Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Anna Mracek Dietrich ’04, SM ’06

Aerospace engineer aims to make the flying car a reality
June 19, 2012

Anna Mracek Dietrich sums up her company’s research in two words: flying car. “Folks come up to me at trade shows and say, ‘You know this is impossible, right?’” she says.

Terrafugia, the company she cofounded with her husband, Carl Dietrich ’99, SM ’03, PhD ’07, has created the Transition Roadable Aircraft, which can use any surface road with the wings stowed and then deploy them from inside the cockpit for liftoff. Carl Dietrich, who serves as Terrafugia’s CEO, won the 2006 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for Innovation for developing the concept. The couple, who both studied aerospace engineering, met while working on the MIT Rocket Team.

“Personal-aviation pilots dream of a flying car,” says Mracek Dietrich, an avid pilot herself. “There’s no need for checking bags, parking, or a rental car. You don’t even need to warm up the engine. It’s complete integration of land and air travel.”

The Transition is classified as a light sport aircraft and runs on unleaded automotive gasoline. She expects it to get 35 miles per gallon on the road and slightly less in the air; it weighs roughly 1,400 pounds, stretches almost 27 feet wide with wings outstretched, and has an anticipated price of $279,000. The first deliveries to buyers are scheduled for late 2012.

The company’s beginning was an all-MIT affair: the Dietrichs founded it with Samuel Schweighart, SM ’01, PhD ’04; Arun Prakash, MBA ’07; and Alex B. Min ’91, MBA ’07. Roughly half of Terrafugia’s current 20-person workforce graduated from the Institute. Mracek Dietrich managed the company’s early financial modeling and planning and serves as COO and acting CFO. Before devoting her full efforts to Terrafugia, she worked at Boeing Phantomworks in St. Louis and GE Aviation in Lynn, Massachusetts.

Mracek Dietrich set her sights on the skies in childhood. “My grandfather was chief of design at McDonnell Douglas, which is now Boeing,” she says. “He worked on the manned-spaceflight programs, and he came home with amazing stories of things that flew. He literally put the stars in my eyes.”

Mracek Dietrich says MIT gave her the confidence to push forward with a research goal that others before her had failed to meet.

“The MIT attitude is any problem is solvable,” she says. “It doesn’t matter how long other people have worked on it. It’s still worth taking a shot.”

Deep Dive

Uncategorized

Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot
Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot

It will soon be easy for self-driving cars to hide in plain sight. We shouldn’t let them.

If they ever hit our roads for real, other drivers need to know exactly what they are.

stock art of market data
stock art of market data

Maximize business value with data-driven strategies

Every organization is now collecting data, but few are truly data driven. Here are five ways data can transform your business.

Cryptocurrency fuels new business opportunities

As adoption of digital assets accelerates, companies are investing in innovative products and services.

Mifiprex pill
Mifiprex pill

Where to get abortion pills and how to use them

New US restrictions could turn abortion into do-it-yourself medicine, but there might be legal risks.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.