Despite the shutdown of the entire METRO train system in our nation’s capital, three intrepid AIAA members represented Georgia for Congressional Visits Day 2016. Of the 14 Georgia Congressmen in the House of Representatives, we were able to meet with legislative staff or deliver information packets to all but one. As we were a single team, we were not able to split up to get over to the Senate side of the Hill. Note to other AIAA members in Georgia — we would love to have you join the team in 2017 to see if we can visit with all 16 members in our Congressional delegation.
The highlight of the day was a meeting with Congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia’s 4th District and his legislative director and senior legislative counsel Arya Hariharan. The 4th District is east of Atlanta and can be viewed on this map here. Thank you to Congressman Johnson for his time and for listening to our needs!
We brought to the attention of our national representatives issues such as keeping ITAR sensibly updated, adjustment of H1-B visas to recruit foreign-born talent matriculating at American universities, cultivating domestic talent with STEM education programs, long-term funding of NASA and FAA, support for NextGen, and incorporating unmanned aerial systems safely into our air space. Of particular interest to Georgians is support of aerospace jobs. With an economic impact of $50 billion per year, aerospace is the second largest sector of our state economy (exceeded only by agriculture) and the largest export sector of our economy. Georgians are excited about the possibility of building a spaceport in Camden County that would give commercial space companies an attractive alternative to Kennedy Space Center, where commercial launches are lower priority behind Department of Defense and NASA. Average wages in aerospace in Georgia are double the general average for the state. And Georgia has several universities offering appropriate courses of study. This means Georgians can train in aerospace and find living-wage jobs here, all without leaving the state.
[AIAA members meeting our elected representative. Pictured left to right: Bob Greene, Congressman Hank Johnson, Jolie Elder, and Doug Barron. Thank you to Arya Hariharan for taking the picture.]