SAWE Weight Engineer’s Handbook

The SAWE Weight Engineer’s Handbook, is being completely reformatted and revised by a dedicated group of Gulfstream Mass Properties Engineers.  The committee is looking for your input about things to add, and any corrections or improvements that you may have to offer.  For example, the Houston Chapter is working on a completely new section for the Offshore Industry, with help from members in the Canadian Chapter and the UK.  Please contact Damian Yanexz ( or Andy Schuster at ( )with your thoughts.

The project plan is to have a Working Draft done by the middle of December, and a Committee Draft done by the middle of February.  The Committee Draft will receive a peer review by the VP Technical Director’s team, and a functionality review by SAWE’s Corporate Steering Council (made up of SAWE Inc officers and Corporate Partners).  The committee has a MS Word template available for any material that you would like to contribute.

If you would like to help the committee reformat the existing handbook into the new format, please contact Damian at the email above so he can get you started.

The society is very appreciative of this monumental effort by the Gulfstream team.  Many of the tables, figures and data were published in the 1940 edition. (you can find a copy in some libraries such as Seattle’s main public library).  This conversion will help us to use modern software tools to make the information more accessible.

Rescheduled 2018 Hampton Roads Regional Conference

As many of you may or may not be aware, the Regional Conference that was supposed to occur the 13th-15th of this month was forced to be rescheduled due to Hurricane Florence.

As of Friday, the Society of Allied Weight Engineer’s Regional Conference in Norfolk, Virginia has officially been rescheduled to November 29, 30, and December 1st.  With the assistance of D. Jay Feldman, we have established an addendum to our original contract that will result in no financial penalties to  the SAWE, honor all existing agreements with the hotel, and provide all the same outstanding rooms and support that were planned for the September timeframe that was interrupted by Hurricane Florence.  The other alternative date we were originally hoping for was not possible due to  the hotel not being able to provide some critical meeting spaces.  As you might expect there were several other groups competing for their spaces, not to mention the other groups that had already booked conference spaces.   Our host chapter will now be busy confirming speaker availability,  vendor participation, and determining details of how to handle hotel room reservations, etc.  They will be informing everyone of those details in the near future.

Our Co-Chairwomen and all involved in the preparation for this conference hope that the new dates are acceptable to all.  While the weather may be a bit cooler, there is very little chance of another hurricane affecting our plans.  Special thanks to D.Jay Feldman for his valuable assistance in negotiating with the hotel to get favorable terms and availabilities.  For those who don’t know, D. Jay has been involved in setting up our meeting contracts for every Regional and International conference as far back as I can remember.  His support is critical to our holding successful SAWE conferences.

To be kept up to date on information regarding the rescheduled Regional Conference, please check the blog as updates will be posted to here.  You can find up to date information also on the Regional Conference website

You might be asking yourself, if I couldn’t go to the original Regional Conference, can I go to this one, and the answer is yes.  Check out the website for information and contact the Co-Chairwomen with any questions!

Those that were previously registered will need to re-register their hotel room.  Please check the website and email for the new code that will allow for you to re-register at the hotel.  This will be coming in the following days.  All previous hotel bookings were cancelled without penalty.

Thank you, and we in the Hampton Roads Chapter look forward to seeing you in Norfolk November 29, 30 and December 1st,

Registration Deadline – 2018 Hampton Roads Coastal Virginia Regional Conference

Dear SAWE Members,

With the summer’s end fast approaching, so too does the 2018 Hampton Roads Coastal Virginia Regional Conference and Planning Meeting on Mass Properties Engineering.  I wanted to remind as many as I could that registration is available through the SAWE website here and more importantly, the deadline for registering is September 6th, to ensure that we plan accordingly with the hotel for all those in attendance.  The conference is being held on Friday, September 14th at the Hilton Norfolk, “The Main”, in downtown Norfolk, VA with training on Saturday, September 15th.

Exhibitors and Sponsors:

5 Exhibitors (Intercomp, HII, ShipWeight, Altair, The Scale People)

2 Silver Sponsors (Aerospace Corp – exhibiting, Space Electronics)

2 Break Sponsors (Intercomp, GEC)

Technical Conference – Friday, September 14th

We have scheduled a full day of technical presentations.  This will include the Executive VP of Engineering at Liebherr, Bryant Ward, giving a presentation titled  “Designing the World’s Largest Mining Truck,” which I think will be a real treat for all of us as they are assembled locally in Hampton Roads.  Also, our lunchtime speaker is Jeanne Willoz-Egnor, the Director of Collections at the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, dubbed America’s Maritime Museum by Congress, giving a presentation titled “The Technology of the America’s Cup.  The actual vehicle used in the 2013 race where America came back from being down as much as 8-1 is on display at the museum and worth a visit if you have time.

Training – Saturday, September 15th

We have scheduled three training opportunities for the conference to include a class on Developing Basic Parametric Methods, which pertains to all of our industries, a new class titled Introduction to Marine Weight Engineering for Non-Naval Architects, and finally, Marine Systems Weight Estimating Methods based on SAWE RP-14.  Registration for training is available through the registration process.  Please see the conference website and the August 7th blog post for more details.  If you are attending the conference, these are great opportunities to take advantage of while you are already here!

As always, these conferences are a great opportunity to continue our involvement with the SAWE, stay connected on mass properties engineering related topics, exhibit our products and services, provide support through sponsorship, attend training, and visit a new location to take advantage of all the area has to offer.

I sincerely hope to see as many of you there as possible and the Hampton Roads Chapter Host Committee is standing by to support you!

David S. Cash – Hampton Roads Chapter President

Orion Spacecraft Testing Coverage

The Orion spacecraft recently underwent mass properties verification in Houston in preparation for the second Launch Abort System test.  NASA Langley Research Center was intimately involved and LaRC engineers Amanda Cutright and Anjie Emmett were on hand for the operations.

Here is a video clip of Anjie and Amanda explaining the testing:

Knowing the mass and the CG of the Orion spacecraft is a safety of flight issue.  The AA-2 (Ascent Abort – [test] Two) test flight will test the Launch Abort System during the critical boost phase of the Space Launch System.  The LAS must safely remove the Orion capsule with its crew away from a failing booster if there is a launch mishap. The earlier PA-1 (Pad Abort – [test] One) test performed a similar function, but from a stationary simulated launch pad.  The AA-2 capsule is an actual Orion Command Module, instrumented and mass simulated for this test. The fixture seen in the videos was built to enable multiple weight and CG measurements to be made in multiple orientations and is reusable on subsequent Orion vehicles.

The Houston Chronicle also posted an article on the verification test at:

Amanda and Anjie traveled to Johnson Space Center in Houston for the testing.   They are seen in the background of the video above.

The Norfolk, VA area newspaper The Daily Press also ran a story about the testing:

Both Amanda Cutright and Anjie Emmet are members of the Hampton Roads Chapter of the SAWE.  Amanda is co-chair of the upcoming 78th International Conference on Mass Properties Engineering in Norfolk, VA  from May 18 – 23, 2019.


Robert Zimmerman

SAWE Vice President – Technical Director

The Benefits of ANSI Membership to the SAWE Society, Corporate, and Individual Members

The SAWE has been a member of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) since 2012, and an accredited Standards Developing Organization (SDO) since 2014. We are proud of this role and our association with 285 other SDO’s in the United States. We also do not do this to avoid responsibility as an International standards developer, but to enhance that as well. SAWE is legally incorporated in the United States and so to participate in International, ISO, sanctioned standards development work, it does so as an SDO for the United States’ sole member to ISO, which is ANSI. But all SAWE work thru ANSI is open to full participation by members and corporations from any country. Through this process we develop ANSI/SAWE STD documents with full international participation in our voluntary consensus manner. We also develop Recommended Practices, SAWE RP’s, in an open consensus manner which is fully accessible and in cooperation with our International Membership.

 Benefits for belonging to SAWE with the above focus are manifest at several levels. First, as SAWE has a long tradition of doing, the work brings together technical and programmatic insights from the best Mass Properties Engineers in the world. It is motivational to know that the work ongoing within SAWE can have US and International impact to products from under the sea to outside our solar system. As an individual, participation in ANSI process brings recognition as someone who cares about defining and improving the world of Mass Properties Engineering. Our corporate members are key to providing the resources and strategic guidance the SAWE uses in creating new standards and assuring existing standards are up to date and relevant to modern acquisition programs and product operational needs. Corporate membership gives our sponsors insight into the issues of currency in Mass Properties Engineering, and SAWE activities are vitalized by receiving such guidance. Secondly, for our corporate support the American National Standards Institute wants you to know that “Standards Boost Business” ( ) Millions of dollars are saved thru implementation of standard practices, business is provided assurances in product quality across corporate and regional borders. Engineering artifacts, technical and managerial in nature, may be contractually assured to merge more easily between buyer / supplier relationships.

Recently ANSI organized a meeting with some current Captains of Industry regarding an “Executive Roundtable on Strategic Standardization and Competitiveness”. Based on past meetings between U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and ANSI President S. Joe Bhatia, the issue of “Underinvestment in Standards” was the basis for this recent roundtable activity. These meetings called for “sustained investment in terms of funding, manpower, and participation by both the public and private sectors to make that leadership possible”.  SAWE corporate and individual membership provides a direct path for such an investment opportunity and for fulfilling leadership roles in the field of Mass Properties Engineering.

 The role of SAWE thru its ANSI membership and our associated International standards development goals is a proud and growing opportunity for the Society. We encourage you as members, corporations, government organizations, product suppliers and product users to share in our eagerness to define this International journey in the future of Mass Properties Engineering.

Jeff Cerro

SAWE Survey results

Dear Mass Properties Engineering Industry participants,

The SAWE recently conducted an industry survey with the ultimate objective of stimulating increased collaboration between Academia, SAWE Company Members and Corporate Partners, society members, and the SAWE Executive Board toward a common objective of addressing the current risks and opportunities.

Summarized results are available here.

Please use this forum to discuss the results and the direction of our society.

Paper 3699 “The Health of Mass Properties Engineering in Aerospace, Marine, Offshore, Land Vehicles, and Allied Industries – Results of a 2018 Industry Survey” with the detailed results can be downloaded from the SAWE document ordering and downloading database at

Please take the initiative to proactively participate in our Society of Allied Weight Engineers resulting in the betterment of our World through open collaboration.


Clint Stephenson
SAWE Executive Vice President

Training Available at Regional Conference in September

The Hampton Roads Chapter of the SAWE is pleased to offer some exciting opportunities for training at this fall’s Regional Conference in Norfolk, Virginia!

Three classes will be offered on Saturday, September 15:

Developing Basic Parametric Methods:  In this full day class, Andy Walker describes how to parametrically and statistically estimate the weight of a complex vehicle, allowing for an estimate when little is known about the vehicle, particularly useful early in the design process.

Introduction for Marine Weight Engineering for Non-Naval Architects: In this brand new, half day course taught by former NAVSEA Technical Warrant Holder Dominic Cimino, participants will obtain a basic understanding of the weight engineering process relative to marine vehicles and consider the effects of buoyancy, wind, and sea conditions.  The course will also include a discussion of some basic naval architecture principles and an overview of how mass properties in the marine industry are different from those in the allied industries.

Marine System Weight Estimate Methods based on SAWE Recommended Practice 14:  This half day class, delivered by Andy Schuster, builds nicely on Cimino’s introductory course.  It covers the fundamental and practical methods of estimating the weight for marine systems, includes practical examples, and an exercise where students will develop a weight estimate for a 200 ft ship.  A complimentary copy of SAWE RP 14 for review is provided to all who register for the course.

Space is limited, so sign up today at  For additional information about the Hampton Roads Regional Conference, check out the website at

Remembering SAWE Fellow Al Tilley

From Al Tilley’s daughter Lynn: 

 I afraid I have sad news to share with you.  Dad passed away in the early hours of July 13th.  His heart and replaced valve began to fail and he was not a candidate for invasive measures given his overall condition.  

 His obituary can be found here:, the service has already been held.


This message was sent to Glen Matthews and forwarded to me by Kevin Tharp

Al Tilley was an SAWE Fellow associated with the San Francisco Chapter.  I will attempt to find someone to write an article for the Fall Journal.

Ron Fox

Executive Director

2018 Hampton Roads Coastal Virginia Regional Conference – Registration is Open

Dear SAWE Members,

As the President of the Hampton Roads Chapter, it is my pleasure to announce that our 2018 Hampton Roads Coastal Virginia Regional Conference and Planning Meeting on Mass Properties Engineering is officially open for registration through the SAWE website hereThe deadline for registering is September 6th, to ensure that we plan accordingly with the hotel for all those in attendance.

The conference is being held Thursday, Sept. 13th – Saturday, Sept. 15th at the Hilton Norfolk, “The Main”, in downtown Norfolk, VA.  The reduced rate for the hotel is guaranteed through August 22nd and reservations can be made either through a link provided at the end of your registration or via the conference website here.  I encourage you to visit the conference website to learn about the latest information for the conference.  “The Main” is downtown Norfolk’s newest and most modern hotel and we look forward to you all taking advantage of all that it has to offer and for enjoying all the local attractions that Norfolk and the surrounding area has to offer outside of the conference.

We have scheduled three training opportunities for the conference to include a class on Developing Basic Parametric Methods, which pertains to all of our industries, a new class titled Introduction to Marine Weight Engineering for Non-Naval Architects, and finally, Marine Systems Weight Estimating Methods based on SAWE RP-14.  Registration for training is available through the registration process.

We are actively seeking Authors and Presenters to continue to fill up our technical session and are working to secure a speaker for the technical lunch on Friday, Sept. 14th through the local Mariner’s Museum, dubbed America’s Maritime Museum by Congress, on the subject of the America’s Cup AC50 Wing Sail Racing Yachts.  The museum has an exhibit on display and we believe the topic speaks to all of our industries on the importance of mass properties in vehicle design.

We are also actively seeking Exhibitors and Sponsors for the event through the conference website to provide support for the conference and to showcase your products and services to others in the mass properties engineering industry.  Registration as a sponsor and/or exhibitor is available through the registration process.

As always, these conferences are a great opportunity to continue our involvement with the SAWE, stay connected on mass properties engineering related topics, exhibit our products and services, provide support through sponsorship, attend training, and visit a new location to take advantage of all the area has to offer.

I sincerely hope to see you all there and the Hampton Roads Chapter Host Committee is standing by to support you however we can as we invite you to our Regional Conference!

David S. Cash – Hampton Roads Chapter President

Success in Weight Control

In 1986 I was seemingly drifting from project to project on a short-term basis when I was asked to report to a program known only as Program B.  I arrived at the locked door on the fifth floor of a building we jokingly referred to as “The Six Story Building”.  After knocking on the door, I was greeted by a secretary who looked at my badge, checked my name against a list, and let me in.  I was shown a desk, where I dropped my briefcase, and then followed the secretary to what proved to be the program manager’s office.

Inside, there were a small group of people standing around.  The secretary left and came back a few minutes later with another person.  This continued for about 15 minutes, then a slight, balding man arrived and shut the door.  He introduced himself as the program manager, whom I will call Doctor E.  Doctor E went around the room asking each of us to state our names and areas of expertise.  Then he explained what we were doing.

The government was looking to launch a satellite that would use an infrared device, cooled by a Dewar jar filled with liquid methane.  We were to design this satellite, incorporating the various instruments and this quite large and heavy Dewar.  And then we were hit with the kicker – the launch vehicle was already designated, and it did not have a large payload capacity.  And the deployment stage would spin for stabilization.

I went back to my desk and began listing what this satellite would need – structure, electronics, tubing, cabling, power, etc., and going over the specs we had been given for the instrumentation and the Dewar.  Then I conceptually created a satellite and came up with a weight estimate that I took to the structures lead.  He called in the thermodynamics engineer to look at what I had come up with just as the power engineer arrived with his concept of how to power the satellite.  The power engineer envisioned a satellite surrounded by solar panels, and I still recall the thermal engineer’s initial reaction, namely “Don’t put me in a box!”  The four of us sat there in structure lead’s office and hashed out a top-level packaging scheme and I ran a quick calculation to see what that would weigh.  Just then Doctor E came in and looked at my figures with dismay.  He shooed us out and closed the door to the structures lead’s office.

The next morning the structures lead came to me and said he ran his own calculations overnight and agreed with what I’d come up with.  We marched into Doctor E’s office and presented a united front.  His reaction was “OK, but we have to keep the weight down to allow for specification creep.”  The three of us looked at each other and the structures lead had this look on his face that said “Duh!”

The next few weeks were hectic, 7 days/week for 10-11 hours a day as we breezed through refining the design, looking to minimize cabling, tubing, and electronics while I also spent a lot of time with component placement to keep the spin axis aligned with the deployment stage’s spin axis.  As time went on, my constantly updated mass properties database converged with my “back of the envelope” calculation to within a few pounds.  This was done by constantly questioning every part and any change the various groups decided belonged on the spacecraft.  With a cohesive group of dedicated engineers who shared a common purpose in winning this proposal, keeping the weight under control was relatively easy.  Finally, as the deadline for delivering the proposal neared, the company held a “Black Hat Review” of our proposal, meant to uncover weaknesses in our design and proposed methodologies.  This was held over a Saturday and Sunday, meaning most of the team finally got some time off while the upper management met with the “Black Hats” and walked through the proposal’s many pages.

Monday morning, as we came in, we heard that there would be an all hands meeting in the conference room.  A few minutes before the appointed time we filed in and were surprised to see the company President sitting up front next to the program manager.  Also present were other senior level executives.  Doctor E started speaking, telling us that the Black Hats, who were sitting in front of us, had never seen a stronger proposal.  There were a couple of nits, but these were truly insignificant items that were easily fixable.  We all started to smile, then the company President rose from his chair and walked to the podium.  He told us that the value of this particular project was small, and in a few months’ time the same government customer would be evaluating another proposal the company was working on.  The Program A proposal was worth more than ten times as much as Program B.  It was the consensus of the Black Hats that we would win the Program B proposal, at which point the government could (he said “possibly would”) award the other proposal to a different company, as we would already have won one.  Therefore, the Black Hats had decided to tell this customer that our company was a “No Bid” on Program B and this winning proposal team was hereby transferred to the Program A proposal.  You could see the disbelief on everyone’s face as we filed out of the room to pack up our belongings and head to the facility where Program A was already underway.

Arriving at the other facility, I went in and found my new supervisor.  I knew that there was already a mass properties engineer assigned to this proposal, which had been in conceptual design and pre-proposal activities for over a year.  I was told that the other engineer would temporarily report to me while the company found a place for him – in other words there was only budget for one mass properties engineer and I was to be it.  I didn’t like the feeling that I was taking someone else’s job away, but I went and found the outgoing engineer who had already heard what was happening.  He turned over his files to me, went through a quick overview of Program A, and left.

I went to my new desk, started going through the reams of paper and the mass properties database, and was shocked at what I found.  The program was seriously overweight.  There was a hard requirement for launch capability and the mass properties database showed our design was over by hundreds of pounds, fully 50% over the launch capability.  Obviously, we weren’t meeting requirements, with the trade-off being a severe shortage in range.  My first stop was with the flight design group to verify range versus payload and compare that to what the database said we were carrying.  Next, I went to my new supervisor and told him what I had found and questioned why he hadn’t told me about this when I had first met him.  Amazingly, he was unaware how severe the situation was, although he knew we were overweight.  I went to Doctor E, who was now the deputy program manager on Program A and explained what I’d found.  He said two words, “Fix it!”

Going back to my supervisor, I asked for a copy of the technical proposal.  He said it wasn’t finished, and I said then get me what we have.  I started going through the proposal subsystem by subsystem, checking what was in the proposal against the mass properties database, and verified that the database was generally accurate.  Moreover, it looked like the known unknowns were accounted for.  That, at least was good news – we weren’t worse off than I thought we were.  Next, I went to each lead, subsystem by subsystem, and introduced myself, explained that we had a severe technical challenge, and that I wanted to verify that what I had in my proposal document was the current design.  There were a few differences, but overall everything checked out.  Then I went to the vehicle architect and spent several hours with him and the systems lead going over what I knew, and with Doctor E’s admonishment behind me, explained that we had to “Fix it!”  Shaving a few pounds here and there was not going to give us a viable technical proposal – this needed a rethinking of what we were trying to achieve.

With the words, “If we remove an item, we achieve a 100% weight reduction of that item,” I shocked the system architect into action.  Together we called a mandatory meeting of all subsystem leads, where I repeated what I’d said and then went on to say that unless we could prove we needed an item, it was off the vehicle.  There was, of course, consternation.  We went single-string on many subsystems.  Structural pieces were pulled, the size of the whole vehicle shrank as space was no longer required for this or that box.  Cabling mass came way down.  We shaved material from component boxes, structural members, skins, insulation, combined functions of multiple electronic boxes into one component – anything to get the weight down.

I was on that proposal for six weeks without taking a day off, although I admit I did work half days on Sundays (five hours versus 10 or 11).  We passed our Black Hat Review.  We turned the proposal in but did not win the contract.  The customer said we were in technical compliance but that other companies had better cost and management proposals.  BUT – we did not lose on technical grounds, which we surely would have if we had been 50% overweight.  I can count that as a “win”.  Losing a proposal is not unusual, it happens a lot, just as a company’s decision to “No Bid” a proposal is not unusual.  These are part of corporate life, and corporate life lives on despite these setbacks.

The lesson learned is that a mass properties engineer is much more than a clerk.  Yes, we have to keep track of the mass properties, but that is only part of the job.  Know what your requirements are.  Keep your management informed.  Interact with your subsystem compatriots.  Don’t let a small problem become a big problem.  Look at the overall picture and determine if what you are doing supports that vision.  And most importantly – you may be the “Weights Person”, however, keeping mass properties under control is everyone’s responsibility, so enlist others in the quest to maintaining a technically sustainable design.

Robert Zimmerman