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Illuminating the successes and struggles of MIT Black history

Illuminating the successes and struggles of MIT Black history

Illuminating the successes and struggles of MIT Black history
On Wednesday, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) announced that MIT professor, Daniel Hastings, has been elected president-elect of the organization. Hastings, who currently serves as the associate dean of engineering for diversity, equity, and inclusion; head of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics; and the Cecil and Ida Green Education Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, will be AIAA’s 17th president and the first Black president, succeeding current president Laura McGill in May 2024.

Hastings expressed his appreciation for the appointment, stating that “the AIAA has been my professional society for my years on the faculty. I follow a great line of AeroAstro faculty who have served as president of the AIAA including Sheila Widnall and Bob Seamans. I look forward to helping the AIAA serve the aerospace enterprise.”

As president, Hastings will lead the AIAA in its mission to encourage global aerospace growth through cooperation, representation, and education. The AIAA comprises nearly 30,000 individual members from 91 nations and 100 corporate members, bringing together industry, academia, and government in the world’s largest technical society dedicated to aerospace.

Hastings has a long-standing association with the AIAA, becoming an AIAA Fellow in 1998 and an honorary fellow in 2021. He has also served on numerous AIAA technical committees, including Space Sciences and Astronomy, Space Systems, and Plasmadynamics and Lasers.

Hastings joined MIT as a graduate student in 1976, earning his bachelor’s degree from Oxford University before completing his MS and PhD degrees in aeronautics and astronautics at MIT. His research interests have included various topics such as laser-material interactions, fusion plasma physics, spacecraft plasma environment interactions, space plasma thrusters, and more lately, space systems analysis and design.

Hastings has devoted his professional life to service both inside and outside of MIT. He served as MIT’s dean of undergraduate education from 2006 to 2013 and in 2014, assumed a five-year term as the director of SMART, the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology. Hastings was also appointed co-chair of MIT’s Values Statement Committee in 2021.

Outside of MIT, Hastings served as chief scientist of the U.S. Air Force from 1997 to 1999 where he functioned as the chief scientific advisor to the chief of staff and the secretary, evaluating scientific and technical issues affecting the Air Force mission. He was also chair of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. Hastings is a fellow of the International Astronautical Federation and the International Council in System Engineering and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Hastings was recently named to serve on the National Space Council Users Advisory Group by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris.

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