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AeroAstro to hold open house April 23

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Press Contact:

William Litant
Phone: 617-253-1564
Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics

"President Maclaurin stated that he believes (MIT) should lead in the study of aërial navigation in the United States." - Technology Review, July 1909

With that statement, MIT President Richard Maclaurin set the stage for what, in 1914, would become the first aeronautical class at an American university: 13.72 (Aeronautics). In 1926, Aeronautics became Course 16 in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and, in 1939, Course 16 became a department unto itself.

Throughout 2014, the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AeroAstro) is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first aeronautics class with a series of events, activities, exhibits, and symposia. The first major commemorative event is the AeroAstro Open House, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23. As this comes during public school vacation week in Massachusetts, in addition to lab tours and technology demonstrations, the department has planned a number of displays and interactive activities for people of all ages.

Just a few of the activities will be opportunities to:

  • Step inside the Wright Bros. Wind Tunnel as its massive fan is turned on
  • Witness the firing of a hybrid rocket engine
  • Build a mini-parachute and see if you can drop an egg from two stories up without it breaking
  • Take the controls of a virtual airliner
  • Operate a microsatellite just like ones aboard the International Space Station
  • Get up close with actual jet engines dating from World War II to today
  • Visit the Gas Turbine Lab, Interactive Robotics Lab, Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment, Space Systems Lab, and more

AeroAstro department head Jaime Peraire said the range of tours and activities will be as appealing to the MIT faculty, students, and staff as it will to the local community. “This event promises to be not only a chance to learn about cutting-edge aeronautical engineering, it’s also about having fun,” he says.

A complete list of AeroAstro 100th Anniversary Open House activities with descriptions is posted at

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