Space Command’s Chief Scientist earns alumni honor

“I am very proud and humbled to have been selected as an Engineering Outstanding Alumni. I would rate this honor near the top of my list because it is a recognition of not only my career achievements, but also my passion for staying involved with Texas A&M and the Department of Aerospace Engineering,” said Dr. Sanchez.

Air Force Space Command Chief Scientist, Dr. Merri Sanchez, was recently honored with the Texas A&M Dwight Look College of Engineering Outstanding Alumni Honor Award.

Dr. Sanchez said this award is unique, in that, it is not given by peers or by senior leadership, but instead for contributions to the engineering profession.

“I am very proud and humbled to have been selected as an Engineering Outstanding Alumni.  I would rate this honor near the top of my list because it is a recognition of not only my career achievements, but also my passion for staying involved with Texas A&M and the Department of Aerospace Engineering,” said Dr. Sanchez.

Nominations for the award can be submitted by department chairs within the College of Engineering, former students and members of the Dwight Look College of Engineering Advisory Council.

Dr. Sanchez joined AFSPC in June 2014 and set out to bring science and technology to the command’s forefront.

“During my time at AFSPC, I am most proud of raising science and technology awareness, so that members of AFSPC understand the critical need to be always cognizant of future S&T challenges and the need to be continually identifying and evolving disruptive and game-changing technologies,” said Dr. Sanchez. “I am also proud of developing processes to share our ‘crystal ball’ with research labs, industry and academia to allow them to better target their research and development budgets to what AFSPC will need in the future.”

That crystal ball came in the form of the Long-Term Science and Technology, S&T, Challenges Memo, which looks at what AFSPC leadership sees as top science and technology priorities in the coming decades. Dr. Sanchez unveiled the memo at the 2015 Space Symposium to a crowd of industry and academia representatives.

The AFSPC long-term science and technology challenge areas include:

• Revolutionize capabilities to enhance Battle Management Command, Control and Communication (BMC3) of space and cyberspace operations and integrate with other multi-domain military operations

• Advance disruptive innovations, placing capabilities into space and cyberspace domains rapidly and at a dramatically lower cost with significant performance increases

· Develop advanced space and cyberspace technologies to provide real-time domain and battlespace awareness, predictive battlespace awareness of mitigative courses of action across all give operational domains; air, land, sea, space and cyberspace

· Establish mutually supportive, resilient space and cyberspace technologies that provide predictive threat analysis of the domains, quickly identify emerging threats and differentiate them from natural phenomena, and respond appropriately and effectively to allow operations through and recovery from these threats

Dr. Sanchez said her next goal at AFSPC is to create a plan demonstrating how S&T moves along the time continuum from identifying solutions for revolutionary, breakthrough, and disruptive long-term S&T challenges to addressing near-term S&T needs to prototyping and experimentation that can be ultimately incorporated into new designs.

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