by Nicole Capozziello
Published May 10, 2019
On March 20, 2019, the UB student chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) attended the annual Congressional Visits Day in Washington D.C.
Eleven undergraduate and graduate students attended the two-day event, which brought together scientists, engineers, researchers, educators, and technology executives to raise visibility and support for science, engineering, and technology.
Each year, Congressional Visits Day is coordinated by coalitions comprised of educational institutions, companies, and professional societies. The day promotes awareness of the long-term value that science, engineering, and technology bring to our nation and seeks to ensure the stability of future aerospace research and development, STEM participation, and related workforce development programs.
“Attending Congressional Visits Day is an excellent opportunity for students and professionals alike to advocate for the aerospace community and to experience the inner workings of the U.S. democratic process,” said Cameron Grace, an AIAA member and doctoral student in mechanical and aerospace engineering.
The students had the opportunity to visit 16 separate NY Congressional district offices. They participated in face-to-face meetings with central policymakers and their teams, including Senators Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand and Congressman Brian Higgins. Additionally, they had the privilege of attending a banquet dinner with Richard M. Obermann, PhD, the U.S. Chief of Staff for the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
While in D.C., the group also visited the White House, the Lockheed Martin visitor center, and the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, where they saw famous vehicles and took in the history of the aerospace industry.
“Aerospace research is generally a bipartisan issue and yet funding for NASA, and other aerospace research organizations, has dropped sporadically through the decades,” said Grace. “Reliably supporting these groups will ensure that significant scientific endeavors, such as the next lunar missions, can continue to come to fruition.”
Joining Grace on the trip were Pradeep Vaghela, Chet Knoer, Christopher Scott, Ema Marter, Mirka Arevalo, James Bilello, Kevin Carpenter, Antonio Distante, Alexander Podvezko and Trevett Carr. Many of the students are involved with the UB's CRashworthiness for Aerospace Structures and Hybrids (CRASH) Lab, under the guidance of Javid Bayandor, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
This trip was supported with funding from UB’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Engineering Partnership Program and AIAA Headquarters.
AIAA team outside the White House. From left are James Bilello, Antonio Distante, Christopher Scott, Trevett Carr, Pradeep Vaghela, Cameron Grace, Mirka Arevalo, Alexander Podvezko, Kevin Carpenter and Chet Knoer.
Team 1, outside Congressman Chuck Schumer’s office in the Hart Senate Office Building. From left to rightare : Jonathan Webb (Purdue University), Glenn Mackey (Colonel, USAF), and UB students Antonio Distante, Cameron Grace, Alexander Podvezko and Trevett Carr.
Banquet hall dinner where students had the opportunity to meet with the U.S. Chief of Staff for the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Dr. Richard M. Obermann.
More about AIAA
AIAA is the world’s largest aerospace professional society. The UB student chapter gives students an opportunity to pursue their passion and connects them with industry professionals through year-round activities such as field trips, guest speaker events, and dinners.