Columbia’s Student Branch of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautic

by E. Renee Stroebel

Columbia’s student branch of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics is, in my opinion, one of the engineering school’s best kept secrets – and I should know. My name is Renee Stroebel and I have been a part of the team for the last four years and have been on the executive board for the last three. We are a small tightly knit group mainly concerned with the design and construction of a model aircraft to compete in AIAA’s Annual Design-Build-Fly competition. This avionics competition is highly competitive and attracts teams from top engineering schools both nationally and internationally. We design the plane from scratch each year, as the missions change annually. At the end of the year we travel to the competition site (which is generally either in Kansas sponsored by Cessna or in Arizona sponsored by Raytheon) and demonstrate that our airplane can accomplish the flight missions.

Blake Rego, serving as President, and I, serving as Treasurer, are the two senior members of the group.  As applied physics majors we get down and dirty during construction just as well and as often as many of the mechanical engineers. Many of the teams that we compete against each year have memberships comprised of mainly aeronautical engineering majors coupled with a solid base of mechanical engineers. While our team this year did have four mechanical engineers, our core group also included two members with majors yet to be determined and more surprisingly, two of the fundamental positions of the group were held by two applied physics majors: Blake and myself.

We are a young club looking to expand, and this is a learning process for everyone involved.  If you’re curious about getting involved as a member, sponsor, or a technical advisor, please e-mail one of us or show up for one of our meetings which are held every Tuesday at 8:30 PM, during the academic year, in 833 Mudd. Many of our competitors boast of faculty advisors, and we are looking for a professor or technical professional here to step up to the challenge for Columbia University AIAA. If you have any questions, feel free to reach someone on the board. All are welcome and no prior experience is necessary. All we require is a passion for aircrafts and aeronautics - we’ll teach you all you need to know.

500 W. 120th St., Mudd 200, MC 4701 New York, NY 10027 / Phone: 212-854-4457 / Fax: 212-854-8257 / Email:

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