American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Aiaa logo.png
Type Professional Organization
Founded January 31, 1963
Origins Merger of the American Rocket Society and the Institute of Aerospace Sciences
Key people

Dr. Mark Lewis(current president)

M.Gen. Robert "Bob" Dickman (Executive Director)
Area served Worldwide
Mission "to address the professional needs and interests of the past, current, and future aerospace workforce and to advance the state of aerospace science, engineering, technology, operations, and policy to benefit our global society."[1]
Method Industry standards, Conferences, Publications
Members 31,000+
Motto "The World's Forum for Aerospace Leadership"

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 currently publishes several technical journals. The AIAA Journal is published on a monthly basis and serves as the flagship journal of the society. The other journals are published bi-monthly and have more specialized topics:[2]

  • Journal of Aerospace Computing, Information, and Communication
  • Journal of Aircraft
  • Journal of Energy
  • Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics
  • Journal of Hydronautics
  • Journal of Propulsion and Power
  • Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets
  • Journal of Thermophysics and Heat Transfer

A monthly general interest magazine called Aerospace America is sent to all members. The AIAA also produces several series of technical books ranging from education to progress in advanced research topics.


The AIAA Foundation

The AIAA 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 programs including assistance, research, and professional societies that recognize 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.

Student branches

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.

Technical committees

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. The technical committees listed by the Institute are[3]:

  • Adaptive Structures Technical Committee
  • Aeroacoustics Technical Committee
  • Aeroacoustics Technical Committee
  • Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Technical Committee
  • Aerodynamic Measurement Technology Technical Committee
  • Aerospace Power Systems Technical Committee
  • Air Breathing Propulsion Systems Integration Technical Committee
  • Air Transportation Systems Technical Committee
  • Aircraft Design Technical Committee
  • Aircraft Operations Technical Committee
  • Applied Aerodynamics Technical Committee
  • Astrodynamics Technical Committee
  • Atmospheric and Space Environments Technical Committee
  • Atmospheric Flight Mechanics Technical Committee
  • Balloon Systems Technical Committee
  • Communications Systems Technical Committee
  • Computer Systems Technical Committee
  • Design Engineering Technical Committee
  • Digital Avionics Technical Committee
  • Economics Technical Committee
  • Electric Propulsion Technical Committee
  • Energetic Components & Systems Technical Committee
  • Flight Testing Technical Committee
  • Fluid Dynamics Technical Committee
  • Gas Turbine Engines Technical Committee
  • General Aviation Technical Committee
  • Ground Testing Technical Committee
  • Guidance, Navigation & Control Technical Committee
  • High Speed Air Breathing Propulsion Technical Committee
  • History Technical Committee
  • Hybrid Rockets Technical Committee
  • Information and Command & Control Systems Technical Committee
  • Intelligent Systems Technical Committee
  • Legal Aspects Aero & Astro Technical Committee
  • Life Sciences & Systems Technical Committee
  • Lighter-than-Air Systems Technical Committee
  • Liquid Propulsion Technical Committee
  • Management Technical Committee
  • Materials Technical Committee
  • Meshing, Visualization, and Computational Environments Technical Committee
  • Microgravity & Space Processes
  • Missile Systems Technical Committee
  • Modeling & Simulation Technical Committee
  • Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Technical Committee
  • Non-Deterministic Approaches Technical Committee
  • Nuclear & Future Flight Propulsion Technical Committee
  • Plasmadynamics & Lasers Technical Committee
  • Product Support Technical Committee
  • Propellants & Combustion Technical Committee
  • Sensor Systems Technical Committee
  • Society & Aerospace Tech Technical Committee
  • Software Technical Committee
  • Solid Rockets Technical Committee
  • Space Architecture Technical Committee
  • Space Automation & Robotics Technical Committee
  • Space Colonization Technical Committee
  • Space Logistics Technical Committee
  • Space Operations & Support Technical Committee
  • Space Resources Technical Committee
  • Space Systems Technical Committee
  • Space Tethers Technical Committee
  • Space Transportation Technical Committee
  • Structural Dynamics Technical Committee
  • Structures Technical Committee
  • Survivability Technical Committee
  • Systems Engineering Technical Committee
  • Terrestrial Energy Systems Technical Committee
  • Thermophysics Technical Committee
  • V/STOL Aircraft Systems Technical Committee
  • Weapon System Effectiveness Technical Committee
"AIAA Technical Committees (TCs) bring together experts in their fields and given (sic) them the opportunity to exchange knowledge and get to know their colleagues from around the globe."[4]

Space Colonization Technical Committee

The AIAA's Space Colonization Technical Committee was formed under the major group of Space and Missile systems.

"The mission of the SCTC is to promote the identification and development of advanced concepts, science, and technology that will support, enhance and enable permanent human presence in space."[5]

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:

  • Senior Member
  • Associate Fellow
  • Fellow
  • Honorary Fellow

Goddard Astronautics Award

AIAA's highest award for astronautics. It was endowed by Mrs. Robert Goddard's widow in commemoration of her husband's pioneering efforts that led to the development of the fields of astronautics.[6]

Reed Aeronautics Award

AIAA's highest award for aeronautical science and engineering. It is named for Dr. Sylvanus A. Reed pioneer of the use of metal in propellor blades.[6]


  • Dryden Lectureship in Research, named for Dr. Hugh L. Dryden
  • Durand Lectureship, named for William F. Durand
  • von Kármán Lectureship in Astronautics, named for Theodore von Kármán
  • Wright Brothers Lectureship in Aeronautics, named for Orville and Wilbur Wright

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 Missile 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.

Other awards

  • International Cooperation Award
  • Distinguished Service Award


As of 2010, the AIAA will be taking over the organisation of the annual International Conference on Environmental Systems, a technical conference which focuses on manned space systems. Prior to this, the conference was organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

See also

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External links

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