Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

The academic year 2000-01 was a year in which many of the plans and aspirations of the department materialized. The department returned to a newly refurbished Building 33. 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 AY2000-01, we moved into full scale development of 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 deployment of new teaching and learning technologies to the sophomore year, and the completion of our new learning laboratories, the Robert Seamans Laboratory and the Arthur and Linda Gelb Laboratory. We also began a major international alliance for educational reform with three universities in Sweden.

During the year we were joined by one new faculty, Charles Coleman in Human and Automation, with four more faculty hired and due to arrive in the next year. We have largely rebuilt our faculty from the retirees of 1996. We offered a new undergraduate program: 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.

Future Plans

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 implementing the action plans, and forging relationships with industry necessary to accomplish our goals.

Table 1. Undergraduate Enrollment over the Last Ten Years

  90–91 91–92 92–93 93–94 94–95 95–96 96–97 97–98 98–99 99–00 00–01
Sophomore 76 61 33 36 36 30 46 40 48 59 68
Juniors 61 62 60 31 37 31 23 33 37 40 53
Seniors 104 73 66 66 38 37 29 24 35 37 45
Totals 241 196 159 133 111 98 98 97 120 136 166
% Women 23% 27% 28% 32% 31% 29% 26% 30% 33% 30% 32%
% Under Min. 20% 14% 12% 23% 19% 16% 18% 22% 15% 12% 21%

Graduate Program

A total of 300 applications were received for the fall 2000 term. Out of these, 126 were admitted, and 79 accepted the offer of admission. Enrollment for fall 2000 included 148 S.M., 0 EAA, 66 Doctoral, 10 M.Eng. degree candidates for a total of 224. Minority students totaled 12 (0 Doctoral., 12 S.M.). Total women students equaled 45 (13 Doctoral, 33 S.M., 1 M.Eng.). For the spring 2001 term we received 18 applications. We admitted 5, and 4 enrolled, including 1 woman. Zero minority applications were received. Enrollment for spring 2001 included 144 S.M., 63 Doctoral, and 6 M.Eng. for a total of 213. Total women: 46 (13 Doctoral; 33 S.M.). Total minority: 10 (10 S.M.; 0 M.Eng.).

Table 2. Degrees Awarded AY2000-01

Degrees S.M. EAA Doctoral. M.Eng. Total
Summer (Sept. 00) 9 0 5 0 14
Fall (Feb. 01) 13 0 3 0 16
Spring (June 01) 41 0 5 3 49
Total 63 0 13 3 79

Table 3. Funding Sources Fall 2000 and Spring 2001

MIT Fellows/Tuition Awards 10
Outside Fellowships Staff Appointments 29
(RAs, Draper Fellows) 172
Teaching Assistants & Fellows 12
Engineering Internship Program 0
Other Types of Support 1
(Employer, Foreign, Self) 0
Total 224

Faculty Notes

Ian Waitz has been promoted to Full Professor, effective July 1, 2001.

Carlos Cesnik has been promoted to Associate Professor, effective July 1, 2001.

Eric Feron and Mark Spearing were granted tenure effective July 1, 2001. Professor Charles Coleman joined the faculty effective January 2001.

Professor Coleman received his B.S. from MIT and his M.S. and his Ph.D. from Berkeley. Professor Coleman's area of expertise is in automation systems. His appointment supports the department's thrust in "aerospace information engineering," particularly the focus area in Humans and Automation, where he will be working with John Hansman and Nancy Leveson on automation systems and software.

Robert Liebeck was appointed Professor of the Practice of Aerospace Engineering as of September 2000. Dr. Liebeck is a Senior Technical Fellow at Boeing and an expert in aerodynamic design. He is member of the National Academy of Engineering and heads a group working on advanced design for blended wing-body aircraft in the Boeing Phantom Works.

Steven Dorfman, former Vice Chair of Hughes Electronics, spent the year as the Jerome Clark Hunsaker Visiting Professor of Engineering.

Arthur Muambara (Oxford University) and Stephen Ruffin (Georgia Tech) were in residence as Martin Luther King, Jr. Associate Professors.

Wesley Harris was on leave at Arizona State in the Barry Goldwater Chair of American Institutions. The first recipient of the chair was Barry Goldwater himself, and Wes is the first engineer to hold the position since its inauguration. Wes was also elected to the Board of Trustees of Princeton. Jack Kerrebrock received the 2000-2001 Undergraduate Teaching Award.

Dava Newman's book Interactive Aerospace Engineering and Design appeared in June 2001. The text includes integrated multimedia, the design process, and extensive coverage of space flight.

Richard Battin was the first recipient of the Tycho Brahe for fundamental innovations in the development and application of aerodynamics to mission planning and implementation of reliable guidance, navigation and control of manned and unmanned spacecraft.

Professor Emeritus Norman D. Ham was a recipient of the AHS Fellow Award. Professor Sheila Widnall received the REED Aeronautics medal from the AIAA.

return to top

Fluid Dynamics Research Laboratory

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 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.

International Center for Air Transportation

The objective of the International Center for Air Transportation (ICAT) 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 (ATM), 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 U.S. 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.

Lean Sustainment Initiative

The mission of the Lean Sustainment Initiative (LSI) is to enable fundamental transformation of the U.S. commercial and military maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) industries into a cost-effective, quality driven, timely, and responsive support system.

This year the LSI developed a universal framework by which the MRO of generic corporate assets may be defined, analyzed, synthesized, and transformed. This universal framework applies to MRO activities in aviation, land-based transportation, seaport and docks, airports, real estate, hospitals, and many other large complex corporate enterprises.

LSI established three research teams to focus on sustainment operations, business processes, and enterprise level MRO activities at U.S. Air Force depots. The sustainment operations team addressed the problem of insufficient parts and materials in U.S. Air Force depots. The business processes team investigated the unsatisfactory performance of forecasting models and methods employed by the U.S. Air Force to correctly define requirements. The enterprise level team continued its study of goals, objectives, and metrics that drive behavior and performance at the flight line; this study has produced a "metrics thermostats" for MRO operations at the flight line.

LSI delivered presentations based on LSI research at major national conferences held on the campus of Arizona State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Princeton University. It produced several Masters theses, white papers, and technical briefings, and expanded the stakeholder base to include two U.S. commercial aircraft MRO companies. LSI was described by the Commander, USAF Material Command before the House Armed Services Committee, 23 March 2001, as an undertaking to identify critical breakthroughs and change the paradigm of maintenance, repair, and overhaul support for the 21st century.

Future plans include expanding the stakeholder base to include national and international corporations and foundations and developing curricula based on LSI research findings and the LSI derived universal framework for MRO activities research.

Center for Sports Innovation

The second year of the Center for Sports Innovation (CSI) resulted in the launch of several new projects, as well as the continuation of successful programs from the first year.

The 2000-2001 academic-year saw 10 undergraduates complete their bachelor's thesis in CSI. Students were from both Aeronautics and Astronautics and Mechanical Engineering. Projects included the design of exercise equipment and triathlon shoes, and performance testing of bicycle, in-line skates and hockey padding. Additionally, sponsored projects included studies of ski boot performance and exercise equipment.

During IAP 2001, CSI again hosted the popular sports product development seminar series featuring speakers from Finish Lynx, L.L. Bean, New Balance, and Skis Dynastar.

CSI activities continue to generate interest in the popular press. The highlight of the year was an appearance on CNN International to discuss the effect of technology on sports.

return to top

Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel

The 2000-2001 academic year saw the continued support of the Aeronautic and Astronautics department in the academic utilization of the Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel (WBWT). Wind tunnel testing of a new F-16 model was the cornerstone of the 16.100 aerodynamics course. Student groups spend nearly 20 hours of test time at WBWT in the course of the semester. Laboratory time in WBWT was also part of Unified and 16.110. Additionally, four 16.621-16.622 projects utilized WBWT for testing during the academic year.

Commercial work at WBWT over the past year had ranged from testing the performance of miniature tactical and reconnaissance air-craft to testing high performance motorcycles.

Undergraduate Awards for 2000-2001

This year, the student chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) presented the department's undergraduate teaching award to Professor Jack L. Kerrebrock, and the department's undergraduate advising award to Professor Earll M. Murman.

The Yngve Rausten Award was presented to David R. Smith, a sophomore from Folsom, CA, as the student who best exemplified the spirit of Yngve Raustein by his encouragement and support to other students as well as overcoming obstacles in the pursuit of his love for aerospace engineering.

The Andrew Morsa Memorial Award was awarded to Paul Eremenko, a senior from West Lafayette, IN, for the application of computers in combining wind-tunnel data, computational fluid dynamics, 6 dof dynamic models, and control theory to develop a pitch-rate controller designed to meet stringent uav performance requirements.

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 senior from Tyngsboro, MA, and Shana L. Diez, a senior from Sugarland, TX, for their conception, design, and operation of a two-person human powered artificial gravity centrifuge.

The David J. Shapiro Memorial Award for designing, building and flying a high-speed electric-powered model aircraft in the 2001-2002 Design Competition of the AIAA/Cessna Aircraft, and the Office of Naval Research was presented to a team of eight students: graduate student Larry Baskett of Pleasanton, CA; seniors Bernard F. Ahyow of Irvine, CA, and Lawrence O. Pilkinton of Ogallala, NE; sophomores Daniel J. Benhammou of Colorado Springs, CO, Adam J. Diedrich of Petoskey, MI, Timothy D. Pigeon of Bridgewater, MA, Erik S. Stockham of Columbia, MO, and Caroline Twomey of Oconomowoc, WI.

The David J. Shapiro Memorial Award for designing, building and operating a radio-controlled micro air vehicle (MAV) to compete in the Arizona State University Micro Air Vehicle 2001 Competition was presented to Martin Jonikas, a freshman from Berkley, CA, on behalf of the Aero Astro Tech Model Aircrafters Club.

The Leaders for Manufacturing Prize was awarded to Bernard F. Ahyow and Nathan A. Doble, a senior from Shoreview, MN, for developing and validating a novel manufacturing technique for thin propellers with improved aerodynamic performance relative to conventional propellers.

The Pratt and Whitney Awards for outstanding achievement in the design, construction, execution and reporting of an undergraduate experimental project were presented to seniors Lisa Dang of Downey, CA, and Alan Y. Chen of Newtown, PA, for the characterization of JP-7 fuel as a micro-engine propellant, and to seniors Yassir Azziz of Casablanca, Morocco, and Mariya A. Ishutkina of Newton, MA, for the experimental verification of a new theory for aero-structural vibration suppression.

The James Means Memorial Award for Excellence in Space Systems Engineering was presented to Lisa Dang for her superb contributions to the class project-an innovative multi-aperture reconnaissance satellite. Her work epitomized the highest levels of excellence in space systems engineering.

The James Means Memorial Award for Excellence in Flight Vehicle Engineering was presented to Paul Eremenko for excellence and creativity in the systems level and technical design of a low noise-impact supersonic business jet.

The Admiral Luis De Florez Award for original thinking or ingenuity was presented to seniors Lisa Dang and Alan Y. Chen for developing an innovative method to measuring the temperature and heat transfer properties of JP-7 fuel using remote sensors.

The Henry Web Salisbury Award, established by the family and friends of Henry Salisbury, was presented to Noah Z. Warner, a senior from Petaluma, CA, for outstanding work in the completion of the undergraduate degree program in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Edward Crawley

More information about the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department can be found online at

return to top
Table of Contents