Professional Programs

The focus of the Professional Program is “Leadership and Change.” AISES is dedicated to supporting its professional members in STEM, providing a network of Professional Chapters an annual Professional Awards Program to celebrate excellence in the field.

The Professional Program supports early, mid and executive professionals in STEM fields through professional development, career opportunities, networking and opportunities to mentor and support students in STEM.

Professional Programs

Travel Assistance and Professional Development Program, for: Engineering Graduate Student, Post-Doctoral Fellows, and Early-Career Faculty

Would you like support to travel to and attend the 2016 AISES National Conference in Minneapolis, MN with specific professional development tailor just for you?  Are you interested in becoming or advancing in your career as an Engineering Faculty member?

With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) is able to bring up to 40 PhD students, post-doc professionals, and early-career faculty in Engineering* to the 2016 AISES National Conference for professional development workshops, cultural activities, and networking. 

Travel Funding to the AISES National Conference (November 9-12)

  • Awards will cover expenses incurred traveling to and attending the AISES National Conference, up to $2,000.  
  • Eligible expenses include round-trip airfare, lodging, and conference registration. Any remaining funds, after those items are paid, may be used for other associated travel costs and/or meals.  
  • AISES will provide lodging for five (5) nights: November 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12, 2016. 
  • Participant travel days will be Tuesday, November 8 and Sunday, November 13, 2016.
  • ASSIST Travel Assistance and Professional Development Program participants are required to attend a full day of program specific sessions and events on Wednesday, November 9th.


  • Faculty and post-doctoral applicants must hold engineering appointments in an ABET- accredited institution; and faculty from two-year colleges must teach STEM-related courses.
  • Faculty applicants must have held their appointment for five years or less.
  • Post-doctoral applicants must have completed a Ph.D. in engineering no more than 48 months prior to their application.
  • Graduate students must be working on their Ph.D. in an engineering field, be in good standing, and be enrolled as full-time students.
  • *Engineering fields also include engineering education, technology and communication fields, and multidisciplinary studies.

How to Apply

  • Applications will only be accepted through the website:  
  • Deadline for applications is September 19, 2016 by 5pm Mountain time.
  • Applicants will be notified by September 26, 2016 with travel arrangements made upon confirmation.

If you have any questions, contact Kyle Coulon at or 720-552-6123 ext. 108.  We hope to see you in November! 

AISES Professional Awards Program

In recognition of the significant contributions American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) have made to the STEM disciplines, AISES conducts the Professional Awards Program. 2017 will be the 14th year recognizing the accomplishments of these individuals as leaders, innovators, and role models. AISES is currently seeking nominees for its Professional Awards, as described below.  The 2017 awards ceremony takes place during the AISES National Conference: September 21-23 in Denver, CO. 


2017 Nomination Form



Any American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, First Nations, and other indigenous peoples of North America are eligible for consideration of a AISES Professional Award based on their experience outlined under each award category.


Nomination applications must be postmarked by June 30, 2017.  Mail signed application form along with a nomination package (3 copies) to: AISES Professional Awards, 1375 Ken Pratt Blvd. Suite C1, Longmont, CO 80501.

Award Categories and Definitions

Executive Excellence

The nominee must be an experienced upper-level manager or a well-established engineer, scientist, professional, or academician who has significant department and budget responsibilities.

The Executive Excellence nominee will be evaluated on the following criteria (100 points total):

  • Uniqueness of his/her obtained goal (20 points)
  • Level of responsibilities (20 points)
  • Degree of discipline for level of performance (20 points)
  • Ability to overcome obstacles facing minorities in his/her field (20 points)
  • Potential as a role model (10 points)
  • Demonstrated involvement with American Indian or Alaskan Native community (10 points)

Technical Excellence

The nominee must have made a significant contribution to science, engineering or technology by having designed, developed, managed or assisted in the development of a product, service, system or intellectual property.

The Technical Excellence nominee will be evaluated on the following criteria (100 points total):

  • Uniqueness of his/her research (20 points)
  • Degree of impact work has on humankind (20 points)
  • Patents or Published works (20 points)
  • Potential as a role model (20 points)
  • Demonstrated involvement with American Indian or Alaskan Native community (20 points)

Most Promising Engineer or Scientist

The nominee must be a professional engineer or scientist with less than five years experience after earning his/her last degree. The candidate’s early technical contributions should already indicate a promising career.

The Most Promising Engineer or Scientist will be evaluated on the following criteria (100 points total):

  • Uniqueness and or innovation of contributions to organization (20 points)
  • Leadership abilities and/or initiative (20 points)
  • Professional and technical achievement to date (20 points)
  • Potential for advancement (20 points)
  • Demonstrated involvement with American Indian or Alaskan Native community (20 points)

Blazing Flame

As embedded in the AISES logo, the Blazing Flame Award is presented to an individual who blazes a path for Native Americans in STEM careers.  This award recognizes individuals with 10+ years of professional experience with significant accomplishments in advancing STEM education and careers. The nominee may or may not have a technical background.

The Blazing Flame applicant will be evaluated on the following criteria (100 points total):

  • Potential as a Role Model (25 Points)
  • Impact of effecting change within their organization  (25 Points)
  • Advocacy and achievements of promoting Native Americans in STEM  (25 Points)
  • Supports and leads Diversity and Inclusion  (25 Points)

AISES Professional of the Year

The AISES Professional of the Year Award is presented for overall leadership and technical achievement.  This individual is selected from among the top candidates submitted in all categories; therefore, individual nominations are not accepted for this award.



For questions about the AISES Professional Awards Program contact Laurence Brown, Chair, AISES Corporate Advisory Council, at

Blazing Flame

2016: Marie Capitan

The Professional of the Year:

2016: Karletta Chief, PhD
2015: Pat Gwin
2014: Dr. A. D. Cropper, Kalinago Carib
2013: Randall McKee, Cherokee
2012: Jeff Kinneeveauk, Inupiat Eskimo
2011: Jerry R. Roberson, D.V.M., Ph.D., Cherokee 
2010: David Daniel, Cherokee
2009: Kimberley Oldham, Musgogee Nation
2008: Jason Cummings, Ph.D., Lumbee/Coharie 
2007: Lorena Hegdal, Inupiaq Eskimo
2006: Frank Martinez, Navajo
2005: Nancy Jackson, Ph.D., Seneca Nation of New York
2004: Richard Kevin “Savik” Glenn, Inupiaq Eskimo

Executive Excellence:

2016: Richard Johnson
2015: Mel Yawakie
2014: Mike Laverdure, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
2013: Robbie E. Hood, Cherokee
2012: Linda Benson Kusumoto, Tsimshian Nation, Annette Island, Metlakatla
2011: Terry-Lee Braun, Seneca Nation
2010: Not awarded
2009: Olav Kjono, Mohawk
2008: CAPT. Jeffrey Trussler, Cherokee
2007: Gary Bishop, White Earth Ojibway
2006: Ray Hanes, Ph.D., Cherokee
2005: Johnpaul Jones, Choctaw/Cherokee
2004: Richard Stephens, Pala Band of Mission Indians

Technical Excellence:

2016: Tara Astigarraga
2015: Sarah Lauff 
2014: Joe Connolly, Haudenosaunee of the Onondaga Nation-Wolf Clan from Six Nations Reserve of the Grand River
2013: Lawrence Short Bull, Rosebud Sioux
2012: Christopher "Scott" Nordahl Ph.D., Doyon Limited, Alleut Alaskan Native
2011: Tony Ferguson, Citizen Band of Potowatomi
2010: Karen McDaniel, Navajo
2009: Robert Harper, Ph.D., Mississippi Choctaw
2008: Jacklin Adams, Wyandot
2007: Stanley Atcitty, Ph.D., Navajo
2006: Chris J. Cornelius, Ph.D., Oneida
2005: Mark Hakey, Abanaki tribe, St. Francis-Sokoki Band
2004: Not awarded

Most Promising Engineer or Scientist:

2016: Michael Dockry,PhD
2015: Franklin Dollar 
2014: Mitchell Martin, Cherokee
2013: Kristina Halona, Navajo
2012: Lauren M. Wolf, Choctaw Tribe of Oklahoma
2011: Benjamin Mar, Cherokee
2010: Karletta Chief, Ph.D., Navajo
2009: Not awarded
2008: Nathaniel Todea, Navajo
2007: Tara Astigarraga, Choctaw
2006: Bevan Baas, Ph.D., Navajo
2005: John DeBassige, Ojibwe
2004: Aaron Thomas, Ph.D., Navajo  


Professional Chapter Awards Program

AISES’ goal is to assist professional chapters in building and strengthening chapters to meet the AISES Mission and to encourage chapters to increase membership, build on current strengths and develop leadership among chapter members. The Professional Chapter Awards Program allows chapters to identify their strengths and recognize the accomplishments of their fellow chapters.

2015 Professional Chapter Award Recipients


To apply for the 2015 Professional Chapter of the Year awards please see the criteria and application here

Deadline extended to October 16, 2015

This year, ALL registered professional chapters are invited to apply.

AISES Professional Chapter Awards Program:

Professional Chapters may apply for one or both award categories:

  1. Outreach & Community Service
  2. Professional & Chapter Development

Application Process:

All application packets must adhere to the application guidelines:

  1. AISES Professional Chapter Awards Application;
  2. Cover letter summarizing qualifications of award written by Chapter President;
  3. Report highlighting criteria for selected Award Category;
  4. Multi-media presentation.

All information submitted in the application should be based on previous year’s activities.  No supplemental material will be accepted (i.e., newsletters, brochures, etc.).

Evaluation of Applications:

Criteria to keep in mind when completing the application process and compiling your summary of activities/events are:

  • How effective is your chapter’s program in which you are applying for recognition?
  • Who does it impact?
  • How unique are the strategies/plans your chapter has designed and implemented?
  • What is the percentage of improvement from previous years?
  • How can other chapters benefit from these strategies and ideas?

AISES Distinguished Professional Chapter of the Year Award:

The AISES Professional Chapter of the Year Award is presented for overall achievement by a professional chapter in the promotion of the principles and goals of the AISES.  One chapter is selected from among all Professional Chapter Category Awards applicants.  There is not a separate application process for the Professional Chapter of the Year Award.

Total Number of Awards:

(1) Distinguished Professional Chapter of the Year

(2) Category Awards

Category Awards Criteria:

Outreach & Community Service Chapter Award – One award will be given to the Chapter that has organized and conducted community service projects and developed outreach.  The Outreach & Community Service Award will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  1. Community Service and Outreach Program and Activities;
  2. Chapter community service and outreach success story;
  3. Uniqueness of chapter’s community service and outreach;
  4. Adherence to AISES Principles.

Professional & Chapter Development Chapter Award – One award will be given to the chapter that offers programs and opportunities for professional and leadership development for their members through chapter activities, seminars, guest speakers, etc.  The Professional & Chapter Development Award will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  1. Professional Development Program;
  2. Participation;
  3. Uniqueness of chapter’s professional and chapter development programs;
  4. Adherence to AISES Principles.

To apply for the 2015 Professional Chapter of the Year awards please see the criteria and application here

If you have any questions regarding the Professional Chapter of the Year awards you can contact Lisa Paz, Director of Membership & Communications, at 

Looking For a Few Good Mentors

Recently, AISES received a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), and mentoring is a big part of it. The program, called Lighting the Pathways to Faculty Careers for Natives in STEM, is designed to boost the number of AISES members in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The long-term goal is to increase the representation of those members who pursue faculty positions in STEM disciplines at U.S. colleges and universities. The grant includes full-service mentoring to student participants. So clearly, we need mentors.

Those who sign up and become mentors as part of this special program are eligible to attend the AISES National Conference in Orlando, Florida, November 13-15. Your conference fee and travel expenses will be waived as part of the NSF grant.

How does an Online Mentoring Relationship Work?
  • Most of this interaction will take place via e-mail and other web-related tools or face-to-face, as appropriate.
  • Decide from the start what kind of support will be most useful—specific feedback related to finding faculty positions in STEM disciplines, general career advice, information on higher studies, technical information, personal encouragement, and so on.
  • Commitments of at least six months to one year are best to ensure that the mentee is able to fully benefit from the relationship.
What are Mentor Expectations?
  • Mentor should have experience in a faculty position in a STEM discipline, preferably at a U.S. college, university, or tribal college.
  • Take responsibility to initiate the relationship.
  • Set aside time for the mentoring process and honor all appointments.
  • Provide honest and timely feedback to your mentee.
  • Provide opportunities for the mentee to talk about concerns and ask questions.
  • Above all, LISTEN.

If you have questions, please contact Kathy DeerInWater, Director of Strategic Initiatives & Research at  

Career Opportunities

Through AISES members are connected with employers seeking to hire in STEM fields. AISES members have access to AISES job board. Additionally, by signing up for AISES monthly E-Opportunities Update, you will receive information about job postings, scholarships, internships and other STEM opportunities.

AISES Job Board

Posting jobs on the AISES website enables employers to advertise opportunities within their organizations to AISES’ top-talent membership of professionals, students, educators, and others in the STEM fields.

Access the Job Board

AISES Annual Leadership Summit 

Thank You for Making the 2016 Leadership Summit a Success!

AISES’ Leadership Summit is aimed at providing Native higher education students and AISES professionals with in-depth professional development workshops and networking opportunities. Multiple sessions engage participants on such personal and professional development topics as “Maintaining Cultural Identity” to “Change Management: Managing Personal Change” and “Bridging Native Tradition within STEM.”

The Leadership Summit also offers networking opportunities for early to mid-career level professionals and Native students in STEM and fosters the matching of STEM professionals with STEM students for mentoring. Studies prove that building peer support networks and providing positive role models, mentors, and career development programs have profound effects on minority college students in STEM and, we all know, that it’s important for professionals too!  This is why the Leadership Summit will focus on providing positive role models, training and matching STEM professionals as mentors with mentees, professional development workshops, and networking opportunities not only with peers, but with other Native students and professionals.

The major focus of the Leadership Summit is to build the skill and aptitude levels of AISES members in the realm of professional and career development- to better prepare them to attain and excel at jobs and careers in STEM fields.

Goals of the Summit include:

  • Increasing the skill and aptitude level of AISES members in professional and career development.
  • Developing AISES professional members as role models for the AISES college and graduate students.
  • Providing Native college and graduate students with support and building their confidence to transition to the STEM workforce.


AISES National Conference 

Held annually since 1978, the AISES National Conference is a one-of-a-kind, three-day event convening high school juniors and seniors, college and graduate students, teachers, workforce professionals, corporate partners, and all members of the “AISES family.”  The AISES National conference has become the premier event for Native American Science, Engineering & Math (STEM) professionals and students attracting over 1,600 attendees form across the country

The AISES 2017 National Conference will be in Denver, CO, September 21 – 23, 2017. For the latest information on the AISES National Conference click here.  To ensure you receive notification updates about the upcoming National Conference, please be sure you sign-up for informational updates and our monthly newsletter. 

Here are nine reasons why this is a “must-do” event.

  1. Networking. Offering cutting-edge thought on important current STEM issues, excellent career resources, and traditional cultural activities, the AISES National Conference is unlike any other STEM conference you’ll attend.
  2. Community. With 1,800 participants in 2010, there is something of a "reunion" quality to the AISES National Conference, where even newcomers feel they are coming into a "family" setting, and where our deep-seated commitment to personal relationships can be bolstered.
  3. Deeper Discovery. The conference provides thought-provoking and illuminating learning through concurrent sessions and special professional development workshops.
  4. Employment.   AISES' National Conference offers the largest career fair in Indian Country, with many companies and agencies hiring on the spot, and others looking to identify talent for future recruitment.
  5. Educational Resources. In addition to the professional development tracks and workshops, AISES’ National Conference opportunities to showcase academic research and study as well as connections to graduate, internship, fellowship and career opportunity.
  6. Indigenous and Elder Wisdom. Offering blessings, insights, and wisdom throughout the event, AISES’ National Conference offers a unique perspective on ways tradition and STEM can be effectively bridged in the 21st century. Our Council of Elders helps remind us where we come from and what we need to hold onto in order to live a life that is not just meaningful, but full of meaning.
  7. Welcoming Atmosphere. The AISES conference offers a sense of community and "family" that can sustain your spirit as many of us venture far from our communities to navigate our educational and career paths.
  8. Real-Time. Nothing beats the face-to-face value of conference attendance, not only for networking and mentoring, but also when it comes to the fun and affirmation of the social events, awards ceremonies, and traditional events such as the Powwow.
  9. Nice Price. Take a look at other conference registration fees and you'll find that AISES' National Conference is a good deal.
  10. Inspiration. The presence of so many young Natives, educators, and professionals gathered for good purpose is uplifting, sustaining, and joyous.

AISES Regional Conferences 

AISES’ Regional Conferences take place every spring and provide an opportunity for AISES College and Professional Chapters to gather and share information, form partnerships, and to network with each other and with selected presenters and partners.

Each regional conference has a number of informative sessions and activities for both college and high school students. Among the activities provided are mini career fairs, poster presentations, and engineering competitions. AISES’ student representatives and the host chapters for the following year are selected at the regional conferences.

Local and national professionals within a variety of fields provide workshops, seminars, and discussion groups about a wide variety of topics. Generally, each Regional Conference host develops a theme or focus area for the Regional Conference (environmental, bridging native cultures with science, etc.).

The host chapter for the following spring’s regional conference is determined during the Regional Conference held each spring.

Chapters interested in hosting the regional conference indicate their interest in hosting and make a verbal presentation regarding their resources, planning, and ability to host the conference. Each college chapter in "Good Standing" is allowed one vote; the majority of votes determines the location of the regional conference.  

Visit the events section to find upcoming Regional Conferences near you. 


Corporate Advisory Council

AISES’ Corporate Advisory Council (CAC) is a professional association of corporate representatives who are who support AISES in meet its mission of increasing the number of American Indians in STEM. The CAC provides industry advice and counsel for the AISES Chief Executive Officer and the Board of Directors by:

  • Providing scholarships, internship programs and employment opportunities.
  • Participating in and supporting AISES events through sponsorships, presentations and providing career information and resources.
  • Supporting student and professional chapters in their local areas.
  • Providing industry expertise and guidance related to current/projected employment trends and needs.
  • Developing support for AISES consistent with individual company capabilities, including financial contributions, in-kind gifts and human resources as appropriate.
  • Assisting AISES in fundraising efforts through networking and participation.
  • Facilitating effective public relations for AISES activities via coverage in company publications, trade journals, etc.

If you are interested in joining the Corporate Advisory Council, please contact Kellie Jewett-FernandezDirector of Business and Program Development.