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The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

is the world's largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession.

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Education and Workforce Issues and Advocacy

Education and Workforce

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) represents the aerospace endeavor and the technical professionals who supports it. AIAA's advocacy programs have four overall goals:


  • To foster AIAA as the voice of, and advocate for, the aerospace profession;
  • To contribute to society by acting as a catalyst for information flow and creative exchange;
  • To create high value for our members; and
  • To strengthen the profession by stimulating workforce development and retention.

Education and Workforce Policy Priorities

Kendall Says Participation in Technical Conferences Crucial to Government Employees

28 February 2014
Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L), issued a 20 February memo discussing the DoD participation in technical and industry conferences. In his memo, addressed to the Research and Development and Science and Technology departments of the DoD, he highlights that science and technology conferences and symposia are crucial for maintaining the technical competence and professional development of DoD scientists and engineers.

More Info > (Kendall's Memo)


Increasing Emphasis and Funding for Technology and Engineering in STEM
Education in the "STEM" subjects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics provides the critical foundation for our future national security and economic competitiveness. Inadequate emphasis and funding for the critical "T&E" components of STEM – technology and engineering – have eroded this foundation. This nation has supported science and mathematics education for decades, yet enrollments and graduation rates in engineering have been dropping. Increased emphasis and funding must be directed to the T&E components of STEM if the nation is to fully reap the intended benefits of STEM education.


Recruiting, Retaining, and Developing a World-Class Aerospace Workforce
Without a strong aerospace workforce, the United States will lose significant economic and national security benefits. Incentives are needed for industry to invest in domestic aerospace workforce development, and for U.S. students to choose careers in engineering. Barriers to employing talented foreign nationals must also be removed.

Education and Workforce Information Papers

March 2012
Increasing Emphasis and Funding for Technology and Engineering in STEM
The U.S. increasingly is falling behind its own past record of attainment, as well as the records of other nations, in the production of engineering graduates. Since professional engineers rely on a firm academic foundation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), increased national emphasis must be placed on these disciplines in general and in particular on Technology and Engineering (T&E). AIAA provides this informational paper to raise awareness of the importance of increased emphasis on technology and engineering education, and how this lays the foundation for a strong and vibrant supply of engineers to maintain America’s edge in the global competitive marketplace.


March 2012
Recruiting, Retaining, and Developing a World‐Class Aerospace Workforce
In order to maintain its leadership in aerospace, the U.S. needs to maintain and enhance a strong aerospace workforce, without which the United States would lose invaluable economic and national security benefits. Since aerospace constitutes about $218 billion (or 1.5%) of the domestic economy, and in 2011 was estimated to deliver a $57 billion positive trade balance, it is critical during the continued challenging economic climate to keep this sector healthy and growing. AIAA provides this informational paper to raise awareness of the unique criticality of workforce issues in the aerospace industry and stimulate discussion in Congress about measures to maintain U.S. leadership and excellence in this important strategic industry.

Education and Workforce Legislative and Regulatory Action

  • S.1129  - STEM2 Act
  • H.Res.80  - Academic Competition Resolution
  • H.R. 2334  - Stem2 Act
  • H.R. 118  - National STEM Education Tax Incentive for Teachers Act of 2013
  • S.3553 —Benefits to Research and American Innovation Through Nationality Statuses Act of 2012
  • H.R.6249 —STEM Jobs Act of 2012
  • 3.475 — Women and Minorities in STEM Booster Act of 2012
  • 3.217 —Startup Act 2.0
  • S.3192 — SMART Jobs Act
  • S.3185 — Securing the Talent America Requires for the 21st Century Act of 2012
  • H.R. 4483  — Broadening Participation in STEM Act
  • HR.4366 — Project Ready STEM Act
  • H.R. 3821 — A Bill to Reauthorize 21st Century Community Learning Centers, And for Other Purposes
  • S.758 — A bill to establish a STEM Master Teacher Corps program
  • S.463  — A bill to amend part B of title II of the Elementary and Secondary Ed. Act of 1965
  • H.R.286 — Johnson Space Center Workforce Stability Act of 2011
  • H.R.399 — Stopping Trained in America Ph.D.s from Leaving the Economy Act of 2011
  • H.R.289 — National STEM Education Tax Incentive for Teachers Act of 2011
  • H.R.135 — National STEM Education Tax Incentive for Teachers Act of 2011

Education and Workforce Testimony

10 December 2009
David W. Thompson, AIAA President, testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology. The hearing, Decisions on the Future Direction and Funding for NASA: What will they mean for the U.S. Aerospace Workforce and Industrial Base?, focused on the implications for the aerospace community stemming from the recommendations from the Augustine Commission report.


3 February 2010
Thompson's Responses (PDF)

Education and Workforce Letters to Congress

10 February 2009
AIAA joined several dozen of its partners in the STEM Education Coalition in urging Congressional leaders to include in the final version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 bold investments in STEM education and science research and development aimed at both stimulating the national economy and providing for the long-term competitiveness of the American workforce.


5 September 2008
AIAA joined fellow members of the STEM Education Coalition in thanking Representatives George Miller and Howard “Buck” McKeon, Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the of the House Committee on Education and Labor; and Senators Edward Kennedy and Michael Enzi, Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, for ensuring that the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 “clearly recognizes the vital role that strong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs play in ensuring our nation’s competitiveness in the global economy.”


24 June 2008
AIAA joined with thirty other prominent organizations in submitting a letter to House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon expressing support for H.R. 6314, the Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Act of 2008. Recently introduced by Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, this Act would help women scientists and engineers to envision a career path that allows them to reach their full intellectual potential so that they may make significant contributions to scientific innovations in the U.S. and worldwide.


3 June 2008
AIAA President George Muellner issued a statement on H.R. 6063, the “NASA Authorization Act of 2008” – "I applaud the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science for the commitment they have made in this legislation toward meeting our nation’s crucial priorities in aerospace research and development. In an ever more competitive world, the course we chart now will affect our ability to maintain both our national security and our economic leadership. This bill will permit NASA to continue to support cutting-edge aerospace technology R&D, to meet the schedule of our national Vision for Space Exploration, and to help develop the next generation of aerospace professionals we will need for future technology development and for future mission vision and support."

Education and Workforce Events

2 January 2013
Why STEM Education and Minority Achievement Rates are Interlinked
Economists agree – science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education is critical to the future success of the United States. Yet even at the K-12 level, these subjects are not being given the emphasis they deserve. According to a Huffington Post blog by Stephen M. Coan, president of the Sea Research Foundation, early education has focused primarily on reading and basic math, ignoring the importance of advanced STEM education.


6 December 2012
Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress Releases a Letter on STEM Education to America's Parents
The Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress has issued a letter on the state of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education to America's parents. The letter points out existing flaws within the American system of education, and asks parents to take a greater role in prodding the American system of education to make the systemic changes necessary for American students to compete in the increasingly global arena of commerce.


28 November 2012
House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Rules Hearing on H.R.6249 —The STEM Jobs Act of 2012


October 2012
House Commitee on Science, Space and Technology Exploring the Regulatory Burdens Facing American Research Universities
Mo Brooks, Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's Subcommittee on Research and Science Education has sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office asking the office to review regulatory actions which hinder American research universities. The text of Brooks' letter can be read here Chairman Brooks' Letter to the Government Accountability Office.


27 September 2012
Live Webcast - Education and Immigration Reform: Reigniting American Competitiveness and Economic Oppurtunity
On September 27, the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings will host a forum on STEM education and immigration reforms and how these policy innovations can recharge American competitiveness and economic opportunity for current and future generations of workers. Brad Smith, executive vice president and general counsel of Microsoft, will deliver keynote remarks. Moderated by Vice President Darrell West, a panel of experts will discuss policy changes in education, immigration, among a variety of other areas, to enhance the American workforce’s competitiveness in a global economy.


19 September 2012
Five years of the America COMPETES Act: Progress, Challenges and Next Steps
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold a hearing on “Five Years of the America COMPETES Act: Progress, Challenges, and Next Steps.” This hearing will examine implementation of the COMPETES Act and challenges in maintaining the United States’ leadership in innovation and technology. Please note the hearing will be webcast live via the Senate Commerce Committee website. Refresh the Commerce Committee homepage 10 minutes prior to the scheduled start time to automatically begin streaming the webcast. Witnesses for the event are: Norman R. Augustine, Chairman and CEO (Retired), Lockheed Martin Corporation; The Honorable Carl E. Wieman, Distinguished Professor of Physics, Presidential Teaching Scholar, and Director of the Science Education Inititative, University of Colorado Boulder; Dr. Jeffrey L. Furman, Associate Professor of Strategy & Innovation, Boston University; Dr. Peter Lee, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft; and John Winn, Chief Program Officer, National Math and Science Initiative.


27 June 2012
AIAA and IEEE-USA To Hold Capitol Hill Forum on Immigration and ITAR
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and IEEE-USA will co-sponsor “A Spark Deferred: The Impact of ITAR and Immigration Policy on the Future of America’s Technology Sector” on Wednesday, June 27. This luncheon event will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Room 188 of the Russell Senate Office Building, Constitution Ave. and First St. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002.The panel discussion will highlight barriers existing in the current student visa system and in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) regime that restrict foreign students from working in high-value research areas and within the U.S. technology sector, and how these barriers limit future growth in these sections, imperiling the U.S. economy and national security. The panel will be moderated by Dr. Annalisa Weigel, Charles Stark Draper Career Development Assistant Professor of Aeronautics, Astronautics, and Engineering Systems, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Panelists for the event will be: Dr. Robert P. Breault, chairman of the board, Breault Research Organization; Dr. Claude R. Canizares, vice president for research, and associate provost, MIT; and Mark E. Harrington, founder and principal partner, The Harrington Law Firm, Houston, Texas.


13–14 May 2012
Inside Aerospace: Working Together to Build the Aerospace Workforce of Tomorrow
The regeneration of our professional workforce is the leading challenge confronting the aerospace community. The aerospace workforce is aging, and too few young people are choosing engineering and science careers. The “silver tsunami” of retirements, a potential shortfall of engineering graduates, and an inability to retain and inspire top new talent combine to define this challenge. Key elements of the problem are an inadequate number of engineering graduates, a lack of diversity in the aerospace fields, and past industry hire-and-layoff practices. Aerospace has not been able to capitalize on two-thirds of the nation’s future workforce, specifically women and minorities. Our cyclical business, coupled with a lack of inspirational activities and role models, have created a nationwide image that fails to attract and retain the desired workforce. Unless this trend is reversed, the aerospace industry cannot survive and flourish. We must begin now, working throughout the entire educational and social value system. Our efforts must be coordinated among all aerospace employers and the broader community at-large that will eventually be the main beneficiary of these efforts.


12–13 May 2009
Inside Aerospace: Building and Retaining the Aerospace Workforce
Actions have been taken in response to the 2008 Inside Aerospace Forum’s recommendations in all three areas cited by the report of that forum. In education and social environment, these include using new media, expanding school STEM programs, using outside mentors as guidance counselors, increasing corporate support for STEM education, encouraging public-private partnerships to foster education and research, adjusting college curricula to focus on new interests and earlier and more “hands-on” courses, and applying systems dynamic modeling to increase the number of STEM students and recruit more women and minorities. In employee recruitment and retention, actions have been to increase and expand the use of teams, highlight leadership aspects, transmit “passion” to schools, develop and publish a list of “best practices,” encourage managers to focus on work/life balance, go “out of the box” for new hires, devise simple, comprehensive recognition programs, form retention teams, publicize examples of successful mentoring projects, diversify the workforce, begin passing on leadership to the next generation, and begin systems engineering training early in engineers’ careers. In fostering inspiration, actions have been to expand corporate and professional-society inspirational programs, build programs to create role models, devise and conduct projects to train and educate STEM teachers, begin the repositioning of the engineering profession, and foster the recognition that engineering is critical to large social programs.