MIT Reports to the President 1996-97


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, changes that intensify the fundamental complexity of our lives. This growing complexity challenges us to develop policies that will allow us to enjoy the benefits of that technology and at the same time will protect us against its possible 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. It works to accomplish this goal through an active and rigorous academic program and by overseeing research activities that incorporate many disciplines.

One major focus of these research activities consists of industry study programs that investigate particular industries like the automotive and aerospace industries. Below is an overview of these study programs, highlights of the Center's other research activities, and descriptions of the Center's academic programs.


The International Motor Vehicle Program (IMVP) is a multidisciplinary research enterprise that performs comprehensive studies of the automobile industry worldwide, including its effect on society. The research has followed 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 track examines the place of the automobile in society, exploring such issues as the environment, automobile regulation, and a variety of cooperative relationships evolving between management and labor and between business and government.

In the past year, the IMVP has been synthesizing its various research projects, considering the evolution of the world auto industry from three vantage points:

A writing team has been formed to present the outcome of this synthesis in a follow-on book to the IMVP's best-seller, The Machine That Changed the World (1990). The IMVP continues its collaboration with a number of affiliate programs, including the International Car Distribution Programme, based in Great Britain.

The IMVP this past year has completed a working version of Auto Case 2000, an interactive software-driven simulation model for exploring outcomes of different automobile manufacturing strategies. This model has been used in classes at the Sloan School of Management and has been tested by several IMVP industry sponsors. The software package has been prepared for distribution to all IMVP sponsors in the coming year. Co-Directors for the IMVP are Profs. Daniel Roos and Charles Fine. Research Director for the IMVP is Dr. Frank Field III.


The Lean Aircraft Initiative (LAI) analyzes how the "lean" paradigm, identified by the International Motor Vehicle Program for the auto industry, can translate into the U. S. defense aircraft industry. This industry currently faces multiple consolidations, massive spending cuts, and yet also a dire need to provide the operating defense forces with sophisticated, technologically superior products. LAI brings together the industry's principle stakeholders: the aerospace companies, government, and labor. Now in its second three-year phase, LAI is working toward a vision of significantly reducing the cost and cycle time for military aircraft throughout the entire value chain while continuing to improve product performance.

In this first year of phase II the LAI consortium membership jointly defined the Initiative's research priorities for each of four focus areas and three product teams. This research plan was then put into action. Two of the teams were new: the Implementation Integrated Product Team, whose concern is making possible and facilitating enterprise-wide systemic change; and the Communications Integrated Product Team, whose concern is helping to build awareness and understanding of lean principles and practices inside the LAI community. Also, based on research begun earlier, the Policy and External Environment Focus Team presented findings about program instabilities that resulted in LAI policy recommendations to the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense, Acquisition and Technology.

Additionally, several government agencies and private companies became new Sponsors of LAI. From government these were the C-17 Systems Program Office, the F-22 Systems Program Office, the Joint Strike Fighter Systems Program Office, the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Engineering, Logistics & Development, and the U.S. Department of the Navy, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR); while from industry new Sponsors were the Allison Engine Company, Applied Materials, Inc., the Hewlett-Packard Company, and Litton Industries.


The Lean Sustainment Initiative began this year. The sustainment of military operating forces involves the maintenance, repair, and re-manufacturing of military aircraft. In a decreasing defense budget environment it is essential to reduce costs so that sustainment is affordable while procurement authority remains free to pursue required system upgrades and new systems. The current military operating environment is one of constrained resources while yet having flexible global operational requirements. The goal of the initiative is to identify and define those lean principles and practices that will help achieve significant cost savings, greater efficiency, and higher quality in the effort to provide responsive logistics and sustainment support to the flightline customer. The study effort will likely lead to a three-year collaborative program between the Air Force and MIT.


A "Quick Look Study" was made this year to determine the feasibility of establishing a Lean Space Initiative similar to the Lean Aircraft Initiative. The defense space business faces significant challenges: the timely adoption of new technology, the need for efficient space launch operations, and the need to build specialized products in a lean manner. The Lean Space Initiative would undertake data-driven research in the space industry with the goal of finding ways to significantly reduce the cost and cycle times for space military assets throughout the value chain--while continuing to improve product performance. Through a comprehensive survey of potential stakeholders and an analysis of the applicability of space-particular problems to ongoing Lean Aircraft Initiative research, the study team concluded that a Lean Space effort should be initiated as a "space sector" within the Lean Aircraft Initiative. This recommendation has been accepted by the Air Force and steps are being taken to obtain approval within the membership of the Lean Aircraft Initiative.


The Fast and Flexible Communication Projects are part of an ongoing government initiative to improve U.S. manufacturing capability and 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 to January, 1998, 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 efforts have focused on developing more "agile" or "fast and flexible" communications and processes. One component of the 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 multiple sites: the General Motors Saginaw Steering Division and Luxury Car Division; Northrop-Grumman Vought Center (soon to be part of Lockheed-Martin); the Boeing Commercial Aircraft Group, the sites at Renton and Everett, Washington; and the Ford Motor Company Body and Assembly Operations in Dearborn; the Ford-Louisville Assembly Plant and a primary sheet metal supplier, Budd Company; and the Ford Electronics Division. 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. Its task is to analyze 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 around the world. The project team 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) at CTPID has the following objectives: To study technical, economic, and policy challenges to open interfaces for scalable digital systems and broadband networks; to facilitate dialogue on these issues across industries, across government agencies, and across academic disciplines; to disseminate the results of these activities.

Major RPCP projects developed over the past year and continuing into 1997 include:

The Internet Telephony Interoperability Consortium (ITC) developed into an independent operation this year. More information about the Consortium appears below as a separate entry of this Report.

The MIT-Polaroid camera is the world's first progressive-scan high-resolution production-quality video camera. It is capable of shooting 60 frames per second as opposed to the standard movie format of 24 frames per second, and it is compatible with both film and computer requirements. Its progressive scan technology offers the best interoperability with digital processing and meets the proposed standards for high definition television (HDTV)--an accomplishment that was not thought to be technically feasible at present. The success and praise of the camera were major factors in recommendations to reevaluate the HDTV proposal before the FCC.

The DUET Server Acquisition research project is part of an extensive program to move US Army documentation and training systems online and to improve those systems with interactive multimedia and graphically rich formats. The DUET Local Access research project established technical, business, and policy criteria for achieving effective local access to interactive multimedia content in the information infrastructure. This effort has led to the recognition of local access as a critical technical, economic, and policy issue that needs to be resolved if the average consumer is to have efficient, effective, and inexpensive access to the full information infrastructure.


The Internet Telephony Interoperability Consortium (ITC) works on technical, economic, strategic, and policy issues that arise from the convergence of telecommunications and the Internet. The ITC is comprised of member companies and academic researchers who work collaboratively to understand and shape future technologies, industry and market structures, and regulatory policies worldwide. The ITC seeks to be a neutral forum in which members--who represent the various interests associated with the Internet, Internet telephony, and the telecommunications industries--may discuss these issues and benefit from cross-industry communication. The ITC's long-term goal is to enable the growth of new forms of mediated, integrated, multimedia communication that spans the Internet and the telecommunications infrastructures.


The Materials Systems Laboratory (MSL) is internationally recognized for its innovative work on the competitive position of materials and the strategic implications of material choice for automotive, electronic, and aerospace applications. Its work builds upon a unique combination of materials processing knowledge, engineering design practice, manufacturing process analysis, and environmental information to construct analytical tools for decision support and competitive analysis.

MSL has been particularly successful in developing an understanding of the cost of using new materials and materials processes--such as powdered metals and tailor-welded blanks in sheet metal stamping--in a wide range of applications and contexts. Three continuing research projects for MSL in 1996 have been (1) establishing the impact of automobile technology upon the development of materials, (2) identifying new trends in automobile materials, and (3) developing tools to facilitate the use of life cycle analysis in materials selection decisions. Director for MSL is Dr. 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 1996 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 courses within the Technology and Policy Program at MIT as well as research opportunities at the interface of law and technology. Research activities in 1996 included the design and evaluation of policies for: encouraging technological change that would prevent chemical accidents and pollution through regulation, liability, and economic incentives; promoting environmental justice through 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, which prepares students for practical work in government and industry. An integral part of the TPP curriculum is a Summer Internship Program. This year it placed over 30 interns in major policy centers in the United States and abroad. With about 150 students on campus and approximately 600 graduates, TPP is now the largest program 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.

TPP also conducts an active international outreach program. This year new associations were initiated with the Technical University of Delft (Netherlands) and the Instituto Superior Tecnico of Portugal. The two institutions join many other universities and educational agencies with which the program actively maintains relations, particularly in France, the United Kingdom, and Japan.

Also noteworthy this year were the achievements of Program graduate Elizabeth Stock, who was elected to the MIT Corporation as a Representative of Recent Graduates, and, was named by President Clinton to be a White House Fellow assigned to Vice President Gore. Chairman for TPP is 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.

During 1997-99 the Forum will undertake the "Media in Transition" project, a major initiative funded by the Markle Foundation. The project will involve lecture series, international conferences, panel discussions, and Internet activities centered on emerging communications technologies. An experimental web site has been mounted in connection with the project: 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.

Daniel Roos

MIT Reports to the President 1996-97