t know how much the ocean weighs. I couldn’t even guess how many zeroes are in the number.

Or could I?

70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in ocean. I’ve watched enough nature shows to remember that’s about right. What would that surface area be? Let’s assume the Earth is a sphere (it’s not, but it’s close enough). What’s the formula for the surface area of a sphere? I don’t remember and my Weight Engineer’s Handbook is in the office. No matter – let’s assume Earth is a cube instead. I know how to find the surface area of a cube.

I know what you’re thinking – working from home with a hypothetical kid asking dumb questions all day has driven me bonkers. We can’t assume the Earth is a cube. But for this estimate we can. All I’m looking for is a number within a few orders of magnitude of reality. The difference between a sphere’s surface area and a cube’s (with the cube’s edge the same length as the sphere’s diameter) is negligible.

The surface area of a cube is six times the area of one side of height H, or 6xH². Since our cube’s height is the same as our sphere’s diameter, we need to know Earth’s diameter. Because “Apollo 13” is an awesome movie I know that a spacecraft in low Earth orbit moves about 17,500 miles per hour and takes 90 minutes to complete an orbit. That gives a circumference of 26,250 miles and a diameter of 8360 miles. Let’s call it 8,000 miles because I read somewhere that low Earth orbit is about 50 miles up, the Earth is rotating under the spacecraft and I’m kidding myself if I’m going to assume any precision in this calculation.

That gives us an ocean surface area on our Earth-cube of 70% x 6 x 8000² = 269 million square miles.

I don’t know the average depth of the ocean, but I know most of it’s deep. I’m guessing between one and ten miles because I heard “miles” and ocean depth mentioned together somewhere. Let’s say two miles deep. That gives us a total volume of 538 million cubic miles.

Every weight engineer knows the density of water – it’s 1 gram per milliliter. That’s fresh water – salty ocean water is denser, close enough. I remember it that way because I’m an expatriate Canadian and the metric system is a tenacious thing. No matter, I can convert. There are 454 grams in a pound (thanks, Canadian food packaging!), a milliliter is the same as a cubic centimeter and there are 2.54 centimeters in an inch. Put that all together and you get a water density of 0.036 lb/in³, or 9,181,017,236,653 pounds per cubic mile. Time for scientific notation: 9.2x10E11 pounds per cubic mile.

At a volume of 538 million cubic miles, our ocean weighs 4.9x10E20 pounds.

How did I do? According to the internet, “Earth’s ocean is made up of more than 20 seas and four oceans, weighing an estimated 1,450,000,000,000,000,000 short tons” – or 2.9x10E20 pounds.

There you go, kid. My estimate came within 2x the real value. That’s pretty good for starting out with no earthly idea!

This is called “Fermi approximation”, named after World War Two-era physicist Enrico Fermi, who was known for making good approximate calculations with little to no data. It’s a great way to get a quick rough guess before moving on to more precise methods.

My first boss when I was a brand new mass properties engineer used this method to devastating effect. He would send me off to spend days researching, interviewing designers and analysts, drawing sketches and running calculations to estimate the weight impact of a potential design change. When I returned, he would knock off an estimate in a few seconds that would invariably be within spitting distance of my hours of work. It was humbling, and I would ask him why he made me go to the effort. He’d say his method is quick, but now I have the data to back it up. He didn’t say it also made me a better mass properties engineer, by giving me a powerful tool to quickly understand the size of a thing, whether it’s a potential weight impact or the number of hours a task might take – or the answer to a childish question.

If you like hearing about the techniques, methods and experiences of other weight engineers, I encourage you to attend the 2020 SAWE Tech Fair, starting June 22. A wide range of technical presentations, industry seminars and training classes will be featured, all live and online, presented by your mass properties colleagues.

Categories: SAWE Blog

SAWE TECH Fair and Training – Save the dates

SAWE Blog - Tue, 2020-05-05 06:12

The first ever SAWE TECH Fair and Training will start June 22nd and run over a three-week period.  The first week will focus on Technical Presentations.  The second week will focus on Standards & Practices with two joint sessions and the Industry Committee workshops.  There will be five training courses filling out the schedule.  Also, we’ll have presentations from our SAWE exhibitor and sponsor community to update us on their latest products.

The detailed schedule and pricing will be finalized soon.  But we want to share that the TECH Fair will be a great opportunity at very good price.  In addition, we’re working the schedule to have a minimal impact on workdays.  The SAWE TECH Fair and Training will be a good value for your training budget.

I urge you to make plans to participate and please spread the word.

Here’s a preliminary line up of what’s coming at the online SAWE TECH Fair and Training.

Live, Online SAWE Training Courses to be offered

  • Automated Weight and Balance System (AWBS)
  • Designing the Aircraft of the Future
  • Marine Vehicle Weight Estimating Methodology
  • Structural Weight Optimization for Mass Properties Engineers
  • Developing Basic Parametric Methods

Technical Presentations Planned

  • Keynote Address:  Dr. Dan Raymer of Conceptual Research Corporation “Why Weight Engineers are So Dang Important, and Why Weights Engineers Get All the Blame”
  • Weight and Balance Challenges for Hybrid Electric Propulsion System
  • Hydrogen Fuel Cell Power System Weight Challenges in VTOL Aircraft
  • Folding Wings – Benefits in Aircraft Design Despite Local Mass Increase
  • Use of Mass Growth Allowance to Dynamically Manage Mass Risk
  • Rotorcraft Mass Assessment in an Integrated Design Framework
  • Development of the Mass Properties Certification Program
  • A Portable Device for Measuring the CoG: Design, Error Analysis and Calibration
  • Investigation of an On-board Weight and Balance System for a Helicopter Equipped with Skid Landing Gear
  • Theoretical and Experimental Evaluation of the Flexibility of the Test Rig on Inertia Property Measurement
  • Aft Perpendicular… an Afterthought
  • Finding the Balance Between Accuracy and Practicality In Deadweight Audits
  • Dynamic Computer Simulation of Aircraft Buoyancy
  • Class II & 1/2 Mass Estimation of Light Aircraft Composite Wings
  • CFRP Density Uncertainties and its Overall Mass Impact
  • Strategies for the Composite Stiffened Panel Topology Optimization for Minimum Weight
  • One fits all? A Comparison of Weight Estimation Methods for Preliminary Aircraft Design
  • Evaluation and analysis of applying a MBSE Approach for optimizing Mass Properties Parameters in Commercial Aircraft Design
  • Advanced Weight Forecasting Based on Physical/Mechanical Similarity of Components During Early Development of Land Vehicles, Aircraft and Spacecrafts
  • Forum discussion topic:  The Role of Statistics in Mass Properties Engineering

Standards & Practices

  • Status of Recommended Practices
  • Overview of Recommended Practice development process
  • Certification Development Participation and Review
  • Discussion of development of a standard passenger weight guideline for the FAA as a standard practice for airline usage
  • Review of RP’s A-7 and A-8
  • Military Aircraft Workshop (agenda pending)
  • Marine Workshop (agenda pending)
  • Missiles & Space Workshop (agenda pending)
  • Offshore Workshop (agenda pending)
  • Ground Vehicle Workshop (agenda pending)
  • Airline Affairs Workshop (agenda pending)
Categories: SAWE Blog