Meet Frank Aguilera
Deputy Director, Airspace Systems Program
Ames Research Center
Who I Am and What I Do
I help manage NASA's Airspace Systems Program. This
program develops technologies for improving the efficiency of today's
air traffic control system, while at the same time, laying the foundation
for future opportunities. As the Airspace Systems Program Deputy Director,
I provide organizational and technical leadership toward achieving the
national goal of improving the National Airspace System. Our program considers
the following challenges of today's air traffic control system, while
developing a vision for the future:
- Accommodate projected air traffic growth while
- Provide for National Airspace System efficiency.
- Include all stakeholders in the development and
transition of new technologies.
My areas of expertise are wind tunnel testing, operational
field testing, program and project management, and public policy. What
I enjoy most about my job is that program management in the area of Airspace
Systems provides an opportunity to contribute to our national goal of
improving the National Airspace System. There are many individuals and
stakeholders involved in our work making this assignment challenging and
most interesting. The only thing I don't like about my job is that there
are not enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished, but it
does provide the opportunity to prioritize the things you need to get
Education and Career Path
I attended California State University, earning my
bachelor of science degree in aeronautics; Naval Postgraduate School,
where I earned my master of science in aeronautical engineering; and earned
my doctorate degree in public policy from Golden Gate University.
During my undergraduate studies, I began working at
NASA Ames Research Center as a work-study student in wind tunnel research.
After my undergraduate studies, I worked for private industry conducting
engineering field testing.
I then joined NASA at Dryden Flight Research Center,
where I was involved in SR71 aircraft flight research. Upon leaving Dryden,
I worked for the Army Corps of Engineers providing engineering support
in the areas of instrumentation and construction. I went on to work for
the Department of the Army Missile Command, where I worked in a research
lab and began project management assignments. I also had an assignment
where I conducted weapon system operational evaluations.
After being away from NASA Ames Research Center for
15 years, I returned to an assignment on the director's staff conducting
center level program and project evaluations. Additionally, I managed
the Short Haul Civil Tiltrotor Project office before being selected as
deputy director of the Airspace Systems Program.
In addition to my education, my career experiences
in both private industry and government have provided a foundation in
wind tunnel testing, aviation maintenance, engineering field testing,
flight testing, weapon system developments, construction and renovation
of facilities, navigation equipment operational testing and resource management.
Each assignment, over my career, has provided valuable experience to prepare
me for this job.
I first became interested in this profession after a junior
high school field trip to a power generation facility, where I saw several
large turbines and turbo machinery along with supporting infrastructure.
That visit fostered an interest in electro/mechanical equipment. Later
in high school, I was fortunate enough to help my uncle in his automobile
repair shop, where I learned more about engines and machinery. Since my
uncle had been in the US Air Force, we also discussed aviation.
I enjoy teaching aviation courses, personal flying and traveling.
I have additional training as an FAA licensed private pilot, and have
an aviation maintenance A&P license.
My advice to anyone interested in this occupation
Be open to the opportunities of change, as I consider
program managers agents of change.