Turbo and Boomer
Sheila E. Widnall
Institute Professor and Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Prof. Widnall received her B.Sc. (1960), M.S. (1961), and Sc.D. (1964) in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was appointed Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1986 and Institute Professor in 1998. She served as Associate Provost, Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1992-1993 and as Secretary of the Air Force from 1993-1997 . Professor Widnall stepped down from her position as Secretary of the Air Force on October 31, 1997 to return to her faculty position at MIT. As Secretary of the Air Force, Dr. Widnall was responsible for all the affairs of the Department of the Air Force including recruiting, organizing, training, administration, logistical support, maintenance, and welfare of personnel. During this time, the Air Force issued its long range vision statement: Global Engagement: A Vision for the 21st Century Air Force, which defined the path from the Air and Space force of today to the Space and Air Force of the next century. Dr. Widnall was also responsible for research and development and other activities prescribed by the President or the Secretary of Defense. She co-chaired the Department of Defense Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Discrimination.
Since returning to MIT, she has been active in the Lean Aerospace Initiative with special emphasis on the space and policy focus teams.
Her research activities in fluid dynamics have included the following: boundary layer stability, unsteady hydrodynamic loads on fully wetted and supercavitating hydrofoils of finite span, unsteady lifting-surface theory, unsteady air forces on oscillating cylinders in subsonic and supersonic flow, unsteady leading-edge vortex separation from slender delta wings, tip-vortex aerodynamics, helicopter noise, aerodynamics of high-speed ground transportation vehicles, vortex stability, aircraft-wake studies, turbulence and transition. Teaching activities have included undergraduate dynamics and aerodynamics, graduate level aerodynamics of wings and bodies, aeroelasticity, acoustics and aerodynamic noise, and aerospace vehicle vibration.
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