AIAA Announces Section Award Winners Written 22 August 2018

CONTACT: John Blacksten

Awards Honor Outstanding Section Programming in a Variety of Categories

August 22, 2018 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has announced its 2017–2018 Section Award winners. The Section Awards honor particularly notable achievements made by member sections in a range of activities that help fulfill the Institute’s mission. The Institute believes that vital, active sections are essential to its success.

Section awards are given annually in five categories based on the size of each section’s membership. Each winning section receives a certificate and a cash award. The award period covered is June 1, 2017–May 31, 2018.

The Outstanding Section Award is presented to sections based upon their overall activities and contributions through the year. The winners are:

  • Very Small: First Place: Delaware, David Fox, section chair; Second Place: Adelaide, Mark Ramsey, section chair

  • Small: First Place: Savannah, Suzanne Swaine, section chair; Second Place: Sydney, Arnab Dasgupta, section chair; Third Place: Palm Beach, Randy Parsley, section chair

  • Medium: First Place, Long Island, David Paris, section chair; Second Place: Tucson, Eric Hoffman-Watt, section chair; Third Place: Wichita, Linda Kliment, section chair

  • Large: First Place: San Diego, Ioana Brome, section chair; Second Place: Northern Ohio, Peggy Cornell, section chair; Third Place: Orange County, Amir Gohardani, section chair

  • Very Large: First Place: Dayton/Cincinnati, Marc Polanka and Michael List, section chairs; Second Place: Hampton Roads, Gregory Buck, section chair; Third Place: Greater Huntsville, Naveen Vetcha, section chair

The Career and Professional Development Award is presented for section activities that focus on career development, such as time management workshops, career transition workshops, job benefits workshops, and technical versus management career path workshops. The winners are:

  • Very Large: First Place: Hampton Roads, Elizabeth Ward and Hyun Jung Kim, career and professional development officers

  • Large: First Place: San Diego, Ioana Broome, section chair

  • Small: First Place: Savannah, Scott Terry and Ricky Odey, career and professional development officers, and Ashley Roper, programs officer; Second Place: Sydney, Arnab Dasgupta, section chair; Third Place: Utah, Scotty Nowlin, public policy officer, Caite Beck, young professional officer, and Trevor Floyd, communications officer

The Communications Award is presented to sections that have developed and implemented an outstanding communications outreach program. Winning criteria include level of complexity, timeliness, and variety of methods of communications, as well as frequency, format, and content of the communication outreach. The winners are:

  • Very Small: First Place: Delaware, Chrissy Larson, communications officer

  • Small: First Place: Northwest Florida, Chi Mai, section chair; Second Place: Utah, Trevor Floyd, communications officer; Third Place: Savannah, Kevin Shea, secretary

  • Medium: First Place: Tucson, Alan Jennings, webmaster; Second Place: Long Island, David Paris, section chair and newsletter editor

  • Large: First Place: Northern Ohio, Edmond Wong, communications officer; Second Place: San Diego, Jin Oh, secretary; Third Place: Cape Canaveral, Matthew Zuk, communications officer

  • Very Large: First Place: Hampton Roads, John Lin, newsletter editor; Second Place: Greater Huntsville, Erin Walker, communications officer; Third Place: Dayton/Cincinnati, Michael List, newsletter editor

The Membership Award is presented to sections that have increased their membership by planning and implementing effective recruitment and retention campaigns. The winners are:

  • Very Small: First Place: Delaware, Noah Gold, membership officer

  • Small: First Place: Twin Cities, Kristen Gerzina, section chair; Second Place: Savannah, Nusrat Rehman and Michael Wolff, membership officers; Third Place: Utah, John Metcalf, section chair

  • Medium: First Place: Tucson, Rajka Corder, membership officer

  • Large: First Place: San Diego, Kathy Kucharski, membership officer; Second Place: Orange County, Bob Welge, membership officer; Third Place: Northern Ohio, Erin Tesny, membership officer

  • Very Large: First Place: Greater Huntsville, Naveen Vetcha, section chair; Second Place: Dayton/Cincinnati, Caleb Barnes, membership officer; Third Place: Hampton Roads, Marlyn Andino, membership officer

The Public Policy Award is presented for stimulating public awareness of the needs of aerospace research and development, particularly on the part of government representatives, and for education section members about the value of public policy activities. The winners are:

  • Very Small: First Place: Delaware, Tim Dominick, public policy officer

  • Small: First Place (tie): Savannah, Scott Perry, public policy officer; First Place (tie): Twin Cities, Cristin Finnigan, public policy officer; Third PlaceUtah, Scott Nowlin, public policy officer

  • Medium: First Place: Tucson, Bradley Williams, public policy officer; Second Place: Long Island, David Paris, section chair and public policy officer; Third Place: Michigan, Austin Harper, public policy officer

  • Large: First Place: Northern Ohio, Victor Canacci, public policy officer; Second Place: San Diego, John Kucharski, public policy officer

  • Very Large: First Place: Greater Huntsville, Chris Crumbly, public policy officer; Second Place: Dayton/Cincinnati, Oliver Leembruggen, public policy officer; Third Place: Hampton Roads, Steven Dunn and Michelle Lynde, public policy officers

The STEM K–12 Award is presented to sections that have developed and implemented an outstanding STEM K–12 outreach program that provides quality education resources for K–12 teachers in the STEM subject areas. The winners are:

  • Very Small: First Place: Delaware, Elishabet Lato, STEM K–12 outreach officer

  • Small: First Place: Northwest Florida, Angela Diggs, STEM K–12 outreach officer; Second Place: Palm Beach, Kevin Simmons, public policy officer; Third Place: Savannah, Alex Rummel, STEM K–12 outreach officer

  • Medium: First place: Tucson, Elishka Jepson and Allie Kunkel, STEM K–12 outreach officers; Second Place: Southwest Texas, Joan Labay-Marquez, STEM K–12 outreach officer; Third Place: Long Island, David Paris, section chair

  • Large: First Place: Orange County, Janet Koepke, STEM K–12 outreach officer; Second Place: San Diego, Cristian Paunescu, STEM K–12 outreach officer; Third Place: Northern Ohio, Julie Kleinhenz, STEM K–12 outreach officer

  • Very Large: First Place: Dayton/Cincinnati, José Camberos,STEM K-12 outreach officer; Second Place: Hampton Roads, Karen Berger and Amanda Chou, STEM K-12 outreach officers; Third Place: Greater Huntsville, Naveen Vetcha, section chair

The Young Professional Activity Award is presented for excellence in planning and executing events that encourage the participation of the Institute’s young professional members, and provide opportunities for leadership at the section, regional, or national level. The winners are:

  • Very Small: First Place: Delaware, Daniel Nice, young professional officer

  • Small: First Place: Savannah, Cameron Carson and Libin Daniel, young professional officers; Second: Utah, Caite Beck, young professional officer

  • Large: First Place: San Diego, Lindsay Sweeney, young professional officer; Second Place: Northern Ohio, Roger Tokars, young professional officer

  • Very Large: First Place: Greater Huntsville, Tamara Statham, young professional officer; Second Place: Hampton Roads, Vanessa Aubuchon and Michelle Lynde, young professional officers; Third Place: Dayton/Cincinnati, Ashlee Youngpeters, young professional section officer

The Outstanding Activity Award allows the Institute to acknowledge sections that held an outstanding activity deserving of additional recognition. The winners are:

  • Very Small: Delaware, David Fox, section chair. International Space Station In-Flight Education Downlink. As part of an existing program within NASA, the AIAA Delaware Section applied for and was competitively awarded an In-Flight Education Downlink with NASA Astronaut Col. Jack Fischer. The downlink was hosted at Leeds Elementary School in Elkton, MD, by the AIAA Delaware Section in partnership with Orbital ATK and Cecil County Public Schools (CCPS). As part of the downlink, 20 students from grades Pre-K to 5 at Leeds Elementary were able to ask questions of Col. Fischer and see/hear his responses during a 20-minute live broadcast from the International Space Station. Seven local elected officials were in attendance along with staff members from U.S. Senator Van Hollen’s Office, the Maryland Office of the Governor, Maryland Senator Wayne Norman’s Office, and Maryland State Department of Education, as well as the CCPS Superintendent and other leaders in the CCPS administration. AIAA Delaware Section Public Policy Chair Tim Dominick presided over the event as the Master of Ceremonies. In addition to the 400 students participating in the event at Leeds Elementary, 590 students across CCPS and the country watched the event live via NASA TV.

  • Small: Sydney, Arnab Dasgupta, section chair. Astronaut Stories Australia. Astronaut Stories Australia was a keynote series of public outreach events that had resounding success: spreading an inspirational message directly to over 5,000 individuals, engaging with over 1,000 students, connecting with 150,000 people over social media and 3.5 million with traditional media. The principal goals of the events were to inspire and inform the general public: to educate on the wonder and importance of space exploration, as well as motivating support of scientific and technical exploration. To achieve these goals, Astronaut Stories Australia aimed to take advantage of the large number of astronauts coming to Australia for the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide by organizing for astronauts to stop in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne. In each city, an astronaut headlined both a STEM workshop for high school students and a large public presentation.

The student event, From STEM to Space, was designed to spark an interest in young students prior to their subject selection years with the goal of encouraging them to consider a career in STEM. These events included a presentation and Q&A section with a panel of astronauts and local STEM role models, followed by hands-on science and engineering activities.

The public event, An Evening of Astronaut Stories, aimed to bring together a broad audience to foster a passion and interest for space activities, as well as motivating support of scientific and technical exploration. An astronaut shared stories from their career and from being in space, followed by an audience Q&A session, moderated by an Australian voice.

  • Medium: Wichita, Linda Kliment, section chair. Engineers and Educators. Wichita Section hosted its second Engineers as Educators program on December 5, 2017. The training and the lessons all took place at a local public elementary school. This year, the volunteer educators increased in numbers and included some flight test pilots in addition to engineers. The volunteers came from Textron Aviation, Spirit, Bombardier, and Wichita State University. Before meeting with the volunteers, the organizer of the program spent time with the principal and teachers at the school to determine projects that would fit into the curriculum. The program organizer then held a workshop to train the volunteers, after which they were scheduled for their class lesson and given information about their project. The increase in volunteers allowed AIAA to cover all of the classrooms on a single day. The lessons were 45 minutes in length and over 400 students participated.

  • Large: San Diego, Ioana Broome, section chair. Atlas First Launch Pioneers Celebration - 60 Year Anniversary. The Atlas Pioneers Celebration featured a panel of General Dynamics Convair - Astronautics Space Systems Division employees who had a part in the early days of the Atlas program, leading up to the first launch of an Atlas on June 11, 1957. It was moderated by one of the youngest of those Atlas Pioneers, Bill Ketchum. Jackie Collins, another Atlas veteran, introduced and showed the video, “50 Years of Atlas.” Mr. Ketchum and the other six panelists each had a chance to say a few words and show some mementos from the Atlas program. Later, Mr. Ketchum asked if any veterans of the Atlas Program in the audience would like to say a few words. This opened the discussion, making it a lively evening.

The celebration had originally been planned as a low-key 60-year event with those employed by the program at the time of the first launch. The section proposed to join efforts with Bill Ketchum and plan it as a version of the section’s Aerospace Heritage Night. Aerospace Heritage Night is our yearly panel discussion with our senior members talking about their experiences in the aerospace profession. We received an unexpectedly large response. We had over 100 people in attendance, with almost 40 Atlas Pioneers; seven of them on the formal panel, while many of the Pioneers in the audience were able to tell us about their own experiences.

  • Very Large, Los Angeles-Las Vegas, Robert Friend, section chair. Student Branch Mini-Conference. The mini-conference was planned by the Education and Program chairs working cooperatively. It was held on a Saturday at the Northrop Grumman S Café in Redondo Beach and was designed for the section’s student branch members with several objectives: increasing communication between the branches, enabling students to meet other student members; gain presentation experience by presenting on topics of interest to them; and learn from industry representatives about what it takes to work in the field, how to make their resumes look attractive in job applications, and make contacts for networking.

About AIAA
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest aerospace technical society. With nearly 30,000 individual members from 85 countries, and 95 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter @AIAA.


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