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MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Aero-Astro Magazine Highlight

The following article appears in the 2007–2008 issue of Aero-Astro, the annual report/magazine of the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department. © 2008 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Lab report: A review of Aeronautics and Astronautics Department laboratories for 2007-2008

Information provided by the Research Laboratories and Research Centers.

Learning Laboratory | Aerospace Computational Design Laboratory | Aerospace Controls Laboratory | Communications and Networking Group | Complex Systems Research Laboratory | Gas Turbine Laboratory | Humans and Automation Laboratory | International Center for Air Transportation | Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems | Lean Advancement Institute | Man Vehicle Laboratory | Partnership for AiR Transportation Noise and Emissions Reduction | Space Propulsion Laboratory | Space Systems Laboratory | Technology Laboratory for Addvanced Materials and Structures | Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel

The Aero-Astro Learning Laboratory

The Aero-Astro Learning Lab, which has been adopted as a model by other universities around the world, compliments the department’s curriculum by provided spaces where students conceive, design, implement, and operate engineering systems in modern, team-based environments. The Learning Lab comprises four main areas. The Arthur and Linda Gelb Laboratory includes the Gelb Machine Shop, Instrumentation Laboratory, Mechanical Projects Area, Projects Space, and the Composite Fabrication-Design Shop. The Gelb Laboratory provides facilities for students to conduct hands-on experiential learning through diverse engineering projects. The Gelb facilities foster teamwork with a variety of resources (e.g., machining tools, electrical instrumentation, composites) to meet the needs of curricular and extracurricular projects. The Gerhard Neumann Hangar lets students work on large-scale projects that take considerable floor and table space. Typical of these projects are planetary rovers, a human-powered zero-g centrifuge, and UAVs. The structure also houses low-speed and supersonic wind tunnels. The Robert C. Seamans Jr. Laboratory includes a multipurpose room for meetings, presentations, lectures, videoconferences and distance learning. Two project offices support team study, group design work, online work, and telecommunication. A network operations area supports learning about the operations and management of networks. The Seamans Aerospace Library offers a collection of aerospace engineering resources with extensive digital information storage and retrieval capability. And, the Al Shaw Student Lounge provides a large space for social interaction and operations. The Digital Design Studio offers multiple computer stations arranged around reconfigurable conference tables. Here, students conduct engineering evaluations and design work, and exchange computerized databases as system and subsystem trades are conducted during the development cycle. Adjacent to the studio are the AA Department Design Room, and the Arthur W. Vogeley Design Room, which are reserved for student design teams.

Since its completion in 2001, the Learning Lab has spawned some of the departments’ most interesting student projects including the Mars Biosatellite Project, a car competing for a 200 mpg X PRIZE, a successful competitor in the DARPA Urban Challenge, a legged planetary rover, and a flying automobile.

The Experimental Projects course (16.62x) is a major customer of the teaching labs including experiments and projects in the Neumann Hangar’s low speed wind tunnel, and the workspaces in the Gelb Laboratory, with a number of excellent projects as outcomes. Two examples of work done in this hands-on environment are the investigation of reconfigurable wheels for planetary rovers and a study of bats’ wing cilia enabling these creatures’ highly maneuverable flight. The Neumann and Gelb facilities were also much used by the Robotics: Science and Systems I class, (16.415/6.14), which has participation from both Aero-Astro and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science faculty.

Another example of Learning Lab use is the Space Systems Engineering capstone class (16.83x, which is using the Gelb lab to build a high Delta-V (~2-3 km/sec) micro-satellite. The motivation is to provide a low cost orbital transfer vehicle capability for maneuvering throughout the Earth-moon system. The goal of the class is to deliver in May 2009, a flight qualified vehicle for launch as an ESPA-Ring (a device that permits up to six small satellites to be carried along with a larger satellite) secondary payload. The project offers approximately 45 undergraduates hands-on experience in designing, building, and testing actual flight hardware.

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Aerospace Computational Design Laboratory

The Aerospace Computational Design Laboratory’s mission is to lead the advancement and application of computational engineering for aerospace system design and optimization. ACDL research addresses a comprehensive range of topics in advanced computational fluid dynamics, methods for uncertainty quantification and control, and simulation-based design techniques.The use of advanced computational fluid dynamics for complex 3D configurations allows for significant reductions in time from geometry-to-solution. Specific research interests include aerodynamics, aeroacoustics, flow and process control, fluid structure Interactions, hypersonic flows, high-order methods, multi-level solution techniques, large eddy simulation, and scientific visualization.

Uncertainty quantification and control is aimed at improving the efficiency and reliability of simulation-based analysis. Research is focused on error estimation and adaptive methods as well as certification of computer simulations.

The creation of computational decision-aiding tools in support of the design process is the objective of a number of methodologies the lab pursues. These include PDE-constrained optimization, real time simulation and optimization of systems governed by PDEs, multiscale optimization, model order reduction, geometry management, and fidelity management. ACDL is applying these methodologies to aircraft design and to the development of tools for assessing aviation environmental impact.
ACDL faculty and staff include: Jaime Peraire (director), David Darmofal, Mark Drela, Robert Haimes, Cuong Nguyen, Per-Olof Persson, Karen Willcox, and David Willis.

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Aerospace Controls Laboratory

The Aerospace Controls Laboratory researches topics related to autonomous systems and control design for aircraft, spacecraft, and ground vehicles. Theoretical research is pursued in areas such as decision making under uncertainty; path planning, activity and task assignment; estimation and navigation; sensor network design; and robust, adaptive, and model predictive control. A key part of ACL is RAVEN (Real-time indoor Autonomous Vehicle test ENvironment), a unique experimental facility that uses a Vicon motion capture system to enable rapid prototyping of aerobatic flight controllers for helicopters and aircraft, robust coordination algorithms for multiple helicopters, and vision-based sensing algorithms for indoor flight.
ACL was also involved in the 2007 DARPA URBAN Challenge and designed/developed the Rapidly-exploring Random Tree based motion planner and vehicle controller, which was integral to MIT’s fourth-place finish in the competition.

ACL faculty are Jonathan How and Steven Hall.

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Communications and Networking Research Group

The primary goal of the Communications and Networking Research Group is the design of network architectures that are cost effective, scalable, and meet emerging needs for high data-rate and reliable communications. To meet emerging critical needs for military communications, space exploration, and internet access for remote and mobile users, future aerospace networks will depend upon satellite, wireless and optical components. Satellite networks are essential for providing access to remote locations lacking in communications infrastructure; wireless networks are needed for communication between untethered nodes (such as autonomous air vehicles); and optical networks are critical to the network backbone and in high performance local area networks.

The group is working on a wide range of projects in the area of data communication and networks with application to satellite, wireless, and optical networks. An important aspect of the group’s research is the development of architectures and algorithms that are optimized across multiple layers of the protocol stack, such as the design of network protocols that are aware of the physical layer channel conditions. For example, together with researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the group recently demonstrated tremendous gains in network performance through the application of novel cross-layer resource allocation algorithms to Mars communications. The group’s research crosses disciplinary boundaries by combining techniques from network optimization, queueing theory, graph theory, network protocols and algorithms, hardware design, and physical layer communications.

Eytan Modiano directs the Communications and Networking Research Group.

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Complex Systems Research Laboratory

Increasing complexity and coupling, and the introduction of digital technology, present challenges for engineering, operations, and sustainment. The Complex Systems Research Lab designs system modeling, analysis, and visualization theory and tools to assist in the design and operation of safer systems with greater capability. To accomplish these goals, the lab applies a systems approach to engineering that includes building technical foundations and knowledge and integrating these with the organizational, political, and cultural aspects of system construction and operation.
While CSRL’s main emphasis is aerospace systems and applications, its research results are applicable to complex systems in such domains as transportation, energy, and health. Current research projects include accident modeling and design for safety, model-based system and software engineering, reusable, component-based system architectures, interactive visualization, human-centered system design, system diagnosis and fault tolerance, system sustainment, and organizational factors in engineering and project management.

CSRL faculty include Nancy Leveson (director), Mary Cummings, and Paul Lagace.

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Gas Turbine Laboratory

The MIT Gas Turbine Laboratory has had a worldwide reputation for research and teaching at the forefront of gas turbine technology for more than 50 years. The GTL’s mission is to advance the state-of-the-art in gas turbines for power and propulsion. The research is focused on advanced propulsion systems and turbomachinery, with activities in computational, theoretical, and experimental study of loss mechanisms and unsteady flows in turbomachines; compression system stability and active control; heat transfer in turbine blading; gas turbine engine noise reduction and aero-acoustics; pollutant emissions and community noise; and MEMS-based high-power-density engines.

Examples of past research includes the first implementation of a three-dimensional computation transonic compressor flow, and the concept of blowdown testing of transonic compressors and turbines, thereby enabling these machines to be used for university scale experiments. Recent examples are the work on turbomachine instabilities and “smart engines”; the research project on micro engine, which involves extensive collaboration with the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; and the Silent Aircraft Initiative, which is a collaborative project with Cambridge University, Boeing, Rolls Royce, and other industrial partners to dramatically reduce aircraft noise below the background noise level in well-populated areas.

Zoltan Spakovszky is the GTL director. Faculty, research staff and frequent visitors include John Adamczyk, Nick Cumpsty, Fredric Ehrich, Alan Epstein, Edward Greitzer, Gerald Guenette, Stuart Jacobson, Bob Liebeck, Jack Kerrebrock, Choon Tan, and Ian Waitz.

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Humans and Automation Laboratory

Research in the Humans and Automation Laboratory focuses on the multifaceted interactions of human and computer decision-making in complex socio-technical systems. With the explosion of automated technology, the need for humans as supervisors of complex automatic control systems has replaced the need for humans in direct manual control. A consequence of complex, highly-automated domains in which the human decision-maker is more on-the-loop than in-the-loop is that the level of required cognition has moved from that of well-rehearsed skill execution and rule following to higher, more abstract levels of knowledge synthesis, judgment, and reasoning. Employing human-centered design principles to human supervisory control problems, and identifying ways in which humans and computers can leverage the strengths of the other to achieve superior decisions together is HAL’s central focus.

Current research projects include investigation of human understanding of complex optimization algorithms and visualization of cost functions, collaborative human-computer decision making in time-pressured scenarios (for both individuals and teams), human supervisory control of multiple unmanned vehicles, and designing decision support displays for direct-perception interaction as well as assistive collaboration technologies, including activity awareness interface technologies and interruption assistance technologies. Lab equipment includes an experimental test bed for future command and control decision support systems, intended to aid in the development of human-computer interface (HCI) design recommendations for future unmanned vehicle systems. In addition, the lab hosts a state-of-the-art multi-workstation collaborative teaming operations center, as well as a mobile command and control experimental test bed mounted in a Dodge Sprint van awarded through the Office of Naval Research.

HAL faculty include Mary "Missy" Cummings (director), Nicholas Roy, and Thomas Sheridan.

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International Center for Air Transportation

The International Center for Air Transportation undertakes research and educational programs that discover and disseminate the knowledge and tools underlying a global air transportation industry driven by technologies. Global information systems are central to the future operation of international air transportation. Modern information technology systems of interest to ICAT include global communication and positioning; international air traffic management; scheduling, dispatch, and maintenance support; vehicle management; passenger information and communication; and real-time vehicle diagnostics.
Airline operations are also undergoing major transformations. Airline management, airport security, air transportation economics, fleet scheduling, traffic flow management, and airport facilities development, represent areas of great interest to the MIT faculty and are of vital importance to international air transportation. ICAT is a physical and intellectual home for these activities. ICAT, and its predecessors, the Aeronautical Systems Laboratory and Flight Transportation Laboratory, pioneered concepts in air traffic management and flight deck automation and displays that are now in common use.

ICAT faculty include R. John Hansman (director), Cynthia Barnhart, Peter Belobaba, and Amedeo Odoni.

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Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems

The Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems is an interdepartmental research laboratory that began in 1939 as the Servomechanisms Laboratory, focusing on guided missile control, radar, and flight trainer technology. Today, LIDS conducts theoretical studies in communication and control, and is committed to advancing the state of knowledge of technologically important areas such as atmospheric optical communications, and multivariable robust control. In April 2004, LIDS moved to MIT’s Stata Center, a dynamic space that promotes increased interaction within the lab and with the larger community. Laboratory research volume is approximately $6.5 million, and the size of the faculty and student body has tripled in recent years. LIDS continues to host events, notably weekly colloquia that feature leading scholars from the laboratory’s research areas. The 12th annual LIDS Student Conference took place in January 2007, showcasing current student work and including keynote speakers. These, and other events reflect LIDS’ commitment to building a vibrant, interdisciplinary community. In addition to a full-time staff of faculty, support personnel, and graduate assistants, scientists from around the globe visit LIDS to participate in its research program. Currently, 17 faculty members and approximately 100 graduate students are associated with the laboratory.

Aero-Astro / LIDS faculty includes Emilio Frazzoli and Moe Win. Vincent Chan directs the laboratory.

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Lean Advancement Initiative

The Lean Advancement Initiative is a unique learning and research consortium focused on enterprise transformation, and its members include key stakeholders from industry, government, and academia. LAI is headquartered in Aero-Astro, works in close collaboration with the Sloan School of Management, and is managed under the auspices of the Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development, an MIT-wide interdisciplinary research center.

LAI began in 1993 as the Lean Aircraft Initiative when leaders from the U.S. Air Force, MIT, labor unions, and defense aerospace businesses created a partnership to transform the U.S. aerospace industry using an operational philosophy known as “lean.” LAI is now in its fifth and most important phase, and has moved beyond a focus on business-unit level change toward a holistic approach to transforming entire enterprises. Through collaborative stakeholder engagement, along with the development and promulgation of knowledge, practices, and tools, LAI enables enterprises to effectively, efficiently, and reliably create value in complex and rapidly changing environments. Consortium members work collaboratively through the neutral LAI forum toward enterprise excellence, and the results are radical improvements, lifecycle cost savings, and increased stakeholder value.

LAI’s Educational Network includes 37 educational institutions in the United States, England, and Mexico and provides LAI members with unmatched educational outreach and training capabilities.

Aero-Astro LAI participants include Deborah Nightingale (co-director), Earll Murman, Dan Hastings, Annalisa Weigel, and Sheila Widnall. John Carroll (co-director) joins LAI from the Sloan School of Management, and Warren Seering and Joe Sussman represent the Engineering Systems Division.

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Man Vehicle Laboratory

The Man Vehicle Laboratory optimizes human-vehicle system safety and effectiveness by improving understanding of human physiological and cognitive capabilities, and developing countermeasures and evidence-based engineering design criteria. Research is interdisciplinary, and uses techniques from manual and supervisory control, signal processing, estimation, sensory-motor physiology, sensory and cognitive psychology, biomechanics, human factors engineering, artificial intelligence, and biostatistics. MVL has flown experiments on Space Shuttle missions, the Mir Space Station, and on many parabolic flights, and is developing experiments for the International Space Station. Research sponsors include NASA, the National Space Biomedical Institute, the Office of Naval Research, the Department of Transportation’s FAA and FRA, the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology, the Deshpande Center, and the MIT Portugal Program. Projects focus on advanced space suit design and dynamics of astronaut motion, adaptation to rotating artificial gravity environments, spatial disorientation and navigation, teleoperation, design of aircraft and spacecraft displays, and controls and cockpit human factors. MVL students have been active in development of the Mars Gravity Biosatellite. Some of the MVL’s newest research projects deal with the astronaut’s role in semi-automatic lunar landing, mathematical modeling of spatial disorientation, assuring the effectiveness of astronaut lunar exploration sorties, planetary mission planning, microgravity teleoperation, fatigue detection, and advanced helmet designs for brain protection in sports and against explosive blasts. The MVL collaborates closely with the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology, the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, the Volpe Transportation Research Center, and the Jenks Vestibular Physiology Laboratory of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. Annual MVL MIT Independent Activities Period activities include a course on Boeing 767 systems and automation.
MVL faculty include Charles Oman (director), Jeffrey Hoffman, Dava Newman, and Laurence Young. They teach subjects in human factors engineering, space systems engineering, space policy, flight simulation, space physiology, aerospace biomedical engineering, the physiology of human spatial orientation, and leadership. The MVL also serves as the office of the Director for the NSBRI-sponsored Graduate Program in Bioastronautics, the Massachusetts Space Grant Consortium, NSBRI Sensory-Motor Adaptation Team, the MIT-Volpe Program in Transportation Human Factors, and the MIT Portugal Program’s Bioengineering Systems focus area.

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The Partnership for AiR Transportation Noise and Emissions Reduction

The Partnership for AiR Transportation Noise and Emissions Reduction is an MIT-led FAA/NASA/Transport Canada-sponsored Center of Excellence. PARTNER fosters breakthrough technological, operational, policy, and workforce advances for the betterment of mobility, economy, national security, and the environment. PARTNER combines the talents of 10 universities, three federal agencies, and 53 advisory board members, the latter spanning a range of interests from local government, to industry, to citizens’ community groups. During 2007-08, PARTNER continued to expand its research portfolio and added advisory board members. New research projects include Health Effects of Aircraft Noise, Emissions Characteristics of Alternative Aviation Fuels, Airport Surface Movement Optimization, and Network Restructuring Scenarios for ATO Forecasts. New advisory board members are the Air Line Pilots Association, Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative, International Airline Passengers Association, Opportunities for Meeting the Environmental challenge of Growth in Aviation, and the Federal Interagency Committee on Aviation Noise. Several new research reports were released including a low-frequency noise impact study, a land-use and noise complaint study, a passive sound insulation report, and a vibration and rattle mitigation report.

MIT’s most prominent role within PARTNER is developing research tools that provide rigorous guidance to policy-makers who must decide among alternatives to address aviation’s environmental impact. The MIT researchers collaborate with an international team in developing aircraft-level and aviation system level tools to assess the costs and benefits of different policies and R&D investment strategies.
Other PARTNER initiatives in which MIT participates include exploring mitigating aviation environmental impacts via the use of alternative fuels for aircraft; studies of aircraft particulate matter microphysics and chemistry; and a study of reducing vertical separations required between commercial aircraft, which may enhance operating efficiency by making available more fuel/time efficient flight levels, and enhancing air traffic control flexibility and airspace capacity.

PARTNER MIT personnel include Ian Waitz, who directs the organization, Stuart Jacobson (associate director), Hamsa Balakrishnan., John Hansman, James Hileman, Karen Willcox, Malcom Weiss, Stephen Connors, William Litant (communications director), Jennifer Leith (program coordinator), and 10-15 graduate students.

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Space Propulsion Laboratory

The Space Propulsion Laboratory, part of the Space Systems Lab, studies and develops systems for increasing performance and reducing costs of space propulsion. A major area of interest to the lab is electric propulsion in which electrical, rather than chemical energy propels spacecraft. The benefits are numerous, hence the reason electric propulsion systems are increasingly applied to communication satellites and scientific space missions. In the future, these efficient engines will allow exploration in more detail of the structure of the universe, increase the lifetime of commercial payloads, and look for signs of life in far away places. Areas of research include Hall thrusters; plasma plumes and their interaction with spacecraft; electrospray physics, mainly as it relates to propulsion; microfabrication of electrospray thruster arrays; Helicon and other radio frequency plasma devices; and space electrodynamic tethers.

Manuel Martinez-Sanchez directs the SPL research group, and Paulo Lozano and Oleg Batishchev are key participants.

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Space Systems Laboratory

Space Systems Laboratory research contributes to exploration and development of space. SSL’s mission is to explore innovative space systems concepts while training researchers to be conversant in this field. The major programs include systems analysis studies and tool development, precision optical systems for space telescopes, microgravity experiments operated aboard the International Space Station, and robotic operations for Mars and beyond. Research encompasses a wide array of topics that together comprise a majority of space systems: systems architecting, dynamics and control, active structural control, thermal analysis, space power and propulsion, microelectromechanical systems, modular space systems design, micro-satellite design, real-time embedded systems, and software development.

Major SSL initiatives study the development of formation flight technology. The SPHERES facility, which began operations aboard the International Space Station in May 2006, enables research of algorithms for distributed satellites systems, including telescope formation flight, docking, and stack reconfiguration. The Electromagnetic Formation Flight testbed is a proof-of-concept demonstration for a formation flight system that has no consumables; a space-qualified version is under study. The MOST project studies multiple architectures for lightweight segmented mirror space telescopes using active structural control; its final product will be a ground-prototype demonstrator. Multiple programs research the synthesis and analysis of architectural options for future manned and robotic exploration of the Earth-Moon-Mars system, as well as real options analysis for Earth-to-Orbit launch and assembly. SSL continues to lead the development of methodologies and tools for space logistics. In 2007, SpaceNet 1.4 was accredited by the NASA Constellation Program as an approved software tool for modeling lunar exploration missions and campaigns. SSL contributed several important studies to the Constellation Program Integrated Design and Analysis Cycles. Together with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, SSL is editing a new AIAA Progress in Aeronautics and Astronautics Volume on Space Logistics that summarizes the current state of the art and future directions in the field. Jointly with Aurora Flight Sciences SSL is developing prototypes for automated asset tracking and management systems for ISS based on radio frequency identification technology. Innovative exploration logistics container concepts were tested at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah in February 2008.

SSL personnel include David W. Miller (director), John Keesee, Olivier de Weck, Edward F. Crawley, Daniel Hastings, Annalisa Weigel, Manuel Martinez-Sanchez, Paulo Lozano, Oleg Batishchev, Alvar Saenz-Otero, Paul Bauer, SharonLeah Brown (administrator and outreach coordinator), Brían O’Conaill (fiscal officer), and Marilyn E. Good (administrative assistant).

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Technology Laboratory for Advanced Materials and Structures

A dedicated and multidisciplinary group of researchers constitute the Technology Laboratory for Advanced Materials and Structures. They work cooperatively to advance the knowledge base and understanding that will help facilitate and accelerate the advanced materials systems development and use in various advanced structural applications and devices.

The laboratory has broadened its interests from a strong historical background in composite materials, and this is reflected in the name change from the former Technology Laboratory for Advanced Composites. A new initiative involves engineering materials systems at the nanoscale, particularly focusing on aligned carbon nanotubes as a significant constituent in new materials and structures. This initiative is in partnership with industry through the Nano-Engineered Composite aerospace STructures (NECST) Consortium. The research interests and ongoing work in the laboratory thus represent a diverse and growing set of areas and associations.

Areas of interest include:

  • nano-engineered hybrid advanced composite design, fabrication, and testing
  • characterization of carbon nanotube bulk engineering properties
  • composite tubular structural and laminate failures
  • MEMS-scale mechanical energy harvesting modeling, design, and testing
  • durability testing of structural health monitoring systems
  • thermostructural design, manufacture, and testing of composite thin films and associated fundamental mechanical and microstructural characterization
  • continued efforts on addressing the roles of lengthscale in the failure of composite structures
  • numerical and analytical solid modeling to inform, and be informed by, experiments
  • continued engagement in the overall issues of the design of composite structures with a focus on failure and durability, particularly within the context of safety

In supporting this work, TELAMS has complete facilities for the fabrication of structural specimens such as coupons, shells, shafts, stiffened panels, and pressurized cylinders, made of composites, active, and other materials. A recent addition includes several reactors for synthesizing carbon nanotubes. TELAMS testing capabilities include a battery of servohydraulic machines for cyclic and static testing, a unit for the catastrophic burst testing of pressure vessels, and an impact testing facility. TELAMS maintains capabilities for environmental conditioning, testing at low and high temperature, and in hostile and other controlled environments. There are facilities for nano and microscopic inspection, nondestructive inspection, high-fidelity characterization of MEMS materials and devices, and a laser vibrometer for dynamic device and structural characterization.

With its, linked, and coordinated efforts, both internal and external, the laboratory continues its commitment to leadership in the advancement of the knowledge and capabilities of the composites and structures community through education of students, original research, and interactions with the community. There has been a broadening of this commitment consistent with the broadening of the interest areas in the laboratory. This commitment is exemplified in the newly formed NECST Consortium, an industry-supported center for developing hybrid advanced polymeric composites. In all these efforts, the laboratory and its members continue their extensive collaborations with industry, government organizations, other academic institutions, and other groups and faculty within the MIT community.

TELAMS faculty include Paul A. Lagace (director), Brian L. Wardle, and visitors Antonio Miravete and Leonard Daniel.

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Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel

Since its opening in September 1938, The Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel has played a major role in the development of aerospace, civil engineering and architectural systems. In recent years, faculty research interests generated long-range studies of unsteady airfoil flow fields, jet engine inlet-vortex behavior, aeroelastic tests of unducted propeller fans, and panel methods for tunnel wall interaction effects. Industrial testing has ranged over auxiliary propulsion burner units, helicopter antenna pods, and in-flight trailing cables, as well as concepts for roofing attachments, a variety of stationary and vehicle mounted ground antenna configurations, the aeroelastic dynamics of airport control tower configurations for the Federal Aviation Authority, and the less anticipated live tests in Olympic ski gear, space suits for tare evaluations related to underwater simulations of weightless space activity, racing bicycles, subway station entrances, and Olympic rowing shells for oarlock system drag comparisons.

In its nearly 70 years of operations, Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel work has been recorded in hundreds of theses and more than 1,000 technical reports.

WBWT faculty and staff include Mark Drela and Richard Perdichizzi.

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