Virginia Tech's Mark Psiaki, the Kevin Crofton Faculty Chair of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, was recently selected as a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the world’s largest aerospace professional society.

The AIAA selected only 21 members worldwide as Fellows this year. In total, the organization boasts more than 30,000 individual members from 88 countries.

For Psiaki, who has been nominated for the honor twice before, the third time was the charm.

“The AIAA let us know its schedule of when they would be contacting the people who got it, and it was basically the end of the week, and I hadn't got a call. So I figured, 'OK, that's it, I didn't get it,’” Psiaki said. “So finally, I'm in a meeting with a graduate student, and all of a sudden this email comes through and . . . I was smiling from ear to ear.”

The demanding process has pushed Psiaki to act as a nominator for colleagues.

“It was nice getting this award, so it's probably time for me to start putting more of my energy into helping other people get nominated for awards,” Psiaki said. “It’s the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Psiaki went to his first AIAA conference while pursuing his Ph.D. in 1985 and officially joined the organization in 1987. Ever since, he has been publishing and helping to review papers in AIAA journals and conferences.

In the photo, Mark Psiaki writes several formulas on a whiteboard in his office.
Mark Psiaki writes on a whiteboard in his office. Psiaki was only one of 21 members worldwide selected to become a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics this year.

Psiaki earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and both a master’s degree and Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University. Before joining the Virginia Tech faculty in 2016, Psiaki was a tenure-track and then tenured professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University starting in 1986.

Psiaki is a distinguished scholar in the fields of dynamics and control, GPS/GNSS navigation, cyber-physical security with specific expertise in GPS spoofing and jamming, and spacecraft attitude and orbit determination.

Psiaki is a Fellow of the Institute of Navigation and was the recipient of the 2013 Tycho Brahe Award from the Institute of Navigation. He has published over 125 journal and conference papers and has received six Best Paper Awards from the AIAA.

In 2014 and 2015, Psiaki was a National Research Council senior research associate at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate. He has spent two sabbatical leaves with the aerospace engineering faculty of The Technion in Haifa, Israel, as a Lady Davis Fellow.

He was a co-founder of Coherent Navigation Inc., a startup that was recently acquired by Apple, where he worked on iGPS signal processing and orbit determination for the Iridium constellation.

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