Awards Process and Procedures

AIAA Awards

This award category honors significant achievement in specific fields of aerospace technical expertise. Because the respective AIAA technical committee for each field conducts the award and selection process, the most current and appropriate candidates are identified. All technical excellence award recipients receive a distinctive engraved medal and certificate of citation (signed by the AIAA President and Chair of the Honors and Awards Committee) symbolizing technical excellence.

Procedures and Requirements

This document outlines the minimum requirements expected for all AIAA Technical Excellence Awards. Technical Committees or Program Committees who sponsor such awards must have processes in place that meet and follow these requirements. It is required that the Technical Committee or Program Committee archive their award processes with AIAA Honors and Awards. Any significant changes to these awards must be approved by the AIAA Technical Activities Division (TAD) and the AIAA Honors and Awards Committee (HAC).

  1. Administration
    1. The administration of the technical excellence awards resides at AIAA Headquarters, under the auspices of HAC.
  1. Award Responsibility
    1. Responsibility for technical excellence awards resides with one or more specific AIAA Technical Committees (TCs) or Program Committees (PCs) as defined in the award description. TCs/PCs are charged with actively maintaining the award in terms of nominations, currency of award scope, award process, etc. Revisions/changes are subject to approvals by the AIAA Technical Activities Division and AIAA Honors and Awards Committee.
    2. To ensure an adequate nomination pool, it is strongly recommended that each TC/PC have a Nominations Committee to proactively identify nominees and a respective nominator. Past TC/PC chairs and/or former award recipients are examples of people who might be good participants on such a committee.
  1. Who May Nominate
    1. Any AIAA member in good standing may nominate candidates for any of the awards.
  1. Nominee Elibibility
    1. AIAA wishes to recognize its members through the honors and awards program while also recognizing the most respected individuals worldwide. AIAA membership is not required. However, because contributions to the aerospace community are important criteria in the selection of award recipients, AIAA service or participation may be a discriminator between otherwise equal candidates.
    2. It is the nominator’s responsibility to verify the nominee’s eligibility. In general, the nominee must not have been a rostered member of the AIAA Technical or Program Committee(s) responsible for that particular technical award for at least 1 year prior to the nomination deadline. A rostered member of a TC or PC is a Full, Associate, International, or Alumni/Emeritus Member who is listed on the TC/PC roster on file with the Technical Activities Committee liaison at AIAA Headquarters. Both TC and PC member terms expire on April 30.
    3. Under extraordinary circumstances, however, individuals who are or have been members of the responsible TC(s) or PC(s) during the preceding year may be considered for the award provided the AIAA procedures contained in this document and the following additional process and conditions are followed:
      1. Prior to preparation of the nomination package, the nominator should contact the Chief, Technical Activities Division with a request for waiver, allowing sufficient time prior to the nomination deadline. The nominator should provide a brief write-up describing the nominee’s achievement and its importance and why the nominee should receive the award at this time.
        1. If AIAA receives a nomination package (without waiver approval) for an individual who is or was a member of the responsible TC or PC during the preceding year, AIAA will return the nomination requesting that the nominator contact the Chief-TAD to determine eligibility. If the waiver is granted, the nominator may re-submit the nomination with the letter or email from the Chief-TAD.
      2. The Chief-TAD will only consider eligibility waivers when extraordinary circumstances exist. An example of a circumstance where the waiver might be warranted is for someone who is being nominated for a recent accomplishment where waiting might result in a disadvantage to the potential nominee. Some factors to be considered when considering a waiver include:
        1. The TC(s)/PC(s) must have a demonstrated history of selecting non-TC/PC member awardees.
        2. Waivers will not normally be granted to those being nominated for lifetime achievement awards since they can be nominated one year after their term on the committee has ended.
      3. If the Chief-TAD approves the waiver, the nominator may begin preparation of the nomination package. A copy of the Chief-TAD’s approval letter or email will be included as part of the package which is submitted to AIAA on or prior to the nomination deadline. If the CHIEF-TAD does not approve the waiver, the nominator may submit the nomination when the nominee becomes fully eligible.
    4. Current Technical Group Directors and Deputy Directors are not eligible to be nominated for any technical awards that are the responsibility of a Technical Committee falling under their oversight. Additionally, they should not serve as a nominator or reference for awards under their purview during their term of service.
    5. Current Program Committee Coordinators or Deputies are not eligible to be nominated for any technical awards that are the responsibility of a Program Committee falling under their oversight. Additionally, they should not serve as a nominator or reference for awards under their purview during their term of service.
    6. Current members of the AIAA Board of Directors and the AIAA Council of Directors, except under unusual circumstances, are not eligible to be nominated for any award until their term of service ends.
    7. All nominees must be living at the time of the nomination deadline. Posthumous awards will only be made if the selectee passes after AIAA headquarters formally notified the person of their selection for the award but prior to presentation of the award. If a nominee passes during any carryover period, the nomination will be withdrawn and AIAA will notify the nominator. If a nominee passes while the selection process is ongoing, the nomination will be withdrawn and will not be considered.
  1. Call for Nominations
    1. A Call for Nominations will announce AIAA awards for which nominations are being solicited and will be posted in Aerospace America, AIAA website, and other member outreach as appropriate. It also will be distributed to technical committees, sections, etc.
    2. Technical and Program committees are strongly encouraged to actively solicit nominations. The size of an award nomination pool is one measure of the health of the award.
  1. Award Description
    1. A description of each award, including scope, nomination deadline date (deadline date), frequency (annual, biennial, etc.), presentation venue and past recipients, is maintained at www.aiaa.org.
  1. Nomination Deadline
    1. There are three primary award cycles in the AIAA Honors & Awards Program: the deadline dates are 1 February, 1 July and 1 October. By exception, several awards have alternate dates that have been negotiated between the sponsoring TC and the TAD and HAC. Extensions to the nomination deadline will not be permitted.
    2. All awards in the AIAA Honors & Awards Program are assigned to an appropriate cycle that allows the necessary time for the selection process, recipient notification and award presentation. Any changes to the nomination deadlines mustbe approved by TAD and HAC.
    3. A complete nomination package must be received by AIAA on or prior to the deadline date. Nomination packages will be accepted on a daily basis and considered for the appropriate award year.
  1. Nominations
    1. All award nominations must be submitted on the AIAA nomination form, and submitted to awards@aiaa.org. The nominator must sign and date the form.
    2. To place a nomination using the nomination form, submit the following as one package: a signed nomination form, one page basis for award, one page resume, one page summary of public contributions, and three signed one page letters of endorsement
      1. At the nominator’s option, one or two additional signed one page letters of endorsement may be submitted and increase the complete nomination package to 8 or 9 pages, respectively.
    3. All nomination packages must be received at AIAA on or prior to the deadline. Submit the nomination package to awards@aiaa.org. For questions please contact the Manager-AIAA Honors and Awards Program, at 703/264-7523 or via e-mail at patriciac@aiaa.org. All submitted materials should be typewritten in English using 10 point or larger font size.
    4. For technical excellence award nominations, the nominee’s TC or PC status will be verified by AIAA Honors and Awards. If there are questions about a nominee’s eligibility, nominators may contact AIAA for assistance.
    5. Nominees/awardees may not receive more than one AIAA award for the same accomplishment.
    6. Nominations involving a team of individuals may be submitted if permitted by the scope of the award. In this case, a summary of the team’s accomplishments and/or achievements that supports and justifies the nomination should be considered as the basis of award, and a roster of team members/contact information should be submitted in lieu of the resume. Public contributions may be included if appropriate. The team leader must be identified on the nomination form.
    7. When submitting a nomination for an AIAA award, please be certain to furnish all relevant information. The submitted material is the total case as it will be presented to the appropriate selection committee.
    8. Nomination packages exceeding the page limit will be returned to the nominator. The nomination package may be re-submitted to AIAA by the nomination deadline providing it meets the page limit.
  1. Letters of Endorsement
    1. For all nominations, at least three but no more than five signed one page letters of endorsement must be submitted to support the nomination. At least three of those submitted must be from AIAA members in good standing. Signed letters of endorsement may be sent directly to AIAA Headquarters or accompany the nomination form; however, they must reach AIAA on or prior to the deadline date.
    2. It is the nominator’s responsibility to contact potential references prior to submitting the nomination to AIAA. The nominator may not serve as a reference.
  1. Submittal of Nominations to Selection Committee
    1. If there are at least three nomination packages on file at AIAA Headquarters on or prior to the nomination deadline date, the award will be considered for presentation that award year. Failure to have three validated nomination packages on file by the submission deadline will result in the award not being presented for that award cycle. Exceptions to the minimum will not be granted. It is therefore incumbent on the sponsoring committee(s) to ensure an adequate nomination pool. Committees are strongly encouraged to solicit at least one or two new nominations a year to ensure an adequate pool and guard against potential withdrawals of nominations (either by the nominee or nominator) or via the death of a nominee during the award’s carryover period.
    2. After the nomination deadline, AIAA will forward all eligible nominations to the selection committee if there are sufficient nominations for the award to be given that cycle. If the award is not to be considered for presentation due to a lack of adequate number of nominations, AIAA shall notify the TC/PC Chair/Vice Chair/Chair Elect and the responsible Director/Coordinator and upon request will provide the names and organization of the eligible nominees on file to the selection committee.
    3. Incomplete nomination packages will not be submitted to the selection committee.
  1. Selection Process
    1. The evaluation of the award must be performed by a selection committee (or entire TC/PC, as desired) of a minimum of five members representing an appropriate cross section of the technical community.
    2. For awards in which multiple TCs/PCs are responsible, the selection committee must include at least one representative from each of the responsible TCs/PCs. The names of selection committee members must be submitted to AIAA Honors and Awards no later than the nomination deadline.
    3. All of the TCs/PCs responsible for the award must conduct a separate vote (either at a TC/PC meeting or via email) to accept the award recipient as recommended by the selection committee. A majority of affirmative votes from those voting from each TC/PC must confirm the recommendation.
    4. Neither the nominator, nominee, nor any reference may be involved in evaluation of the nominees or selection of the award recipient. Nominators and references who are current TC/PC members will be eligible to vote in the final TC/PC vote to confirm the recipient.
    5. The TC/PC Chair(s) and the Group Director(s)/Coordinator must approve the final selection by ensuring the TC’s/PC’s award process has been followed. If the Group Director/Coordinator, prior to term of office, served as nominator or reference for the recommended recipient, then approval of the final selection will fall to the Chief-TAD.
    6. The TC/PC Chair (or selection subcommittee chair if authorized by the TC/PC Chair) needs to inform the Group Director and the AIAA Manager, Honors and Awards of the recipient name, 25-word citation, selection process used (including evaluation scores), and necessary TC/PC approval at least 90 days prior to award presentation. This deadline also means that the nomination deadline dates are hard and extensions will not be allowed.
    7. There must be a documented, quantitative grading scale included in the award process that the selection subcommittee uses to distinguish the candidates and identify a recipient.
    8. The selection subcommittee shall select an appropriate recipient using the evaluation criteria set by the Technical Activities Division as well as other pre-defined additional criteria specific to the award. Additional criteria may be implemented by each TC/PC (might be different for each TC’s/PC’s award) and it is up to each TC/PC to make sure they have an appropriate set of criteria for their given award.
    9. The evaluation criteria for each award should be documented and posted on the responsible TC’s/PC’s website and formally registered with the TAD Liaison to HAC and the AIAA Manager- Honors and Awards Program.
    10. The grading criteria for awards may include as many factors as deemed appropriate for the award, provided they include elements that address the following general subject areas at a minimum:

      • Scientific Merit / Significance / Importance of the contribution
      • Relevance of the contribution to the scope of the award
      • AIAA Service

    11. There must be a minimum quantitative score associated with the award criteria to establish a merit-worthy threshold to ensure and maintain award technical and “audit trail” integrity. It is left to the individual TCs/PCs to determine the weightings for each of the grading criteria used in the evaluation.
    12. If the minimum score is not obtained by any nominee, then the award should NOT be given out during that particular award cycle.
    13. Allowing for a non-recipient demonstrates the intended significance and persistent quality of the award such that it is not given out to just the best of the non-qualified nominees. The TC/PC and/or the award’s health shall not be penalized if no nominees are judged to be deserving. However, for the next award cycle, the TC/PC is required to solicit new nominations or ask AIAA to contact nominator/s of existing nominations to request enhancement to the package. If an existing nomination package is not enhanced, the nomination cannot be considered in the next award cycle.
    14. TCs/PCs must keep a history of the results of their evaluation and selections from year to year. This “corporate knowledge” must be available to future members involved in the process to ensure consistency from year to year, and must be archived electronically (nominations, grading criteria, evaluations, and recommendations) with the Manager, AIAA Honors and Awards before the award presentation.
  1. Presentation
    1. The intent of the Honors and Awards Program is to recognize deserving individuals by the AIAA community as a whole and before their peers. To accomplish this, awards shall be presented by the AIAA President representing the AIAA community. The AIAA President may designate a Vice-President, AIAA Past President, a member of the Board of Trustee or MC of the forum to perform this duty if necessary.
    2. Presentation of an award will occur during an appropriate Forum or event pre-defined in the description of the award. Because of the number of awards in the AIAA honors and awards program, it is not possible to re-schedule or postpone the presentation of an award.
    3. It is the responsibility of AIAA Headquarters to ensure that suitable provisions are made for the dignified presentation of the award.
  1. Announcement
    1. After approval by the appropriate Group Director or PC Coordinator, a copy of the letter notifying the recipient of award selection will be distributed to the nominator, responsible technical committee, Region Deputy Director Honors & Awards, and recipient’s AIAA section.
    2. Pre-Presentation:
      AIAA will offer the awardees an option to have a personalized press release created and distributed by AIAA. The awardee will complete and submit the appropriate announcement form to AIAA.
    3. Post-Presentation:
      Recognition of awardees after the fact will appear in the appropriate issue of Aerospace America, posted on the AIAA web site, or other member outreach. Responsibility for supplying this data resides with AIAA Headquarters.
  1. Nomination Expiration
    1. Should a nominee not be selected in the initial year of submission, the nomination will be carried over and considered active for a period of three calendar years from the date of initial consideration, or for two award cycles, whichever is greater. Thus a nomination will be considered a total of three times for annual awards, and twice for other than annual awards; the award need not be made to count as an award cycle.
    2. Updated materials to enhance the original nomination are highly encouraged and may be submitted if such materials are received at AIAA prior to or on the next appropriate nomination deadline and comply with the page limits.
    3. If the nominee is not selected during this period, the nomination will expire and a new nomination package, or a one paged signed re-nomination letter from the nominator authorizing use of the existing package, must be submitted in order to consider the nominee further. In all cases, AIAA Honors and Awards will notify the nominator as to the status of the nomination.
How To Establish A New Award or Change An Existing Award

When warranted by significant representation of a credible technical specialty in the AIAA membership and other timely circumstances, a new award may be proposed by the appropriate TC(s)/PC(s).

  1. The proposed new award or change to an existing award must meet the criteria below, and must be submitted as appropriate for successive approvals to the Technical Group Director, the Technical Activities Division, the Honors and Awards Committee, and the Board of Trustees.
  2. The TAD Liaison to the Honors and Awards Committee will work with the appropriate Technical or Program Committee and bring appropriate matters to the AIAA Honors and Awards Committee.
  3. In most cases, the Technical or Program Committee will be requested to prepare a proposal for the new award or change to an existing award. A presentation to the Technical Activities Division and subsequently the Honors & Awards Committee by the TAD Liaison on behalf of the technical committee will occur.
    1. Criteria
      1. Constituency of 500 AIAA members or more (as evidenced by 1st, 2nd, or 3rd choice of technical interest area (contact AIAA Headquarters for an updated list of technical interest).
      2. Primary (1st) professional technical interest area of at least 100 AIAA members.
      3. Some evidence exists that there is a need for an award. A wealth of innovative, unrecognized contributions, or deserving individuals with no forum for recognition, or substantial literature in the technical specialty area, or other types of evidence as appropriate.
      4. No degradation of other technical awards (as judged by other responsible technical committees with potential overlap).
      5. A logical peer group forum exists for presentation of the award, e.g. a robust or growing conference with AIAA involvement (either sponsored or co-sponsored) with significant emphasis on the technical specialty area.
      6. The criteria by which nominees will be evaluated along with a quantitative grading scale
      7. Biennial award until it is robust (i.e. three or more nominations received three award cycles in a row.) To change frequency the TC/PC should submit a request to the TAD Liaison, for successive approvals of the Technical Group Director, TAD and HAC.
      8. If the proposed new award or change to an existing award involves an endowment, additional criteria may apply. Contact AIAA Honors & Awards or AIAA Foundation for information.
      9. If the new award is named to honor a person, place, etc., written permission from an authority must be obtained and made a part of the proposal. This also applies to a proposed change to an existing award.
Review of Awards

The TAD Liaison to HAC and the Honors & Awards Committee regularly monitors the level of activity for all awards in the AIAA Honors & Awards Program.

  1. A sustainable, healthy award is defined as one that consistently meets the above criteria. Ideally, at least three nominations must be on file and considered each award year for any technical excellence award, thereby enabling deserving individuals to be recognized.
  2. A technical excellence award will be suspended if it fails to generate the sufficient minimum number of nominations over three consecutive award cycles.
  3. A technical excellence award may be suspended if the responsible technical or program committee becomes inactive or is eliminated. The award can continue as the responsibility of another relevant TC or PC, assuming a valid evaluation and selection process is maintained.
  4. The process for reinstating a suspended award or approving a significant change in the award will be the same as the process for requesting a new award. All the same guidelines and criteria must be met, including approval by the TAD and subsequently by HAC.
  5. The AIAA Manager, Honors and Awards, will be relied upon to archive and provide information to TAC concerning technical excellence award statistics (numbers of nominations (new and carryover), frequency of award presentation/non-presentation, etc.)