Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics faculty, students, and staff affirm a commitment to protect and nurture, first and foremost, the mental and physical well-being of each member of our community. A core value of our department is a commitment to diversity, which connotes an awareness and acceptance of the value and strength derived from engaging the richness of multiple cultures, including race, disabilities, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and skin color, among other attributes. The full potential and impact of our scholarship, teaching and learning, knowledge creation, innovation, and service can only be realized in an environment where people are supported and valued for their humanity, without prejudice, and where inclusion, collaboration, and sharing are core principles.

The Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics is committed to advancing the inclusion of underrepresented minorities and women in our community of faculty, students, and staff. We are cognizant of the Institute’s goals of the 2004 faculty resolution to increase the number of underrepresented minority and women graduate students and the 2010 Report of the Initiative on Faculty Race and Diversity (pdf.)

The full potential and impact of our scholarship, teaching and learning, knowledge creation, innovation, and service can only be realized in an environment where people are supported and valued for their humanity, without prejudice, and where inclusion, collaboration, and sharing are core principles.


Pursuant to our commitment and goals, the department will appoint and support the AeroAstro Faculty, Student, and Staff Standing Committee on Race and Diversity, reporting to the department head, to develop action plans to protect and nurture the mental and physical well-being of each member of our community, to increase the inclusion of underrepresented minorities and women, and to address other such opportunities as appropriate.


The MIT AeroAstro Diversity, Inclusion & Innovation (DI&I) Committee comprises faculty, staff, and students interested in advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The goal of the (DI&I) Committee is to represent the many different perspectives of our community. The DI&I Committee will listen, gain feedback, and provide updates and actions related to our commitment to improving department culture. In order to ensure that diverse voices and opinions are represented at the meetings, the DI&I Committee meetings will be open to the entire AeroAstro community.

Committee Members (2020-2021)

NameRole
Andrea BadilloUndergraduate Student
Hamsa BalakrishnanAssociate Department Head & Professor of Aeronautics & Astronautics
Maria BarbosaUndergraduate Student
Morgan Grace BlevinsGraduate Student
Becca BrowderGraduate Student
Amelia Rose BrunoGraduate Student
Katie CarrollGraduate Student
Sara CodyCommunications Officer
Annick DewaldGraduate Student
Paula do Vale PereiraGraduate Student
Sebastian EasthamResearch Scientist
Nadia Barbara FigueroaPostdoc
Pam FradkinSupport Staff
Elissa GibsonUndergraduate Student
Maha HajiResearch Staff
Wesley HarrisC.S. Draper Professor of Aeronautics & Astronautics
Daniel HastingsDepartment Head, Cecil and Ida Green Education Professor, Associate Dean, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
Andrea HenshallGraduate Student
Summer HossUndergraduate Student
Max LiGraduate Student
Paulo LozanoChair, DI&I, M. Alemán-Velasco Professor of Aeronautics & Astronautics
Beth MaroisGraduate Program Administrator
Fran MarroneSupport Staff
Rebecca MastersonPrincipal Research Scientist
Brían O’ConaillAdministrative Officer
Hannah OvaskaHuman Resources Administrator
Gabriel Owens-FloresUndergraduate Student
Denise PhillipsDiversity Officer
Victoria PrestonGraduate Student

The AeroAstro Diversity Fellowship is awarded to two currently enrolled Ph.D. students. Two Fellows are selected each academic year in the AeroAstro Department. The Diversity Fellows must have demonstrated passion and commitment to improving and advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Innovation in the AeroAstro community. This fellowship aims to build an inclusive community within AeroAstro and support historically underrepresented groups in aerospace engineering. Specifically underrepresented minorities, LGBTQIA+, low-income, and first-generation students, and students with disabilities. This prestigious fellowship is an excellent opportunity to develop skills critical to a leader in industry or academia.

Meet the Inaugural Diversity Fellows (2020-2021)

Rosemary Davidson
Rosemary is a Ph.D. student working on space telescope concepts in the Space Systems Laboratory under Professor David Miller and Dr. Rebecca Masterson. She completed her undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she was involved with their Women of Aeronautics and Astronautics (WoAA) chapter. Since coming to MIT, she has helped lead the formation of an international WoAA network under the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Since her first year at MIT, she has also served on the Graduate Women in Aerospace Engineering (GWAE) board. She has had the opportunity to contribute to GWAE’s professional development, community building, advocacy, and outreach efforts.

Kevin Wang
Kevin is a third-year Ph.D. student in the International Center of Air Transportation (ICAT) working with Professor Belobaba. Prior to coming to AeroAstro, he spent one year at MIT as a Course 2 on the Cambridge-MIT exchange program. At MIT, he has lived in the East Campus and Sidney Pacific communities. Currently, he represents graduate students on the Committee for Student Life and the Task Force 2021 and Beyond. Kevin is also an officer for the  MIT Curling Club and MIT European Club.

The AeroAstro Diversity Fellowship is awarded to two currently enrolled graduate students who must be PhD candidates at the start of their tenure as a Diversity Fellow. Two Fellows are selected each academic year in the AeroAstro Department. The Diversity Fellows must have demonstrated passion and commitment to improving and advancing Diversity, Inclusion & Innovation in the AeroAstro community. The goals of this fellowship are to build an inclusive community within AeroAstro and to support historically underrepresented groups in aerospace engineering, specifically gender minority, underrepresented minority, LGBTQIA+, low-income, and first-generation students, as well as students with disabilities. This prestigious fellowship is an excellent opportunity to develop skills critical to a leader in industry or academia.

Scope of Fellowship

  • Support the efforts of the MIT AeroAstro Diversity, Inclusion, and Innovation (DI&I) Committee
  • Support the efforts of the MIT AeroAstro Diversity Officer
  • Participate in event planning
  • Participate in recruitment and outreach
  • Work with the leadership of MIT AeroAstro student organizations (AIAA, WAE, GWAE, GA^3, AeroAfro, dREFS, RPA^3)
  • Educate the AeroAstro community on diversity best practices in aerospace, academia, and in general

Commitment

Diversity Fellows must commit to two semesters. The estimated time commitment is 10-12 hours per week. This Fellowship may also continue over the summer term.

Compensation for the Academic Year

This Fellowship covers expenses equivalent to those covered by a half-RA for one academic year. The Fellowship may also continue over the summer term.

Eligibility & Application Requirements

The application process opens on Oct. 18, 2021. Please direct any questions to the AeroAstro Diversity Officer. To be eligible, applicants must be current Ph.D. candidates in AeroAstro at the start of their Fellowship tenure. Applicants must submit:

  • Resume
  • One page written Diversity Statement that speaks to your commitment to and experience with advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts
  • One letter of Recommendation from someone (not necessarily AeroAstro) who can speak to your involvement with community building
  • Signed form from advisor accepting terms of Fellowship

MIT Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
ERGs are one example of the variety of MIT-sponsored activities that all staff, including support staff, are encouraged to attend. Participation in these kinds of activities may provide long-term business benefits for MIT and professional and personal development for the participants. Participation in ERGs also contributes to a strong sense of “one community” at MIT.

LGBTQ+ Services
LBGTQ+ Services supports numerous student, employee, and alumni groups as well as other departments and initiatives on campus aiming to foster equity, intersectionality, and the continuum of social justice. From individual student support to organizational development and institutional policy advocacy, LBGTQ+ Services’ support, programming, and educational endeavors aim to enhance the experiences of MIT’s LBGTQ+ community.

QuASAR
The Queer Advocacy Space in AeroAstRo is a group for all members of the AeroAstro community that are part of the LGBTQ+ community and our allies. This group has two primary goals; to create a space where LGBTQ+ students, staff, and faculty can make connections in the department and improve the department culture around queer and trans-related issues.

Veterans
MIT and the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics welcome veterans, service members, dependents, and affiliates from the US and abroad! In addition to graduate and undergraduate students, we count several veterans among our staff, faculty, and administration. As veterans may have unique circumstances and needs, we have linked some resources below to assist you with your journey to, though, and beyond MIT. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our student groups or the Department for additional assistance.

MIT Veterans Student Association
This group provides outreach, community-building, and advocacy to foreign and domestic MIT community veterans, active duty service members, national guard, and reservists.

Graduate Veterans Benefits
Learn about the resources available to graduate student veterans from MIT Student Financial Services.

The Office of Diversity, Inclusion & Innovation sponsors a wide range of events, activities and initiatives for the AeroAstro community. From courageous conversations on specific topics related to race to co-sponsored large-scale celebrations of diverse cultures in the AeroAstro community. 

Thankful Gathering, November 2019

Events organized to promote ongoing DEI efforts include:

  • Blindspots Dialogue Series
    The Blind Spot Dialogue Speaker Series is a platform to provide a space to bring the AeroAstro community together with an invited faculty scholar who present and discuss evidence-based DEI relevant topics related to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Gender, and LGBTQ+ issues. Each talk has a centralized theme.
  • Fireside Chat
    The Fireside Chat Series is a platform for the AeroAstro community to come together to increase cultural awareness through discussing relevant Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion topics in Higher Education. Additionally, we explore current events and DEI evidence-based literature, and selected books on the topic of race.
  • Promoting Inclusive Office Environments (PIE)
    In collaboration with the Institute Discrimination and Harrassment Response Office, AeroAstro provided PIE lab trainings to all AeroAstro labs
  • #ShutDownSTEM
    Denise Phillips and Raina K. Puels worked together with other members of administrative staff as well as GA^3 to host a virtual day-long program to engage the entire AeroAstro community in a discussion about systemic racism, which included topics such as unpacking privilege and addressing microaggressions in the classroom.

Contact

Denise Phillips
AeroAstro Diversity Officer

Email: dap1@mit.edu or aa-diversity@mit.edu
Office: 33-315

Submit a comment, question, or request a meeting.