Leaders for Manufacturing

The Leaders for Manufacturing (LFM) Program is a partnership between MIT and over 25 global manufacturing firms to discover and translate into teaching and practice principles that produce world-class manufacturing and manufacturing leaders. This partnership is motivated by our shared belief that excellence in manufacturing is critical to meeting the economic and social needs of individuals, firms, and society, and that the health of companies operating in global markets is essential to society's well-being.

Now, in its 13th year of operation, LFM is a partnership between the School of Engineering, the Sloan School of Management, and leading manufacturers. Launched in 1988 with significant industry funding, the program emphasizes collaboration and knowledge sharing with its partner companies across the entire spectrum of "Big-M" manufacturing enterprise issues. LFM supports students both as fellows in the program (with fully-paid tuition). The largest component of the educational efforts is the Fellows Program, a 24-month dual masters degree (S.M. in engineering and MBA or S.M. in management) experience involving a single integrative research project carried out on site in partner firms.

Academic Programs

Forty-eight students in the class of 2001 completed the fellows program and approximately 80 percent have taken positions in manufacturing firms. Each of the 48 graduates completed an internship at a partner company during the summer and fall of 2000. Internships are focused projects of concerns to the partners, accomplished by interns with company support and MIT faculty guidance. Representative projects this past year included modeling design rework in a product development process, integration of the design and manufacture of high-precision cast components, evaluating wastewater treatment technologies, and addressing the complexity of multimedia wireless computing solutions, among others.

Another 49 students (class of 2002) completed their first year of on-campus studies and are starting their six-month internships. Forty-eight new students (class of 2003) were admitted and have begun an intensive summer session. The class of 2003 has an average of 4.8 years of work experience.

Don Rosenfield continues to serve as the Director of LFM Fellows. Co-Directors for the program include Paul Lagace, Bill Hanson, and Steve Eppinger. Steve Eppinger, General Motors LFM Professor of Management at the Sloan School of Management, assumed the LFM-SDM (System Design and Management) Co-Director's position on July 1, 2001 when Steve Graves, who has been an LFM Co-Director for 10 years, was elected Chair of the Faculty. Both began their new position effective July 1, 2001. Steve Eppinger is no stranger to LFM-SDM. His course, Product Design and Development, is a favorite of students in both programs, and he frequently supervises LFM and SDM students for internship and theses projects.

Research and Knowledge Transfer Program

As part of LFM and SDM's commitment to lifelong learning, a new initiative was introduced to encourage LFM and SDM alumni to stay connected with MIT by sharing relevant information. Paul Gallagher, research associate for LFM and SDM, established monthly web casts presented by various LFM and SDM alumni. The content of each webcast, also called e-seminars, provides valuable information on the latest trends, cutting-edge developments and innovative strategies, all of which pertain to manufacturing and/or systems design. The presentations are given in real time, via the Internet and telephone, which allowed participants to follow along visually and audibly as well as ask questions.

Presenters have included Steve Graves discussing his research on supply chain issues, Don Rosenfield on manufacturing strategy, and Sara Beckman, from the Haas School of Business at University of California at Berkley, talking about vertical versus virtual integration.

Due to the positive feedback, the webcasts will continue into the next academic semesters.


LFM continues its leadership role in the National Coalition of Manufacturing Leadership (NCML), a partnership of 15 universities with joint management and engineering manufacturing programs. In conjunction with the NCML, MIT, University of Michigan, and Penn State University once again sponsored a recruiting forum, the National Manufacturing Recruiting Forum (NMRF), which was hosted this past year by Penn State University. More than 118 students and 50 companies participated in last year's event, in which LFM makes a significant contribution to the NMRF by providing a robust, web-based interview scheduling system that increases interview scheduling efficiency. The NCML meets twice a year to share curriculum, research, and program best practices.


LFM students, sponsored and non-sponsored, continue to be highly sought once they have completed the program. Partner companies as well as other organizations take a special interest in LFM students as proven by their commitment to speak to the class on various issues during the Pro Seminar session. About 80 percent of each class accept positions within the manufacturing industry while the percentage of students accepting positions within partner companies has remained at about 50 percent. Within the past two years, however, LFM has experienced a slight increase in the number of graduates who have accepted positions in consulting. Ten percent to fifteen percent of students have chosen this field.

William C. Hanson

More information about the Leaders for Manufacturing Program can be found at http://lfm.mit.edu/.

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