By Kiara Bean, Editor-in-Chief
Dr. Ron Madler serves as the Dean of the College of Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at the Prescott campus. He earned a BS, MS, and Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering Sciences, all from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He always had an interest in spaceflight, especially human spaceflight, but it took him a few years in college before he actually switched to the Aerospace Engineering major. “It’s okay to switch focus during your career life – just do it and work hard and smart enough that you are successful,” he advises students.
Growing up, Dr. Madler spent some time in Thailand: “My dad was an engineer for the Bureau of Reclamation working on irrigation overseas and in the west/Midwest.” Together with his wife, he also built his own family, but today, their nest is empty. They have four adult children, who are all out of the house. Both of his sons are engineers, and his daughters are in the health field. His wife, who is also a teacher, teaches chemistry at the Prescott Valley High School. The last, but certainly not least, member of their household is a yellow lab dog. Recently, they sold their house in Prescott Valley and are in the process of building a house in Prescott.
In his spare time, Dr. Madler enjoys mountain biking; he is a certified assistant coach at the high school, where his wife is the team manager (and was head coach) of the mountain biking team. He enjoys Indian and Thai food, and when he’s not reading for work, Dr. Madler likes reading Stephen King and Isaac Asimov novels. He also listens to “old rock and roll – U2, REM, Police, [and] the Cars.”
Dr. Madler has experience in research with government and industry: “I came to ERAU via the research route, so my industry experience mostly happened through research with government and industry.” Maybe after graduating, some of us might enjoy some lucrative job offers from NASA and the DoD, and be involved in research like Dr. Madler. “Working on the NASA Orbital Debris Radar Calibration Spheres (ODERACS) project was a challenging, frustrating, yet fun project,” he commented. He also says that “working on the Space Mission Analysis and Design books was a good experience. It’s amazing how much work it is to write books and papers.”
Now, Dr. Madler enjoys his time as a professor and dean at Embry-Riddle. “I would like to share a couple of the reasons that I like working in this college environment. First, the students that come here to Embry-Riddle are great! You all have great motivation, enthusiasm, curiosity, and you all are just ‘good people.’ When I hear people say…‘kids nowadays…,’ I tell them they are just wrong; you all are better in many ways than my generation [was] when we were your age…A piece of advice from our founding dean of engineering (Dr. Felton): he would say ‘Make it a great day.’ I agree; attitude is so important.
“The other thing is to look out for your friends. I have always been impressed with the relationships that you all develop while in college. Keep those connections and friendships as much as you can. I have let too many friendships fade because I didn’t work to keep in touch. Third, you are all going to have great lives if you work at it and remember that it is the people around you that count! Bad things happen to all of us; move beyond those and don’t give up. You can be a pragmatic optimist. Keep dreaming but keep working at it, also.”
Although I have never personally had Dr. Madler as a professor, many of my engineering friends have said that they enjoy having him as a professor because he has a large wealth of knowledge to share.
Dr. Madler predicts that “autonomy and augmentation will continue to impact our aerospace related industries.” He urges all students to start looking for internships and job opportunities as soon as possible because there are opportunities everywhere; students just have to go after them. He also encourages students to put forth maximum effort and have a positive attitude. If we prove ourselves in one opportunity, more doors will open for us.
In the school setting, Dr. Madler says, “Listen carefully; work hard; ask questions if you don’t know; don’t let your ego get in the way; be nice; look at issues [and] problems from the perspective of other people, way too often we are hung up on our own perspective only. Focus on being a good person, not for other peoples’ sake, but for yours. People matter; take care of the people around you. Everyone has a bad day; cut yourself and others some slack. Laugh at yourself more. Take care of yourself, a little every day. Life is a journey, not a destination; smell the roses and enjoy the sunsets.”
Overall, it was very interesting to learn from Dr. Madler about his take on the industry and life in general. Here are his final words from the interview: “You all can be successful. It may not be what you originally thought but make the best of what you have. Make it a great day!”