Membership Honors Serve to Inspire the Next Generation
By Dan Dumbacher|February 2023
AIAA is dedicated to supporting the growth, evolution, and diversification of the 21st-century workforce to fill the job needs in the industry. This topic has been one of our Key Issues for the last several years because of its vital importance. Current statistics show that there were approximately 3.6M high school students in the United States in 2021; in the same year 144,000 students graduated with engineering bachelor degrees in the United States. The Institute believes that offering inspirational and experiential STEM education programs to students and educators at the K-12 levels is necessary to meet the aerospace workforce demands of the future. AIAA provides scholarships, awards, and design competitions to university undergraduate and graduate students to continue supporting our student members’ classroom-to-career journey. We also offer membership advancement as a distinguished honor and valuable element of workforce development.
AIAA advancement recognizes career contributions to the aerospace community and is open to all aerospace professionals. The distinction members gain with each membership advancement earns the respect of peers and employers and bolsters a member’s reputation throughout the community. For our young professionals and students, this recognition is key to accelerate and “ignite the future!”
The first level of distinction is Senior Member, for individuals who have demonstrated a successful professional practice in the arts, sciences, or technology of aeronautics or astronautics for the equivalent of at least eight years.
The next level is Associate Fellow, acknowledging individuals who have accomplished or been in charge of important engineering or scientific work, or have done original work of outstanding merit, or have otherwise made outstanding contributions to the arts, sciences, or technology of aeronautics or astronautics. The Institute currently has over 3,300 active Associate Fellows.
The next level is Fellow, celebrating individuals of distinction in aeronautics or astronautics who have made notable valuable contributions to the arts, sciences, or technology of aeronautics or astronautics. 2,038 distinguished persons have been elected to the rank of AIAA Fellow.
The highest membership honor is Honorary Fellow, commending individuals of eminence in aeronautics or astronautics distinguished by long and highly contributive careers. In 1933, Orville Wright became AIAA’s first Honorary Fellow, and there have been 238 elected since.
The accomplishments of AIAA members at these levels serve as a source of inspiration and example for our young professional members and student members. They can see and personalize the possible futures ahead of them in their careers and aspire to even greater heights. This virtuous cycle will surely help the Institute continue developing our workforce. Celebrating the best and brightest minds in our community encourages us all as we work together shaping the future of aerospace.
Nominations for the Class of 2024 Associate Fellows open in February. Nominations for the Class of 2024 Honorary Fellows open in February; nominations for the Class of 2024 Fellows open on 1 April. Look around your network, your local section, or your committee, and nominate a colleague you believe deserves this AIAA honor. Find the specific criteria and forms at aiaa.org/honorsandawards.