MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000


The academic year 1999—00 was a year of expanding activity for the department. We continued our full-scale implementation of our strategic plan. The plan was a reaffirmation of our focus on the intellectually and industrially robust field of aerospace, coupled with a commitment to redirect the intellectual basis of the Department to set and serve the directions of this industry. The new vision of the department which emerges is one which stands on three broad disciplinary bases: the traditional engine and airframe disciplines; the disciplines of real time system critical aerospace information engineering; and the disciplines required to architect and engineer extremely complex systems.

During AY 99-00, we continued laying the foundation for our extensive reform of undergraduate education, which makes the conception, design, implementation, and operation of complex systems and products the context of engineering education. Major accomplishments this year included extensive experimentation with new teaching and learning technologies, and the completion of our new learning laboratories, The Robert Seamans Laboratory and the Arthur and Linda Gelb Laboratory. We offered a new undergraduate program for the first time: Aerospace Engineering with Information Technology. Student enrollment at both the undergraduate and graduate level was on an upswing, and once again research activities increased markedly.

The department has now begun to move in its strategic direction and is implementing plans for new thrusts in Systems Engineering and Architecture, Information Engineering, the Engineering Context of Education, Research and Educational Program. The next year will focus on continuing to recruit the faculty to implement this new vision, implementing the action plans, and forging relationships with industry necessary to accomplish our goals.


Table 1. Undergraduate Enrollment over the Last Ten Years





























































% of women












% of Underepresented Minorities












A total of 300 applications were received for the graduate program for the Fall 2000 term. Out of this, 115 were admitted and 62 accepted the offer of admission. Enrollment for Fall, 1999 included 123 S.M., 2 EAA, 69 Doctoral, 8 MEng degree candidates for a total of 202. Total minority students: 7 (4 Doctoral., 3 S.M.). Total women students: 37 (11 Doctoral, 24 S.M., 2 MEng.). For the spring, 2000 term we received 16 applications. We admitted 11 and 8 enrolled, including 1 woman. Zero minority applications were received. Enrollment for spring, 2000 included 98 S.M., 79 Doctoral, and 7 MEng for a total of 184. Total women: 32 (13 Doctoral; 19 S.M.). Total minority: 9 (6 S.M.; 3 MEng).

Table 2. Graduate Degrees Awarded

Degrees Awarded






Summer (Sept. 99)






Fall (Feb. 00)






Spring (June 00)












Table 3. Sources of Funding for Graduate Students, Academic Year 1999—2000



MIT Fellows/Tuition Awards


Outside Fellowships Staff Appointments


(RAs, Draper Fellows)


Teaching Assistants & Fellows


Engineering Internship Program


Other Types of Support


(Employer, Foreign, Self)




Undergraduate Student Awards

The Yngve Raustein Award established in 1993 by the family and friends of the late Mr. Raustein was presented to Ayanna T. Samuels, a sophomore from Kingston, Jamaica–As a student that best exemplified the spirit of Yngve K. Raustein by her scholarship, team work, and community–uilding within and beyond MIT.

The Unified Engineering Award was presented to graduate teaching assistants Torrey O. Radcliffe of Cambridge, MA, and Marcos "Erik" Carreno of Tulsa, OK–For outstanding service and creativity in advancing the educational objectives of Unified Engineering during the academic year 1999—2000.

The Apollo Program Prize awarded to an Aero Astro student who "conducts the best undergraduate research project on the topic of humans in space" was presented to Dana M. Forti, a junior from Tynsboro, MA–For research and outreach on the tactile feedback parabolic flight experiments.

The David J. Shapiro Memorial Award was given to a team of eight students–To design, build, and fly a high speed electric powered model aircraft in the 2000-01 AIAA/Cessna/ONR Student Competition. The awardees are Larry Baskett , a graduate student from Pleasanton, CA; Bernard F. Ahyow, a junior from Irvine, CA; Daniel J. Benhammou, a freshman from Colorado Springs, CO; Allen Chen, a senior from Newtown, PA; Carol C. Cheung, a graduate student from Woodbury, MN; Adam J. Diedrich, a freshman from Petoskey, MI; Jacob Markish, a senior from Chelmsford, MA; and Lawrence O. Pilkington, a junior from Hyannis, NE.

The Thomas B. Sheridan Prize For Creativity In The Improvement Of Human-Machine Integration Or Cooperation was presented to Katherine H. Zimmerman, a senior from Sandy Hook, CT; and Kamla A. Topsey, a senior from Brooklyn, NY–For the development and testing of a naturalistic driver interface for an automoblile GPS guidance system, which demonstrates a significant improvement in human-machine integration.

The Leaders For Manufacturing Prize was awarded to David E. Carpenter, a senior from Tyler, TX–In recognition of his design of the SPHERES structure in the "Conceive, Design, Implement and Operate" (CDIO) Capstone course.

The Pratt And Whitney Award was presented to Brian D. McElwain, a senior from Phoenix, AZ; and Erin F. Noonan, a senior from University City, MO–For their outstanding achievement in the design, construction, execution, and reporting of an undergraduate experimental project to characterize the buckling response of pressurized fuel tanks for micro launch vehicles. The P&W Award was also given to Paul Eremenko, a junior from W. Lafayette, IN–For his outstanding achievement in the design, construction, execution, and reporting of an undergraduate experimental project to characterize the performance of and design the inner-loop control for an unmanned air vehicle.

The James Means Memorial Award for Excellence in Flight Vehicle or Space Systems Engineering was presented to Allen Chen, a senior from Newtown, PA–For his contributions to the "Conceive, Design, Implement and Operate" (CDIO) Capstone course. His exceptionally hard work and dedication to the team and the project was instrumental in making the SPHERES project a success.

The James Means Memorial Award for Excellence in Space Systems Engineering was presented to Sumita Pennathur, a graduate student from Foxborough, MA–For demonstrated initiative, leadership, and accomplishments on the Mission PreMISS project (Precipitation Measuring Instrument for a Space System).

The James Means Memorial Award for Excellence in Flight Vehicle Engineering was presented to senior Jacob Markish –For technical excellence in the design, development and analysis of a high-capacity long-range cargo aircraft.

The Admiral Luis De Florez Award for Original Thinking Or Ingenuity was presented to Christopher Gouldstone, a senior from Herefordshire, U.K.; and Ryan E. Peoples, a senior from Medford, NJ–For conceiving, designing, implementing and operating a novel testing novel testing methodology for fracture testing of composite materials in cryogenic environments.

The Henry Webb Salisbury established by the family and friends of Henry Salisbury was presented to Jacob Markish–outstanding work in the completion of the Aero Astro undergraduate degree program.


Steve Hall has been promoted to Full Professor, effective July 1, 2000. James Kuchar has been promoted to Associate Professor, effective July 1, 2000.

Paul Lagace has been elected to Fellow of the AIAA.

Nancy Leveson has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering in recognition of her contributions to safety engineering and computer science. Professor Leveson has also received the Newell Award of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), for lifetime contributions to computer science, with emphasis on cross-disciplinary or interdisciplinary linkages.

David Miller has been promoted to Associate Professor, effective July 1, 2000. Dava Newman has been granted tenure effective July 1, 2000.

Dava Newman was among the six professors named MacVicar Fellows for 2000 in recognition of their devotion to to undergraduate education at MIT. She is the first junior faculty member to be honored. Known for her teaching 16.00 (Introduction to Aerospace Engineering), Professor Newman has worked extensively with NASA flying three scientific experiments in space. She is developing a distance collaboration multimedia program for the aero/astro and HST curricula. Of her ambition to become "an excellent educator and mentor," Professor Newman said, "My vision for teaching and learning is simply, ‘Love, act, discover, and innovate.’"

Jonathan How joined the faculty April 1, 2000, as Boeing Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Professor How received his S.M. and Ph.D. (1993) from MIT in Aeronautics and Astronautics. Professor How was identified from a year long search for a young leader in aerospace control. He works on a broad set of issues meant to enable high performance robust navigation and control of large and hierarchic systems. At Stanford, Professor How revitalized the control sequence taught to first–year graduate students, created a new subject that synthesized classical and modem control techniques, reorganized the control teaching laboratories, and introduced two new subjects in modem control and system identification. He will be a major contributor to the control field, both as a researcher and as an educator.

Eytan Modiano was appointed Charles Stark Draper Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics effective August 1, 1999. Professor Modiano received his M.S. and Ph.D. (1992), from the University of Maryland, College Park, in Communications. From 1993—1999 he was a member of the technical staff at the Lincoln Laboratory. Professor Modiano’s area of expertise is in non-homogeneous networks of the kind found when space and terrestrial systems are combined. His appointment supports the department’s thrust in "information engineering," particularly the focus area in communications, and with Vincent Chan and John Deyst forms the nucleus of our communications and information systems team.

Ann P. Dowling, Professor of Engineering at Cambridge University spent the Fall term as the Jerome Clarke Hunsaker Visiting Professor of Aeronautical Engineering.

Earle Murman received the 1999—2000 Graduate Teaching Award from Sigmma Gamma Tau.


Laurence Young continues actively as Director of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI), the primary agency for NASA-sponsored space biomedical research. In his role as NSBRI investigator, Professor Young directs two research projects. His NSBRI ground-based study of Principal Investigator-in-a-Box (also known as [PI]) tests the effectiveness of [PI] as an expert system designed to assist astronauts in the monitoring and troubleshooting of experiments conducted during space flight. His NASA Ames-sponsored [PI] project flew on the space shuttle twice during 1998: on Neurolab and with John Glenn on STS-95. Prof. Young is also leading a major new research initiative in artificial gravity. Results from these efforts will help define the limitations and benefits of various possible countermeasures to the postural instability and disorientation problems that result upon a return to gravity after long-duration space flight. He is collaborating on other research being prepared for the International Space Station, including the MICRO-G project to provide advanced force and moment sensors, and a virtual reality experiment informed by Neurolab experience (Professors L. Young and D. Newman, Dr. C. Oman). Prof. Young has also worked with NSBRI and HST toward developing a new graduate program in Space Life Sciences.


The Active Materials and Structures Laboratory (AMSL) conducts both basic and applied research involving synthesis and application of active materials leading to the development of novel actuators and active control of aerospace systems. Research conducted in the lab is highly interdisciplinary in nature involving various disciplines including material science, structural mechanics, structural dynamics, controls, solid-state actuation systems, and micro-electromechanical systems. Research programs in the laboratory range from investigations on fundamental materials microstructure and development of innovative micro-actuators to macro-scale actuation and active control of helicopter rotor blades. Major research efforts in the year 1999—2000 were:


The Fluid Dynamics Research Laboratory (FDRL) is active in research concerning computational, analytical and experimental issues in fluid dynamics and aerodynamics. Current research projects include: the development of a "distributed flow simulation environment" capability; aerodynamics of subsonic, transonic, and hypersonic vehicles; aeroelasticity; methods for developing low order aerodynamic models for multidisciplinary analysis; computational and experimental approaches to active flow control; the development of tools for aerodynamic analysis and design; distributed visualization; development of distributed fast equation solvers; and development of algorithms for assessing and quantifying numerical uncertainty.


The Gas Turbine Laboratory is an intellectual community of about 80 people, including 8 faculty and over 50 graduate students focussed on the problems of airbreathing propulsion and energy conversion. Highlights for AY 99—00 include the following.

The "micro engines" (shirt button sized gas turbine and rocket engines) is a multidisciplinary collaboration of about 50 faculty, staff, and students from three departments. This project is device oriented with the aim of producing micromachined MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Systems) based gas turbine engines for power production and airplane propulsion, micro compressors for analytical instruments, and rocket engines for spacecraft and micro-launch vehicles. Achievements during the past year include demonstration of the first high thrust micro rocket engine and the first tests of a micromotor driven air compressor.


The objective of the International Center for Air Transportation is to improve the safety, efficiency and capacity of domestic and international air transportation and its infrastructure, utilizing information technology and systems analysis. The principle thrusts of ICAT over the past several years have been in advanced Air Traffic Management, understanding airline industry dynamics and in mitigating adverse environmental effects such as noise and aircraft emissions. The activities in this area have ranged from evaluations of future operational concepts for the US National Airspace System; design of decision aids to improve airport departure performance; development of cockpit and controller alerting systems; evaluation of Collaborative Decision Making between ATC and airlines; evaluation of analytical models of ATM systems and conducting fundamental human performance studies of pilot and controller interactions. ICAT has continued to work in the areas of cognitive systems and decision aids for flight critical cockpit systems. This work includes advanced alerting systems, human understanding of advanced flight automation systems, development of critical software systems and other flight safety topics. ICAT is also a key participant in the Global Airline Industry Study supported by the Sloan Foundation.


The Lean Aerospace Initiative (LAI) is a consortium-guided MIT research program managed under the auspices of the Center for Technology, Policy, and Industrial Development (CTPID) in collaboration with the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Research is conducted by over a dozen faculty members from the Schools of Engineering and Management, graduate students from several MIT courses and Graduate programs, and staff members of CTPID. LAI is an active partnership among 21 aerospace companies, 13 U.S. government agencies, labor representatives, and MIT. It also collaborates internationally with LARP (Lean Aerospace Research Program) at Linköping University and the UK LAI. The initiative was formally launched in 1993 out of practicality and necessity as declining defense procurement budgets collided with military industrial overcapacity prompting a demand for "cheaper, faster, and better" products using a philosophy called lean. It was documented in the U.S. by researchers from MIT’s International Motor Vehicle Program and in the book The Machine That Changed The World.

Through active collaboration and this focused team research, LAI delivers an evolving and expanded knowledge base. It’s one that addresses complex products with relatively low volume production, the entire enterprise including product development and support, and the extended enterprise level including the government customer. Research rich products such as the Lean Enterprise Model (LEM) result, creating a foundation of reference tools for common awareness, language, and understanding of lean principles.

The past year also saw exciting research progress and insights including: an understanding production system design lessons from the automobile industry (Manufacturing Systems); modeling and analyzing cost, schedule, and performance in complex system product development (Product Development); building information systems to integrate the manufacturing supply chain (Supplier Networks); costs and cycle time implications of contractor and government policies during the development phase of major programs (Policy). This research base ultimately shapes outreach, learning, and enduring products for stakeholder use. It also continues to fold into the LEM and policy recommendations.

LAI delivered major policy recommendations to the Department of Defense this past year. Based on research from the "Economic Incentives for Production Programs," the recommendations are:

LAI’s Management Team consists of Professor Earll Murman, Co-Director, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Professor Tom Allen, Co-Director, Sloan School of Management; and Mr. Fred Stahl, Stakeholder Co-Director.


The Lean Sustainment Initiative’s (LSI) mission to enable fundamental transformation of the U.S. aerospace sustainment enterprise into a cost-effective, quality driven, timely, and responsive combat support system.

Highlights of the year include:

Future plans include completing the development of the vehicle through which government and industry may support LSI research; and expanding the government stakeholder base to include the Navy, Army, and OSD.


The Man Vehicle Laboratory continues to be at the forefront of research in aerospace physiology, human factors, and cognitive engineering, supported by NASA, the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, and DOT. Faculty include Professor Dava J. Newman (recently promoted to tenured Associate Professor) and Professor Laurence R. Young. The Director is Charles M. Oman, Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Engineer. Sixteen graduate students, two postdocs, and a dozen undergraduates also participate. Two-thirds of MVL’s research relates to human spaceflight. Two major experiments are in development for the International Space Station: VOILA, an experiment on human visual orientation and sensory-motor coordination, and MICRO-G, an investigation of astronaut related microgravity disturbances. Dr. Oman is Principal Investigator of VOILA, which is conducted jointly with colleagues from University of California, Santa Barbara, CNES/College de France (Paris) and York University (Toronto). Dr. Andrew M. Liu is Project Scientist. The MIT Center for Space Research is developing the suite of virtual reality ISS flight hardware in support of the VOILA experiment. MICRO-G is led by Professor Newman, and is conducted jointly with the Politecnico di Milano University in Italy. Using a commercial off-the-shelf development platform, the electronics component of the sensors has been reduced significantly in mass and volume.

The laboratory is also deeply involved in ground based and parabolic flight research in support of the development of countermeasures against the deleterious effects of long duration spaceflight, in support of NASA’s HEDS initiative. Research is supported both via the conventional NASA NRA process, and by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, one of the two new NASA research institutes founded three years ago. Dr. Young ha served as the first Director of NSBRI, and has a joint faculty appointment at Baylor College of Medicine, where HSBRI is headquartered. NSBRI has research teams in each of eight disciplines. Dr. Oman leads NSBRI’s Neurovestibular team a group of more than twenty investigators from a dozen different institutions. NSBRI has funded a large number of Boston area research projects, including several through the Harvard MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology, four of them in the MVL, led by Drs. Oman, Newman and Young in the areas of human visual orientation, bone biomechanics, expert systems and artificial gravity. A collaborative project with Prof. Richard Cohen of HST was also completed. Several related curriculum development, education and outreach programs are underway, including a new space biomedical engineering graduate course, under Prof. Newman’s leadership. MVL’s Marsha Warren is the full time Boston area coordinator of NSBRI research and academic activities. Dr. Heiko Hecht leads our artificial gravity research project. Dr. Alan Natapoff advises on statistical design of experiments. In other NASA related research, an anthropomorphic robot, on loan from NASA, is being modified by Dr. Newman for testing the ISS space suit and improving future space suit designs. Space suit testing of the current NASA EMU began this year with the human-sized anthopmorphic robot in the MVL Results will lead to recommendations for future planetary space suits (i.e., Mars). Dr. Oman’s NASA sponsored research on advanced displays and controls for virtual reality systems continues.

In the aeronautical human factors domain, Dr. Oman is continuing his FAA flight and simulator research in collaboration with colleagues at the DOT Volpe Research Center on vertical navigation FMS displays and HUD display formats for transport aircraft. The group is building a fixed base glass cockpit flight simulator, and is involved with the Microsoft sponsored Project I-Campus effort to develop improved flight simulation software for use in aeronautical engineering education. Dr. Oman is also collaborating with Professor Kuchar on an ASL project on information integration and decision aids, sponsored by the Office of Naval Research.

Software Engineering Research Laboratory

The Software Engineering Research Laboratory (SERL) was established only this year but has gotten off to a running start by attracting 14 graduate students and significant funding from both government agencies and private industry. A visitor from NASDA (the Japanese version of NASA) joined the laboratory during the year. Projects for NASA Langley, the Air Force, NSF, and Draper Lab were completed and new projects have begun with Eurocontrol (the European organization for the safety of air navigation), Raytheon, and NASA Ames. Nine master’s theses were completed.

The long-term goal of the laboratory is to provide techniques and tools that integrate system, software, and cognitive engineering and provide a new generation of technology to enhance the management of complexity in specification, analysis, design, implementation, and verification of complex, safety-critical systems. This technology should allow us to stretch the limits of intellectual manageability so that more complexity and functionality can be built into future systems while still allowing acceptable levels of assurance.

Current Research Projects Include:

Model-Based System Engineering

SERL is designing and evaluating modeling, visualization, and analysis methods that can be used by system engineers to specify and evaluate alternative designs. In addition to assisting engineers in design and validation, these techniques may also be useful in assisting pilots and other operators in learning about and understanding the automation with which they must interact. This year we experimented with the model-based system engineering approach using two real systems: an unmanned autonomous helicopter being developed by Draper Lab and the MD-11 vertical flight control software. We learned important lessons about intellectual manageability of such large specifications that will be used to design tools to assist engineers in developing them.

Accident Modeling

Accident models are used to understand past accidents and incidents and to prevent future ones. Most classic models focus on chains of events and conditions, but such models do not handle well many of the most important and often new factors in today’s complex systems such as software error, cognitively complex human error, and managerial/organizational flaws. Together with researchers at NASA Ames, we are devising new accident models that are more appropriate for today’s complex and heterogeneous systems. The long-term research goal is to use the models to define new hazard analysis and assessment techniques. The models will be validated using NASA projects. In the past year, the basic principles upon which such a new accident model will be based have been established.

Software and System Safety

Our goal is to develop a theoretical foundation for safety and a methodology for building safety-critical systems built upon that foundation. Research this year focused on deriving new backward hazard analysis techniques for state-machine based languages.

Human-Centered Automation

Our automation designs often do not support the new roles humans are playing in high-tech systems where humans and computers must cooperate to control a complex electromechanical system or physical process. The goal of our research is devise a methodology for integrating the design of human-computer interaction into the system and software design process and to create new human-centered software development practices. We are integrating human-computer interface and interaction requirement specification and design into our new system intent specifications and modeling and analyzing human task models to assist in task allocation, minimizing human overload, and assuring adequate human feedback and control to maintain human mental models. This year we designed a new language for specifying user models of the system from which both system design specifications and operator procedures can be derived. We have been experimenting with it in the context of specifying vertical control in a flight management system.

Software Requirements

Most errors in operational software (and most accidents) can be traced to errors in requirements. But most software engineering methods focus on software design and coding and few techniques exist for validating requirements. The translation from system to software requirements is especially difficult and critical. In addition, changes in requirements during development have been found to be a particular problem in terms of schedule, budget, and quality. Our three goals for requirements research are to: (1) devise modeling and analysis methods for blackbox software requirements that assist in finding errors early and in validating requirements specifications, (2) define new types of specification (and design) coupling and traceability to reduce the impact of requirements changes on software development, and (3) determine how specification language design and analysis tools can be used to improve specification completeness with respect to common omissions and flaws often associated with serious accidents and losses. This year we completed the design of our new experimental blackbox requirement specification language. The language, SpecTRM-RL, is designed to enforce completeness as much as possible and to enhance reviewability for those completeness aspects that cannot be enforced in the language itself. Evaluation of the language and analysis tools is currently underway or planned to begin soon for aircraft flight management, air traffic control, and industrial robot applications. This year we also started a project to define new types of requirements coupling and traceability to reduce the impact of requirement changes on the development of safety-critical, software-intensive systems. The testbed is a NASA robot.

Human-Computer Interaction

While much research is focusing on the design of interfaces between humans and computers, little work has been done in designing software to reduce operator-error potential. Our goal is to determine how to use system and software models and specifications, analysis techniques, and the results of system hazard analysis to design safer human-computer interaction. This topic includes identifying software features with the potential to induce human error and devising analysis methods to analyze software for these "predictable error forms," potential mode confusion, other aspects of situation awareness, task allocation between the human and computer, and determination of what information humans need and when they need it in order to work in a safe and effective partnership with computers. We also want to evaluate the potential for using blackbox formal requirements specifications in the operator training process to instill deeper understanding of the automation design and how to use it effectively. Our research this year has focused on design of a human task modeling language and development of analysis techniques for potentially error-prone automation features using the descent phase of a commercial aircraft as a testbed.

Software Evolution

Software is not static once it is put into use but requires changes throughout its lifetime. Changing or upgrading software, however, is extremely costly, time consuming, and error-prone. The problems are most extreme for critical software that needs to be revalidated each time it is changed. Work has begun to evaluate whether traceability in our new intent specifications will lessen the cost of reanalysis and verification of safety for proposed changes to the software and system design. The testbed again is a NASA robot.

Software Assurance: Software is increasingly being used to handle critical system functions previously controlled by humans or by simple and easily proven hardware. It is extremely difficult, costly, and time-consuming to provide high assurance of software correctness and safety. This year we started research to define test data coverage for blackbox state-machine models in the same way that structural coverage has been defined for code. We plan to devise techniques and tools for generating test data to various requirements coverage levels and for evaluating the requirements coverage achieved in the software testing process.


The Space Systems Laboratory (SSL), founded in 1995, has the mission of developing the technology and systems analysis associated with small spacecraft, precision optical systems, and International Space Station technology research and development. The laboratory encompasses expertise in structural dynamics, control, thermal, autonomy, space power, propulsion, MEMS, software development and systems. A major activity in this laboratory is the development of small spacecraft thruster systems as well as looking at issues associated with the distribution of function among satellites (Distributed Satellite Systems). In addition, technology is being developed for spaceflight validation in support of a new class of space-based telescope, which exploits the physics of interferometry to achieve dramatic breakthroughs in angular resolution. The objective of the Laboratory is to explore innovative concepts for the integration of future space systems and to train a generation of researchers and engineers conversant in this field.

Distributed Satellite Systems

The objective the SSL’s research into distributed satellite systems is to understand when and why it makes sense to distribute mission functionality across multiple satellites. To this end, the SSL has developed the GINA systems architecting methodology for conducting quantitative design trades at the mission concept level. In addition, several enabling technologies are being developed to support such mission concepts.

Space Telescope Dynamics And Controls

The SSL has developed the Dynamics, Optics, Controls and Structures (DOCS) software toolset for analyzing and optimizing the coupled behavior of these disciplines for precision systems such as space telescopes. DOCS provides an immersive environment where complex trades between system design, dynamic behavior, optical layout, and control formulation and be easily conducted on these complex systems. DOCS is currently being used to analyze and design NASA’s Space Interferometry Mission, Next Generation Space Telescope and Terrestrial Planet Finder Mission.

Spacecraft Autonomy

We are developing a new paradigm for rapidly creating collections of long-lived, robotic explorers that reason quickly, extensively and accurately about their world. These explorers are prototyped rapidly through an approach we call model-based programming.

In May of 1999, working with NASA JPL and NASA Ames, we demonstrated remote agent, a model-based autonomous system that was able to navigate the NASA Deep Space One probe through a wide range of failures.

We are currently developing a new paradigm that hides powerful deductive capabilities under the hood of a modern reactive programming language called Reactive Model-based Programming Language (RMPL), that is able to model uncertain effects, hidden state, time, redundancy and utility of action. We are currently exploring the deployment of RMPL on NASA’s Messenger mission to Mercury, currently under development at the John Hopkin’s University Applied Physics Laboratory

We are extending the model-based programming paradigm to the creation of cooperative autonomous agents that are able to create and adapt coordinated mission plans on the fly, by reasoning extensively from models of their constituents, collaborators and pursuance. During the past year we developed the Activity Modeling Language (AML), which extends model-based programming to allow for the expression of complex concurrent behaviors, metric time constraints and multiple contingencies. Next we created the Temporal Planning Network (TPN) representation, a compact encoding of AML models that supports efficient planning. Finally, we implemented a centralized planning system, called Kirk, that draws from the techniques of network search, conflict resolution, and hierarchical decomposition to perform rapid multiple-vehicle mission planning. The Kirk system was demonstrated in simulation to perform a coordinated search and rescue mission. In future years Kirk will be extended to perform high speed, de-centralized planning and coordination.

We are developing a new generation of hybrid health management and control capabilities that unify symbolic, model-based reasoning methods with methods for model-based state estimation and control. During the past year we began the development of methods for learning the parameters of hybrid models that merge discrete automata with ordinary differential equations. These methods are being developed to control and monitor the health of Bioplex, a testbed at NASA Johnson Space Center that simulates a Martian colony.


The Center for Sports Innovation (CSI) was launched in the fall of 1999. Focused on the development of new technology and products to enhance all aspects of the sporting experience, CSI draws on the vast expertise of MIT faculty and staff, coupled with the passion of students and corporate sponsors, providing a dynamic environment for engineering and product development education, with a clear focus on end use applications. Nearly 20 undergraduate students were involved in CSI programs in the first year. The main focus of the first semester was CSI itself. With guidance from ILP member Hill-Holliday, CSI staff and students focused on the development of a marketing strategy for the center. During the second semester, several programs were launched. This included "Pick-a-Sport" where a student selects a sport of interest, researches the business aspects and marketplace of the sport, maps technologies to the sport, and then identifies areas ripe for innovation. Perhaps the most controversial project is "Strike-Zone." Students are developing a strike zone detection system for use in baseball. In this particular project, the technology is not the hurdle, but rather the acceptance of the product into the marketplace. Thus, much of the work has focused on understanding the sport of baseball from a business perspective, from youth league right on up to the majors. CSI was also actively involved in providing educational experiences to the MIT community at large. During IAP 2000, CSI hosted a sports product development seminar series featuring speakers from Burton Snowboards, Reebok, Tune Corporation, Fitsense, and ACX. CSI also hosted demonstrations for some of the Freshman Advising Program meetings that related to sports. In addition, CSI is currently sponsoring two projects in the 16.621-16.622 course sequence. CSI activities have resulted in wide exposure in the popular press, including 4 MIT publications, broadcasts on local news programs, internationally distributed television programs and national magazines. The media exposure will be quite helpful as we look to expand sponsorship in the coming year.


Nearly 40 students were involved in TELAC during AY 1999—2000 including 16 graduate students, 14 UROPers, and 9 students in 16.621/2 who performed their research projects in the laboratory. Six students finished their master’s theses in the laboratory during this period and one engineer’s degree was completed. The laboratory issued a total of 19 reports during the past year including a number accepted for publication in journals and conference proceedings. Laboratory personnel participated in conferences at the national and international level giving a total of 15 presentations. Important progress was made in a number of research areas throughout the year. These include the development of an integrated model for durability of titanium-graphite hybrid composite laminates; development and demonstration of high-g-survivable structures for gun-launched microaerial vehicles; demonstration of the use of piezo-actuation as an analogue for thermal cycling to perform accelerated testing; extension of models for the damage tolerance response of pressurized composite cylinders to general anisotropic layups; validation of analytical methods for the calculation of interlaminar stresses in arbitrary laminates at ply-drop configurations; demonstration of a prototype active transonic composite compressor blade via bench and spin rig tests; development of a numerical framework to study the effects of distributed anisotropic actuators to improve the aeroelastic response of highly-flexible composite wings; investigation of the effects of large displacements of high aspect-ratio wings on low-order unsteady aerodynamic modeling; further development of a multibody dynamics modeling of a folding wing concept. The laboratory is also participating in the I-Campus/Microsoft initiative via a research project established to build hardware/software and address the educational issues associated with a mechanical experiment to be run remotely from the web. Research partnerships and collaborations continue around many of the laboratory projects and contributed to the efforts and accomplishments previously mentioned. Partners and collaborators include Boeing Aircraft Company, Rockwell International, Sikorsky Aircraft, and Draper Laboratories. Additional sponsors include DARPA, NSF, and NASA. Once again, a significant event during the year was the "Student Symposium on Composite Materials" held for the fifth time this year with continued participation by and between the students working on composites at Virginia Tech and those in TELAC at M.I.T. This year the event was held at Virginia Tech in June with Prof. Mark Spearing spearheading the TELAC coordination. The University of Massachusetts at Lowell and the University of Maryland joined as permanent participants in this important exchange. Both heads of those programs are M.I.T. graduates. Professor Julie Chen from UMass at Lowell is a graduate of the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity and Professor Tim Gutowski; Professor Tony Vizzini from UMaryland is a graduate of TELAC and Professor Paul Lagace.


The 1999—2000 academic-year saw a sharp increase in the academic utilization of the Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel (WBWT). Professors Murmann and Darmofal, together with support from Lockheed-Martin, used wind tunnel testing of an F-16 model as the cornerstone of their 16.100 aerodynamics course. Student groups spend nearly 20 hours of test time at WBWT in the course of the semester. 16.110, the follow-on course saw Professor Drela utilizing WBWT for instructional purposes as well. And, as is normally the case, 16.621-16.622 projects often utilize WBWT for testing. The current interest in miniature tactical and reconnaissance aircraft has brought new commercial work to WBWT as well. Draper Labs was a repeat customer with several tunnel entries for one of their projects. Additionally, perennial customers, Second Wind, utilized WBWT for anemometer calibration. The new Center for Sports Innovation (CSI) was also a frequent guest at WBWT. The highlight of the year was testing riding position on a prototype time-trial bike for Trek Bicycle Corporation. The final version of this bicycle was used by Lance Armstrong and Tyler Hamilton during Armstrong’s win at the 2000 Tour de France. WBWT kicked off 2000 by having students develop data acquisition software using state-of-the-art Windows NT computers and LabView Software. This is a much-needed replacement for the aging PDP data acquisition system.

Edward Crawley

MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000