AIAA Student Membership

AIAA welcomes student participants to the Region VI Student Conference. Students must join AIAA to be eligible to compete in the conference. For more information about Student Membership visit us online. Student membership is only $25 USD.

Questions about AIAA? Please contact the AIAA Student Programs Coordinator, Rachel Dowdy, at

Presentation Count


Last Updated: March 8, 2017

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2017 Conference

The 2017 Region VI Student Conference will be held in San Jose, CA hosted by San Jose State University

DATE: March 17-19, 2017

Conference Cost

Registration Fee*: $40

Cancellation Fee: $50

(Cancellation Deadlline: March 3, 2017)


*Registration fee covers meals, tour expenses, and tour transprotation.

Registration fee does not cover hotel cost. For hotel information please refer to the Hotel lnformation link under Main Menu. 

Key Dates
 Registration Opens: 
Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Friday, 10 February 2017
Papers Due: 
Friday, 3 March 2017
Registration Closes: 
Friday, 17 March 2017

AIAA Author Kit

Your paper should be prepared according to AIAA Manuscript Preparation Kit. Please note that the paper can be no longer than 11 pages single column because this is a student competition. Undergraduate and Graduate Competition papers may have up to two student authors.

Information for authors and a template can be found on the AIAA website, Author Resources.

Judging Menu
AIAA Region VI Student Conference


Todd Barber


Todd Barber is a JPL senior propulsion engineer, now working as lead propulsion on the Cassini mission to Saturn following part-time work on the Mars Exploration Rover Laboratory (MER) mission, and Deep Impact mission, and the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, which landed the large rover Curiosity on the red planet on August 5th, 2012. Cassini was launched on October 15, 1997, on its two-billion mile, seven-year journey to the ringed planet. The MER team launched twin rovers to the red planet in June and July of 2003, and Opportunity is still going strong nine years after landing. Mr. Barber worked as the lead impactor propulsion engineer on Deep Impact, which successfully crashed into Comet Tempel-1 on Independence Day, 2005, at 23,000 miles per hour. Working on the Galileo project for over seven years, his primary responsibility was getting Galileo into Jupiter's orbit on December 7, 1995.  He also worked part-time on the Space Infra-Red Telescope Facility (SIRTF) mission, the Stardust mission, the Mars Sample Return mission, as well as a Mars airplane study. Mr. Barber received NASA's Exceptional Achievement Award in 1996 for his work on Galileo. An intriguing project from his career included flybys of a near-Earth asteroid, Braille, and a comet named Borrelly.  This project is known as the Deep Space One mission, the first NASA mission to use electric propulsion (a la "Star Trek").

Mr. Barber is a native of Wichita, Kansas and attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) between 1984 and 1990, obtaining B.S. and M.S. Degrees in aerospace engineering, with a humanities concentration in music. He is also a composer of church choral music, with two pieces published to date. His hobbies include charitable singing, professionally playing the piano, visiting all the U.S. tri-state corners and national parks, playing basketball (though it's been a while), and amateur astronomy. 

Abstract: “Red Rover, Red Rover: Send Curiosity Right Over”

Curiosity's mission to the red planet will be covered in detail.  Topics to be discussed include a bit on the history of Mars rovers at JPL, the scientific motivation for Curiosity, and the preparations for launch two days after Thanksgiving in 2011.  The science suite on board this one-ton mega rover will be presented, as well as the engineering challenges involved in getting Curiosity to the launch pad, traveling 352 million miles to Mars over 8.5 months, and 'sticking the landing' following the so-called 'seven minutes of terror' on August 5th, 2012.  Early mission science results will be presented as well, followed by pop-culture reaction to the rover landing

Thomas A. Morgenfeld


Thomas A. Morgenfeld, a 1965 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, was designated a Naval Aviator in 1967. He had two fleet tours flying the F-8 Crusader where he flew 90 combat missions and amassed over 500 carrier landings. Between those tours, he attended the United States Naval Postgraduate School where he earned his M.S. degree in aeronautical engineering. In 1975, he attended the Empire Test Pilot's School in England, winning the McKenna Trophy as the top student in his class. In 1976, Tom went onto USAF exchange duty with the 4477th Test and Evaluation Flight where he was responsible for all USN involvement with the then top secret flying of MiG airplanes for exploitation purposes. At the end of that tour, he left active duty but went on to complete a 26-year naval career. His final billet was as commander of the Naval Weapons Center, China Lake reserve unit.

Mr. Morgenfeld joined Lockheed's Skunk Works in December 1979. He was first assigned to the F-117 program and went on to fly almost 1300 hours in developing that aircraft. In 1989 he went to the Advanced Tactical Fighter program where he was primarily responsible for flying the second YF-22A prototype. After Lockheed won that competition, he was named Chief Test Pilot for the YF-22A follow-on test program. In 1991 he was named Chief Test Pilot for Skunk Works and in 1999 was promoted to Director of Flight Operations as well. As the Chief Test Pilot on the Joint Strike Fighter program where he performed the first flight on the X-35 and tested all three versions of the airplane. He served as an Engineering Technical Fellow of the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. until his retirement in 2004. Mr. Morgenfeld then worked over three years as a Test Pilot Instructor at the National Test Pilot School and is now Chairman of the Board of Trustees at that school. Over the years he has accumulated over 7,000 in more than 80 different aircraft.

A retired Navy Captain, Mr. Morgenfeld is a Fellow and past President of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots as well as a Senior Member of AIAA. He has received SETP's Iven C. Kincheloe Award for excellence in flight testing, is a member of two Collier Trophy-winning teams, and has been inducted into the Golden Eagles, the Aerospace Walk of Honor, and the Hamburg High School wall of Honor. A native of Hamburg, NY, he is married to the former Norma K. Shoemaker, also of Hamburg. They have two sons, CAPT Steven A. Morgenfeld USN, a Naval Aviator, and Mr. Michael F. Morgenfeld, the Director of Cartography for Perseus Publications.

Abstract: "X-35 Test Pilot"

Thomas A. Morgenfeld was the Chief Test Pilot on the X-35 airplane from the start of the Joint Strike Fighter program through its final flight and contract award. During the course of the JSF program, Mr. Morgenfeld tested all three versions of the airplane. Throughout the development of the X-35 prototype airplanes, he encountered many test experiences. 

Dan W. Bursch

 Dan Bursch Astronaut


A former Naval Officer and NASA Astronaut, Dan Bursch now serves in one of the advisor positions in the Space Systems Academic Group at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS).

Dan Bursch was a Naval Flight Officer and graduate student at NPS before being selected as an astronaut in 1990.  Dan completed four missions to space, the most recent one as a member of the Expedition Four crew to the International Space Station (ISS) from December 2001 to June 2002. 

Bursch is an employee of The Aerospace Corporation, which fills the National Reconnaissance Office Advisor position at NPS.  The Space Systems Academic Group at NPS is a unique interdisciplinary association consisting of 20 faculty and 7 academic chairs / advisors.  His primary responsibility is to ensure that education and research at NPS supports the mission of the NRO, and he serves as a professor in several space systems courses.

Dan graduated from the Naval Academy in 1979 (Physics), the Naval Test Pilot School in 1984 and has a Master’s Degree in Engineering Science from the Naval Postgraduate School (1991).

Abstract: "Astronaut at International Space Station Overview"

Former astronaut Dan Bursch lived off the planet from December 2001 to June 2002.  Dan will share his experiences living and working in space during Expedition Four to the International Space Station (ISS). He will also discuss the challenges of working on an international collaborative program and share his views on the future of human space flight.