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Sheila Widnall

Institute Professor
Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems

Dr. Widnall received her Sc.D. from MIT.

She has served as Associate Provost, MIT, and as Secretary of the Air Force. As Secretary of the Air Force, Dr. Widnall was responsible for all affairs of the Department of the Air Force including recruiting, organizing, training, administration, logistical support, maintenance, and welfare of personnel. During this time, the Air Force issued its long range vision statement: Global Engagement: A Vision for the 21st Century Air Force, which defined the path from the air and space force of today to the space and air force of the next century. Dr. Widnall was also responsible for research and development and other activities prescribed by the President or the Secretary of Defense. She co-chaired the Department of Defense Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Discrimination. She later stepped down to resume teaching.

Since returning to MIT, she has been active in the Lean Aerospace Initiative, with special emphasis on the space and policy focus teams. Her research activities in fluid dynamics have included the following: boundary layer stability, unsteady hydrodynamic loads on fully wetted and supercavitating hydrofoils of finite span, unsteady lifting-surface theory, unsteady air forces on oscillating cylinders in subsonic and supersonic flow, unsteady leading-edge vortex separation from slender delta wings, tip-vortex aerodynamics, helicopter noise, aerodynamics of high-speed ground transportation vehicles, vortex stability, aircraft-wake studies, turbulence, and transition. Her teaching activities have included undergraduate dynamics and aerodynamics, graduate level aerodynamics of wings and bodies, aeroelasticity, acoustics and aerodynamic noise, and aerospace vehicle vibration. She was a member of the Columbia accident investigation board and she was inducted into the Women's Hall of Fame in 2003.

Books Published:

Books Published by Sheila Widnall

Related News:

Sheila Widnall named an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Honorary Fellow

Sheila Widnall wins National Academy of Engineering's Arthur M. Bueche Award

Three honorary degrees for Widnall – April 7, 2008

Sheila Widnall Delivers Third Annual Brunel Lecture: The Columbia Tragedy - System-Level Issues for Engineering. Click here to see Professor Widnall's presentation on MIT World. – December 2003

LAI Book Receives IAA Award – November 7, 2003

The Columbia Tragedy: System-Level Issues for Engineering – November 4, 2003

Sheila Widnall Inducted into National Women's Hall of Fame – October 9, 2003

Widnall inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame – October 2003

Widnall Appointed to Columbia Accident Investigation Board – February 18, 2003

Professors de Neufville, Widnall and ESD supporters named to Massport security advisory council – January 2003

Click here for archived news items

Sheila Widnall

Contact info:

Sheila Widnall
77 Massachusetts Ave.
Building 33-411
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307

Phone: 617.253.3595
Email to: sheila "at"


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