American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) at CSU

What is


The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession, with over 30,000 members worldwide. AIAA commits itself to shaping the future of aerospace, providing resources and experiences to assist in personal and professional development. Involvement with AIAA provides growth opportunities, education, and access to a global network of fellow engineers and others in the industry.


AIAA at CSU is an organization that is dedicated to introducing students to aerospace industry connections, as well as providing opportunities for students to gain experience in the fields of aeronautics and astronautics. Our organization is a registered student branch of AIAA dedicated to providing real world, hands-on experience to our student members through a collection of lectures, seminars, and competitions centered on the aerospace industry. AIAA welcomes students from all degrees at CSU – anyone with a passion for aerospace or aeronautics is encouraged to join! Being involved in AIAA is a great networking tool and a whole lot of fun!

Within the organization, you can choose between two paths of interest: aeronautics and astronautics.

Aeronautics is the study of the science of flight, and the method of designing an airplane or other flying machine.


AIAA Design, Build, Fly (DBF) Competition

The AIAA Design, Build, Fly (DBF) annual competition is a partnership between the AIAA Foundation, Cessna Aircraft Company, and Raytheon Missile Systems. This competition provides students an opportunity to design and build a radio-controlled aircraft to perform specific missions, and is available for teams across the world to compete in. Students who participate gain valuable team building skills while getting real world experience in aircraft design.

If you are interested in joining, please email Peter Sperl.

Astronautics is the science of the construction and operation of vehicles for travel in space beyond the earth’s atmosphere.


National Association of Rocketry (NAR) Competition

Join Ram Rocketry, CSU’s NAR club, in this model rocket competition. Born in 1959, the competition has evolved into a proven method for challenging students to improve craftsmanship and flying skills, and to pursue a “personal best” in performance with each flight. NAR is the only rocket organization in the US that has a structured program of rocketry competition, that recognizes national champions each year, and that sponsors a US team in world championships competition.


The CSU Rocket Team formed in 2014 as a senior design team. Since then, the group has grown from four to fourteen students, and innovations to the Aries rocket have record-breaking wins in intercollegiate competitions. If you are interested in joining, please contact Johhny Buck.

Follow CSU Ram Rocketry on Instagram!


CSU Chapter

Meeting Dates: Every Monday

Time:     4:30 – 5:30 PM

Place:    Engineering B101


AIAA’s Rocky Mountain Section serves the professional aerospace community, and strongly encourages collegiate chapters to attend their programs and network with those already in the field.

Follow this link for more information on upcoming events, resources, and opportunities to connect.


Aerospace Technology Innovation Talks

October Event:  February 24th, 2023 |  4 – 5:30 pm |  Engineering 100

Presenter: Shane Deichman

Topic: Space and National Security

Shane has been a Board Member of the Colorado Space Business Roundtable (CSBR) since January 2019, advocating for our nation’s largest per capita aerospace economy, and has served as Vice Chair since January 2022. As Strategist for Caliola Engineering, Shane is responsible for managing growth opportunities across multiple business sectors – including defense, space, and intelligence – while supporting Caliola’s rapid growth as a provider of assured communications in austere environments.
Prior to joining Caliola, Shane spent nearly four years with Teledyne Brown Engineering as a Senior Director for Business Development. In government, Shane was Program Manager for Space Integration & Early Warning in the Command, Control, Battle Management, and Communications (C2BMC) Directorate at the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), responsible for integrating space-based sensors into C2BMC to provide Warfighters with better data more quickly.
Shane has more than three decades of experience in government service, both as a scientist and as a manager, and is Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) certified at Level III in Program Management, Science & Technology Management, and Engineering as well as Level II certified in Information Technology, Purchasing, and Facilities Engineering. He was the Acquisition Program Manager for the Objective Simulation Framework (OSF), an ACAT IAC-equivalent contract awarded in August 2011 by MDA’s Engineering Directorate.
Shane’s previous government service includes seven years at United States Joint Forces Command’s Joint Futures Lab (USJFCOM J9) as Experiment Operations Director, where he was responsible for finding and evaluating new ideas – “disruptive innovations” that enable
Transformational defense capabilities. Shane supported the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Industrial Base Capabilities Studies, was a founding member of U.S. Joint Forces Command’s Industry Engagement Board, and served as a Government Advisor to numerous Defense Science Board Task Forces and Summer Studies. He spent two years as an Office of Naval Research Science Advisor at Marine Corps Forces-Pacific (MARFORPAC), and began his career as a Physicist at Naval Ocean Systems Center (now Naval Information Warfare Center-Pacific) in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM.
A graduate of the U.S. Naval War College (1994) and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government “Senior Executive Fellows” Program (2003), Shane also holds an M.S. in Engineering Systems from Naval Postgraduate School-Monterey (2016), an M.S. in Management from Salve Regina University (1997), and a Baccalaureate in Nuclear Physics from the University of California at Berkeley (1989). Shane has lectured on military innovation at the Pentagon, State Department, and service, joint, and international war colleges, and has published several articles on innovation and warfighting. He was one of Hampton Roads – Virginia’s “Top 40 under 40” entrepreneurs in Inside Business magazine (2005), and has received three Joint Meritorious Unit Awards.


1374 Campus Delivery
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1374


AIAA Student Memberships have unique benefits. Explore everything a membership has to offer here. To join the CSU chapter, start by filling out this form, and we will follow up. Annual fees are $15.

High school students interested in joining AIAA before coming to CSU can sign up for free! Join here


AIAA Faculty Advisor – Karen Thorsett-Hill

If you’re not sure who to contact or have general questions, you can send an email to the general AIAA account: aiaa.colostate@gmail.com


Our sponsors are an important part of our organization, and their gifts help support our events. If you are a company interested in sponsoring AIAA at CSU, please email aiaa.coloradostate@gmail.com.