MIT Aero Astro -

March 2017

In this issue:
1. Newsnotes
2. Honors and awards
3. Promotions
4. In memoriam
5. Welcome
6. In the picture

7. Video intro/outro available



1. Newsnotes

On March 25, 1963, the Rev. Martin Luther King delivered a message of racial unity in an address at the University of Virginia. This past February 23, AeroAstro Professor Wesley Harris and his twin brother William presented U.Va. with a plaque commemorating Dr. King's speech. Wes is a 1964 graduate of U.Va.'s honors engineering program, William was dean of the school's Office of African-American Affairs from 1976 to 1982. Wes was instrumental in coordinating Dr. King's 1963 visit to the campus. The plaque emphasizes that King’s address provided a “philosophical and moral foundation supporting nonviolent resistance to racial segregation.” An article on the plaque donation appears in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.Wesley and William Harris

Brothers Wesley (left) and William Harris unveil the plaque commemorating the Rev. Martin Luther King that they donated to the University of Virginia. (Ryan Kelly/The Daily Progress)

The winter 2017 issue of MIT Spectrum includes a feature on 1.232/15.054/16.71 "The Airline Industry." AeroAstro's principal instructors for the class are Dr. Peter Belobaba and Professor John Hansman. The article's lead photo depicts Professor Hamsa Balakrishnan delivering a lecture.
Check out podcast StarTalk All-Stars as guest, our own Professor Dava Newman, joins hosts Bill Nye and Eugene Mirman to talk about "Mars and Beyond, Part 2." Discover space technology that helps people on Earth; delve into rocket propulsion: its chemical past, its solar electric future, and the pros and cons of using xenon fuel and ion drives; and lots more.
Max Opgenoord of the MIT Hyperloop Team reports, "We competed in the final round of the SpaceX Hyperloop Competition from 27-29 January 2017. Ours was the first of only three teams to do a run in a low-pressure tube, successfully demonstrating stable magnetic levitation. The team was awarded third place for Design and Construction, and was awarded the Safety and Reliability Award."

Hyperloop team
MIT Hyperloop team poses with its vehicle.

UTC Aerospace Systems has obtained an exclusive license from Metis Design Corp. to a carbon nanotube heater based technology for aircraft electrothermal ice protection. This technology was co-developed by Metis Design President Seth Kessler (Course 16 '98, SM '00, PhD '02) and AeroAstro Professor Brian Wardle.  This technology supports the aerospace industry's growing need for more durable, lightweight, damage-tolerant, and low-power ice protection systems.

Tech-news website TechCrunch has posted an article and a great video, "MIT lab’s smart boots could keep astronauts on their feet," about the haptic feedback boots under development by Professor Leia Stirling and her students in the Man Vehicle Lab.

Edward Greitzer

Alan Epstein

Daniel Hastings

Alex Feldstein

Crowley- Farenga

Christine Chappelle

Piper Sigrest

Kwami Williams

2. Honors and Awards

Professor Edward Greitzer has been selected to receive the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' 2017 Reed Aeronautics Award, which, it notes, "is the highest honor an individual can receive for notable achievement in aeronautics." His citation reads, "For outstanding and sustained contributions to solving real-world problems in aerodynamics of propulsion components, systems, and integration, and for the development of successful collaborations with academia, industry and government."

Professor Emeritus Alan Epstein has been named an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics 2017 Honorary Fellow. The AIAA says that Honorary Fellow is its highest distinction. It "recognizes preeminent individuals who have had long and highly contributory careers in aerospace and who embody the highest possible standards in aeronautics and astronautics."

Professor Daniel Hastings has been elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering. NAE membership is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to "engineering research, practice, or education, including ... significant contributions to the engineering literature," and to "the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education."

Aviation Week included AeroAstro grad student Alex Feldstein and alumna Julia CrowleyFarenga ('16) on its 2017 "Tomorrow's Engineering Leaders 20 Twenties" list. The recognition, presented in conjunction with the AIAA, "recognizes top science, technology, engineering, and math undergraduate and graduate students." An AeroAstro Master's candidate, Alex's research focuses on multi-fidelity, uncertainty quantification, and design under uncertainty techniques for complex system design. Julia is a PhD candidate in Purdue's Aeronautics and Astronautics Department.

AeroAstro undergrads Christine Chappelle and Piper Sigrest are recipients of the inaugural Brooke Owens Fellowships. The fellowship program, run under the auspices of the Future Space Leaders Foundation, offers paid internships at leading aerospace companies and organizations "for passionate, exceptional women seeking their undergraduate degree."

Alumnus Kwami Williams ('12) was named to Forbes annual "30 Under 30" list in the "Social Entrepreneurs" category. Kwami cofounded MoringaConnect, a company that turns the moringa tree, a plant common in arid climates like Africa, into beauty products and prepackaged snacks. Forbes refers to the list as "600 of the brightest young entrepreneurs, innovators, and game changers."


Paulo Lozano

Nicholas Roy

3. Promotions

Congratulations to Professors Paulo Lozano and Nicholas Roy on their promotions to Full Professor. In announcing the promotions, AeroAstro Head Jaime Peraire said, "Paulo and Nick have demonstrated tremendous leadership and excellence as researchers and educators."






















Robert Chilton

4. In memoriam

We were saddened to learn of the death of former AeroAstro Department Head James "Jim" Mar, who passed away March 4 at age 96. Known for his work on aircraft and spacecraft designs, Mar’s special interests were in the disciplines of structures, aeroelasticity, and materials. Mar retired as MIT’s Jerome C. Hunsaker Professor of Aerospace Education in July 1990. His MIT career, which spanned 41 years, included a 1981-1983 term as head of AeroAstro, and service as chair of numerous faculty committees including the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid, Committee on Engineering Education, Athletic Board, and Independent Activities Period. He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Mar’s research focused on advanced filamentary composite materials and large structures in space. He headed the AeroAstro Division of Structures, Materials, and Aeroelasticity. Mar founded and directed both the Technology Laboratory for Advanced Composites, and, with Professor Rene Miller, the Space Systems Laboratory. Mar was instrumental in creating the Unified Engineering subjects, which formed the foundation of AeroAstro’s undergraduate education. A Mar obituary appears on the MIT News website.

James Mar and Paul Lagace

Professor Jim Mar (left) with Professor Paul Lagace in the Technology Laboratory for Advanced Composites in the late 1980s. Mar founded and directed the lab.


Professor David Mindell brings to our attention the death of Course 16 alumnus Robert Greg Chilton ('49, SM '49) at age 95. A former B-17 pilot, Chilton played pivotal roles in the formation of NASA, and filled key positions with Project Mercury and the Apollo program. His son, Larry, has written an detailed obituary listing Robert's many accomplishments. NASA has also published an oral history interview with Chilton.



Sara Seager

5. Welcome

Sara Seager, Professor of Physics and Planetary Science in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Science, has accepted a joint appointment with AeroAstro. AeroAstro Head, Professor Jaime Peraire, says, "Sara’s responsibility with AeroAstro will primarily be offering a scientific perspective to our space research. As a foremost scientific researcher in the field of exoplanet detection and characterization, her expertise will be instrumental in guiding the development of space technology and engineering research in support of this field."

Anna Coffey is the new administrative assistant supporting Professors Lagace, Barrett, and Leveson, and Dr. Belobaba. Anna comes to AeroAstro from the School of Engineering Dean’s Office, and has an extensive history working in education both in the U.S. and in Ireland.

Bori Stoyanova is assisting AeroAstro with personnel administration on a part-time basis as we transition through Anne Maynard’s retirement this July. Bori has worked in MIT HR for more than a decade, first in central HR as a recruiter and, since 2010, as a personnel administrator in MechE and CEE. Her schedule is one day a week (Monday), and, for now she’ll be borrowing Dan Hastings’ 33-213 office while Dan is out of town.

Welcome to three new postdocs: Mark Staples, with Professor Barrett, Sebastien Terrana with Professor Peraire, and Ryadh Haferssas with Professor Radovitzky.

6. In the picture




Members of the FLARE (Free-space Lasercom and Radiation Experiment) team with MIT's entry in the University Nanosatellite Program. The team has successfully completed its preliminary design review.


1X1 WInd Tunnel before
1X1 wind tunnel, before refurbishment.

1X1 wind tunnel after
After refurbishment: better, faster and ready to go.


Professor Mark Drela, and technical instructor Dave Robertson, with the help of grad student Kevin Sabo, recently completed Phase One renovations of the small wind tunnel located in the Neumann Hangar. Drela writes:

"The refurbishment consisted of:

  • cleaning and bowing of the diffuser screens
  • replacement of the honeycomb
  • replacement of the last three flow-conditioning screens
  • removal of unnecessary segments to shorten the tunnel by six feet

"Exit flow nonuniformity is about 1/4 as big as before - now almost unmeasurable. Max speed has increased from 95 mph to an estimated 120 mph, although 105 mph is the limit on the tunnel's pitot-static sensor. The planned Phase 2 of the refurb is to build a new nozzle with a 1.5 x 1.5 foot exit, either later this term or in the summer. Thanks to Dave Robertson who procured the materials, built new screen frames, and expended most of the elbow grease."

Those interested in using the 1X1 should contact Robertson who supervises wind tunnel scheduling and use.



7. AA video intro, outro available

If you've made a video related to a department project, club, class, or other activity and you want to tag it as an "official" AeroAstro video, the department has animated video intro and outro files you can download. The intro features an animated AeroAstro logo followed by the word "Presents." There's an alternate intro that includes a placeholder for a title slide. The outro reads "MIT AeroAstro" and "Copyright 2017." For further info, contact Bill Litant, AeroAstro communications director.


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