MIT: Independent Activities Period: IAP

IAP 2017 Activities by Sponsor - Aeronautics and Astronautics

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Aviation Accident Investigation or Agatha Christie for Engineers

Brian Nield (Boeing Commercial Airplane)

Enrollment: Unlimited: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 01/06
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions
Prereq: Spreadsheet Skills (Excel); Some Familiarity with Aviation

Commercial aviation is extremely safe, in part due to knowledge gained from studying accidents. The investigation process and some of the most significant accidents are discussed. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to work with their peers in a small, self-directed, investigative team to solve a realistic (but fictional) aircraft accident mystery. New information on the crash will be given out at each session as you piece together the facts to determine what caused the accident and build recommendations for improving flying safety.

Sponsor(s): Aeronautics and Astronautics
Contact: Liz Zotos, 37-219, x3-7805,

Aviation Accident Investigation

Jan/10 Tue 02:00PM-03:00PM Room 33-319
Jan/11 Wed 02:00PM-03:00PM Room 33-319
Jan/12 Thu 02:00PM-04:00PM Room 33-319

See main description

Brian Nield (Boeing Commercial Airplane)

Spacecraft Charging in Space Plasma Environment--An Introduction

Dr. Shu T. Lai, Research Affiliate

Jan/17 Tue 02:00PM-04:00PM Room 33-319

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Prereq: See description.

Spacecraft charging affects electronic measurements onboard and may be destructive for a spacecraft. The lecture begins by discussing the fundamentals of space environment and explaining what, where, when, and why spacecraft charging occurs.  The physical mechanism of spacecraft charging is clearly explained.  Solar storms are important for incoming currents; material properties are important for the outgoing currents.  Current balance between the incoming and outgoing currents determines the spacecraft potential. 

Spacecraft charging can occur in sunlight.  In a monopole-dipole configuration, potential barriers can form, trapping photoelectrons on the sunlit surface.

Mitigation methods are discussed.

Benefits:  This lecture offers awareness of hazards in space environment.  The physical concept will help equip the students for pursuing future scientific research ideas in fields of space physics, space propulsion, plasma physics, spacecraft engineering, and material science.  

Prereq: Attendees may have little or no background in this area. 

Sponsor(s): Aeronautics and Astronautics
Contact: Dr. Shu Lai,

Why Do Airfares Change So Often? New Developments in Airline Pricing and Distribution

Dr. Peter Belobaba, Principal Research Scientist, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics; and, Michael D. Wittman, Ph.D. Candidate, MIT International Center for Air Transportation

Jan/23 Mon 02:00PM-03:30PM Room 33-206

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up

Why is airline pricing so complicated and why is that great fare you saw yesterday not available for purchase today? This talk explains the theory and practice of airline pricing and revenue management -- how airlines determine prices and how many seats to sell at each price. We also discuss how airline pricing will change in the near future, from the recent trend of unbundling (ancillary revenues) to next-generation distribution systems, dynamic offer generation, and customized pricing.

Sponsor(s): Aeronautics and Astronautics
Contact: Marie Stuppard, 33-202, x3-2279,