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

Next Meeting Date: TBD

Time:     7pm

Place:    Engineering B101

Additional details to come!

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

Get a front row seat and hear from the industry’s best in topic areas such as space vehicles, advanced aircraft, and hypersonic flight! Each month includes a new presenter from leading aerospace companies including United Launch Alliance, NASA, and Lockheed Martin Space.

Free entrance. Free food. Free swag. Free fun. Join us!

Dates: Monthly, September 2021 – May 2022

Location: On campus; room details specific to each event 

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January Event:   Friday, January 28   |   4-5:30pm   |  Engineering 100

Presenter: John Karas, Lockheed Martin VP & General Manager of Human Space Flight and Strategic & Missile Defense (retired)

Topic: The Aerospace Industry: Challenges of the Past, Insights for the Future

Mr. Karas has over four decades of senior leadership across technical and business activities spanning large multi-billion dollar civil and national security space systems. 

He held positions at the division level in strategic planning, business development and advanced programs. In his last BD assignment, he was responsible for capturing $8B of orders per year across Air Force, civil, commercial and classified space markets. Also, at the division level, Karas served twice as a Line of Business VP and General Manager. He was responsible for as much as $3B in sales per year and several thousand employees. He also held positions as a Program Manager of multi-billion dollar developmental and operational projects. Prior to retiring from Lockheed Martin in October of 2017, Karas also worked for General Dynamics and Martin Marietta.

Post retirement, Karas has continued to consult for several entities and remains current in commercial and USG lift, human spaceflight, strategic missiles, national security space and propulsion systems.


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


Major: Mechanical Engineering 

Graduation Year: 2023

Favorite things about AIAA: “The opportunity to learn and hone technical and interpersonal skills.”

Cole Stevenson

Major: Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Aerospace Engineering

Graduation Year: 2022

Favorite things about AIAA: “Design Build Fly has to be my favorite. It’s an incredibly fun competition which teaches many lessons about the engineering process. I also just enjoy meeting new people at our events.”  

Peter Sperl CSU Mechanical Engineering Student

AIAA Faculty AdvisorsKaren Thorsett-Hill and Xinfeng Gao.

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.