AIAA Digital Avionics Technical Committee (DATC) Embraces AIAA Scholarship Program Written 31 October 2013

Over the past decade, the AIAA Digital Avionics Technical Committee (DATC) has embraced the AIAA Scholarship Program. The committee has funded four endowed undergraduate scholarships and named them after people within the DATC who have contributed significantly to their field, and have provided meaningful outreach. They are:

  • The Dr. Amy Pritchett Digital Avionics Scholarship
  • The Ellis Hitt Digital Avionics Scholarship
  • The Cary Spitzer Digital Avionics Scholarship
  • The Dr. James Rankin Digital Avionics Scholarship

In the fall of 2008, with the onset of the economic downturn, the AIAA scholarship endowment fund began to suffer significantly. Though annual undergraduate scholarships continued to be awarded in the years following, the underlying principal was greatly eroded. Then, AIAA's Executive Director, Dr. Sandra Magnus, upon taking over leadership of AIAA in 2012, realized the situation could ultimately result in undesired consequences, and began working diligently with AIAA Fellow Tom Smith, a member of the AIAA Foundation Board of Directors, and Denise Ponchak, Chair, AIAA DATC, to re-establish the four scholarships, and to set out strong guidelines ensuring that the scholarships will remain intact into the foreseeable future. While it likely goes without saying, the DATC was nonetheless very pleased that their scholarships were restored ensuring the committee’s ability to provide financial aid to undergraduate students focusing on avionics, math, and science. To show their appreciation, the DATC added an additional $10,000 to each of the four scholarships (totaling $40,000), and plans to add more in the future. “I am so pleased to be working with a committee that strongly supports helping interested students create a strong workforce in the field of Digital Avionics”, said Denise Ponchak.


From left to right: Sandra Magnus, Tom Redling, Tom Smith, Maarten Uijt de Haag, Ellis Hitt, Denise Ponchak
From left to right: Denise Ponchak, Tom Smith, Sandra Magnus
From left to right: Denise Ponchak, Tom Smith, Sandra Magnus

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