REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Nov. 13, 2023) – As a child, the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center’s Dr. Robert Haynes wanted to design Boeing 747 airplanes.
But once he got to college and started studying aerospace engineering – in which he would obtain a bachelor, masters and doctoral degree at Georgia Tech – Haynes realized that one does not simply design a whole passenger jet.
“Careers are kind of funny. You start working in that area and you find out you can't just say, ‘Yeah, I'm gonna go be a 747 designer. That's not a standalone career,” Haynes said with a laugh.
Dr. Jimmy Ho’s path to becoming an engineer started with following in his brother’s footsteps to the University of Michigan. But what led him to the Center almost two decades ago was influenced by those blistering hot summers in the South.
“I ended up going to Georgia Tech for my Ph.D. and I had a very famous Ph.D. advisor named Dr. Dewey Hodges,” Ho shared. “Every summer to escape the heat and humidity of Atlanta, I would come back to NASA Ames to be an intern in the aeromechanics branch here.”
Haynes and Ho, both aerospace engineers at the Center, were recently named in the Class of 2024 AIAA Associate Fellows for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the world’s largest aerospace professional society. They will be inducted at their annual convention in January 2024.
For them both, they said AIAA is not just a professional society to have on one’s resume or LinkedIn page, it is a vital part of their work.
“We can't work in a vacuum,” Haynes said. “If the Army tries to work in a vacuum and we just become our own little sounding board, then we will never have those great, new ideas that are out there. And that's what the AIAA is good at. It brings people together from the aerospace discipline all over the world. Someone might bring to the table what at first seems a crazy idea, but sometimes that's where some of the best ideas come from. We are always on the lookout for the latest, greatest technology that might help the Soldier. So it is important to be involved in these organizations and have those exchanges.”
“AIAA has taken the leadership responsibility in outreach to the public in our field,” he said. “I would say they also do a great job at communicating to the members and holding conferences which provide a forum where we can learn a lot from each other. I think it's valuable to not just be a member, but also be a contributing member.”
Although Haynes and Ho work in different AvMC locations on opposite ends of the country, with Ho on the Center’s Moffett Field, California team and Haynes at Fort Eustis, their paths crossed long ago in an interesting way.
“It’s a cool connection between Rob and I – we were actually roommates at a conference when we were both students at Georgia Tech,” Ho said.
When asked if he had envisioned back then that those two budding young scientists would someday be leaders in their field, Ho laughed.
“I don’t know about Rob,” Ho said, “But I certainly did not.”
The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.