AIAA Foundation Announces Graduate Award Winners Written 6 August 2018

CONTACT: John Blacksten

August 6, 2018 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Foundation announced the nine winners of its 2018 graduate awards.

Through its Foundation and supported by nearly 30,000 members, AIAA awards academic scholarships and STEM educational grants to support the next generation of aerospace professionals.

Each academic year the AIAA Foundation presents the Orville and Wilbur Wright Graduate Awards. These $5,000 awards, given in memory of the Wright brothers’ contributions to the evolution of flight, honor full-time graduate students. 

The winners are:

  • Tobias Niederwieser, University of Colorado – Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
  • Joshua Wagner, Rice University, Houston, Texas

In addition, Emily Matula, University of Colorado – Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, received the Neil Armstrong Graduate Award. This $5,000 award honors the character and achievements of the late astronaut, military pilot and educator, Neil A. Armstrong, the first human to set foot on the moon. 

Regis Thedin, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, received the John Leland Atwood Graduate Award. Established in 1999, the $1,250 award, sponsored by endowments from Rockwell and what is now The Boeing Company and named in memory of John Leland “Lee” Atwood, former chief executive officer of Rockwell, North America, recognizes a student actively engaged in research in the areas covered by the technical committees (TC) of AIAA. 

Three AIAA TCs also presented graduate awards:

  • Nicoletta Fala, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, received the General Aviation Systems TC’s $1,000 William T. Piper Sr. General Aviation Systems Graduate Award.

  • Andrew Harris, University of Colorado - Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, received the Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GNC) TC’s $2,500 Guidance, Navigation and Control Graduate Award.

  • Bharvi Chhaya, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida, received the Modeling and Simulation TC’s $3,500 Luis de Florez Graduate Award.

  • Debolina Dasgupta, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, received the Propellants and Combustion TC’s $1,250 Martin Summerfield Propellants and Combustion Graduate Award.

  • James Braun, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, received the Air Breathing Propulsion TC’s $1,000 Gordon C. Oates Air Breathing Propulsion Graduate Award.

 Please visit the AIAA Foundation’s Scholarship and Graduate Awards section for more information.

About the AIAA Foundation
The AIAA Foundation seeks to “make it exciting, make it empowering, and make it fun.” That simple, compelling philosophy drives the Foundation’s commitment to math, science, and technology education. The AIAA Foundation offers a wealth of resources to support educators from K–12 through university: scholarships, classroom grants, design competitions, and student conferences, improving scientific literacy and advancing the arts and sciences of aerospace. For more information on the AIAA Foundation and its programs for students, teachers, and professionals, please visit


American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics 
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