Dan Hastings is the Cecil and Ida Green Education Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and head of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. As the School of Engineering’s Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, he is focused on advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives across the school and in collaboration with Nandi Bynoe, the School of Engineering’s Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and the diversity officers within the school’s departments. As the current faculty lead of the School of Engineering’s DEI Committee, Hastings works with colleagues to ensure continued progress toward a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment at all levels across the school.
Hastings first joined the MIT community as a graduate student in 1976, after receiving his bachelor’s degree from Oxford University. He received his MS (1978) and PhD (1980) degrees in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT. He joined the MIT faculty in 1985.
Hastings’ contributions to MIT have been tremendous. He served as MIT’s dean of undergraduate education from 2006 to 2013, and in 2014, was appointed to a five-year term as the director of SMART, the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology. He was appointed head of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 2018. In 2021, Hastings was appointed co-chair of MIT’s Values Statement Committee, a charge from Provost Martin Schmidt and former Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart, to engage the MIT community in the foundational work of developing a statement of shared values, one that is grounded in universal ideals but also speaks to MIT’s distinctive character and culture.
Hastings is a recognized leader whose research spans laser material interactions, fusion plasma physics, spacecraft plasma environment interactions, space plasma thrusters, and space systems analysis and design. Throughout his tenure he has taught courses in space environment interactions, rocket propulsion, advanced space power and propulsion systems, space policy and space systems engineering. In recognition for his special service of outstanding merit performed for the Institute, he was presented with MIT’s Gordon Billard Award in 2013.
Hastings has had an active career of service outside of MIT, and from 1997 to 1999, served as chief scientist of the Air Force. In this role, he was the chief scientific adviser to the chief of staff and the secretary and provided assessments on a wide range of scientific and technical issues affecting the Air Force mission.
In recognition for his service and his many contributions to aeronautics and astronautics research, Hastings has received numerous honors including: the Losey Atmospheric Sciences Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) in 2002, the Exceptional Service Award from the U.S Air Force in 2008, and the Air Force Distinguished Civilian Award in both 1997 and 1999. He is a fellow (academician) of the International Astronautical Federation and the International Council in System Engineering, and an Honorary Fellow of the AIAA. He is also a member of the National Academy of Engineering.