MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000


The Center for Transportation Studies was established in 1973 to develop and coordinate the wide range of transportation-related activity at MIT. It provides a focal point for transportation education, facilitates transportation research, conducts an outreach program to the transportation industry, and encourages a sense of common purpose among the many departments, centers and laboratories involved in transportation and logistics at MIT.

The center’s web address is In addition to a wealth of information about the center and its programs, the site includes descriptions of current research projects in transportation, and a listing of MIT theses in transportation since 1980. Transportation faculty and research staff are also listed with their areas of interest, along with connections to other interesting resources on the Web.

Eighteen new students arrived on campus this fall to enter the center’s new Master of Engineering in Logistics program, an intensive nine-month degree track preparing graduates for logistics management careers in manufacturing, distribution, retail, transportation and logistics organizations.

Again this year, because of the high quality of applications, qualifying for graduate admission for transportation studies was increasingly difficult. This year, 185 applications were received for graduate studies in transportation– including the MST, the MLOG and the PhD programs–and 54 students were enrolled in 1999—2000. Funding was found for 65% of the students.

During the past academic year, over 200 projects were posted on the center’s Current Research listing, organized in eleven categories and representing the work of more than 50 researchers in more than a dozen departments and research centers. Many of those entries were research programs which included within them still more individual projects. An important addition to that listing this year was a major new study of the global airline industry funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The study is being performed by a multidisciplinary team from the schools of engineering, management and humanities & social sciences. The goal of the work, which began in September, is to develop a body of knowledge for understanding the development, growth and competitive characteristics of the industry as a whole. The program is addressing the management, economics and operations of international, domestic, regional and local carriers, and the scope includes interactions with aircraft and engine manufacturers, with airports, with air traffic control and with agencies such as the FAA and the International Civil Aviation Organization.


MIT’s New Agelab Researching Technology For Healthy Aging

A new research lab is in the process of being established at MIT to promote healthy independent living throughout the human lifespan. Based in the School of Engineering, the AgeLab is a partnership between MIT, industry and the aging community to pioneer new technologies which respond to the needs and preferences of older adults, their families and their care providers. Drawing on a number of disciplines–including engineering, computer science, planning and management, as well as the health and social sciences–the Lab aims to create a world class center of excellence at MIT in aging research.

One of the most important areas of the Lab’s research will focus on lifelong transportation–the use of technology to provide a continuum of attractive transportation alternatives as we age. Research will seek to define a global standard for smart design and intelligent vehicle applications for the 50+ driver; to explore the potential of continuous personal skill-assessment technologies; to invent new special vehicle platforms to facilitate mobility; and to create a community transportation vehicle for non-drivers in the suburban market.

Supply Chain Visualization Project

In a unique multi-center research initiative, the Supply Chain Visualization project received first-year funding ($715K) from founding sponsor Intel. The project intends to develop a proof-of-concept demonstration of a system that will integrate three kinds of capabilities–a process knowledge repository for structuring, storing, and sharing knowledge about supply chain processes; graphical and tangible user interfaces for interacting with this knowledge; and simulation tools for simulating the performance of existing or potential supply chain configurations.

These capabilities are being combined in order to create a tool to visualize supply chain processes as three-dimensional assemblies of interchangeable parts that can be connected to other activities in various ways to create rapidly reconfigurable supply chains. With this approach, each supply chain activity is visualized as a kind of "Lego block" that can be connected to other activities in various ways to create rapidly reconfigurable supply chains. Users will be able to represent their existing supply chains and easily experiment with many new possibilities by "plugging" these different components together in different ways. In many cases, users will build these models by manipulating actual physical objects (such as blocks and cords) that are connected to computers that sense the arrangements of the physical objects. These "tangible interfaces" will be supplemented, as needed, by graphical user interfaces using conventional computer screens.

Using a system dynamics model, it will be possible for users to construct, for example, a supply chain model. This could be accomplished by plugging blocks together, setting parameters (such as demand and delay), manipulating physical knobs or levers, and then observing the simulated performance of the system they have created by looking at physical outputs such as lights or dials. The main purpose of this tool would be as a learning rather than an optimization tool.


Managing Change In The Supply Chain

About 120 people convened at the MIT Faculty Club in January for a two-day meeting on managing change in the supply chain. The group included twenty students from MIT’s new Master of Engineering in Logistics program, all of whom were enlisted in Logistics and Change Management, a seminar being held during Independent Activities Period and designed to dovetail with this meeting, offering the conference speakers as guest lecturers. The speakers were Michael Scott Morton of the Sloan School; Cynthia Stoddard, Senior Vice President & Chief Information Officer at Circle International; Patrick Canavan, Senior Vice President & Director of Global Leadership & Organizational Development at Motorola; Rob Iverson, Senior Vice President, Distribution & Transportation, Nestlé Logistics Services Division; Jack Blaisdell, Program Manager for Hub 2000, United Parcel Service; Jeff Fatica, President, and Natalie Ranus, Director of Human Resources, both from Pentacon.

Logistics On The Internet: Auctions And Fulfillment

Over 90 people convened at the MIT Faculty Club in March for a two-day seminar about logistics on the Internet, focusing in on two specific aspects of the topic: auctions and fulfillment. Industry speakers at the meeting were Jim Miller, Vice President Supply Chain, for; Mohsen Moazami, Managing Director of Cisco Systems; Massimo Russo, e-strategy leader for General Electric Aircraft Engines; and Lee Wilwerding, Director of Internet Operations for Wal-Mart Stores. MIT participants were Sloan School Professors Sandy Jap and Larry Wein, with PhD candidate Jeremy Gallien, and Center Director Yossi Sheffi, CEO of

Frontiers Of Global Supply Chain Management

Over 100 people traveled to Paris in November for a two-day conference on the frontiers of global supply chain management. Jointly sponsored by the center and MIT's Industrial Liaison Program, the meeting was held in part to expand both programs' memberships in Europe, and at that it was highly successful. At the start of the meeting, the center’s Affiliates Program in Logistics boasted a roster of six European members, but by the end of the conference two more European firms had joined on the spot–Schenker BTL, a third-party logistics firm, and the Lego Group, makers of playthings for children from 0-16 years. Within a few weeks after that, a third European firm joined, as well–international retailer Marks and Spencer–bringing the European membership to fully a quarter of the program's total. The meeting featured presentations from five affiliates: Intel, Staples, The Sema Group, Procter & Gamble and Volkswagen focused on an essential issue facing international business today: how to manage a global enterprise and its global supply chain in an integrated way. (It also featured a presentation by MIT Professor Charlie Fine, author of Clock Speed: Winning Industry Control in the Age of Temporary Advantage (1999, Perseus Books), a copy of which was sent to every member of the Affiliates Program.


The center’s Distinguished Speakers Series this year included Don Schmickrath, General Manager of Hewlett-Packard's Product Processes Organization; Raymond Greer, President of Ryder Integrated Logistics; Gary Girotti, VP of Logistics Planning Applications at i2 Technologies; Jane Garvey, Administrator of the FAA; Frank Kruse, head of the Chicago Transit Authority; Jose Crespo de Carvalho, ISCTE; Jaime Lerner, Governor of the State of Parana, Brazil; Alan Altshuler, Director of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government; Matt Edelman, Executive Director of TRANSCOM; Kenneth Wykle, head of the US Federal Highway Administration; and John Bermudez, Group VP, Research, and Bob Kraus, Service Director, Quantitative Research, AMR Research.

The center again held an open house in the spring for applicants who had been accepted to the Master of Science in Transportation, the PhD in Transportation and the Master of Engineering in Logistics programs for the fall, giving them a chance to meet with current students and faculty and to see the more human side of the MIT experience.


Every year, as part of the center’s Affiliates Program in Logistics, one of the members hosts the rest of the group at a two-day meeting and tour of one of its facilities. This year, in September, about sixty program members convened at the offices of Yellow Freight in Overland Park, Kansas. The meeting the theme of which was ‘Creating a Customer-Centric Culture’–included a demonstration of the technology Yellow is now using at their customer service centers. The demonstration involved a real-time eavesdrop on a service representative handling several customer calls; looking at a projection on a big screen in the meeting room, attendees were able to see exactly what the service rep was seeing on his computer screen, while listening live to both sides of his telephone conversation. It was a daring presentation, going live as it did, and it turned out to be a revealing demonstration not only of the technology, but also of the training Yellow has put into their customer service reps. At the end of the two-day meeting, the assembly heard from two of Yellow’s customers - Ryder Integrated Logistics and Wal-Mart - on the results of Yellow’s efforts to transform itself from a transportation commodity services provider to a transportation-based tailored services provider. An interesting aspect of those presentations was that Wal-Mart, Ryder and Yellow all are members of the Affiliates Program.

The center welcomed ten new members to the Corporate Affiliates Program this year, representing a range of industries and logistics/supply chain concerns. The new members were 3Com Corporation; Atraxis; Electrocomponents; Ford Motor Company; Lucent Technologies; Owens Corning: ShippersNetwork; Staples; Wal-Mart Stores; and Sema Group. Continuing members are APL; Canadian Pacific Railway; Caterpillar; CSX Transportation; Emery Worldwide; Federal Express; General Electric; Gillette; Lego System; M&M Mars; Michelin; Nestle; NYK; Osram Sylvania; Polaroid; Ryder System; Schenker-BTL; Sony; Unilever; Transcentric (previously known as Union Pacific); United Parcel Service; Volkswagen; Wisconsin Central; and Yellow. The program also welcomed a new director this summer (see below).


Since its inception in FY95, the Integrated Supply Chain Management Program has grown to eleven members–Cummins Engine, Helix Technology, Intel Corporation, Lucent Technologies, Monsanto, Pentacon, Procter & Gamble, Siemens, Texas Instruments, Transcentric (previously Union Pacific Technologies) and Volkswagen AG. In addition to the 15+ research projects that had been initiated in the first five years of the program, the 2000 Program includes collaborative work with the Leaders for Manufacturing Program and continued collaboration with the Center for Coordination Science. There were also twenty-one collaborative exchange and senior executive events held at sponsor sites and the MIT campus.


Logistics and Supply Chain Management: E-Commerce Meets E-Logistics

Every summer for the past eighteen years, the center has offered an intensive weeklong seminar on logistics. Attended by representatives of carriers, shippers and third-party logistics providers, the course is structured around a series of lectures and case studies, and involves intensive interaction among the participants. This year 56 participants attended the course.


While the center’s Director was on partial leave this year, day-to-day business was supervised by Acting Director Joseph Coughlin, who continued to serve as Director of the New England University Transportation Center and of MIT’s new AgeLab.

David Simchi-Levi, a major player in the field of transportation and logistics, accepted a dual appointment in MIT’s Engineering Systems Division and in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Previously a professor of industrial engineering and management sciences at Northwestern, Simchi-Levi has served as principal investigator for over $1.5 million in funded academic research, making significant contributions to knowledge in vehicle routing and scheduling, distribution systems, bin-packing problems and location problems. His research interests also include integration inventory control and transportation costs; inventory theory; location theory; production system design and control; scheduling and sequencing; supply chain management; and telecommunications networks design and control.

This spring, after seven years at the Center for Transportation Studies, Peter Metz, Director of the center’s Affiliates Program in Logistics, moved across campus to start a new life as Executive Director of MIT’s new Center for eBusiness. Metz’ seven years as Deputy Director of the center was a period of significant growth here–in academic, research and outreach activities, all three. The flagship Master of Science in Transportation program was strengthened, the new Master of Engineering in Logistics program was begun, and the research scope was expanded to logistics and supply chain management. Part of that shift in research focus was brought about by the establishment of the Integrated Supply Chain Management Program, an effort which Metz undertook shortly after joining the center and which eventually grew to the point that a full-time Director was hired to develop it to its current form. (The director of that program now is Jim Rice, who was also Acting Director of the Affiliates Program in Logistics until the new director was hired).

This coming summer, Ed Schuster will join the center as the new Director of the Affiliates Program in Logistics. A logistics and operations specialist with over fifteen years experience in consumer packaged goods, he holds a master of public administration from Gannon University in Erie PA and a bachelor of science in food technology from Ohio State. He began his career as a Sanitation and Cook Room Supervisor for Oscar Mayer in Sandusky, Ohio, then in 1982 joined Welch's in Concord, Massachusetts–makers of Welch's Grape Juice and a number of other grape products -as an industry analyst. In 1999, after five years in charge of logistics planning in their logistics department, he was promoted to corporate manager of operations planning in the supply chain department.

During his time at Welch's, Schuster led a team that contributed $8 million to the bottom line by reducing inventory; helped save another $2 million through streamlining the supply chain; worked with researchers at Penn State to develop the Juice Logistics Model and the Harvest Planning Model; and established the continuous replenishment planning program with Wal-Mart. In addition to any number of other achievements at Welch's, he also established the kosher program for all Welch's products. A member of half a dozen professional societies– including the Council of Logistics Management and the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science - Schuster has an extensive publishing history and has served in editorial functions for the Production and Inventory Management Journal and the Journal of Operations Management, among others. He also has extensive experience in public speaking and teaching.


JR East Professor Joseph Sussman, previously Director of the Center for Transportation Studies and one of the early architects of the US program in intelligent transportation systems, published a new book in May with Artech House Publishers. Introduction to Transportation Systems provides the 30-point framework underlying most major transport systems and examines efforts to improve them in both the freight and passenger sectors.

Jim Rice, Director of MIT’s Integrated Supply Chain Management Program, was one of the authors of a new book released by the National Academy of Sciences. Surviving Supply Chain Integration, a guide to supply chain strategies for small manufacturers, identifies action steps for small and medium-sized manufacturers to improve their supply chain management.


Rafaela Arriaga Oliveira (MLOG ’00) was presented the ‘Premio Escolar’ award as best student in her graduating class at the New University of Lisbon School of Sciences and Technology. Her degree was in industrial production engineering.

Joan Walker, doctoral candidate in transportation, was chosen by the New England University Transportation Center as Outstanding Student of the Year 2000. Her selection was based on a regional competition that included graduate students from MIT and Harvard University plus the six New England state universities.

More information about the center can be found on the World Wide Web at

Yossi Sheffi

MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000