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Dava J. Newman - B.S., AME ’86


PUBLISHED: October 21, 2014

Reaching for the Stars: Anything Is Possible

When Dava J. Newman arrived on the Notre Dame campus a mere decade after the University first admitted women, she thought, “It is great to be a woman in engineering.” It still is. On Oct. 17, the White House announced the nomination of Newman (B.S., AME ’86) for the position of NASA Deputy Administrator. If she receives Senate confirmation for the No. 2 position at NASA, Newman would help oversee the agency’s legislative, intergovernmental, mission support, and International Space Station programs.

Newman, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems and the Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), currently serves as director for MIT’s Technology and Policy Program. She also leads the MIT Portugal Program, an alliance between Portuguese public and private organizations.

Developer of new space suit design and keenly interested in astronaut performance and human locomotion under partial gravity, her expertise combines aerospace engineering, biomedical engineering, biomechanics, systems analysis and design and policy.

An MIT faculty member since 1993, Newman is the author of Interactive Aerospace Engineering and Design, an introductory engineering textbook. She has also published more than 200 papers in journals and refereed conferences

In addition to her degree from Notre Dame, she holds two M.S. and one Ph.D. degree from MIT.

According to the MIT News, Newman is excited about this latest honor, “Aerospace engineering, of course, is my passion. Maybe I’ve been training for this my whole life!”

In fact, looking back, there is a definite trajectory to Newman’s life path. In addition to the combination of liberal arts with technical courses she found at Notre Dame, she was a member of the women’s varsity basketball team and coached high school girls’ basketball at a local school during her last two years at the University. She also interacted with K-12 students as a NASA Solar System Ambassador, an honor she received as part of the Galatea Odyssey Mission, an international outreach educational effort. Always sharing what she has learned with students, Newman is poised to continue her valuable contributions to aerospace engineering and exploration of the “final frontier.”