MIT Aero Astro -

October 2013

In this issue:
1. Newsbriefs
2. Welcome
3. D-8 Aviation Week cover story
4. Happy 75, WBWT
5. AeroAstro labs to co-lead FAA Center of Excellence
6. Students float their research in reduced gravity



de Weckde Weck






1. Newsbriefs

In its latest Report to the (MIT) President, the MIT Press Bookstore notes its top-selling book for FY 2013 was Professor Oli de Weck's "Engineering Systems." The book is coauthored by Daniel Roos and Christopher Magee.

Senior Lecturer Dr. Rudrapatna Ramnath has received the Mother Teresa Excellence Award "in Recognition of Outstanding Achievements, Excellent Performance, Experience, and Noble Contribution for the Progress of the Nation" in Hyderabad, India from Integrated Council for Socio-Economic Progress.

Congratulations to recent AA PhD graduate Chad Lieberman whose paper "Goal-Oriented Inference: Approach, Linear Theory, and Application to Advection-Diffusion" (coauthored with Professor Karen Willcox) appears as the SIGEST paper in the most recent issue of Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics "SIAM Review." From SIAM: "The purpose of SIGEST is to make the 10,000+ readers of 'SIAM Review' aware of exceptional papers published in SIAM's specialized journals."

At a recent National Space Biomedical Research Institute workshop in Houston, Man Vehicle Lab director Dr. Chuck Oman was honored with a plaque as he stepped down as team lead of the Sensorimotor Adaptation Team. Chuck lead the team since NSBRI's 1997 inception.

Principal Research Scientist Dr. Peter Belobaba was named an AGIFORS Fellow and received a medal of Distinguished Membership at the Airline Group of the International Federation of Operations Research Societies' 53rd Annual Symposium in Amsterdam. The Distinguished Membership is awarded every three years to "individuals who have demonstrated outstanding and exceptional accomplishments and experience in the application of operations research to air transportation."

Grad student Sreeja Nag was presented with the Luigi G. Napolitano Award at this year's International Astronautical Congress for a paper she presented on Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function. The award is presented "to a young scientist, below 30 years of age, who has contributed significantly to the advancement of the aerospace science and has given a paper at the International Astronautical Congress on the contribution."

Nag award

Sreeja Nag receives her Napolitano award at the IAC conference.

Professor Nancy Leveson was an invited speaker at the 100th Anniversary of Chili's Air Force and the 50th Anniversary of the Chilean Air Force Aeronautics Academy program.

Professor Julie Shah and PhD student Matthew Gombolay's paper "A Uniprocessor Scheduling Policy for Non-Preemptive Task Sets with Precedence and Temporal Constraints" from the 2012 AIAA Infotech@Aerospace Conference was chosen by the AIAA Intelligent Systems TC as the AIAA Best Intelligent Systems Paper from 2012.

For the second year in a row, a team of authors associated with the Aerospace Controls Lab has been cited by the AIAA Guidance, Navigation and Control Technical Committee for Best Paper at its Guidance Navigation and Control Conference. Writers were PhD candidate, Kemal Ure, Tuna Toksoz (SM '12), Josh Redding (PhD '12), postdoc Girish Chowdhary, ACL director Professor Jon How, and Boeing Technical Fellow John Vian.


2. Welcome

Welcome to our newest faculty member, Professor Leia Stirling, who took up residence in 33-311 last month. Leia received her PhD in Course 16 in 2008. Her specializations are computational dynamics, control system development, human factors, and human-machine interaction for aerospace and medical applications.

Two visiting professors have joined us for the coming months: David Gillen of the University of Toronto is a guest of Professor Amadeo Odoni and Enrico Lorenzini of the University of Padova is a guest of Professor Dave Miller.

Welcome to four new postdocs: Marshall Galbraith, working with Professor Darmofal; Lei Qiao, with Professor Radovitzky; Corey Fucetola, with Professor Lozano, and Antti Solonen, with Professor Marzouk.

Aviagtion Week Cover

3. D-8 Aviation Week cover story

AeroAstro's D-8 ultra-green commercial aircraft design was Aviation Week's September 30 cover story, "Boundary-Layer Ingestion Key To MIT/NASA D8 Hopes." The article notes, "Sized to replace aircraft in the Airbus A320/Boeing 737 category around 2035 — a time frame NASA calls 'N+3 generation' — the D8 promises fuel burn more than 70% lower than the 737-800's. And while the wide, twin-aisle fuselage has more drag than the 737's, its overall shape enables a lighter wing and landing gear and a smaller tail. The make-or-break aspect of the D8 design, however, is whether the embedded engine location is feasible, and whether smaller, lighter turbofans will be able to operate in the challenging flow conditions over the aft fuselage."

Professor Mark Drela and Technical Lead Alejandra Uranga prepare the 1:11 D-8 model for wind tunnel testing at NASA Langley. (NASA)


4. Happy 75th, WBWT

Happy 75th anniversary to AeroAstro's Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel. Since September 1938, when it was dedicated during the Fifth International Congress of Applied Mechanics, the WBWT has played a major role in the development of aerospace, civil engineering, and architectural systems. The first dozen years of operation included heavy World War Two demands from industry for design development testing. Sikorsky, Grumman, Republic, Consolidated-Vultee, and Chance Vought were among the many companies that purchased tunnel time in the 1940s and 1950s. For more about the tunnel, visit

wbwt A worker lowers a fan blade into the Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel prior to its September 1938 opening. (MIT Museum)



5. AeroAstro labs to co-lead new FAA Center of Excellence

The Federal Aviation Administration has named MIT to co-lead its new Air Transportation Center of Excellence for the Environment and Alternate Jet Fuels.

AeroAstro's International Center for Air Transportation and Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment will lead the CoE’s research in meeting the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System aviation environmental impact goals. Washington State University will co-lead the CoE, concentrating on aviation alternative fuels research.

ICAT director Professor R. John Hansman will head the CoE’s MIT program office. ICAT will focus on environmentally efficient operations; LAE, under the direction of Professor Steven Barrett, will research the broad environmental impact of aviation.

“This Center will be an important contributor to developing sustainable approaches to aviation,” Hansman said. “And, sustainability is one of the most important things we can do to strengthen the future of air transportation. In this new Center of Excellence, the FAA has assembled an exceptional team combining expertise in all important aspects of the challenge.”

6. Students float their research in reduced gravity

A video of AeroAstro students performing research aboard NASA's reduced gravity aircraft was featured recently on the MIT Home Page. Undergrads Meera Chander, Libby Jones, Henna Jethani, and recent graduate Joshua Orema were selected from more than 30 proposals to be one of six university teams flying during August 2013. Meera describes the project: "Extended exposure to microgravity has revealed several measurable health issues for astronauts. Rather than treat these issues during or post-flight, one approach to prevent these health conditions is to provide artificial gravity in the astronauts' environment, induced by rotation of the spacecraft. The physics of vehicle rotation is based on the conservation of angular momentum — a habitat (in this case, a simple mass) is connected to a truss, on the other end of which is a set of spinning flywheels. The rotation of these flywheels on one end causes the entire spacecraft to rotate in the opposite direction without the use of extra propellant or other resources, thereby creating a gravity vector along the direction of the truss and within the habitat. An AGTV would be designed to provide 1g for the astronauts in the habitat. In this case, the model aimed to produce artificial gravity levels on the order of 0.2g. This experiment also investigated the use of a secondary spinning mass to slew the rotation plane of the assembly in the remaining two axes. Successful slewing ultimately allows for steering and navigation of the entire vehicle without the addition of a propulsion system."

tough mudder team

Meera Chander (left) and Joshua Orema perform their research on the reduced gravity aircraft. Assisting them is NASA mentor, Dr. Jennifer Rochlis (AeroAstro SM '98, PhD 2002). (NASA)


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