MIT Aero Astro -

May 2017

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



1. Newsnotes

Man Vehicle Lab students Conor Cullinane, Forrest Meyen, and Richard Fineman spent a few days this spring at NASA JSC performing experiments on human interaction with exo-systems, such as the Mark III spacesuit. They had the opportunity to check out the Active Response Gravity Offload System. Future work will use ARGOS to better understand human performance in spacesuits in operationally-relevant microgravity environments.

Grad student Forrest Meyen tries on a Mark III spacesuit at NASA JSC.

Cory Frontin reports that the AeroAstro Blackbirds hockey team Blackbirds (grads and undergrads) went undefeated in D League (6-0-2) this year.

Pictured are (front, from left) Hugh Carson, Aaron Baumgarten, Eddie Obropta (alumnus), Antonio Teran, and Parker Vascik, (back, from left) Martina Stadler, Kristoffer “Kris” Frey, Drew Weibel, Corey Frontin, Brandon Draper, Inderraj Singh, and Matt Moraguez. Regulars who aren’t pictured are Brian LeFloch and Justin Miller. Cory notes that "This was the D Leagues - which means overqualified for the worst league and wholly underqualified for the better ones!"

Professor Dava Newman was a speaker at the April 22 March for Science in Boston, one of 600 similar events held around the world on Earth Day. "In the words of Boston’s own R. Buckminster Fuller," she told the crowd, “'Make the world work for 100 percent of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.'” The complete text of her remarks are posted on The Galactic Inquirer website. (NBC Boston photo)

Videos of Dr. John Tylko's recent interviews with Mike Collins, and Al Worden and Farouk El Baz have been posted to the AeroAstro video collection.

Most in the department are now aware of the successful first flight of Jungle Hawk Owl, the long-endurance communications relay platform aircraft capable of carrying communication payloads for use in disaster relief, designed and built by our students, commissioned by Lincoln Lab and the US Air Force. Student David Sherwood has made a terrific video of the first flight, which you can watch on YouTube. Professor Woody Hoburg, who, along with Professor John Hansman, worked with the students on the project, says that next steps are additional low altitude testing, and then high-altitude testing with the goal of demonstrating the five-day endurance capability. Congratulations to all involved!





de Weck
de Weck


Sherrie Hall



2. Honors and Awards

Zonta International, an organization that works to advance the status of women, has awarded its 2017 Amelia Earhart Fellowships to AeroAstro students Tam Nguyen, Anne Collin, and Catherine Miller. The recognition is annually awarded "to talented women, pursuing doctoral degrees in aerospace-related sciences or aerospace-related engineering around the globe."

Frederick O. Daso '17 is a recipient of the The Ronald E. McNair Scholarship. Established in the late Dr. McNair’s honor by the Black Alumni/ae of MIT, the scholarship "recognizes a black undergraduate who has demonstrated strong academic performance and who has made a considerable contribution to the minority community." An MIT alumnus (Course 8, PhD '77) Dr. McNair was a physicist and astronaut. He died in the January 28, 1986 launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger on which he was the Mission Specialist. MIT Building 37 in named in his honor.

Nominated by his students, Professor Oli de Weck has won an MIT Office of Digital Learning Teaching with Digital Technology Award for his work in Engineering Management courses. He is one of three recipients selected from 80 nominees. The awards are student-nominated for "instructors who have effectively used digital technology to improve teaching and learning at MIT."

Professor Sheila Widnall has been presented a Freshman Faculty Adviser Award. The Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education notes that faculty are critical in advising and guiding students, helping them think through their academic plans, engaging in UROPs, and contemplating future opportunities for graduate school or professional work.

Sherrie Hall has received the Man Vehicle Lab's Sherwood Modestino Award. "The Sherry," as the award is known (for Sherwood Modestino, not Sherrie Hall!), is annually presented to a student who who has made outstanding contributions to MVL "work and spirit."

Professor Emeritus Alan Epstein has been presented ASME's 2017 R. Tom Sawyer Award. The award is "bestowed on an individual who has made important contributions to advance the purpose of the gas turbine industry and to the International Gas Turbine Institute over a substantial period of time.

The Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers has chosen the Pluto New Horizons team as the recipient for the 2017 George W. Goddard Award, given annually in recognition of exceptional achievement in optical or photonic technology, or instrumentation for earth/planetary/astronomical science/reconnaissance/surveillance from airborne or space platforms. AeroAstro/EAPS Professor Richard Binzel is a co-investigator.


Congratulations to AeroAstro staff and student recipients of the 2017 department awards:

  • Spirit of XVI Award: For staff member whose work, commitment and enthusiasm contribute significantly to the achievement of the mission of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics: David Robertson
  • Wings Award: To recognize an individual support staff member in AeroAstro for excellence: Kathryn Fischer
  • Kerrebrock Award: To recognize students, staff, faculty or others who have made significant contributions to building a sense of community in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT: Charlotte Lowey (G), Alex Feldstein (G)

Award winners
From left: Kathryn Fischer, Charlotte Lowey, Alex Fedlstein, Dave Robertson



4. Welcome

Welcome to Murat Bronz, visiting assistant professor with Professor Sertac Karaman; Bianca Giovanardi, postdoc with with Professor Raul Radovitzky; and Kasra Khosoussi, postdoc with Professor Jon How.


5. In the picture



Professor Sertac Karaman writes, "All students in Robotics: Science and Systems (16.405) were asked to design and implement algorithms and software for a mini race car to navigate in MIT's tunnels fully autonomously with no human intervention. This year, there was tremendous interest: 72 students successfully finished the course. In the final racing challenge, the winning team navigated a 500-foot circuit in the Stata Center basement in under 34 seconds, averaging a speed of 10 mph, which is only slightly below the top speed that the cars are allowed in the race. All teams did very well, as they were all within a few seconds of this best finish time."  The photo is of Team 1 - all AeroAstro students (note the proud display of the AeroAstro tag), which was one of the most succesful teams in the course challenge." From the left are: Nick Villanueva, Jake Liguori, Samir Wadhwania, Clemmie Mitchell, Jose Gomez, and Martina Stadler.




June 16 was LTA competition in the W31 gym.


AeroAstro class meeting in hallway.


What do you do when you arrive in Stata for Unified and find the classroom locked? Well, you hold class in the Charles Vest Student Street common area, of course. Professor Dave Darmofal notes they made good use of the "graffiti" chalkboards, covering them with supersonic aerodynamics.


NASA people


It's a NASA reunion at AeroAstro's May 10 Q&A downlink with the International Space Station. Joining students for the session were retired astronauts Professor Jeff Hoffman, Cady Coleman, and Mike Collins, and former NASA deputy administrator Professor Dava Newman.


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