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AIAA Foundation Daedalus 88 Scholarship To Promote Student Projects and Commemorate Historic Flight


The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) today announces that President-Elect John Langford has made a generous donation of $250,000 to fund an annual $10,000 AIAA Foundation Daedalus 88 Undergraduate Scholarship.

“John has set a high standard for others to follow in our community,” said Dan Dumbacher, AIAA executive director and AIAA Foundation president. “It’s the commitment to the next generation of aerospace engineers that makes AIAA such a meaningful organization. By investing in college students, we are helping find solutions to problems facing society today.”

The $10,000 scholarship will be awarded annually and is named after the Daedalus Project, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary today. The project began at a meeting of the AIAA New England Section, when a member of the audience challenged Langford and his fellow student, Mark Drela, to recreate the flight of Daedalus – the first reference in Western literature to man flying under his own initiative.

Langford and 39 other MIT students accepted the challenge. He organized and led the Daedalus Project that ultimately set records in distance and for human-powered flight in 1988 with a 72-mile flight between the Greek islands of Crete and Santorini. Those records still stand today.

After the flight, Langford went on to found Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation, a pioneer in unmanned aircraft and autonomous flight. In November 2017, Aurora was acquired by Boeing.

“Hands-on projects and modeling are essential parts of the modern aeronautics and astronautics education process. I will always remember with pride the challenge that was the Daedalus Project,” said Langford. “Through this scholarship I want to provide undergraduate students the opportunity I had. If it encourages future students to innovate through real-world project management experience then, hopefully, they will spend their careers in aerospace just as I have.”

The scholarship is intended to promote and support student entrepreneurship in aerospace. Scholarship applicants must be current AIAA student members in good standing; be a sophomore, junior, or senior with at least one completed academic semester of full-time college work; have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.500 on a 4.000 scale; and be enrolled full-time in an accredited college or university within the United States or U.S. Territories. The scholarship is open to students of any nationality. The applicant’s education plan shall provide for entry into a field of science or engineering encompassed by the technical activities of AIAA. More information about applying for the scholarship will be forthcoming.

For the past two decades, the AIAA Foundation has awarded more than 750 scholarships and graduate awards to students. For more information, please visit the AIAA Foundation’s scholarship website.

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