The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Foundation has announced the 20 winners of its 2021 undergraduate scholarships and 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. 


“Preparing the next generation of aerospace innovators is part of our community’s commitment to bringing the best minds to the task,” said John Langford, chair, AIAA Foundation. “These students are our industry’s next leaders and problem-solvers. We are proud to call them AIAA student members and look forward to seeing the contributions they bring to aerospace.” 


The 2021 undergraduate scholarship winners are: 


  • The $10,000 Daedalus 88 Scholarship, endowed by AIAA Immediate Past President John Langford, founder and CEO Emeritus of Aurora Flight Sciences, and founder and CEO of, was presented to Matthew Tan, Stanford University. 
  • The $10,000 David and Catherine Thompson Space Technology Scholarship, named for and endowed by former AIAA President David Thompson, retired chairman, chief executive officer, and president of Orbital ATK, and his wife Catherine, was presented to Noshin Nawar, University of Arkansas. 
  • The $5,000 Vicki and George Muellner Scholarship for Aerospace Engineering, named for and endowed by the late Lt. Gen. George Muellner (USAF), former AIAA president, and president of advanced systems for Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, and his wife Vicki, was presented to Umar Padela, Harvard University. 
  • The $5,000 Wernher von Braun Scholarship, named in honor of the German rocketeer and founder of the U.S. space program, was presented to Satvik Kumar, Georgia Institute of Technology. 
  • The $1,250 Leatrice Gregory Pendray Scholarship, named in honor of Leatrice Pendray, an accomplished rocketry researcher and co-founder of the American Interplanetary Society in 1930, was presented to Rebekah Geil, Georgia Institute of Technology. 


Five AIAA Foundation scholarships were presented by AIAA technical committees (TC) to students performing research in the TC’s area: 


The Space Transportation TC presented a $1,500 scholarship to Ryan Udell, Rice University. 


The Digital Avionics TC presented four scholarships of $2,000 each: 


  • The Dr. James Rankin Digital Avionics Scholarship was presented to Elton Shinji Okuma Hayachiguti, Georgia Institute of Technology.
  • The Dr. Amy R. Pritchett Digital Avionics Scholarship was presented to Kiseuk Ahn, Bellevue College.
  • The Ellis F. Hitt Digital Avionics Scholarship was presented to Noah Jacobs, University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
  • The Cary Spitzer Digital Avionics Scholarship was presented to Alexander Gross, Texas A&M University.


The 2021 graduate award winners are: 


  • Alexis Harroun, Purdue University, 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. 
  • Paige Drummond and Evan Waldron, both from North Carolina State University (NCSU), are the recipients of the Dr. Hassan A. Hassan Graduate Award in Aerospace Engineering. Dr. Hassan established the award shortly before his death in January 2019 to entice top NCSU aerospace engineering seniors, who also are AIAA members, to earn their graduate degree (M.S. or Ph.D.) in aerospace engineering at NCSU. Two $5,000 awards are presented each year. 
  • Christopher Axten, Pennsylvania State University, 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 AIAA technical committees. 
  • Abhishek Shastry, University of Maryland, College Park, and Akanksha Baranwal, Texas A&M University, each received the Orville and Wilbur Wright Graduate Award. These $5,000 awards are given in memory of the Wright brothers’ contributions to the evolution of flight.


Four AIAA TCs also presented the following graduate awards: 


  • Oliver Jia-Richards, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, received the Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GNC) TC’s $2,500 Guidance, Navigation and Control Graduate Award. 
  • Laurens Voet, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, received the Modeling and Simulation TC’s $3,500 Luis de Florez Graduate Award. 
  • Hiba Kahouli, University of Southern California, received the Propellants and Combustion TC’s $1,250 Martin Summerfield Propellants and Combustion Graduate Award. 
  • Anil Yildirim, University of Michigan, received the Air Breathing Propulsion TC’s $1,000 Gordon C. Oates Air Breathing Propulsion Graduate Award. 


Applications for the 2022 scholarships will be accepted from 1 October to 31 January 2022. Please visit the AIAA Foundation Scholarship and Graduate Awards webpage for more information. 


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Media contact: Rebecca Gray,, 703.264.7542 


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, or follow AIAA on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.