A Launching Pad for Emerging Aerospace Professionals
By Basil Hassan|November 2023
AIAA is the place where emerging aerospace professionals can get their start. Whether a student in grade school, high school, or university, or pursuing advanced degrees, AIAA can enable a meaningful career journey. The AIAA Foundation is an inspiring and invaluable part of a student’s experience.
The work of the Foundation over the past 25+ years has inspired a new generation of aerospace professionals. Every day we strive to impact students where their aspirations begin and to reach educators where their inspiration begins. Through the Foundation we make funding available for STEM education programs, providing hands-on experiences that spark students’ curiosity about space, nurture their passions around STEM topics, and move them along a journey from the classroom into their career.
Understanding the impact of the Foundation through stories is powerful. My own AIAA story began almost 40 years ago at the AIAA Student Branch at North Carolina State University. Since then, I’ve been honored to lead the Institute as its president (2020–2022) and serve as the chair of the AIAA Foundation today. My career has been enabled by AIAA. I also have been pleased to support the Foundation, along with my late father, by establishing a graduate scholarship in the aerospace program he helped start at North Carolina State University, the Dr. Hassan A. Hassan Graduate Award in Aerospace Engineering. After his death, I doubled the impact of his scholarship by making a donation to add an extra recipient.
The story of the AIAA Foundation this year is best told by major impacts made through outreach, student and educator involvement, and investment:
• 644 university students attended the seven annual AIAA Regional Student Conferences
• 58 university students participated in the Diversity Scholars Program at 2022 ASCEND, 2023 AIAA SciTech Forum, and 2023 AVIATION Forum
• 2,565 university students participated in hands-on competitions: AIAA Design/Build/Fly and Design Competitions
• $100,000 was awarded to university students in scholarships and graduate awards
• $75,000 was awarded to K-12 educators as grants and awards
In addition, the Foundation has made an impact through its partnerships this year:
• The ExGen program – in partnership with AIAA Corporate Member Estes Rockets and the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) – provides K-12 educators with free, engaging classroom-ready lessons and curriculum storylines to help immerse students in real-life applications of STEM while exploring various concepts in aerospace, engineering, and rocketry and has impacted 540,000 K-12 students.
• Students To Launch (S2L) – in partnership with First Light, Griffin Communications Group, and Oregon State University – inspires middle and high school students with the wonders of space. With a focus on those in underrepresented and underserved communities, S2L invites students from across the country to engage in NASA mission-inspired events – from hands-on afterschool activities to attending rocket launches at NASA Kennedy Space Center and has impacted 21,888 middle school students.
The Foundation Board is looking at additional opportunities and partnerships to help broaden the reach of our mission. I invite you to read more stories about the impact of the AIAA Foundation at aiaa.org/foundation.
An Invitation to the 2023 AIAA Foundation Day of Giving
We each have a special opportunity this year to write the next chapter of the story of the Foundation by making a financial contribution.
The Foundation will participate in the nationally recognized Day of Giving on 28 November. Our goal is to inspire the possibilities of the future. Please consider how you might make your mark on our profession. I hope each of you will join me in contributing toward our goal of raising $75,000 to develop the next generation of aerospace leaders. The AIAA community includes more than 30,000 members. Just think what we could accomplish if each of us made some contribution, even a small one. If you do the math, with a majority of us making a $10 investment, we can blow past our goal and make a massive impact!
More now than ever, I believe that AIAA’s future is bright. With your generosity, the AIAA Foundation will continue supporting students and teachers, inspiring more young people to launch an aerospace career with the support of AIAA.