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Freitag Award Honors Scholarship, Initiative, and Volunteerism

Freitag Award Honors Scholarship, Initiative, and Volunteerism

The Joseph Freitag Sr. Award was created with the AIAA Foundation to enable outstanding students attending the Daimler Ausbildung and Training School, in Stuttgart, Germany, to continue their education.

Mr. Freitag, a graduate of the Daimler School in 1922, became a leader in the field of advanced aircraft instrumentation, flight control, radar, and marine stabilization design. He is recognized in the National Aviation Space Exploration Wall of Honor at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

When Mr. Freitag moved to America to escape escalating troubles in Germany, his immigrant status made it difficult to finding meaningful employment. He held several jobs, including mechanic and truck driver, before a contact at ASME resulted in an interview at Sperry Gyroscope Company. The day after Freitag lost everything he owned in a fire in his New York apartment building, he accepted a position as a Sperry file clerk, but didn’t stay in the file office for long. When the chief scientist saw his qualifications, they immediately promoted the file clerk to the research lab, where Freitag went on to have a successful career and earned many patents for his innovative designs, despite lacking an engineering degree.

Just as that chief scientist changed his life, the Freitag Award is designed to offer the same support to others.

Freitag lived a full life both within and outside of his work, and died at age 102. Two days before his death, his sons told him of their plans to offer an award to an outstanding college student every year in his honor. Freitag’s response was “Where were you guys 80 years ago? I could’ve used the money!”

Joe Jr. remembers his father as “a person of great values. We tried to capture the characteristics that were important to him in the criteria for the Freitag Award.” While the Award demands high academic standards, it has other requirements, including:

  • tional achievement – dedicated to continuous learning for self improvement
  • Initiative – to bring forth new approaches and ideas to technical problems
  • Craftsmanship – in professional, family, and leisure activities
  • Team player – whose contribution is adapted to fit the team effort
  • Determination and perseverance – to overcome the challenges of life

Each year, the selected student will receive 1000 Euros to assist in the expenses of further education. The members of the Freitag Foundation hope that all students who attend the Daimler school will be inspired by the example of Joseph Freitag Sr., value their education, live in a manner that brings them career satisfaction and personal happiness, and by volunteering, use their talents to improve their community and the lives of others.

“The best thing that ever happened to me was my education,” says Joe Jr. “We want to share opportunity of education with others, for the individual but also for the future. Without the discipline a successful academic employs it’s difficult to do something original.”

The Freitag winners, and there are five of them to date, are encouraged to stay in touch with each other, offering lifelong support and friendship. Says Joe Jr., “The Award is much more than just financial support. It’s a real career boost. I wish we could do more – it’s tough to choose just one student each year.”

Award founder Joe Freitag Jr. is a business development consultant to major contractors and small business in the aerospace industry, specializing in strategy development, diversification, and new business. He and his wife, Linda, live in Palos Verdes, Ca. – along with his two classic cars, a 1930 Model A Cabriolet and a 1956 Thunderbird.

Make an investment in the future with the AIAA Foundation, which ignites interest in science and technology through STEM K-12 education programs; prepares students for the workforce with scholarships and student conferences; promotes professional achievement via our Honors and Awards Programs for industry professionals and educators; and fosters innovation through competitions that push the envelope of current technologies. For more information on the AIAA Foundation, or to make your own contribution to aerospace education, please visit or call 703.264.7518.