Wesley L. Harris, who was among the inaugural group of Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professors in 1995-96 and a former MIT faculty member, has been appointed as a professor of aeronautics and astronautics.
Professor Harris is an expert in the field of helicopter rotor aerodynamics and acoustics. He was an aeronautics and astronautics faculty member from 1972-85, was the founder of the MIT Rotor Acoustics Group, and was also the first director of the Office of Minority Education from 1975-79. He left MIT to become dean of engineering at the University of Connecticut and was later vice president of the University of Tennessee and head of its Space Institute starting in 1990. Before returning to MIT as an MLK Visiting Professor, he was NASA's associate administrator for aeronautics.
Professor Harris is co-director of the Lean Aircraft Initiative (LAI), whose mission is to create roadmaps for fundamental change in both industry and government operations based on "lean" practices. Within the LAI, he also serves as a member of the Policy and External Environment focus group.
A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Professor Harris holds the BS (1964) in aerospace engineering from the University of Virginia and the MA (1966) and PhD (1968) in aerospace and mechanical science from Princeton University. He also holds an honorary doctorate (1995) from Old Dominion University. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and of the American Helicopter Society.
Other appointments for Professor Harris this year include being named as a member of the Federal Aviation Administration's Research, Engineering and Development Advisory Committee until the year 2000, and as a member of the American Helicopter Society board of directors for a two-year term. He is also a member of the board of directors of the European Institute, where he co-chairs the Round Table on Aeronautics and Space.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 9, 1996.