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The Next Giant Leaps in Energy, Environment, & Air Transportation

06/11/2009 1:00 PM Kresge
The Honorable John P. Holdren, '65, SM '66, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President; Dr. Ian A. Waitz, Jerome C. Hunsaker Professor and Department Head, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, MIT ; Michael B. Bair, SM '93, Vice President, Business Strategy & Marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes; Dr. David Danielson, Ph D '08, Program Manager of the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency; Founder, MIT Energy Club; Dr. Alan H. Epstein, '71, SM '72, Ph D 75, Vice President for Technology and Environment, United Technologies Pratt & Whitney, and R.C. MacLaurin Professor, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, MIT; Dr. Lourdes Q. Maurice, Chief Scientific and Technical Advisor for Environment, FAA

Description: It's no exaggeration to say John Holdren's job involves tackling the most critical issues of our age: economic recovery and growth, health care, energy, climate change, global pandemics, national security, ecosystem preservationthe list goes on. As President Obama's science and technology advisor, Holdren leverages the resources and collective acumen of the nation's researchers and innovators to address these complex and urgent matters. To an MIT audience, Holdren makes the case that aerospace science, technology and education will provide a "crucial contribution to and driver of many relevant capabilities" the U.S. will need to meet this century's challenges.

He cites in particular the relevance of "nitty"gritty things like infrastructure" in aerospace research and industry -- -- including military and civilian satellites enabling earth observation and tracking for national security purposes or weather forecasting. These technologies engender "spin"offs into other domains of the economy, health care and the environment." In addition, the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station are inspiring students to pursue science and engineering. Holdren hopes these young researchers will eventually pave the way to clean energy and a revitalized economy.

President Obama has put science and technology "front and center," and these priorities are reflected in a budget that provides big boosts for science, and also for transportation infrastructure and applied energy technologies. Government agencies are trying to resolve the "budget"vision disparity" in the space program; air traffic control problems resulting from the steady expansion of civil air traffic; and the problem of greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy of aircraft. But Holdren worries about maintaining the administration's ambitious space and aeronautics agenda, in the face of ballooning government programs, and ongoing military commitments. Aviation and space communities must work together across government, industry and academic sectors to overcome these obstacles -- "a giant leap requiring giant partnerships." A group of aerospace leaders respond to Holdren's talk. Michael Bair notes that the aviation industry is growing faster than GDP, but challenged by "an awful business model" and an expanding carbon footprint. He sees hope in fuel efficiency improvements, especially biofuels, and new air traffic policies.

David Danielson believes young entrepreneurs, inspired by 9/11, the economic crisis, and the 90's internet boom, will rally to transform our energy economy, with the help of new policies and funding, a firm embrace of "thinking big," and an acceptance that "it's OK to fail."

Seeking a less polluting hydrocarbon to power his airplanes, Alan Epstein needs a big infusion of capital from the financial community to help attract biofuel producers to aviation, and looks to places like MIT for "ingenuity and invention" to make biofuels a practical, cost"effective reality.

A key lesson learned in kindergarten -- 'tell the truth' -- will serve the aerospace community well, counsels Lourdes Q. Maurice. This means admitting "tradeoffs between noise and emissions," for instance. She also argues for inclusivity among decision"makers around energy and environment issues, and decisions informed by science.

About the Speaker(s): John P. Holdren, President Obama's "Science Czar," previously served as Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy and Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, as well as professor in Harvard's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Director of the independent, nonprofit Woods Hole Research Center. From 1973 to 1996 he was on the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, where he co"founded and co"led the interdisciplinary graduate"degree program in energy and resources.

Holdren holds advanced degrees in aerospace engineering and theoretical plasma physics from MIT and Stanford and has specialized in energy technology and policy, global climate change, and nuclear arms control and nonproliferation. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as foreign member of the Royal Society of London. A former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, his awards include a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship, the John Heinz Prize in Public Policy, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, and the Volvo Environment Prize. He served from 1991 until 2005 as a member of the MacArthur Foundation's board of trustees.
Ian A. Waitz also serves as the Director of the Partnership for AiR Transportation Noise and Emissions Reduction (PARTNER), an FAA/NASA/Transport Canada"sponsored Center of Excellence. His principal areas of interest are the modeling and evaluation of climate, local air quality and noise impacts of aviation.

Waitz has written approximately 75 technical publications, including a report to the U.S. Congress on aviation and the environment. He holds three patents and has consulted for many organizations. During 2002"2005 he was Deputy Head of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He has also served as an associate editor of the AIAA Journal of Propulsion and Power. In 2003, Waitz received a NASA Turning Goals Into Reality Award for Noise Reduction. He was awarded the FAA 2007 Excellence in Aviation Research Award. He is a Fellow of the AIAA, and an ASME and ASEE member. He was honored with the 2002 MIT Class of 1960 Innovation in Education Award and appointment as an MIT MacVicar Faculty Fellow in 2003.

Waitz received his B.S. in 1986 from the Pennsylvania State University; his M.S. in 1988, from George Washington University; and his Ph.D.in 1991, from the California Institute of Technology.

Host(s): School of Engineering, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

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