The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) today announced that Daniel L. Dumbacher has been appointed executive director of the world’s largest aerospace technical society, effective 4 January 2018. As executive director, he will lead the organization’s 70-person professional staff and oversee its $20 million annual budget.

“I am excited that Dan will be joining AIAA as our next executive director,” said AIAA President James Maser. “As an active member and longtime volunteer, Dan knows the Institute well. Through his distinguished career at NASA and Purdue, and his work with industry partners, Dan understands the aerospace community and the opportunities and challenges facing us. I know I speak for all of the AIAA staff and our 30,000 members when I say I am looking forward to working with Dan as we continue shaping the future of aerospace together.”

A 30-year member and Associate Fellow of the Institute, Dumbacher joins AIAA from Purdue University, where he serves as professor of Engineering Practice in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He became a faculty member at Purdue after retiring from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), where he spent more than three decades. At NASA, Dumbacher most recently served as deputy associate administrator in the Exploration Systems Development Division for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. In that capacity, he provided leadership and management as the program director for exploration systems development encompassing the Space Launch System, Orion, and Ground Systems Development and Operations development and integration efforts. He led a team of more than 5,000 across all NASA centers and industry.

“I am honored to be working with this premier aerospace organization. The aerospace industry is vital to our nation’s future, in furthering technologies of flight and expanding space exploration,” said Dumbacher. “In its members, AIAA has the broad base of talent and experience to play a key role in creating new opportunities, pushing the boundaries of technology to address national and global needs, and building the future generations of scientists, engineers, and technologists. I am thrilled to be working with the Board, members, and staff to build on AIAA’s success and further this vibrant organization.”

Previously, Dumbacher managed the Engineering Directorate at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, leading more than 2,500 civil service employees and contractors. The Engineering Directorate supported the Space Shuttle program’s propulsion elements, design and development of Ares launch vehicles, oversight of NASA’s Payload Operations Center, and supported all Marshall Space Flight Center International Space Station and science missions.

He also was deputy director of the Ares Projects Office and, before that, was deputy director for product assurance in the safety and mission assurance office, focusing on Space Shuttle return-to-flight efforts. Other assignments included manager of the X-37 Flight Demonstrator, deputy manager of the Space Launch Initiative Program, and program manager of the Second Generation Reusable Launch Vehicle Program, among other roles.

Honors at NASA include being awarded the coveted Silver Snoopy Award, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, and the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Service. He twice received the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, in 2002 for accomplishments related to NASA’s Space Launch Initiative Program, and in 1997 for his work on the DC-XA Project. Purdue University recognized him with the Outstanding Mechanical Engineer Award in 2003, and with the W.A. Gustafson Teaching Award in 2015.

Dumbacher earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University and a master’s in business administration from the University of Alabama. He completed the Senior Managers in Government study program at Harvard University.

He becomes AIAA’s sixth executive director, succeeding Sandra H. Magnus, Ph.D., who will step down in April 2018, after leading the Institute for more than five years. “Sandy was the right executive director for AIAA at the right time. She arrived at a challenging period for both the Institute and the industry. Sandy had the energy, courage, and determination to evaluate, plan, and execute strategic changes to AIAA’s events and governance structures. These changes were critical to the continued growth and relevance of the Institute. Sandy leaves to her successor an Institute that is not only financially stable, but well positioned for the future,” said Maser.

About AIAA

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is nearly 30,000 engineers and scientists, and 95 corporate members, from 85 countries who are dedicated to advancing the global aerospace profession. The world’s largest aerospace technical society, the Institute convenes five yearly forums; publishes books, technical journals, and Aerospace America; hosts a collection of 160,000 technical papers; develops and maintains standards; honors and celebrates achievement; and advocates on policy issues. AIAA serves aerospace professionals around the world—who are shaping the future of aerospace—by providing the tools, insights, and collaborative exchanges to advance the state of the art in engineering and science for aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter @AIAA.