About the MechE Alliance Seminar Series

The MechE Alliance Seminar Series is a platform for connecting members of the MechE community, including current students, post-docs and faculty at MIT MechE, our alumni, industry and other external partners. Research thrives on sharing ideas and discoveries. Through these seminars, we support the free-flow of ideas and the networks of researchers that make up the global MechE community.

Seminars will rotate between talks from MIT MechE Faculty, Students and Postdocs, and our alumni and other partners. Topic are as varied as our research with focus areas being in mechanics, controls, instrumentation, & robotics, ocean science & engineering, micro & nano engineering, design & manufacturing, energy science & engineering, and bioengineering.

View recordings of past seminars as well as other videos from around MIT MechE at our MechE Alliance YouTube Channel.

Sponsored by MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering

Next MechE Alliance Seminar

Mission Systems Engineering of the James Webb Space Telescope

Wednesday December 2, 2020
12:00-12:45pm US EDT
Zoom Webinar Link:


Webb animation.jpg”/>
        <div class=

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), on schedule to launch in 2021, will be NASA’s successor mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. JWST has been designed and developed to observe “first light” objects in the nascent universe, the evolution of galaxies over cosmic history, star birth within our own galaxy, planet formation and evolution both in our solar system and in solar systems around other stars and to make observations of the recently exoplanets. The JWST telescope will have an aperture greater than 6 meters in diameter, and along with its compliment of science instruments must be cooled to cryogenic temperatures below 50K. It will be operated at the Sun-Earth L2 point to keep thermal sources such as the Sun and Earth in the same general direction so that their radiation can be shielded by a “tennis court sized” sunshield, allowing the payload to attain these temperatures passively. This presentation will give an overview of the JWST science and systems design from the perspective of the NASA Mission Systems Engineer. The presentation will describe some of the key engineering challenges the Project has addressed to produce this “first of its kind” mission.



About Mike Menzel '81

Michael Menzel has 39 years of experience in the aerospace, working 23 years in industry for commercial and defense missions and for NASA for the past 16 years. He is currently the Mission Systems Engineer for the James Webb Space Telescope. Mr. Menzel received a B.S. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981 and an M.S. in Physics from Columbia University in 1986.

Past MechE Alliance Seminars

Contact Us

For questions, please email me-alliance@mit.edu.

MechE students, postdocs, faculty, and alumni are encouraged to reach out if you would like to present as part of this series.