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Student Advice

The AIAA History Committee encourages students from all majors with an interest in aerospace history to consider presenting work at AIAA Forums. It can be a great boost to your career to get published while still a student. 


Submitting as a student can also be a lot less expensive as you are still able to register at the student rate. Keep in mind that everyone who presents a paper, has to be registered for the conference.

Planning Your Paper


Don’t let the work on the paper interfere with your school studies; your studies should come first. Starting to plan early means you can take as much time as you need to avoid interrupting school and life circumstances. Also, don’t let that be an excuse to push off all the work of publishing a paper until the end of the schedule.

Getting extra credits for your paper

Researching and publishing a paper may earn you extra credit, or at least a boost to your grade in one of your courses. You may be able to do this with your department, as an independent study, or in another department altogether. Many Teachers enjoy students outside their departments doing these interdisciplinary projects. Be sure to talk to your Advisor as well as other Teachers that may support your paper. 

Finding A Mentor

The Committee encourages students to find a mentor to help guide their research at least [9 months] in advance of the Forum which they would like to attend– this mentor may be your current advisor, a current professor, a faculty member in an Aerospace, History/Liberal Arts department with whom you might conduct an independent study project, a staff member at a science museum, or even one of the AIAA History Committee members. Another resource may be AIAA Mentor Match 

Submitting Abstract

Students should work to develop an abstract at least 12 months in advance of the forum to submit to AIAA for consideration. If selected for the Forum, students have until 3-6 months to develop a paper for submission to present at the Forum. Presentations are sorted into thematic history sessions at the conference and each presenter has between 5 to 30 minutes to present depending on AIAA Administrative decisions for the event that year. Past examples of History Committee submissions can be found by contacting the History Committee. 

Finding Topic Resources

Once you start your research, look at where the information is, and how you might be able to access it. Oftentimes, archives and databases are held in particular locations that have to be visited in person. This includes everything from private family collections, to university, municipal, national, and presidential libraries and archives. Did a family or friend contribute to aerospace history? You can submit papers about individuals, i.e. your own community and their contributions to history.

If your research is going to require travel, include it in your budget. It may be a small consolation, but because this is an educational endeavor on behalf of a non-profit educational institution; the cost of the project may be tax deductible if you keep good records of expenses (consult a tax professional). You may also be able to get organizations to waive fees for you as a student. (It's always 
worth asking!)

Stay on Schedule

Put together a milestone calendar of when you expect to get certain tasks completed. Students get busy in different ways; course requirements requiring extra study and tutoring, part-time and summer job opportunities, course schedule changes, and personal emergencies are a few examples. So, plan a little extra time in your schedule and try to keep the deadlines. Always set your
own deadlines well in advance of the actual deadlines. Thus if the final paper submission deadline is the first of December, set your personal deadline at least a few weeks before that to give it a final editorial review and to give yourself some emergency leeway.


AIAA has a Diversity Scholarship program which provides limited fully funded conference travel awards for students from historically underrepresented communities; the deadline for this opportunity is approximately three months prior to the conference. Some schools additionally are able to provide travel funding to students attending conferences. Student activity funds are
sometimes available for student organizations to travel to conferences, and Dean’s offices may also have research funding to cover travel for accepted conference presentations. It is important to apply early in the semester/quarter, and sometimes even at the beginning of a school year, for this funding, as it is most often granted on a first-come, first-serve basis. It is always wise, if you can do so, to put a little aside each month to cover your conference expenses.


The largest expense of presenting a paper could be the cost of travel and lodging. If you are not able to find full funding, other conference attendees may have extra space in their accommodations whose expenses you can split or utilize for free; posting on AIAA Engage or social media may help you locate potential roommates. If you are going to present a paper as a student, look at the location of where the conference is going to take place, and choose one where you can afford to complete the project. Are there friends or family in the area you can stay with, or is it local enough to you, where you can commute.  Then investigate the cost of travel and lodging, and put together a financial plan on how you will complete the task of presenting the paper. 


Fellowships including the SHOT fellowships for Ph.D. students/postdocs may also help fund conference presentations. Additional opportunities may be posted at Occasionally state-level NASA Space Grant Consortia may be able to provide student research and/or conference funding as well. Other Working Groups also have resources.

Other Considerations

If you are performing the research and/or writing the paper in relation to an employed position while a student, review the advice in the Young Professional web pages. 

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