AIAA Announces 2021–2022 Section Award Winners Written 30 August 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Awards Honor Outstanding Section Programming in a Variety of Categories

Updated 8 September 2022 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has announced its 2021–2022 section awards winners. The section awards honor particularly notable achievements made by member sections in a range of activities that help fulfill the Institute’s mission of shaping the future of aerospace. Each of the 56 local sections throughout the U.S. and overseas offer technical programs and activities tailored to local aerospace professionals, students, and educators.

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 1 June 2021–31 May 2022. The Institute believes that vital, active sections are essential to its success.

“Across AIAA, local sections are where the action begins. We believe that vital, active sections are essential to the Institute’s success. Congratulations to these sections for their noteworthy achievements!” said Dan Dumbacher, AIAA Executive Director.

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

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  • First Place: Central Coast of California, Michelle Itzel-Montoya (U.S. Space Force), section chair
  • Second Place: Delaware, Daniel Nice (Northrop Grumman Corporation), section chair
  • Third Place: Adelaide, Patrick Neumann (Neumann Space), section chair

SMALL

  • First Place: Northwest Florida, Ryan Sherrill, section chair
  • Second Place: Palm Beach, Randy Parsley (Pratt & Whitney), section chair
  • Third Place: Wichita, Atri Dutta (Wichita State University), section chair

MEDIUM

  • First Place, Tucson, Teresa Clement (Raytheon Corporation), section chair
  • Second Place: Greater Philadelphia, Jonathan Moore (Lockheed Martin Corporation), section chair
  • Third Place: Illinois, Harry Hilton and Laura Villafañe Roca (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), section chairs

LARGE

  • First Place: San Diego, Joel Perez (Ursa Major Technologies), section chair
  • Second Place (tie): Northern Ohio, Joseph Connolly (NASA Glenn Research Center), section chair
  • Second Place (tie): St. Louis, Sanjay Jayaram (Saint Louis University), section chair

VERY LARGE

  • First Place: Los Angeles-Las Vegas, Jeffery Puschell (Raytheon Intelligence and Space), section chair
  • Second Place: Greater Huntsville, Theresa Jehle, section chair
  • Third Place: Rocky Mountain, Alexandra Dukes (Lockheed Martin Space Systems), section chair

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:

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  • First Place: Central Coast of California, Steven Boelhouwer (ManTech International), communications officer
  • Second Place: Adelaide, Patrick Neumann (Neumann Space), section chair
  • Third Place: Delaware, Daniel Nice (Northrop Grumman), section chair

SMALL

  • First Place: Sydney, Daniel Walsh (Qantas Airways), section chair
  • Second Place: Northwest Florida, Ryan Sherrill, section chair, and Angela Diggs (AFRL), section vice chair
  • Third Place: Long Island, David Paris, section chair

MEDIUM

  • First Place: Phoenix, Scott Fouse (Fouse Consulting Services), section chair
  • Second Place (tie): Greater Philadelphia, LizaMarie Kupp (St. John Paul II Academy), section vice chair
  • Second Place (tie): Carolina, John Blanton (Classic Engineering), section chair
  • Third Place: Tucson, Huntington Gazecki (Raytheon Missiles & Defense), communications officer

LARGE

  • First Place: Albuquerque, Robert Malseed, newsletter editor
  • Second Place: San Diego, Stevie Jacobson (General Atomics Aeronautical Systems), section webmaster
  • Third Place (tie): Northern Ohio, Edmond Wong (NASA Glenn Research Center), communications officer
  • Third Place (tie) St. Louis, John Shultz (The Boeing Company), communications officer

VERY LARGE

  • First Place (tie): Los Angeles-Las Vegas, Ken Lui (Ken’s Consulting), webmaster
  • First Place (tie): New England, Hiroaki Endo (Schenck USA), section chair
  • Third Place (tie): Greater Huntsville, Tracie Prater (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center), section vice chair
  • Third Place (tie): Hampton Roads, Lee Mears (NASA Langley Research Center), newsletter editor

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

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  • First Place: Delaware, Christina Larson (Northrop Grumman), communications officer
  • Second Place: Adelaide, Patrick Neumann (Neumann Space), section chair
  • Third Place: Southern New Jersey, Scott Doucett (FAA), membership officer

SMALL

  • First Place: Northwest Florida, Philip Thomas (ERC Incorporated), membership officer
  • Second Place: Wichita, Mary Drouin (Spirit Aerosystems), membership officer
  • Third Place: Utah, Michael Miller (Northrop Grumman Corporation), membership officer

MEDIUM

  • First Place: Tucson, Robert Michalak (Paragon Space Development), membership officer
  • Second Place: Greater Philadelphia, Jason Boyer (The Boeing Company), membership officer
  • Third Place, Illinois, Ashraf Omran (JHU/APL), membership officer

LARGE

  • First Place: San Diego, Joel Perez (Ursa Major Technologies), section chair
  • Second Place: St. Louis, Alex Friedman (The Boeing Company), membership officer
  • Third Place: Orange County, Robert Welge (Robert’s Engineering Development), membership officer

VERY LARGE

  • First Place: Los Angeles-Las Vegas, Aldo Martinez Martinez (The Boeing Company), and Sherry Stukes (JPL), membership officers
  • Second Place (tie): Hampton Roads, Richard Winski (NASA Langley Research Center), membership officer
  • Second Place (tie): Greater Huntsville, Paul Palies (University of Tennessee Space Institute), 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:

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  • First Place: Delaware, Di Ena Davis, public policy officer
  • Second Place: Central Coast of California, Michelle Itzel-Montoya (U.S. Space Force), public policy officer and section chair

SMALL

  • First Place (tie): Northwest Florida, Michael Kelton (U.S. Air Force), membership officer
  • First Place (tie): Palm Beach, Kevin Simmons (BLUECUBE Aerospace), public policy officer

MEDIUM

  • First Place: Greater Philadelphia, Joi Spraggins (Legacy Bridges STEM Academy), public policy officer
  • Second Place: Illinois, Mordechai Levin (Masterflight Foundation) and Mark Wendtland (Eblana Photonics), public policy officers

LARGE

  • First Place: Northern Ohio, Michael Heil (ML Heil Consulting), public policy officer
  • Second Place (tie): Orange County, Kamal Shweyk (Boeing Commercial Airplanes), public policy officer
  • Second Place (tie): San Diego, Mike Curtin, public policy officer

VERY LARGE

  • First Place: Greater Huntsville, Naveen Vetcha (ERC Incorporated), public policy officer
  • Second Place: Los Angeles-Las Vegas, Jordan Chilcott, public policy officer
  • Third Place: Rocky Mountain, Lisa Gregg (Lockheed Martin Space Systems)

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:

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  • First Place: Central Coast of California, Thomas Stevens (U.S. Air Force), STEM K-12 outreach officer
  • Second Place: Delaware, Daniel Nice (Northrop Grumman Corporation), section chair
  • Third Place: Point Lobos, Giovanni Minelli (Naval Postgraduate School), section chair

SMALL

  • First Place: Palm Beach, Shawna Christenson (Aerospace and Innovation Academy), STEM K-12 outreach officer
  • Second Place: Northwest Florida, Judith Sherrill, STEM K-12 outreach officer
  • Third Place, Wichita, Brian Kaplinger (University of Kansas), STEM K-12 officer

MEDIUM

  • First Place: Tucson, Michelle Rouch (Artwork by Rouch), STEM K-12 officer
  • Second Place: Greater Philadelphia, Christopher Reynolds (Lockheed Martin Corporation), STEM K-12 officer
  • Third Place: Antelope Valley, Robert Jensen (Sierra Lobo), STEM K-12 officer

LARGE

  • First Place: St. Louis; Jackie Blumer (Greenville Jr. High School), STEM K-12 outreach officer
  • Second Place: Cape Canaveral, Melissa Sleeper (Storm Grove Middle School/School District of Indian River), STEM K-12 outreach officer
  • Third Place: Northern Ohio, Jonathan Kratz (NASA Glenn Research Center), STEM K-12 officer

VERY LARGE

  • First Place: Rocky Mountain,  Trip Carter (Lockheed Martin Corporation), education officer
  • Second Place: Greater Huntsville, Robin Osborne (ERC), STEM K-12 officer
  • Third Place: Los Angeles-Las Vegas, Khushbu Patel, and Arpie Ovsepyan (Herbert Hoover High School), STEM K-12 outreach officers

The Section-Student Branch Partnership Award recognizes the most effective and innovative collaboration between the professional section members and student branch members.

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  • First Place: Adelaide, Mahdy Alhameed (University of Adelaide), section secretary
  • Second Place: Central Coast of California, Steven Serniak, (U.S. Space Force), programs officer
  • Third Place: Iowa, Roger Kassebaum (Founders Bootcamp), university liaison

SMALL

  • First Place: Twin Cities, Kristen Gerzina (Northrop Grumman Corporation), section chair, and Robert Halverson (University of Minnesota)
  • Second Place: Wichita, Linda Kliment (Wichita State University), education officer
  • Third Place: Northwest Florida, John Fay (Torch Technologies), education officer

MEDIUM

  • First Place: Tucson, Peter Olejnik (University of Arizona), young professional officer
  • Second Place: Greater Philadelphia, Jonathan Moore (Lockheed Martin Corporation), section chair
  • Third Place: Illinois, Andrew Strubhar (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), student branch liaison

LARGE

  • First Place: San Diego, Joel Perez (Ursa Major Technologies), section chair
  • Second Place (tie): St. Louis, Charles Svoboda (The Boeing Company), education officer
  • Second Place (tie): San Gabriel Valley; Gregory Davis (JPL), university liaison
  • Third Place, Central Florida, Christopher Stevens (Lockheed Martin Corporation), section chair

VERY LARGE

  • First Place: Los Angeles-Las Vegas, Khushbu Patel, STEM K-12 officer, and Luis Cuevas (Lockheed Martin Corporation), education officer
  • Second Place: Rocky Mountain, Marshall Lee (BedRock Systems), section vice chair
  • Third Place: New England, Phoenix Robbins (Raytheon Technologies), education officer, and Charlie Wilson, council member

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:

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  • First Place: Delaware, Taylor Coleman, young professional officer
  • Second Place: Adelaide, Samuel Moyes (Flinders University), section vice chair
  • Third Place: Central Coast of California, Steven Serniak (U.S. Space Force), young professional officer

SMALL

  • First Place: Utah, Cliff Rossberg (Northrop Grumman Corporation), young professional officer
  • Second Place: Northwest Florida, Alexandra Straub (U.S. Air Force), young professional officer
  • Third Place: Wichita, Andrew Sklar (Renew Wichita), young professional officer

MEDIUM

  • First Place: Tucson, Peter Olejnik (University of Arizona), young professional officer
  • Second Place: Greater Philadelphia, Jonathan Moore (Lockheed Martin Corporation), section chair
  • Third Place: Antelope Valley, Jason Lechniak (NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center), section chair

LARGE

  • First Place: St. Louis, Stephen Clark (The Boeing Company), young professional officer
  • Second Place: Northern Ohio, Halle Buescher (HXFive), young professional officer
  • Third Place: San Diego, Joel Perez (Ursa Major Technologies), section chair

VERY LARGE

  • First Place: Hampton Roads, Michelle Lynde (NASA Langley Research Center), Brett Hiller (NASA Langley Research Center), and Morgan Walker (NASA Langley Research Center), young professional section officers
  • Second Place: Rocky Mountain, Marshall Lee (BedRock Systems), section vice chair
  • Third Place: Houston, Josh Kivijarv, young professional officer

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

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  • Delaware, Daniel Nice (Northrop Grumman), section chair. The Teen Warehouse Event. The AIAA Delaware Section was invited by The Link Incorporated to showcase the opportunities in aerospace field to The Teen Warehouse. AIAA recruited a group of five individuals from Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Elkton, Md., facility. The diverse panel, all with various backgrounds and positions within Northrop, showcased career opportunities ranging from manufacturing, operations, business, finance, and engineering. Being from a solid rocket world the “Break it Down—Let’s Talk Rocket Science” presentation revolved around the history of propulsion, an exciting a look into solid rocket motors, and was capped with a build-your-own foam rocket activity. The foam rocket activity focused on techniques to build, launch trajectory, and teamwork. There were over 20 teens present and another dozen or more via Zoom.

SMALL

  • Palm Beach, Randy Parsley (Pratt & Whitney), section chair. Preparing Middle and High School Students to Write, Publish, and Present Technical Work at Aerospace Conferences. The AIAA Palm Beach Section council members prepared dozens of local high school students to write and submit papers to several conferences, including the International Astronautical Congress. Last fall, 11 students travelled to Dubai, UAE, where they made six separate presentations on topics ranging from orbital settlements and CubeSat propulsion to the most recent NASA-selected CubeSat they are building. The Palm Beach Section council members also guided ~24 students who had 32 other papers accepted at several different conferences.

MEDIUM

  • Antelope Valley, Jason Lechniak (NASA Ames Flight Research Center), section chair. Engineering Week History Symposium. This four-hour virtual event, with over 50 attendees, put together lessons learned from a distinguished speaker on the X-1, and high-level leadership and engineers in the C-17 and F-16 high angle of attack programs. The final presentation was from the surviving flight test engineer of the B-1 accident where one pilot was killed.

LARGE

  • San Diego, Nick Candrella, (Naval Air Warfare Center), section vice chair. Aerospace Trivia Night, Networking for Scholarships. This event allowed students to network with members so they could search for scholarship sponsors and members could meet students and other members while having a great time.  The trivia setup required at least teams of two, with some fun team names. Each team got one Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares sampler pack, with eight rounds of three questions each (Movie, Event, “Name that Equation!”), giving 30 seconds to guess each answer. The event took place at a local brewery. The section ordered pizza to provide a good intermission with time to network.

VERY LARGE (tie):

  • Greater Huntsville, Robin Osborne, pre-college outreach officer. Rocket City Invitational Quiz Bowl Tournament. The section hosted the first-ever AIAA Rocket City Invitational academic quiz bowl for Alabama. There were 18 teams with 84 students from 15 high schools (many outside of Huntsville) and two middle schools. Awards were presented to the winners of a separate online, pre-tournament Buzzword Challenge open to all section members, and a traditional, in-person quiz bowl tournament for the 18 teams. Through a $3,000 grant that the section won through The Boeing Company, the section commissioned the National Academic Quiz Tournament to write a custom question set for the Buzzword platform covering a wide variety of topics in aerospace and aviation. You can play a sample game at www.naqt.com/buzzword/special/aerospace.jsp.

VERY LARGE (tie):

  • Los Angeles-Las Vegas, Jeffery Puschell (Raytheon Intelligence and Space), section chair. Los Angeles-Las Vegas Section University Student Branches Mini-Conference 2022. This event supported the rising stars of American aerospace. Students discussed their projects and life in the pursuit of their career. The career panel and other sessions offered professional inspirations and guidance as well. The keynote speech by Dr. Henry B. Garrett touched the importance of professionalism with the example of the space weather, solar storm, and recent SpaceX Starlink launch anomaly.

Media contact: Rebecca B. Gray, RebeccaG@aiaa.org, 804.397.5270

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 91 countries, and 100 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit www.aiaa.org, and follow AIAA on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, and Instagram.