2024 Conference Abstracts – The Final Week’s Countdown

Have you dreamed of enhancing your career, advancing within your company, being admired by your peers and supervisors? A well-proven way of doing this and more is by writing and presenting a paper at an International Conference.  Even better is receiving recognition at a conference for your work.  And how do you do that?  Be sure that your paper is judged, because if it misses the judging, it will miss out on consideration for Best Paper or Special Recognition.  

One final question, is this a big deal?  The answer to that is definitely YES!, as I can tell you from experience. The fact that my paper garnered a Best Paper award led directly to promotion and plum assignments at work and to a satisfying series of leadership positions within the SAWE.

The Society of Allied Weight Engineers 2024 Conference on Mass Properties Engineering is coming in May.  Abstracts for Professional (not Student) papers to be presented at the conference are due to be received by the SAWE by midnight on January 19, 2024 for the paper to be eligible for judging for the Mike Hackney Best Paper Award.  Similarly, the paper itself is due by midnight on April 15, 2024 to meet the criteria for Best Paper judging.  Both milestones must be met to ensure the paper is included in the judging.  Abstracts (and papers can be submitted via the web at https://www.sawe.org/technical/papers/submittal or by sending them by email to technical@sawe.org. Papers that miss the deadlines may still be submitted and presented, however they will not be considered for Best Paper.  

So, I ask you again – Have you dreamed of enhancing your career?  Act on your dreams and reap the rewards.

Why Should You Become a Mentee?

I am an accomplished mass properties engineer.  I retired from a major aerospace company as a member of the Senior Engineering Staff.  I have certification as an Expert Mass Properties Engineer (EMPE), and having served the SAWE in multiple capacities, I have been awarded the Richard Boynton Lifetime Achievement Award.  However, I wasn’t always the engineer I am today.

Once upon a time, I was a fresh-faced college graduate who started my first real engineering job at one of the aircraft companies in Wichita.  I did not run across a fairy godmother who waved her magic wand and proclaimed, “You are now a mass properties guru.”  Until I had my interview at the company, I had not even heard of mass properties engineering.  Most of what I now know regarding mass properties came from learning from others – on the job and off the job training, reading, observing, and asking questions.  Every one of these methods involves transfer of knowledge from one or more people to another.  

Some of this knowledge transfer is eye opening, setting the stage for later use.  As an example, while in college I went to one of my professors, Dr. Langer, with a question.  I don’t even remember what the question was and what the answer he gave was, because what struck me was something I observed, and used extensively in my career.  He was sitting cross-legged on his desk, a pad of paper on one knee and a textbook on the other.  He was busy writing on the pad.  After our “official” business was over, I asked him what he was doing, and he told me he was going through a textbook. He was considering using it and was verifying that he could reproduce the mathematical equations in the book step-by-step.  In other words, he was both making sure the equations were correct, while also using his knowledge to work out the answer.  He said something I can recall nearly 50 years later, “You might be able to find something in a book, but it is much better for understanding to work it out for yourself.”  That was true mentoring, freely given with the cost of tuition.

At the aircraft company, I had a lot to learn.  Yes, I could determine a volume and multiply by a density to get an object’s mass and calculate its center of gravity.  But – I also knew there was lot I didn’t know.  One day I was asked to determine a balance mass for a control surface.  My brain went into neutral, and I just couldn’t see how to do it.  Had I only remembered Dr. Langer’s advice, I could have come up with the answer.  Instead, I headed back to the senior engineer who had given me the task and confessed I couldn’t see how to calculate the desired balance mass.  Instead of admonishing me, he drew me a diagram and went over the mechanics without working out the answer.  In other words, he mentored me on determining balancing objects.  I was his mentee – and I learned several lessons in this simple session.  First, I learned about balancing.  Secondly, by examining how it was done, I could see how I could have derived the correct formulation of the equation.  Thirdly, I found I could seek out guidance and not be thought a moron. And fourthly, I recalled Dr. Langer’s lesson and realized that even a non-obvious answer can be “discovered” by going back to basics and working from there.

From the aircraft company, I changed companies and found myself working for a major aerospace corporation.  I was initially assigned as an associate engineer to a much older mass properties engineer.  By this time, I had a solid understanding of basic mass properties.  What I learned working for this man was how to thrive in a highly competitive environment, using office politics to your advantage, avoiding pitfalls, and how to ensure that you aren’t the “invisible engineer”.  That isn’t to say that there were not technical challenges to work out, but this era of being a mentee enabled me to be a survivor when the coming downturns meant that 2/3 of the workforce disappeared either through self-induced attrition or layoffs.  But before the downturn, I was given a series of increasingly responsible positions culminating in assignment to a major proposal.  When we won the proposal, I was somewhat deflated to learn that a senior engineer was assigned in the lead mass properties position.  Rather than complain, I decided that here was someone I could really learn from.  He was an SAWE Honorary Fellow, and from him I benefited from his lifetime’s knowledge of technical and non-technical life in aerospace.  I would not have become the engineer I am without having him as a mentor.

I had one more mentee experience having to do with getting a spinning spacecraft to naturally spin about a specific axis.  I called my department head and he came over and tried to explain what that entailed.  Finally, he said something that made me write out the equations and rearrange them until it was obvious what had to be done to get the desired answer.  From that, I wrote a program so that as the design evolved, I could make adjustments to keep the axis aligned.

I took all this knowledge that had been passed to me and utilized it in the years ahead.  As a mentee, I had evolved from a boneheaded neophyte who couldn’t balance a control surface, to the company expert in mass properties.  I became a mentor to others.  I wrote papers, technical articles, led teams to implement mass properties tasks, designed measurement apparatus that could encompass a wide CG range while determining Moments of Inertia.  Along the way I was elected and appointed to leadership positions in the SAWE.  And each step of the way was due to, in the words of Isaac Newton, “Standing on the shoulders of giants,” in other words “l leveraged other’s knowledge to my advantage by being their mentee.”

And this is why, at almost any stage of your career, you should become someone’s mentee.

Calling All Authors

The SAWE’s 3rd Virtual Conference (83rd Annual International Conference on Mass Properties) is coming in May 20 – 24, 2024.  Submit your abstracts for a Paper or Presentation for this conference by sending your abstract to technical@sawe.org or by using the SAWE’s Abstract and Paper submittal form at https://www.sawe.org/technical/papers/submittal.

Abstracts are received by the 15th of December, 2023 will have your name and Paper or Presentation title included in the initial Conference Announcement.  Student authors should submit their abstracts by the 11th of March 2024 to ensure that your paper is assigned to the correct technical track.

The SAWE thanks each author for the time and effort to create and present their work on the International (virtual) stage and we look forward to seeing your abstracts.

Becoming a Mentee – “If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get”

What common characteristic does a successful Mass Properties Engineer share with a moderately successful 1970’s rock band?  Both have benefited from a philosophy that can be summed up as “If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get.”   This was a favorite phrase of my father’s, useful in many aspects of his life.  He used it to get into college at an early age, he used it when he wanted a more desirable route while flying in the IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) system.  He used it to expand his areas of expertise in his chosen field.  And he used it when he acquired automobiles, when choosing  a life partner, and even in his final days to go the way he wished.

To say that anyone can’t learn from this is to ignore sage advice.  The SAWE has taken this philosophy and used it to create a means for transferring knowledge – The SAWE Mentoring Program is in essence a way for our membership to ask for aid in increasing their knowledge and skills.  The program went live at the end of May, we have highly experienced members who volunteered their time and expertise as Mentors.  Now we are actively seeking not only more Mentors, but members who are seeking to expand their own expertise as Mentees.  Even experienced members can find benefit as a Mentee and request a Mentor.  Don’t be shy – be Mentee!

I have been both a Mentee and a Mentor. One situation I had that pushed me to seek a Mentor I have already written about (A Mentoring Odyssey first published in issue 77-2 of Weight Engineering – article available at https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/3z1d5szp7724wk8nimdxi/A-Mentoring-Odyssey-extracted.pdf?rlkey=9iaj2qg06l1a8pfpxhj4wcf7j&dl=0).  The mass properties problem I was trying to solve was definitely a case where “If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get” in action.  I asked, became a Mentee seeking Mentor, and the rest is history.

What about that rock group mentioned above?  In 1967, Berkeley dropout Jann Wenner founded a music and counter-culture magazine called Rolling Stone.  It quickly became THE magazine for coverage of the music scene and cultural commentary by writers such as Hunter S. Thompson.  To be featured on the cover of the magazine was a measure of an artist’s prestige.  The very first cover, establishing the magnitude of the featured artist, was John Lennon, then the acknowledged leader of the Beatles.  Thereafter, the cover was a tangible indication that an artist had “arrived”.  By 1972, a group fronted by one-eyed singer Ray Sawyer had seen modest success, with a Shel Silverstein composed song, Sylvia’s Mother, which hit the Top 5. The group wanted more, and Sawyer and Silverstein hit gold with the next song, a classic case of If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Gethttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuvfIePDbgY.  The song parodied the life of a rock band, but it was basically a request to be featured on the cover of Jann Wenner’s magazine.   Wenner took notice – it was certainly free advertising for him, and the band was featured on his magazine’s cover in March 1973.

What do you need help with?  Contact the SAWE and click the Apply as a Mentee button at https://www.sawe.org/training/mentoring/.

2023 SAWE Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to our 2023 SAWE Scholarship Winners! Two scholarships were awarded this year at the 82nd Annual International Conference on Mass Properties in Cocoa Beach Florida on May 24th. Dylan Van Holton received the SAWE Dirk Petersen Scholarship and Delaney Robertson received the SAWE Jim Valentine Memorial Scholarship. For more information, please visit https://www.sawe.org/students/sawe-scholarship-awards/. Congratulations again to our winners, and best wishes on your academic careers!

The SAWE Mentoring Program IOC Is Nearly Here

Initial Operating Capability (IOC) – the point in a program’s life when the system achieves sufficient functionality to be usefully deployed.

The Mentoring Committee has been relentlessly charging forward towards the unleashing of the SAWE Mentoring Program at the Cocoa Beach Conference.  The first Mentors have volunteered, the committee has committed to the Charter, the website is nearly complete, and the Mentor Application is online.  Currently the committee is deep into testing the methodology of Mentor/Mentee matching, using a Mentee Application that will soon be online for the general SAWE population to utilize.  At that point, the SAWE Mentoring Program will officially go truly live.

We desire more veteran Mass Properties Practitioners to volunteer as Mentors.  This is easy to do, using the online form at https://www.sawe.org/training/mentoring/ and clicking the Apply as a Mentor button.  Shortly before the Cocoa Beach Conference, the companion Apply as a Mentee button will also become active.  Mentees can then be matched with suitable Mentors, and the transfer of knowledge that is the lifeblood of the SAWE can begin.

The SAWE Mentoring Program is unique to the SAWE – no other organization has the breadth of experience or has the span of weights-related tasks as those performed by SAWE members working in the complex field of mass properties.  Our membership spans the globe and has members in every endeavor that employ mass properties personnel.  Some of those have years of experience they can share, while others need to gain the knowledge required to acquire this experience.  The SAWE Mentoring Program will meld these two forces, creating a knowledgeable workforce that benefits both the individual members and their organizations.  And although invaluable, it won’t cost a member a single cent, as this is just one of the benefits of SAWE membership.

Be On the Look Out (BOLO in law enforcement lingo) for the rollout of the SAWE Mentoring Program.  It will be complete by the opening of the 82nd International Conference on Mass Properties on May 20, 2023 in Cocoa Beach Florida.  Those who will be attending can witness this rollout as a special presentation on Monday, May 23rd, and any member can sign on as a Mentor or Mentee when the rollout commences.

Mentoring Webpage Goes Live

It’s Alive!  Unlike Dr. Frankenstein’s protégé’s creation in Ingolstadt, this is nothing to fear – “It” is the SAWE Mentoring Webpage [https://www.sawe.org/training/mentoring/].  The Mentoring webpage is the newest part of the SAWE’s membership career development initiative.

First, please note that the Mentee application is not yet live, however, the rest of the page is.

A lot has happened behind the scenes to make it possible to go (mostly) live with the webpage.  The Mentoring Charter has been through extensive review by the Mentoring Committee.  The webpage itself has also been created and tested.  The committee created a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s).  An application form for Mentors is up and running, as we need mentors available before we can match Mentees with Mentors.  Solicitations to specially chosen senior SAWE mass properties engineers have been sent out – they are now able to formally apply as Mentors using the web-based form (and utilize a special template to formulate their input prior to filling out the web-based application form).

Still to come, of course, is a companion application for Mentees.  Along with this will be a “behind the scenes” means of matching Mentees with appropriate Mentors, as well as metrics to track relationships, completion status, and effectiveness of the program as created.

A Mentoring Logo depicting the “Passing the Torch” with the SAWE Wings and program name is prominent on the webpage as well as a link to current committee membership and a contact form.  Along with the contact form, a special email address (mentoring@sawe.org) is also live.

Watch for further developments to come, with emphasis on this latest career development program becoming fully active by Cocoa Beach.

Major New SAWE Member Benefit Coming

Let’s say you are a mass properties engineer faced with solving a problem you have not seen before.  Chances are that this has been something that someone else has already seen.  Wouldn’t it be splendid if you could consult with a person with experience, who could support you in finding a solution to your problem?

Or let’s turn this around.  An engineer has a problem.  You’ve seen and handled this problem in the past.  You could help the other engineer – IF you were aware that they could use your help.

How do these two hypothetical engineers discover each other – the one with the problem and the one with solutions?  It is highly unlikely that pure chance will put the two together.  In fact, they might not know each other.

Enter The SAWE Mentoring Program.  This program, currently under development, will act to engage Mentors (those with knowledge) with Mentees (those who desire to obtain knowledge).  For this to work, the SAWE will be soliciting Mentors who are willing and able to aid in transferring knowledge to Mentees, via a Mentor/Mentee matching process that will bring those seeking solutions in contact with those who know solutions.  We will open a portal for mentees to describe their problem and solicit help.  The SAWE will then endeavor to match suitable Mentor/Mentee pairs.

The SAWE has set a goal of rolling the program out and be up and running by the opening of the Cocoa Beach Conference in May 2023.

More information will be forthcoming as the program development matures.

SAWE Virtual Forum 9 – Mass Properties Uncertainty Analysis

The SAWE is proud to present our 9th Virtual Forum, a panel and audience participation venue to inform and debate important issues in mass properties engineering.  This forum’s topic is Mass Properties Uncertainty Analysis, and our panelists are John Nakai from The Aerospace Corporation and Robert Zimmerman, Technical Director of the SAWE.  The Forum will be via Google Meet and will run for an hour and a half commencing on Friday, January 27th at 12:00 EST (11:00 CST, 10:00 MST, 9:00 PST, 14:00 BRT, 15:00 GMT, 16:00 CET).

The forum will start with differentiating mass growth from mass properties uncertainties, then it will delineate sources of mass properties uncertainties.  The “meat” of the forum will concentrate on three inter-related uncertainty questions asked by working mass properties engineers:  How do you determine uncertainty ranges?  How do you characterize uncertainty?  And how do you compute uncertainties?  Next, because of various constraints, some uncertainties may be determined in a coordinate system that is not the project’s preferred coordinates, so a brief discussion with references to SAWE papers will point to how to treat rotated uncertainties.  The formal presentation will conclude by summarizing uncertainty modeling techniques.

Questions may be raised during the presentation and following the presentation the floor will be open for general discussion.

Registration will be required and will open in early January.

National Hydrogen Day

Coming to the Oct 28th forum for SAWE in the Hydrogen Economy? Don’t forget H2, atomic No. 1.008 aka 10/08 – is National Hydrogen Day! https://www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/articles/celebrate-national-hydrogen-and-fuel-cell-day-department-energy and if you’re looking for a great primer on the looming hydrogen economy check out this hour long video from Caterpillar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pI6JNUf5ek