MIT Reports to the President 1995-96


The Center for Technology, Policy, and Industrial Development was founded in 1985 to foster teaching and research focused on policy issues related to science and technology. The Center was established in response to the realization that as technology proliferates, it effects profound and pervasive changes in our economic system and its component industries, which intensify the fundamental complexity of our lives. That growing complexity challenges us to develop policies that will allow us to enjoy the benefits of these technologies and will at the same time protect us against their harmful side effects. The Center's goal is to understand the effect of technological changes on the development of society and to help formulate policies for an era of intensified international economic competition.


The Center has appointed Profs. Michael J. Piore and Charles Fine as its Associate Directors. These new positions were made possible by a ten-fold increase in research activity through the 1990s. Now with stronger ties to the Department of Economics and the Sloan School of Management, the Center hopes to involve a broader group of researchers in its interdisciplinary educational and research programs. The appointment of the new Associate Directors came at a time not only of significant growth but also as the CTPID marked its 10th anniversary at MIT.


The Center for Technology, Policy, and Industrial Development oversees research activities in many disciplines. Several of these activities have a common theme of industry studies. We have found industry studies to be valuable and insightful both in terms of increased understanding and also as a framework for change and innovation.

CTPID's role in industry study projects is to be objective and not advocate any particular policy position. As such, it can serve as a facilitator or "honest broker", bringing together interested and impacted parties who offer different approaches to important issues. Utilizing the knowledge base, it can analyze and evaluate different approaches. The Center can relate independent studies to a common framework and data base and thereby help to sharpen the debate and understand the nature of disputes and disagreements. The industry study programs are a major focus of the Center but by no means the only focus. Below is a highlight of research activities within the Center's individual program groups.


The International Motor Vehicle Program (IMVP) is a multidisciplinary research enterprise that performs comprehensive studies of the automobile industry worldwide, as well as its effect on society. The research follows two courses: One examines automobile manufacturing by identifying the best practices, assessing industry performance standards, and developing international comparisons of assembly plants, suppliers, and distributors. The other research pursuit evaluates how the automobile relates to society in relation to the complicated issues of the environment, regulation, and a variety of cooperative relationships evolving between management and labor and business and government.

In the past year, the IMVP had expanded and continued several benchmarking projects, including Phase 2 of the International Assembly Plant Study (now comprising 21 companies, 86 plants and 20 countries), the International Engine Plant Study and the International Stamping Plant Study. The IMVP also collaborated with the International Car Distribution Programme, based in Great Britain, to expand its research in automobile distribution.

In addition, the IMVP further developed the Auto Case 2000, an interactive software-driven simulation model for predicting the outcomes of different automobile manufacturing strategies. This database is complemented by the Superdatabase project, now in early development and comprising component databases from all aspects of IMVP research. Co-Directors for IMVP are Profs. Daniel Roos and Charles Fine.


The Lean Aircraft Initiative (LAI) analyzes how the "lean" paradigm, identified by the International Motor Vehicle Program in the auto industry, can translate into the U.S. defense aircraft industry. This industry now faces monumental challenges in the face of shifting defense priorities, massive spending cuts, and the need for defense conversion. The industry must become increasingly more competitive and make significant improvements in affordability, quality and productivity to succeed in this difficult, uncertain and fast-changing environment.

The development of the Lean Enterprise Model (LEM) had been a major activity for LAI last year. The LEM is intended to provide an accessible compilation of those principles, practices, metrics and enablers that characterize the lean aircraft business enterprise. The LEM prototype now has three formats: a display chart, a notebook and a computer-electronic version.

Originally conceived as a three-year research project beginning in 1993, the LAI will now enter Phase II, expanding its research agenda another three years, beginning in September 1, 1996. Director for LAI is Prof. Earll Murman.


The Fast and Flexible Communication Projects, part of an ongoing government initiative to improve U.S. manufacturing capability, analyze product-development in the automotive and aerospace industries, focusing particularly on the relationship between complex assemblies and multiple sources for parts and tooling. Originally designed as a 28-month project in 1994, the research has been extended for an addition two years and now comprises two sections: the Fast and Flexible Communication of Engineering Data in the Aerospace Industry, and the Fast and Flexible Communication Design and Manufacturing Systems for Automotive Components and Sheet Metal Parts.

The projects' research has focused on developing more "agile" or "fast and flexible" communications and processes. A component of its research includes hypothesis testing of agile manufacturing principles, developed by the Agile Manufacturing Forum at Lehigh University. The projects have deployed faculty, staff and site-located graduate students from MIT and Lehigh University at three sites: General Motors Saginaw Steering Division; Vought Aircraft Company Aerospace (now a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Corp.); and Ford-Louisville Assembly Plant, along with its primary sheet metal supplier, Budd Company. Co-Directors for the projects are Prof. Charles Fine and Dr. Daniel Whitney.


The International Cooperative Mobility Research Project's objective is to improve our understanding of world motorization as a phenomenon, help implement policies to alleviate the problems increased motorization may bring, and facilitate the opportunities increased motorization may yield. The Mobility Project provides a new vision of a sustainable multimodal transportation system, analyzing what our mobility needs and choices are through the process of collecting data worldwide and comparing how certain policy and technology approaches have worked in facilitating mobility.

Now in its initial stages, the Mobility Project has begun work in establishing the International Mobility Observatory, an effort to identify, evaluate and document outstanding examples of innovative mobility systems and strategies worldwide. The project team was met twice -- once with sponsors and once with only researchers -- and has produced a compendium of noteworthy mobility initiates.


The Research Program on Communications Policy (RPCP), formerly known as the DOHRS Program, was established at CTPID with the following objectives: To study technical, economic, and policy challenges to open interfaces for scalable digital systems and broadband networks; to facilitate cross-industry, cross-government agency, and cross-academic discipline dialogue on these issues; to disseminate the results of these activities.

Major RPCP projects developed over the past year and continuing into 1996 include: (1) launching the Internet Telephony Interoperability Consortium, a research organization focused on providing interoperability between the Internet and traditional telephony; and (2) investigating the policy implications of an MIT-developed camera, now manufactured by Polaroid, which is capable of shooting 60 frames a second, as opposed to the standard movie format of 24 frames a second, and which could reshape the awaited Federal Communications Commission ruling over a broadcasting standard for high-definition television. Director for RPCP is Dr. Amar Gupta.


The Materials Systems Laboratory (MSL) is internationally recognized for its innovative work on the competitive position of materials and products in automotive, aerospace, electronic and environmental applications. It fosters a unique combination of knowledge of design and production processes used in industry with managerial economics.

MSL has been particularly successful in developing an understanding of the cost of using new materials, such as powdered metals and ceramics, in a wide range of applications and contexts. Two continuing research projects for MSL in 1995 had been (1) establishing the impact of automobile technology upon the development of materials and (2) identifying new trends in automobile materials. Director for MSL is Prof. Frank Field III.


The Technology, Business and Environment Program was founded to help companies meet the dual challenges of achieving environmental excellence and business success. The Program's mission is to elucidate a new preventive environmental management paradigm, centering on business practices and linking technological change with sound environmental management.

Two major projects for TBE in 1995 had been (1) a research initiative to study the ways companies are adopting non-regulatory codes of environmental management; and (2) a set of studies looking at the adoption of tools and guidelines for introducing environmental themes into a company's products and processes. Director for TBE is Dr. John Ehrenfeld


The Technology and Law Program offers a cluster of graduate-level subjects within the Technology and Policy Program at MIT, as well as research opportunities at the interface of law and technology. Research activities in 1995 included the design and evaluation of policies for: encouraging technological change for preventing chemical accidents and pollution through regulation, liability and economic incentives; promoting environmental justice by involving communities in governmental and corporate decisions that affect their health, safety, and environmental concerns; and investigating sustainability, trade and the environment. The Program's director is Nicholas Ashford.


The Technology and Policy Program educates men and women for leadership on the important technological issues confronting society. TPP prepares its graduates to excel in their technical fields, and to develop and implement effective strategies for dealing with the risks and opportunities associated with those technologies. TPP's primary efforts concentrate on the Master of Science Program that prepares students for practical work in government and industry. With about 140 students on campus and over 500 graduates, it is now the largest of its kind in the world. Students require between one and two years to complete the degree which includes an interdisciplinary thesis focused on a Technology Policy issue.

The Summer Internship Program had been the major innovation in 1995. This program placed 35 graduate students in policy-oriented internships in government agencies and in industry in the United States and abroad. Chairman for TPP Prof. Richard de Neufville.


The Communications Forum is an interdisciplinary seminar series that reviews the full range of communications-related issues. The topics include developments in communication technology, the economics of the telecommunications markets, and regulations in the communication industry -- just to name a few. Sessions are held approximately every two weeks. Director for the Forum is Prof. David Thorburn.


The Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development has an extensive Internet site at "", where one can attain research papers and more information about its program groups and personnel.

Christopher Wanjek

MIT Reports to the President 1995-96