MIT built its first wind tunnel in 1913 in the first building on what would become MIT’s Cambridge campus in 1916. It was the first university in the United States to offer a graduate degree in aeronautical engineering in 1914. When MIT hired Jerome Hunsaker in 1913 to teach aeronautical engineering, the first thing Hunsaker did was visit all the laboratories and wind tunnels in Europe. Thanks to MIT President Richard Maclaurin’s previous association with the National Physical Laboratory in England, Hunsaker secured copies of a plan for a basic atmospheric wind tunnel. Hunsaker’s assistant Edward Warner and student Donald Douglas built the wind tunnel and installed the Cambridge Scientific balance on display. Soon thereafter, Warner became chief scientist for the fledgling National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). First thing he did? Build the NACA’s first wind tunnel based on the MIT/NPL design. Donald Douglas left MIT to found Douglas Aircraft Company. For nearly a century, the department has produced numerous pioneers in the field.
Wind Tunnel Balance on loan from the MIT AeroAstro Department.