Department of

Aerospace Engineering


Aero News Archive

Aerospace Alum to speak at Penn State Brandywine commencement


Mike Arata, Penn State alumnus, director of engineering at United Airlines, and Penn State Brandywine advisory board member, will be the speaker at Penn State Brandywine’s fall commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 18, in the Commons Building Gymnasium on campus.

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Aerospace Alum to participate in coin-toss in Saturday’s game against Army


Guion S. Bluford will represent Penn State in Saturday’s coin toss. Bluford received a bachelor of science in aerospace engineering from Penn State in 1964 and was honored as a Penn State Distinguished Alumnus in 1983. His career began as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, flying 144 missions during the Vietnam War, before becoming a NASA astronaut in 1979. Bluford became the first African-American to travel in space in 1983, as a mission specialist aboard the space shuttle Challenger. He retired in 1993, and was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997.

Penn State among top schools for aerospace and defense in Aviation Week 2015 Workforce Study


Aviation Week & Space Technology recently released the results of its 2015 Workforce Study and Penn State is the only university to appear in the top five in all three categories under "Top Schools for Aerospace and Defense."

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Two engineers selected for Alumni Achievement Award


Rebecca Delaney and Emilia Speal-Harris have been named recipients of the Penn State Alumni Association's Alumni Achievement Award.

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Undergraduate students visit Harrisburg capitol March 3 to present research


Miguel Alvarez and Belen Veras-Alba, aerospace engineering majors, were one of the eight Penn State undergraduate student research teams from five campuses that represented Penn State as the largest Pennsylvania college or university contingent at the Capitol Rotunda on March 3 in Harrisburg. They presented their research with students from more than 100 Pennsylvania colleges and universities as part of the Undergraduate Research at the Capitol-Pennsylvania event.

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Dance squad teaches life lessons, builds community and prepares for THON


The energy was tangible when RAM president Damon Raynor, a senior in aerospace engineering, took the floor for an all-styles dance battle.

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Head of aerospace engineering chairs industry’s largest R&D forum


When the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) needed someone to take the lead on organizing the society’s premier gathering of aerospace researchers and technologists in 2015­ -- the world’s largest event of its kind -- they called up George Lesieutre, professor and head of aerospace engineering at Penn State.

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Aerospace engineering alumna takes the cake with her award-winning bakery


Jamie Landers, an aerospace engineering graduate at Penn State, owns and operates Luscious Bakery. Her specialties include brunch-inspired foods from European and American cafes, as well as delicious sweets.

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Wind energy was discussed on WPSU-TV’s 'Conversations LIVE' Jan. 22


Susan Stewart, research associate in the aerospace engineering and architectural engineering departments, and Tamara Gagnolet, energy program and geographical information science manager at The Nature Conservancy’s Pennsylvania office, will join WPSU-TV’s Patty Satalia for the broadcast.

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NAVAIR engineer receives unique recognition


Samantha (Kahn) Pappas (B.S. '02, M.S. '04), air vehicle test lead for the Triton Unmanned Air System (UAS) program, is the 2014 recipient of the Women in Aerospace (WIA) Initiative, Inspiration, Impact Award for “being an impeccable leader, inspiring mentor, and exceptional engineer whose technical expertise and unwavering dedication were paramount to the advancement of Naval Aviation.

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Aerospace Students travel to Wichita, Kansas for the AIAA 18th Annual Design, Build, Fly Competion


2013 Design Build Fly entry from PSU students

This photo is last year's entry

University Park – Six Aerospace Department students and two advisors are in Wichita Kansas this week to compete in the 18th annual AIAA Design, Build, Fly event, sponsored by Cessna/Raytheon Missile Systems. Student teams must design, fabricate, and demonstrate the flight capabilities of an unmanned, electric powered, radio controlled aircraft which can best meet the specified mission profile. The goal is a balanced design possessing good demonstrated flight handling qualities and practical and affordable manufacturing requirements while providing a high vehicle performance. Team: Alex Troup, Nick Grasser, George Farah, Eric Tschantz, Evan Savage and Ben Pipenberg Advisors: Mark Maughmer and Chris Saunders

Palacios named top engineering educator under 40


Prof. Jose Palacios pictured in the icing chamber.

Jose Palacios, assistant professor of aerospace engineering, is featured in the American Society for Engineering Education's (ASEE) Prism Magazine's "20 Under 40" this month. Palacios has been recognized by ASEE Prism magazine as a top engineering educator under 40, in part for his aircraft-icing research using a Boeing motor with 10-foot-diameter blades.

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photo credit: Cate Hansberry


Congratulations to Prof. Sven Schmitz


New professor Jose Palacios

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State Engineering Alumni Society (PSEAS) has awarded Dr. Schmitz with the College of Engineering award for Outstanding Teaching, which recognizes and rewards outstanding Engineering educators for excellence in teaching and for contributions to the art of teaching. These teaching awards are established to confer honor on individuals whose inspiration and contributions to learning are truly memorable.  


Programming autonomous vehicles to fly like birds


Jack Langelaan with a small drone in his lab

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Jack Langelaan's lab in the basement of Hammond Building is a model airplane builder's dream. In one room, graduate students Nathan Depenbusch and John Bird test algorithms on commercial flight simulators: Pilot's eye views of checkered green landscapes roll past on banked computer screens. In the other room, a half dozen small planes and a couple of tiny helicopters sit waiting in various stages of deconstruction.

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View Dr. Langelaan's interview from PCN-TV Feb 11th

Aerospace engineering student Rocco wins Aviation Week's Twenty20 Award


New professor Jose Palacios

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State aerospace engineering student Edward Thomas Rocco has been named a winner of Aviation Week's Twenty20 Award.

The Twenty20s Award is a partnership between Aviation Week magazine and Raytheon to recognize 20 top engineering, math, science and technology students. The program is designed to connect the next generation of aerospace and defense talent with established leaders who have created many "firsts" driving innovation in the 21st century.

Penn State Newswire

Dr. Jose Palacios joins the Aerospace Department Faculty


New professor Jose Palacios

The Department is delighted to announce that Dr. Jose Palacios is joining our faculty as a new assistant professor.  Dr. Palacios is a gifted experimentalist and inspiring instructor with an eye for challenging, real-world aerospace engineering problems.  

Dr. Palacios earned three degrees in aerospace engineering from Penn State, most recently the Ph.D. in 2008.  Since that time he has worked as a post-doctoral fellow, designing, constructing and using an icing rotor stand.  Initially developed to evaluate ultrasonic ice protection technology for helicopters, Dr. Palacios has exploited this unique experimental facility as proposing co-PI to secure support for research in fundamental ice accretion physics, ice-protective coatings, and model validation.  He has also obtained support for wind-tunnel and centrifugal testing of active rotor devices such as micro trailing edge effectors.  This research has been supported by ONR, NASA, the Vertical Lift Consortium, Boeing, and General Electric.  Dr. Palacios received the Bagnoud Award from the American Helicopter Society for outstanding technical contributions by a member under the age of 35.  He was also a member of Penn State’s national champion gymnastics team in 2000, and captain in his senior year.  

Congratulations to Dr. Mark Maughmer on receiving the John Leland Atwood Award (2013)


Professor Mark Maugmer

The Atwood Award given by the ASEE Aerospace Division and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, recognizes the accomplishments of a superior aerospace engineering educator and his contributions to the profession and a demonstration of improvements of lasting influence to aerospace engineering education.


Penn State Newswire

AIAA Congratulates Aerojet’s Dr. Brian Pomeroy


student, Brian Pomeroy

The AIAA Member Spotlight for the month of June 2013, shines on Dr. Brian Pomeroy, Combustion Analyst, at Aerojet. Brian has been an AIAA member since 2002. At Aerojet, Brian is responsible for assisting in liquid rocket engine combustion tests and performance analysis.

“One my favorite projects, was during my time at Penn State as an undergraduate student (2006). Penn State teamed up with NASA Wallops Flight Facility and we designed, built, and analyzed the data from a Terrier-Orion sounding rocket launch. The program was done in conjunction with students from three universities in Norway and ultimately culminated with a launch from Andøya Rocket Range located in Andesnes, Norway. This project allowed me to use the engineering skills I was learning in the classroom and actually use them to design and build the structure and other mechanical components.”

AIAA article

Aerospace's Emily Wolf honored with Achieving Women Award


Old main building on the Penn State campus

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Emily Wolf, an aerospace engineering senior, was named the undergraduate student recipient of the 2013 Commission for Women (CFW) Achieving Women Award on April 26. One of her nominators said, "Emily has tirelessly demonstrated extraordinary leadership, dynamic public service and dedicated citizenship in her selfless pursuit to attract and retain women in non-traditional STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] professions."

Penn State Newswire

PSU Newswire: NASA selects Penn State nanosatellite for launch


Old main building on the Penn State campus

Student project to study space weather's impact on communications networks, Aerospace engineering senior Andre Coleman Jr. serves as the thermal subsystems lead for the Penn State OSIRIS nanosatellite mission, slated to be launched by NASA between 2014 and 2016.

Penn State Newswire.

College to honor Dr. Levin at awards ceremony


Old main building on the Penn State campus

Congratulations to Prof. Deborah Levin, 2013 recipient of the Penn State Engineering Alumni Society Premier Research Award. She is the sole winner of this year's award from the College of Engineering. Article in Engineering news

Dr. Smith to receive President’s Award for Engagement With Students


Dr. Ed Smith

Dr. Edward Smith, professor of aerospace engineering in the College of Engineering, has received the 2013 President’s Award for Engagement With Students. The award is given to a faculty member who goes beyond his or her responsibilities to engage and encourage students in learning. Via Penn State Newswire.

Reception at AIAA 51st Aerospace Sciences Meeting


Old main psu Annual Aerospace Alumni Reception

Monday, January 7, 2013 7:00 p.m.


Pecos 2 Ballroom Gaylord Resort & Convention Center.

Penn State Aerospace Engineering Reception

Old main psu

Thursday, December 6, 2012
5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Join us for an enjoyable evening with fellow Penn Staters. Hear about Aerospace Engineering activities at Dear Old State from the department head George Lesieutre, other faculty members, and students. River’s Edge Catering & Conference Center – Ballroom 1

46870 Tate Road, Patuxent River, MD 20670, Driving Directions to Pax River  HERE, A map to the Conference Center can be found   HERE

AIAA Student Conference

Old main psu

University Park, PA - The AIAA student chapter at the Pennsylvania State University is excited to present the annual Region I-MA Student Paper Conference. This conference is hosted to showcase the research conducted by the brightest Aerospace students from mid-Atlantic colleges and universities, as they compete for prizes and the chance to present at a national AIAA conference.

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Thon 2012

Penn state logo

University Park, PA - The 46-hour Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) once again has set a new record, raising $10,686,924.83 for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital, surpassing last year's record $9.56 million .... More than 15,000 students participated in making THON 2012 happen – from more than 700 dancers who spent the entire weekend on their feet, to the thousands of students who helped them raise funds throughout the year, and thousands more who are volunteering during THON weekend to boost dancers' morale, keep them fed and entertained, make sure they stay safe and share the THON experience around the world via streaming video.

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Prof. Langelaan part of team receiving NASA's Historic Green Aviation Prize

Penn state logo

NASA has awarded the largest prize in aviation history, created to inspire the development of more fuel-efficient aircraft and spark the start of a new electric airplane industry ... "Two years ago the thought of flying 200 miles at 100 mph in an electric aircraft was pure science fiction," said Jack W. Langelaan, team leader of Team "Now, we are all looking forward to the future of electric aviation." ...

Read PSU "Live" article

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Alumni Reception 

Penn state logo

50th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, Nashville, TN

Gaylord Opryland Hotel, Monday, January 9th

7:00pm, Room location - Lincoln A


Penn State identified as the number one choice for companies hiring Aerospace & Defense Engineers

Penn state logo

New York, NY - Aviation Week's highly regarded Workforce Study, the industry's official report and a mainstay for A & D planning and trend analysis since 1997, identifies trends in technological challenges, leadership, demographics and compensation, ranking the top universities for A & D recruitment, with Penn State at the top for engineering schools ...

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Wind Turbine Installed at Penn State's Center for Sustainability

wind turbine

University Park, Pa. -- “Wind energy is a very exciting topic to our youth and it provides many interesting opportunities to educate in a wide variety of disciplines that often spur interest in STEM areas,” said Susan Stewart, research associate in aerospace engineering and architectural engineering at Penn State and Director of the Pennsylvania Wind for Schools program ...


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P S U lion

Each year the AIAA Foundation presents the Orville and Wilbur Wright Graduate Awards. These $10,000 awards, given in memory of the Wright brothers’ contributions to the evolution of flight, are presented to students completing master’s degree or doctoral thesis work. Four of the twelve winners are current or former students of our department.

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44th Annual Comprehensive Short Course in Rotary Wing Technology: August 15-19, 2011

P S U lion


More comprehensive than ever, this five-day course is designed for engineers. Lecturers who are recognized as leaders in the field will cover a variety of topics.

Rotary Wing web site

Wind Energy Engineering Short Course August 1-4, 2011

P S U lion


Participants will get a comprehensive, engineering overview of wind energy systems and technology issues. Classroom lectures will be supplemented with a tour of a wind energy facility.  Instructors are experienced wind energy faculty from Penn State’s Aerospace, Civil, and Mechanical Engineering Departments as well as from the Meteorology and Energy Business & Finance Departments.

Wind Energy Course web site

The President discusses Wind Energy on Penn State Campus

president Obama at PSU


UNIVERSITY PARK -- President Barack Obama visited Penn State's University Park campus on Wednesday, Feb.3. He and Energy Secretary Chu spoke with Professor Jim Freihaut (AE). The wind turbine display behind them is a project of Aerospace department faculty Dr. Susan Stewart and Dr. Dennis McLaughlin. Obama said, "What this University is going to do ... is lead a modern-day incubator for what sets us apart and that is the American ideal ... I’m confident that America will win the future in this century, just like we did in the last."

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Pentagon supports PSU studies

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WASHINGTON — If a helicopter’s rotors are spinning and its landing skids are on the ground, it starts to rock. Soon, it’ll rock violently enough that it topples over and self-destructs — there are plenty of demonstrations on YouTube.


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Chandrashekhar Tiwari wins the prestigious Orville and Wilbur Wright graduate award from AIAA

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The AIAA Foundation Orville and Wilbur Wright Graduate Awards have been established in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of powered flight. The Awards recognize the Wright brother’s aeronautical achievements and contributions to the evolution of flight. The award is bestowed annually to four graduate-level students participating in research endeavors as part of their engineering/science graduate studies.

Ward wins best senior thesis award in aerospace engineering

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Evan Ward has been selected as the recipient of this year's Anthony E. Wolk Senior Thesis Award at Penn State. The award, named in honor and memory of Anthony Wolk, a 1956 aerospace engineering alumnus, is given to the author of the best aerospace engineering senior thesis, as determined by faculty members in the department. Ward's thesis is titled "The Nonlinear Propagation of Waves Through a Turbulent Atmosphere."


Prof. Sven Schmitz has an article online in Media Solutions June 2011

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Jobs in wind energy have been and are currently out there. The wind industry, though, is challenged with filling open positions with qualified candidates that received at least some education in wind energy.


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Prof. Sven Schmitz has an article online in Media Solutions May 2011

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"The Wind Industry Faces a number of challenges in developing wind farms, both onshore and offshore. . . "


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Lab focuses on new technology to prevent icing on planes, helicopters

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“A little rain or fog may seem like an insignificant threat to a helicopter or airplane. But minor clouds and precipitation can be the cause of cancelled flights—or fatalities....”


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Prof. Sven Schmitz has an article online in Media Solutions April 2011

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The potential benefits of an offshore wind deployment in the United States are manifold. It is well known that offshore winds are stronger and more consistent than onshore winds, leading to increased capacity factors compared to onshore wind power production. ... "

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Best Paper Award, 2011: Dr. Bilen and Jesse McTernan



for "Electrodynamic Tethers for ChipSats and Nanospacecrafts"

at the 11th Spacecraft Charging Technology Conference

Welcome Dr. Susan Stewart

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Dr. Stewart will divide her time between the Departments of Architectural Engineering (Center for Sustainability) and Aerospace Engineering. The Aerospace Engineering component is focused on the DOE-funded Wind Workforce Development project, and may include other initiatives. Dr. Stewart was instrumental in having Penn State named the DOE Wind Applications Center for Pennsylvania, and is the director of our NREL-funded Wind for Schools K-12 outreach program. She was the co-organizer (with Dr. Sven Schmitz) of a successful wind energy short course recently developed for Gamesa.

Prof. Sven Schmitz has an article online in Media Solutions

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Penn State offers an emerging educational and research program in wind energy, and it is aiming to become a major contributor to research excellent in the U.S. wind Industry.

... "

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AIAA Alums invited to reception in Florida at the AIAA meeting


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Alums: 49th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting in Orlando, Florida, January 2011




First Place Winners from the Aerospace Engineering


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Project: Bell – Helicopter Blade Noise Reduction
Congratulations to First Place Winners from the Aerospace Engineering Department

Sponsor: Ryan Ehinger, Students: Daniel Anderson, Kyle McCausland, Robert McCutcheon, Mason Thompson, William Ripley, Nicholas Grande, Instructor: Leland Engel, ME


Morris and Long selected to recieve AIAA Sustained Service awards

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Dr. Philip Morris has been selected to receive an AIAA Sustained Service Award

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has honored Dr. Morris for more than 30 years of service to AIAA as an author and associate editor, as a conference chair and organizer, and as a technical committee chair. The award is presented to recognize sustained, significant service and contributions to the AIAA by members of the Institute.


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Dr. Lyle N. Long recieves an AIAA Sustained Service Award

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has honored Dr. Lyle N. Long for dedicated efforts in creating the JACIC Journal, numerous publications and service on technical committees.


Penn State is Number one with Recruiters


A Wall Street Journal study of nearly 500 recruiters from some of the biggest U.S. employers revealed that Penn State grads were the No. 1 choice to hire.

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Read Wall Street Journal Article

Read article in AlumnInsider


Dr. Robert Melton selected for 2011 Faculty Advisor Award



Congratulations to Prof. Bob Melton, who has been selected to receive the 2011 Faculty Advisor Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).  He will receive it at the AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting awards luncheon in January.

Dr. Sven Schmitz


We would like to welcome Dr. Sven Schmitz to the Aerospace Engineering Department as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Schmitz comes to Penn State from the University of California Davis and will emphasize the area of wind energy.

Aerospace Homecoming Open House – Thanks to all who joined us



We had a great time at our Homecoming Open House.

DATE:                Friday, October 8
TIME:                2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
LOCATION:       Aerospace Engineering main office

Comprehensive Short Course in Rotary Wing Technology

August 16-20, 2010

Dr. McCormick is well-known for his two textbooks, Aerodynamics of V/STOL Flight and Aerodynamics, Aeronautics, and Flight Mechanics. He is a former technical director and editor of the Journal of the American Helicopter Society, and past vice president of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) for education. Dr. McCormick has consulted for many companies and federal organizations and has served on advisory panels to the U.S. House of Representatives and the Commanding General of the Army's Aviation Systems Command. He was chief of aerodynamics for Vertol when their Model 107, which became the venerable CH-46, first flew.

Gandhi and Bilen named AIAA Associate Fellows


Farhan Gandhi, professor of aerospace engineering; and Sven Bilen, associate professor of engineering design, aerospace engineering and electrical engineering; have been selected as associate fellows by the Associate Fellows Upgrade Committee of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

To be selected for the grade of associate fellow, an individual must be an AIAA senior member with at least 12 years professional experience in their field and have been recommended by a minimum of three AIAA members who are already associate fellows or fellows.

Bilen and Gandhi were honored at the AIAA Associate Fellows Dinner on Jan. 4, at the Orlando World Center Marriott, in Orlando, Fla., as part of the 48th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting. They were among the 195 AIAA members selected to become associate fellows in 2010.

AIAA is the world's largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession. With more than 35,000 individual members worldwide, and 90 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space and defense



April 16, 2010 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is pleased to announce the results of its 2010 Board of Directors election. The newly elected board members will begin their term of office on May 13. Incoming President Mark Lewis will be succeeded next year by President-Elect Brian Dailey.

The newly elected officers and directors are:

   – Brian Dailey, Lockheed Martin Corporation (Retired)

Vice President-Elect – Member Services
   – Merri Sanchez, NASA liaison, U.S. Air Force Space Command

Vice President-Elect – Technical Activities
   – Basil Hassan, Sandia National Laboratories

Director – At-Large
   – George Lesieutre, The Pennsylvania State University

Director – International
   – Shamim Rahman, NASA John C. Stennis Space Center

Director – Technical, Information Systems Group
   – James Neidhoefer, Aerotonomy, Inc.

Director – Technical, Propulsion and Energy Group
   – Ashwani Gupta, University of Maryland

Director – Region 4
   – James Walker, Southwest Research Institute

Director – Region 5
   – Laura Richard, United Launch Alliance

Director – Region 7
   – Juergen Quest, European Transonic Windtunnel

In addition, the president of AIAA will appoint Mr. Darin Haudrich, of Boeing Defense, Space and Security, to a three-year term as Young Professional Liaison.
AIAA is the world’s largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession.  With more than 35,000 individual members worldwide, and 90 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit

McLaughlin wins 2010 AIAA Aeroacoustics Award


Dennis McLaughlin has just learned of his selection as the recipient of the 2010 AIAA Aeroacoustics Award. 

The citation reads "For pioneering contributions in experimental aeroacoustics, particularly measurements of noise generated by large-scale structures in supersonic jets, and for leadership in aerospace engineering education."

He will receive the award during the dinner at the Vasa museum to be held in conjunction with the 16th AIAA/CEAS Aeroacoustics Conference 7-9 June 2010 in Stockholm, Sweden. 

Please join me in congratulating Dennis!

Dr. Jack Langelaan wins NSF CAREER award


The National Science Foundation had awarded Dr. Jack Langelaan of Penn State's Aerospace Engineering Department, a Career award to study the Theory and Practice of Autonomous Soaring for Aerial Robots (UAVs).

The five year project will study small and mini uninhabited aerial vehicles (UAVs) that are ideal for many missions which are too risky or infeasible for larger vehicles. However, small size results in performance limitations: there is reduced capacity for on-board energy storage and sensing payload, and viscous forces are a large contributor to drag, making design of efficient vehicles difficult. Birds and insects are faced with similar problems, and they have evolved flight strategies to overcome the challenges associated with small size. This research aims to develop planning and control algorithms that will enable small and mini UAVs to extract energy from the surrounding atmosphere: like birds and human glider pilots, they will be able to soar. There are three aims: (1) the development of planning algorithms that can account for the complex effects of vehicle kinematics/dynamics and environmental factors such as wind on the feasibility and costs of a trajectory; (2) the development of a vehicle that uses intelligent planning and control algorithms to overcome the challenges associated with its physical constraints; (3) enabling novel science missions. Further, the planning techniques developed here will be applicable to other instances of robot planning under complex dynamic and environmental conditions. The ultimate goal of this research is to enable a robotic aircraft to track a migrating raptor over extended distances and time. Recognizing that this is an ambitious goal, requiring advances in other areas of robotics research as well as intelligent planning and control, this research identifies several science missions that are enabled in the short and medium term by a soaring-capable mini-UAV. These science missions will be undertaken in collaboration with researchers at Penn State's meteorology department and researchers at the Acopian Center for Conservation Learning at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.