(October 5, 2020) AIAA Member Spotlight on Douglas Yazell

Douglas Yazell
AIAA Associate Fellow

Honeywell-Retired; Teacher, Math & Robotics, Texas City High School
Mr. Yazell worked for Honeywell aerospace engineering from 1981 to 2011, mostly on NASA projects. He earned a BSEE degree from the University of South Florida in Tampa and a Master of Science in Engineering from the University of California, Irvine, south of the Los Angeles area. The latter was mostly from the mechanical engineering department, with work in robotics, control systems, and equations of motion. He worked in Clearwater Florida 1981-1983, the Los Angeles area 1983-1992, and in the NASA/JSC community after 1992. Since 2016 he is a Teacher in public high schools with two teaching certificates, Math and Technology Education, including a year of teaching Robotics.

Mr. Yazell worked as a newspaper carrier and city recreation center leader, among other jobs, before starting to study electrical engineering at the University of South Florida in Tampa. He was leaving the small city of St. Petersburg on the other side of Tampa Bay where he lived with his parents and an older brother since starting high school there in 10th grade 14 years earlier. His good reputation with the city recreation center work led to a student intern job with Honeywell in Clearwater Florida with the space shuttle entry flight control team. Upon graduation (BSEE), he represented Honeywell at the historic Rockwell International site in Downey California in the Los Angeles area. Five years later he continued to represent Honeywell at the McDonnell Douglas site in Huntington Beach, California. A brand new 8-story building was the site for the McDonnell Douglas Space Station Freedom team. As for becoming an AIAA Associate Fellow, he volunteered to be of service to the profession in various roles starting in 1998 in AIAA Houston Section in the NASA/JSC community. As for becoming a member of the Aerospace America editorial board for about 8 years with Editors Elaine Camhi and Ben Ionnatta, he was recommended by an AIAA leader because of his work as Editor of Horizons, the newsletter of AIAA Houston Section. The prior Editor, Jon Berndt, did an amazing job with thousands of downloads per issue (sometimes tens of thousands). Mr. Yazell enjoyed keeping up that tradition from 2011 to 2014, including the use of Microsoft Publisher (for layout editing), and later, Adobe InDesign. Mr. Yazell added climate change science, engineering, and public policy to Horizons since 2013 once PBS called it to his attention with the October 23, 2012 episode, Climate of Doubt. After seeing that hour of investigative journalism, the subject was on his radar for the first time, and he knew he could trust NASA, NOAA, national science academies, scientific professional societies, and the reports of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In 2014, Ian Haney-López convinced Mr. Yazell that race was the most important problem in the USA, as Professor Haney-López was doing a book publicity tour for this 2014 book, “Dog Whistle Politics.” The author was a guest on the PBS show Moyers & Company. Mr. Yazell is now a member of the AIAA Diversity & Inclusion Working Group (DWG), led by Jandria Alexander. As for co-founding the since-2007 France-USA sister sections with AIAA Houston Section and 3AF-MP (www.3af-mp.fr), a Chinese sister section in Shanghai was popular with AIAA Houston Section since 1987. Its founder asked Mr. Yazell to continue that tradition, but Mr. Yazell lived in France aged 4-6 (1957-1959), studied French in high school, and married a French woman in 1985, so Mr. Yazell suggested that French tradition starting in 2004.

As for writing the successful nomination report for one of the AIAA Historic Aerospace Sites, the 1940 Air Terminal Museum near the “right field” runways in Hobby Airport is a gem. The late airline Captain AJ High probably wrote most of that information for the museum website (https://www.1940airterminal.org/). The air terminal building was created using the “Art Deco” style. Ironically, the day of the award ceremony, when AIAA awarded the large bronze plaque to the museum, a rainstorm caused flash flooding all day long, and human-induced climate change makes every rainfall worse when air is warmer. Coincidentally, the museum work led Mr. Yazell to learn that the first aviator in Texas was French pilot Louis Paulhan, who performed in a 1910 Texas airshow.

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