MIT Aero Astro -

February 2015

In this issue:
1. Honors and awards
2. Covert, Ezekiel pass away
3. AA team awarded MURI
4. Newsbriefs
5. In the picture
6. Welcome to ...

David MillerMiller

Dava Newman


1. Honors and awards

Professor David Miller has been elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. AIAA Fellows are "individuals of distinction who have made notable and valuable contributions to the arts, sciences, or technology of aeronautics or astronautics." Miller was appointed NASA’s chief technology officer in March 2014. He continues as an active AeroAstro faculty member.

Professor Dava Newman has been named the new Apollo Program Professor of Aeronautics. Created in 1994, the chair was envisioned and funded by the late Robert Seamans, a former AeroAstro professor, MIT dean of engineering, and a principal architect of the Apollo program. The chair was previously held by Professor Larry Young, who retired in 2013.

Benjamin Peherstorfer, a postdoc in the Aerospace Computational Design Laboratory, was awarded the Heinz Schwärtzel Prize for the Principles of Informatics for his PhD thesis "Model Order Reduction of Parametrized Systems with Sparse Grid Learning Techniques." This prize is awarded to the best PhD thesis in fundamentals of computer science submitted to any university in Munich during the past two years.

Luders with award.

Brandon Luders (SM '08, PhD '14) holds the Intelligent Systems Best Paper Award presented to him and to co-authors Ian Sugel (SB '11, SM '13) and Professor Jonathan How at the AIAA 2015 Science and Technology Forum and Exposition. Title of the paper is "Robust Trajectory Planning for Autonomous Parafoils Under Wind Uncertainty."



2. Ezekiel, Covert pass away

The Department was saddened to learn of the deaths of two professors emeriti last month.

Shaoul “Ziggy” Ezekiel, an MIT alumnus who spent 46 years at the Institute as a professor in AeroAstro and Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, died on January 7 at age 79.

Former AeroAstro department head Professor Emeritus Eugene Covert, a renowned aerodynamicist, aerospace engineer, and engineering educator, passed away on January 15 at age 88.

Detailed obituaries for Ziggy and Gene appear on the Institute website.




3. AA team awarded USAF MURI

A team led by Professor Karen Willcox has been awarded a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative grant by the Air Force Office of Sponsored Research. The five-year project will tackle the fundamental mathematical and algorithmic challenges of managing multiple sources of uncertain information (e.g., models of varying fidelity, historical data, operational data, experimental data, expert opinions) in the design of multiphysics systems. The methods will be developed in the context of designing a tailless aircraft, a vehicle for which multifunctionality of the components and tight coupling of the aerodynamic, structural, control and thermal disciplines offer significant design challenges.

The MURI team includes Professor Youssef Marzouk as well as researchers from Texas A&M University, Arizona State University, Cornell University, University of Michigan, and the Santa Fe Institute.



4. Newsbriefs

Professor Larry Young writes: Another great year for Man Vehicle Lab students. At the 2015 NASA Human Research Program Investigators' Workshop in Galveston,
postdoc Brad Holschuh won First Prize, Post-docs, for his poster, coauthored with Professor Dava Newman, titled "Mechanical Counter-Pressure Space Suit Design Using Active Materials." Grad student Alexandra Hilbert (with Sabrina Reyes, Dr. Allie Anderson, and Professor Newman) was a runner-up for Best Student Poster for the poster "Human-Spacesuit Interaction: Experimental Results and Future Testing."

AeroAstro alumna and Olympic weightlifter Gwen Sisto's (SM '10) startup, a company that makes shoes for weightlifters, was featured in a story on the Slice of MIT website. featured a study in driving distraction authored by Man Vehicle Lab grad students Sam Schreiner, Pierre Bertrand, and Niek Beckers as part of their Human Factors course. The research, done in conjunction with the MIT AgeLab, compared the demands of destination entry using Google Glass and the Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone. The published paper is available here.

Ted Botimer (SM '91, PhD '94), a former RA to principal research scientist Peter Belobaba, has been appointed senior vice president of network planning and revenue management for Spirit Airlines.

In a new video, produced by the Alumni Assoc. with AeroAstro's help, MIT alumni astronauts John Grunsfeld, Dominic Antonelli, Franklin Chang-Diaz, Chris Cassidy, Mike Fincke, and Mike Massimino reminisce about viewing the earth from space. The interviews were conducted during the Department's Centennial Symposium last October.

Learn the basics of spaceflight from AeroAstro Professor/former astronaut Jeff Hoffman, for credit or just fun, in our newest edX online course: "Introduction to Aerospace Engineering: Astronautics and Human Spaceflight." Starts March 3. You can Like the course on Facebook.


5. In the picture

In the Man Vehicle Lab.

During a recent visit to the Man Vehicle Lab, Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang tried grad student Ana Diaz-Artiles' (right) centrifuge-mounted pedaling device that could be used on the space station to analyze artificial gravity levels and ergometer exercise on musculoskeletal and cardiovascular functions, as well as motion sickness and comfort. Looking on are Professor Jeff Hoffman (red shirt) and Emeritus Professor Larry Young.

Students at Boeing

FIELD TRIP! In what may become an annual tradition, the AeroAstro sophomore class took a trip to the west coast, with visits to Boeing's Everett, WA plant (see the photo), SpaceX, the Museum of Flight, Blue Origin, NASA JPL, and Northrop Grumman.

IAP class

Our Hands-on-Aerospace Independent Activities Program kicked off with balsa glider design-build-fly, then moved on to hands-on with the Rocket and UAV teams, a behind-the-scenes look at MIT Museum Apollo artifacts, an MVL visit, and a talk by Professor Jeff Hoffman about his role in the Hubble repair mission.


6. Welcome to …

Carlo Fischione, visiting associate professor with Eytan Modiano.
Carmen Guerra Garcia, postdoc with Paulo Lozano.
Robert Kenyon, visiting professor with Larry Young and the Man Vehicle Lab.
Matthew Parno, postdoc with Youssef Marzouk.


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