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AIAA Names SEI’s Nielsen Honorary Fellow


January 27, 2012—The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has named Paul Nielsen a 2012 AIAA Honorary Fellow. Nielsen is director and chief executive officer of the Software Engineering Institute (SEI). The AIAA bestows this title to recognize “preeminent individuals who have had long and highly contributory careers in aerospace, and who embody the highest possible standards in aeronautics and astronautics.” Nielsen, along with this year’s two other 2012 AIAA Honorary Fellows, will be recognized on May 9, 2012, at the AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala in Washington, D.C.

“Being named a Fellow of AIAA is among the highest honors that can be bestowed upon an aerospace professional, and represents recognition from colleagues and peers for great contributions to our field and technical community,” said AIAA President Dr. Brian D. Dailey. “I congratulate each member of this year’s class of Fellows and Honorary Fellows.”

“Receiving an honor like this from your peers is always special,” said Nielsen. “Professional societies such as AIAA, IEEE, and ACM are so important to science and engineering. The conferences, journals, recognition, and friendships they offer make us into a national and even international community.”

Prior to his arrival as SEI director, Nielsen served in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a major general after 32 years of distinguished service. As commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio for more than four years, he managed the Air Force’s science and technology budget of more than $3 billion annually. He also served as the Air Force’s technology executive officer, determining the investment strategy for the full spectrum of Air Force science and technology activities.

In 2010, Nielsen was elected as a member of the U. S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE). He is a Fellow of the AIAA and a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). He served as the AIAA president from 2007-2008. Nielsen serves on several advisory boards including the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Hertz Foundation, a non-profit that awards graduate school fellowships in the applied sciences. For more information about Nielsen, please visit AIAA is the world’s largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession. In 1933, Orville Wright became AIAA’s first Honorary Fellow, and AIAA Honorary Fellows and AIAA Fellows continue to be the most respected names in the aerospace industry. AIAA has 35,000 individual members worldwide, and 90 corporate members. It seeks to bring together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit

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Media Contacts: 

Richard Lynch