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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    New AIAA Event Model

    Dear Colleague:

    In light of recent trends in conference attendance and other metrics, as well as in the overall economy and various aerospace sectors, AIAA has over the past year been conducting an in-depth assessment of our various events, and developing a “New Event Model” that we believe will allow us to better serve our membership and reach a broader cross section of the aerospace community. Led by the Technical Activities Committee with input from the various technical discipline constituencies and other areas of the Institute, this effort was guided by these touchstone principles:

    1. Technical Strength: We must maintain the strength of our existing technical conferences as they relate to the R&D communities, even as we work to reach the broader aerospace community. We will continue to rely on the Technical Committees (TCs) and Program Committees (PCs) to organize compelling technical content.
    2. Relevance: We must develop multi-layered “must-attend” events that attract a wider cross-section of the aerospace community, augmenting technical disciplines with integrated systems, operations, and policy issues so as to offer attendees a wealth of compelling topics.
    3. Interaction: We must provide a spectrum of networking and exhibit opportunities, ranging from large, cross-discipline activities to targeted networking events organized as “villages” or “zones” to enhance the camaraderie within historically tight or smaller communities.
    4. Engagement: We must work with other sectors of the Institute (Public Policy, Education, Standards, International, Corporate Membership, etc.) to provide members with compelling high-level policy and programmatic topics that explore the intersection of technology and policy.
    5. Growth: We must ensure that we are ready to exploit opportunities for expansion or growth into new technical or programmatic areas that are important to our evolving industry.

    As a result of this process, in May the AIAA Board of Directors approved an “AIAA Forum Strategy” for implementation beginning in 2014. This new strategy focuses on presenting five major events in 2014:

    1. AIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition (Winter) – open meeting
    2. AIAA Defense and Security Forum and Exposition (Winter/Spring) – classified meeting
    3. AIAA Aviation and Aeronautics Forum and Exposition (Early Summer) – open, U.S. only for selected sessions
    4. AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum and Exposition (Mid Summer) – open, U.S. only for selected sessions
    5. 5AIAA Space and Astronautics Forum and Exposition (Late Summer) – open, U.S. only for selected sessions

    We think this strategy will help AIAA maintain and strengthen our role as the technical leader while becoming more relevant to a larger segment of the aerospace community. The forum strategy is more than just co-locating existing conferences under larger umbrella forums. It is an attempt to enhance our events to serve a broad cross section of the membership and our industry — not only those members focused in the traditional aerospace technologies but also those working further up the “product chain,” in process execution and mission applications as well as integration and systems. As a way to achieve these objectives, our events will be organized around three main layers:

    • The first, most familiar layer (the “Discipline tier”) will present discipline-focused sessions, organized by the TCs as they are now, featuring topics relevant to specific constituencies.
    • The second layer (the “Integration tier”) will include multidisciplinary and systems integration topics, organized by relevant PCs and TCs, for those whose interests intersect multiple disciplines.
    • The third layer (the “Plenary tier”) will include plenary talks and panels that would be of interest to all attendees in the specific domain that defines the event.

    Our current technical conferences will keep their existing names, and be promoted individually as well as under the forum structure. Here is how our current conferences will map to the new forums:


    Science and Technology Forum and Exposition – Winter, open meeting
    • Aerospace Sciences Meeting
    • Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference
    • ASME Wind Energy Symposium
    • Structures, Structural Dynamics, and Materials Conference
    • Adaptive Structures Conference
    • Non-Deterministic Approaches Conference
    • Gossamer Systems Forum
    • Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Specialist Conference
    AIAA Defense and Security Forum and Exposition – Winter/Spring, classified meeting
    • Strategic and Tactical Missiles Conference
    • Missile Sciences Conference
    • Weapon System Effectiveness Conference
    AIAA Aviation and Aeronautics Forum and Exposition – open, U.S. only for selected sessions
    • Aviation 20XX Conference
    • Aviation Technology, Integration, and Operations Conference
    • Multidisciplinary Analysis and Optimization Conference
    • Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems*/Balloons/Lighter-Than Air Conferences
    • Fluid Dynamics Conference (including Flow Control and Computational Fluid Dynamics)
    • Thermophysics Conference
    • Plasmadynamics and Lasers Conference
    • Applied Aerodynamics Conference
    • Aerodynamic Measurement Technology Conference
    • Ground Testing Conference
    • Atmospheric Flight Mechanics Conference
    • Modeling and Simulation Technologies Conference
    • Flight Testing Conference
    • Atmospheric and Space Environments Conference
    • Complex Aerospace Systems Exchange *
    • AIAA/CEAS Aeroacoustics Conference **
    • International Space Planes and Hypersonic Systems and Technologies Conference **
    • AIAA/3AF Aircraft Noise and Emissions Reduction Symposium **
    AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum and Exposition – open, U.S. only for selected sessions
    • Joint Propulsion Conference
    • International Energy Conversion Engineering Conference
    • International Conference on Environmental Systems**
    AIAA Space and Astronautics Forum and Exposition – open, U.S. only for selected sessions
    • Space 20XX Conference
    • International Communication Satellite Systems Conference **
    • Astrodynamics Specialist Conference ***
    • Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Conference*
    • Complex Aerospace Systems Exchange *


    The placement of Infotech@Aerospace is to be determined.
    *=Alternates between two forums
    **=When held in the U.S.
    ***=When organized by AIAA

    During the assessment of a new event model, we did receive feedback from some members with concerns about what the change would mean. See the appendix below for the concerns and proposed mitigations.

    We are excited about the evolution of AIAA events and the future of the Institute. Change is never easy, but our current environment calls for it. There will be bumps in the road, but that is why we are planning now for a transition that starts in 2014. Your participation will help make it a great success, not only for our current members and conference attendees, but also for our future ones.

    Please feel free to contact us with any questions or suggestions.




    MichaelGriffin     BobDickman     BasilHassan
    Michael Griffin
    AIAA President
        Robert Dickman
    AIAA Executive
        Basil Hassan
    AIAA Vice President,
    Technical Activities



    Appendix: Concerns and Mitigations Presented to AIAA Board of Directors

    Concern   Mitigation
    Lack of control or loss of identity under a forum umbrella   Promote events both at the forum level and at the conference level.
    Loss of control in deciding locations.   Executive planning committee and AIAA staff to consider various venues with input from participating committees.
    Fear of higher registration fees, venue costs, etc.   Conferences with higher attendance typically have lower costs per attendee.
    Fear of dilution or lack of focus on specific technologies.   AIAA holds many co-located conferences, allowing attendees to focus or broaden. Opportunities will exist to highlight important technologies.
    TCs have interests in multiple forums, but may be only able to support one or two maximum.   On average, AIAA TCs hold two conferences a year. It is expected that this opportunity will continue with the Forums. Should a TC prefer, it may choose to meet at one Forum and also sponsor sessions at another applicable forum based on the content.
    Fear that networking opportunities at a large event will not be adequate, loss of “intimate” meeting opportunities.   We will employ the “village” concept for both session locations and targeted networking events.
    The effect of the model on well-established relationships with partner societies (ASME, AAS, etc.).   Current relationships with partner societies are not expected to change. They can participate in the Forum concept as they have before since we will also promote at the individual conference level where the other societies typically participate.
    We are a technical society, not a programmatic society, and our historical strength will be diluted.   We must maintain our technical strength. That is our core. The ability to intersect technical disciplines with programmatic/system/policy topics will only strengthen the events.
    There will be too much to choose from. There is already a concern that our conferences as they are have too many concurrent sessions and this will make it worse.   Current funding environments are limiting how many conferences aerospace professionals can attend. We will give our attendees a choice of what to see at each forum.
    Some organizations, like NASA, will only send a fixed number of staff to a given conference. By putting them together under an umbrella, this might make the problem worse (i.e., sending a fixed number of attendees to a single event, regardless of the number of conferences under the umbrella).   AIAA leadership will broadly communicate the AIAA Forum Strategy to key stakeholders so they understand the purpose. Multiple co-located conferences will still exist under the strategy.