HomeAbout UsBiographiesDisplay

DR. SHEILA E. WIDNALL

PRINT | E-MAIL

Served as secretary of the Air Force from Aug. 6, 1993 to Oct. 31, 1997

Sheila E. Widnall is Secretary of the Air Force. In that role she is responsible for the current and future readiness of the Air Force to accomplish its missions. She oversees the recruiting, training and equipping of the 380,000 men and women on active duty, 251,000 members of the Air National Guard and the Air Reserve, and 184,000 civilians of the Total Force, and is further responsible for planning, justifying and allocating the service's annual budget of approximately $62 billion. Her other responsibilities include logistical support, maintenance, research and development and welfare of personnel.

In previous positions with the Air Force, Dr. Widnall served on the USAF Academy Board of Visitors, and on advisory committees to Military Airlift Command and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Dr. Widnall, a faculty member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for 28 years, became an associate provost at the university in January 1992. A professor of aeronautics and astronautics, she is internationally known for her work in fluid dynamics, specifically in the areas of aircraft turbulence and spiraling airflows. She has served on many boards, panels and committees in government, academia and industry. The Tacoma, Washington, native is the author of some 70 publications. During her tenure Dr. Widnall has concentrated on quality of life issues, modernization and acquisition reform and scientific and technological development. She assumed her current position Aug. 6, 1993.

EDUCATION
1960 Bachelor of science degree, aeronautics and astronautics, MIT
1961 Master of science degree, aeronautics and astronautics, MIT
1964 Doctor of science degree, MIT

CAREER CHRONOLOGY
1. 1964 - 1970, assistant professor, MIT
2. 1970 - 1974, associate professor, MIT
3. 1974 - 1993, professor, MIT
4. 1975 - 1979, head, fluid mechanics division, MIT
5. 1979 - 1980, faculty chairperson, MIT
6. 1979 - 1990, director, Fluid Dynamics Research Laboratory
7. 1991 - 1992, chairperson, MIT's Committee on Academic Responsibility
8. 1992 - 1993, associate provost, MIT
9. 1993 - present, Secretary of the Air Force

AWARDS AND HONORS
1993 National Academy of Engineering Distinguished Service Award
1994 Princeton University - honorary degree - doctor of science
1994 Suffolk University - honorary degree
1994 Barnard College Medal of Distinction
1995 W. Stuart Symington Award - Air Force Association
1995 Boston USO Military Service Award
1995 Maxwell A. Kriendler Memorial Award - Air Force Association
1996 Durand Lectureship for Public Service - American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
1996 Women in Aviation Pioneer Hall of Fame
1996 New Englander of the Year - New England Council

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS AND ASSOCIATIONS
Past trustee, Aerospace Corp.
Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Past president and past chairperson, American Association for the Advancement of Sciences
Past trustee, Boston Museum of Science
Member, Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology and Government
Past trustee, Carnegie Corp.
Past trustee, Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc., Cambridge, Mass.
Member, International Academy of Astronautics
Member, National Academy of Engineering
National Academy of Sciences' Panel on Scientific Responsibility
Past member, Board of Visitors for the U.S. Air Force Academy; board chairperson

(Current as of November 1996)

Engage

Facebook Twitter
The opening of Cargo City successfully transitions operations from the #USAF & Coalition Abdullah Al-Mubarak Air Ba… https://t.co/K73PkhjpNY
RT @AirmanMagazine: It started as a dare between two pilots... The @usairforce Hurricane Hunters save lives by flying through hurricanes t…
RT @ActingSecAF: Thanks to this crew for making the right call and saving the life of a fellow service member. https://t.co/cP4KCIQFgD
The Space Test Program-2 will provide the #USAF with insight into the SpaceX booster recovery and refurbishing proc… https://t.co/qYhlj7Je9V
RT @ActingSecAF: Happy birthday @USArmy. 244 years of defending our nation. @SecArmy https://t.co/AfMoPxwbd8
RT @DeptofDefense: “They’re really noisy, but I love them.” This @USAirForce F-15 Eagle crew chief from the @142ndFW shares his motivation…
Today, America recognizes the birth of Old Glory with its own holiday. Flag Day was first celebrated in 1877 to mar… https://t.co/wqoEjdqQFy
#FollowFriday! @ActingSecAF Matthew Donovan is responsible for the affairs of the #USAF, including the organizing,… https://t.co/28IlKOKWMq
.@NellisAFB fixed wing aircrews are flight-testing new prototype helmets this summer, thanks in part to an accelera… https://t.co/4HSUGSk3Qg
The 2019 @warriorgames Opening Ceremony is set for 6/22 @AmalieArena w/@HunterHayes! Stay up to date with your… https://t.co/u34QuBnpdo
.@AETCommand's latest #podcast series dives into "Developing Mach-21 #Airmen," providing visibility on recruiting,… https://t.co/CGSHJonQAT
RT @ActingSecAF: Thanks to the support of Congress, the @usairforce is developing game changing technology. #fasterandsmarter https://t.co/…
#DYK, Flight equipment has historically been designed to fit males because there are statistically more male… https://t.co/iJnSp1pV74
.@AirForceReserve #Airmen rescues an 8yr old boy from flood waters, in Prague, Oklahoma. #USAFhttps://t.co/Y4efafIkO6
#DYK, Individuals w/ disabilities comprise a large part of the #USAF civilian force. As part of the American Disabi… https://t.co/LOP14Xhg4j
Two of #AirForce's newest aircraft complete receiver certification, moving one step closer to enhancing #warfigtherhttps://t.co/F6pvB6PEac
.@HQAirUniversity's Squadron Officer School students collaborate to explore ways #AI can solve #AirForce issues and… https://t.co/QBCFwaGUdh
Vandenberg #AirForce Base is set to support the @SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch, carrying the RADARSAT Constellation… https://t.co/PohIOze3HC