designed for the exact task),” they wrote on the Web
significant contributions to undergraduate education.
site that chronicles their 35,000 nautical mile voyage:
Her course for undergraduates, 16.00: Introduction
to Aerospace Engineering and Design, culminates
When Newman wasn’t on the open sea, at the helm, or cooking mahi mahi for dinner, she was teaching. She visited middle school and high school classrooms in Puerto Rico, Panama, Australia, Mauritius, South
each year in what has become an MIT tradition: a race of student-designed blimps. It has attracted many engineering students — among them a growing number of women—to the aerospace branch of the field.
Africa and other locales that span the spectrum of tech-
Professor Wesley Harris, head of
nological and economic development. She educated
Department, is a big fan of Dava. “She has a rare mix
students in science and technology, geography and
of energy, vision, technology and policy. These traits
exploration, and oral history. With NASA’s help, she
are the foundation of the engineer of the future,” he
connected her international students with their coun-
says. “Her contributions to this department, the insti-
terparts in the U.S. through video links, and organized
tute and the profession will be profound.”
videoconferences between the students and NASA astronauts and scientists.
Newman’s students say she is highly supportive and persistent in encouraging them to do their best work.
One of the goals of her sabbatical was “to excite
Annie Frazer, a graduate student of Newman’s work-
students about exploration, space travel, and what it
ing in the Man Vehicle Laboratory, says, “Even though
takes to get there—science and math,” says Newman.
she’s always on the go and doing 10 things at once,
Another was to make students around the world
she’s surprisingly laid-back and easygoing.”
aware of how their perceptions are shaped by “where and how they live.”
Laid-back and easygoing, yes, but she’s a driven academic and professional, too. She holds a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Notre Dame; a
A PASSION FOR TEACHING
master’s in aeronautics and astronautics and another
Newman’s passion for teaching is renowned at MIT.
in technology and policy, both from MIT; and a doc-
In 2000, she was named a MacVicar Faculty Fellow for
torate in aerospace biomedical engineering, also from
Faculty Profile: Dava Newman