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Wesley L. Harris is Charles Stark Draper Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and housemaster of New House Residence Hall at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was previously associate provost (2008–2013) and head of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics (2003–2008).
Before coming to MIT he was a NASA associate administrator, responsible for all programs, facilities, and personnel in aeronautics (1993–1995); vice president and chief administrative officer of the University of Tennessee Space Institute (1990–1993); and dean of the School of Engineering and professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Connecticut, Storrs (1985–1990). In his early career at MIT (1972–1985) he held several faculty and administrative positions, including professor of aeronautics and astronautics.
Dr. Harris has done academic research associated with unsteady aerodynamics, aeroacoustics, rarefied gas dynamics, sustainment of capital assets, and chaos in sickle cell disease, and made seminal contributions in each field In academia he worked with industry and governments to design and build joint industry–government–university research and development programs, centers, and institutes and transferred technology effectively. He is credited with more than 135 technical papers and presentations and has held a number of distinguished, endowed professorships and lectureships.
In addition, he has served as chair or member of various boards and committees of the National Research Council (NRC), National Science Foundation (NSF), US Army Science Board, and several state governments as well as committees of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), American Helicopter Society (AHS), and National Technical Association (NTA). He was a member of the board of trustees of Princeton University (2001–2005) and has been an advisor to other universities, colleges, and institutes.
He is an elected fellow of the AIAA, AHS, and NTA for personal engineering achievements, engineering education, management, and advancing cultural diversity, and has been further recognized by election to membership in the National Academy of Engineering, Cosmos Club, and Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin as well as several honorary doctorate degrees.
He earned a bachelor of science degree (with honors) in aerospace engineering from the University of Virginia in 1964, and master’s and PhD degrees in aerospace and mechanical sciences from Princeton University in 1966 and 1968 respectively.