The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the professional society for the field of aerospace engineering. The AIAA was founded in 1963 from the merger of two earlier societies: the American Rocket Society (ARS), founded in 1930 as the American Interplanetary Society (AIS), and the Institute of Aerospace Sciences (IAS), founded in 1932 as the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences.
The AIAA is the U.S. representative on the International Astronautical Federation and the International Council on the Aeronautical Sciences. As of 2004, the AIAA has more than 35,000 members. Despite its name, the society has members among aerospace professionals worldwide, although the majority are American and/or live in the United States. Some AIAA seminars and conventions are restricted to U.S. citizens, due to security issues.
The AIAA is split to seven regions, North-East, South-East, Central, South-Central, Mid-West, West, and International. The regions are subdivided into Sections, usually based in major cities. Universities with programs in aerospace engineering or related fields may form Student Branches, which are overseen and in part funded by their parent Section.
Another aspect of the AIAA is their standards writing activities. In the past, AIAA standards for aeronautics have been incorporated into broader standards and public laws. These standards help transition innovative aeronautical ideas to everyday usage.
The AIAA publishes nine technical journals, monthly general interest magazine, Aerospace America, and a series of technical books. It also organizes a number of conferences on space engineering.
AIAA Mission: AIAA advances the state of aerospace science, engineering, and technological leadership.
AIAA Vision: AIAA is the shaping, dynamic force in aerospace – The forum for innovation, excellence and global leadership.
The Institute formed the AIAA Foundation to devote more attention and more resources to the education of both practicing and future aerospace professionals.
Specifically, the Foundation: funds student programs, including financial assistance, research opportunities, and professional contact recognizes the outstanding individual contributions of educators and students provides additional educational services to aerospace professionals. The AIAA Foundation funds numerous scholarships for both undergraduate and graduate students. Undergraduate scholarships range from $2,000 to $2,500. Graduate scholarships are $5,000 or $10,000.
The AIAA has recognized that the U.S. aerospace industry is facing a rapidly aging workforce, and recently has begun pushing to recruit new students to the field. Student Branches tend to be on the front lines of this task, with many Sections offering funding or incentives for their Student Branches to increase membership. The AIAA currently has over 6,500 student members.
AIAA currently has over 160 active student branches, including 12 foreign student branches, with a total active membership of over 6,500 students worldwide.
The student branches also host annual conferences in each of its nine branches. AIAA Student Conference site All the conferences vary in character from one another, but essentially their purpose is to provide a forum for AIAA Student Members at colleges and universities within the region to present technical papers in public competition. Cash prizes of USD$500, USD$300 and USD$250 are awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes in the undergraduate and graduate (masters candidates only) categories. The conferences serve to indoctrinate students into the practice of presenting technical work at AIAA meetings.
The fundamental objective of AIAA Regional Student Conferences is to provide student members with an educational experience that prepares them for their future as practicing aerospace engineers. Although regional conferences vary in character, students attend and present technical work as they would at a professional AIAA meeting. In addition, they establish professional relationships, learn from others, and hone their communication skills. Their work, both written and oral, is evaluated by professional members serving as judges, with the primary intent of providing substantial feedback on the quality of their work. The highest scoring papers are also recognized with awards and prize money.
Any AIAA member, student or professional, is invited to participate in a conference. Only undergraduate and Masters’ level student papers are accepted for competition. Ph.D. student papers are NOT eligible to compete for awards or prize money. Their work may be presented for review only; it would be more appropriate for them to present at AIAA professional technical meetings.
The AIAA has formed a number of Technical Committees on topics of interest to its members. These committees are formed under major topic headings which identify their common interests.
Additionally the Technical Committees develop and manage their own conferences and other events to promote, educate, or professionally develop skills and interest in their topic of interest.
Space Colonization Technical Committee
The AIAA's Space Colonization Technical Committe was formed under the major group of Space and Missile systems.
Since its formation it has issued two papers: SCTC Statement on Robust Implementation of Lunar Settlements and SCTC Recommendations for Robust Implementation of Lunar Settlements.
Honors and Awards
The AIAA recognizes persons who have contributed significantly to the fields of Aeronautics and/or Astronautics via issuing a variety of Honors and Awards. These include special memberships grades, such as:
Missile Systems Award
The AIAA Missile Systems Award may be presented in two categories, Technical and Management. The Technical Award is presented for a significant accomplishment in developing or using technology that is required for missile systems. The candidate must have demonstrated expertise in aerodynamics, guidance, thermophysics, navigation, control, propulsion, or other fundamental technical disciplines that has led to substantial improvement in missile systems. The Technical and Management award are presently alternatively at the biannual Missle Sciences Conference. Thus, the awards are presented once every four years. The 2008 Technical Award winner was Ernest Ohlmeyer. The award is administred by the AIAA Missile Systems Technical Committee.
Published - July 2009
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