Peraire to step down as AeroAstro Dept. head

Jaimne Peraire
Jaime Peraire
March 19, 2018

Professor Jaime Peraire has announced that he will step down as head of the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics on June 30, 2018.

A search committee for a new department head is being established. MIT School of Engineering Dean Anantha Chandrakasan has named AeroAstro Professor Sheila Windall as committee chair.

In an email to AeroAstro students, staff, and faculty, Peraire wrote the following:

“I write to share the news that I plan to step down from my position as department head on June 30, 2018.

“I believe I have accomplished much of what I set out to do when I accepted this position seven years ago. I think it is now an appropriate time for me to step down and explore new goals and challenges. During my tenure, we have created a new strategic plan and have made significant steps in implementing the vision laid out in that plan. With the help of the Institute and the generous gifts of friends and donors, we have made major improvements to our spaces. Most notably, we undertook the long-awaited renovations in Building 31. The final phase of these renovations will house Beaver Works, our joint venture with Lincoln Lab, and will be completed this spring. We are also partnering with Boeing and have secured funding and Institute support to renovate the Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel into what I expect will be the world’s best university facility of its class. We are currently in the design phase and the project should be completed by summer 2019.

“One of the most gratifying aspects of my job has been to discover and support the amazing research conducted by our faculty and students. I have prepared and presented many promotion cases and learned much during the process. Of one thing I am now certain: the department has exceptional young faculty and the department’s leadership and excellence moving forward is guaranteed.

“I am particularly proud of the 2014 AeroAstro Centennial celebrations. We highlighted the tremendous contributions that our people have made to aerospace and the service they have given to our nation. It was also an opportunity to re-engage with our alumni and friends. During these year-long celebrations, it became apparent that the future of aerospace is brighter than ever, and that we are on the verge of an aerospace renaissance: in coming decades, we will revolutionize air transportation, gain unprecedented knowledge of our solar system, and send people to Mars.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve and represent the department. It goes without saying that all of the above accomplishments are the result of a collective effort. I am tremendously grateful for the support received by everybody in the department—faculty, staff and students—you made this job rewarding. In particular, I want to thank Karen Willcox and Eytan Modiano who served as associate department heads, the headquarters staff who are responsible for the day to day running of the department and make the complex and difficult tasks look easy, and, finally, the students who bring unbounded enthusiasm, talent and creativity and make our department truly special.

“For their unwavering support and service, I also thank Ian Waitz, Anantha Chandrakasan, my colleagues at the Engineering Council, MIT’s leadership, and the Corporation Visiting Committee.

“Thank you all for your guidance, support, enthusiasm, and comradeship. It’s been a true pleasure.”

Peraire, the H.N. Slater Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, has been department head since 2011. A former director of the MIT Aerospace Computational Design Lab, his research interests include numerical analysis, finite element methods, and computational aerodynamics. He has been at MIT since 1993.