MIT Reports to the President 1998-99


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.


Eleven 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. The class included a commercially licensed pilot, the 1996 league scoring champion in roller hockey, one of the designers of the next generation electric bicycle, the outstanding physics student of the year at Baylor (1995—96), a national semi-finalist on a television quiz show, the editor of a student magazine and a member of a submarine archeology expedition to the Dominican Republic.

The core curriculum for the Master of Science in Transportation was changed to five modular half-semester courses this year, which fall under three major topics–transportation systems; transportation policy, strategy, economics and management; and transportation operations, planning and control. The five subjects are Transportation Systems; Transportation Demand/Economics; Transportation Policy, Strategy and Management; Carrier Systems; and Flow Systems. The core reflects the interdisciplinary, systems nature of our approach and recognizes that information technologies offer significant opportunities for planning and control of transportation operations.

Again this year, because of the high quality of applications, qualifying for graduate admission for transportation studies was increasingly difficult. This year, 143 applications were received for graduate studies in transportation–including the MST, the MLOG and the PhD programs–and 62 students were enrolled in 1998—1999. Funding was found for 73 percent of the students.


During the past academic year, 143 projects were listed in the center's current research listing, 9 of which had been started since last year's listing was published. Sponsored research volume remains level again this year.


Over 200 people gathered November 19 at Boston's Museum of Science to celebrate the center's 25th anniversary. In addition to friends and associates, the assembly included alumni/ae and students, corporate and public affiliates, and faculty both present and past. The featured speaker was Robert Brown, Provost of MIT and previous Dean of Engineering. The dinner party Thursday night was followed Friday with a day-long seminar on "Transportation and Logistics in the Information Age," featuring panels of distinguished alumni/ae now prominent in the transportation and logistics fields, along with a luncheon address by John Snow, Chairman of CSX Corporation. The panels, which were comprised in turn of transportation executives, entrepreneurs and educators, included the presidents of Ingram Barge and Cambridge Systematics, the CIO of American Airlines, the COO of the MBTA and department chairmen from Northwestern, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Toronto. Other alumni in the audience included the Executive Director of the Transportation Research Board, the Director of R&D for the FRA, the President of Multisystems, the Director of Operations Research for CSX Transportation and the COO of the Wisconsin Central. Current transportation students also shared some of their work.

Over 120 people convened at the MIT Faculty Club in December for a corporate affiliates seminar focused on the future of logistics on the Internet. The meeting followed directly on a similar seminar called "The Internet: Next Generation and Beyond," organized by MIT's Industrial Liaison Program. The first day of the ILP event focused on technology issues in the future of the Internet such as broad-band distribution and the very powerful XML language, soon to challenge HTML. The second day concentrated on seven strategies for doing business on the Internet, including newly-developing capabilities for collaboration with customers. The center's event began at dinner on the second day with Larry Lapide, research director for supply chain planning at AMR Research, talking about the implications of Internet collaboration, and continued on the third day with four examples of advanced business practice in transportation and logistics, applying the principles that were described on the second day.

About 140 people convened at the MIT Faculty Club in March for a two-day affiliates seminar on decision support software for supply chain management. In addition to members of the center's Corporate Affiliates Program, the attendees included members of the MIT Integrated Supply Chain Management Program (ISCM), who joined the event as part of their own three-day meeting focused on planning issues in the supply chain. The affiliates' meeting was designed to explore the capabilities of software for planning and management, including how to choose the right package, how to get it installed and working well. It began in the morning with an overview of supply chain software leaders presented by Ted Rybeck and Stan Elbaum, Chairman and Managing Director of Benchmarking Partners, Inc., and continued in the afternoon with demonstrations from four supply chain management software vendors. The following day began with some lessons gleaned from installations of software for enterprise resource planning (ERP)–there are a lot of parallels to installing SCM software–and was followed by a case study of SONY Electronics' masterful job at selecting and installing their SCM software packages. Finally Don Ratliff, Regents & UPS Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Director of the Logistics Institute there, gave his view of the future of SCM software in the next 3—5 years.

About 60 people convened at the new University Park Hotel at MIT this May to discuss the changes happening now in the distribution industry. Organized by Jonathan Byrnes, who teaches in MIT's Master of Engineering in Logistics program, the two-day meeting consisted of a series of MIT and corporate presentations–representing investment, health, grocery, electronics and internet perspectives–and culminated in a panel discussion. The meeting was a response to feedback from a previous affiliates' seminar, "Logistics on the Internet", after which a number of people suggested that every so often MIT should organize meetings about the web and its implications for the practice of logistics, because the technological developments are moving so fast. This seminar in May, then, was the second in what may over time become a seminar series.

In June, the Ford Motor Company sponsored a two-day conference at MIT–in cooperation with a number of MIT organizations including the Industrial Liaison Program, the Cooperative Mobility Program and the Center for Transportation Studies–exploring the scope and severity of the global traffic congestion problem and spotlighting pragmatic, action-oriented solutions. The conference focused on developing nations, as well as on the United States and other industrialized countries, and featured speakers from both the public and the private sectors, as well as from academia, exploring the impact of traffic congestion on personal mobility, freight movement, urban physical and economic development, and the environment. The featured speaker on the first day was Neil Ressler, Vice President and Chief Technical Officer at Ford. The featured speaker on the second day was the Honorable Mortimer Downey, Deputy Secretary, US Department of Transportation.


As usual, the center sponsored a reception at the annual Transportation Research Board meeting in Washington in January. This year's event was attended by about 150 alumni and friends.

On the weekend of April 9 and 10, an open house was held 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. From a total of more than 100 applicants whose paperwork was received by the deadline of January 15, 39 had been accepted and twelve of those came to the event–ten prospective students in transportation and two in logistics.

This year's Luncheon Seminar Series featured Don Schneider, President, Schneider National; Jane Holtz Kay, Author, Asphalt Nation; Rich Sulpizio, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, QUALCOMM Incorporated; Raymond Greer, President, Ryder Logistics; Laurie Tucker, Senior Vice President, Electronic Commerce and Customer Service, Federal Express; Victor Blue, Hudson River Valley Transit Authority; Dan DiMaggio, President, UPS Worldwide Logistics; Jim O'Leary, Alternate Concepts; and Bob Prince, MBTA.


Every year, as part of the center's Corporate Affiliates Program, one of the members hosts the rest of the group at a two-day meeting and tour of one of its facilities. This year over 70 people traveled to Peoria to attend Affiliates Day at Caterpillar Inc., a two-day meeting focused on the subject of "building a global future" and structured around a series of presentations and demonstrations (including tours of one of their heavy equipment manufacturing facilities and of their worldwide parts distribution center, all two million square feet of it).

The center welcomed eight 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; Electrocomponents; Ford Motor Company; Lucent Technologies; Staples; Wal-Mart Stores; Triton Container and Sema Group. Continuing members are Canadian Pacific Railway; Caterpillar; CSX Transportation; Emery Worldwide; Federal Express; General Electric; Gillette; Goodyear Tire & Rubber; International Business Machines; Mars; Nestle; NYK; Osram Sylvania; Polaroid; Ryder System; The SABRE Group; Sea-Land Service; Sony; Unilever; Union Pacific; United Parcel Service; United States Postal Service; Volkswagen; Wisconsin Central; and Yellow.


Since its inception in FY1995, the Integrated Supply Chain Management Program has grown to eleven members–Caliber Logistics, Cummins Engine, Intel Corporation, Lucent Technologies, Monsanto, Pentacon, Procter & Gamble, Siemens, Solutia, Texas Instruments and Volkswagen AG. In addition to the 15+ research projects that had been initiated in the first four years of the program, the 1999 Program includes collaborative work with the Lean Aerospace Initiative, the Leaders for Manufacturing Program and continued collaboration with the Center for Coordination Science. There were also seventeen collaborative exchange and senior executive events held at sponsor sites and the MIT campus.


Every summer for the past fourteen years, the center has offered an intensive weeklong seminar on Logistics Analysis for Carriers and Shippers. 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 the course was attended by 55 participants.


Cynthia Barnhart, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was named Co-Director of the Operations Research Center. She succeeds Professor Thomas Magnanti, who was named Dean of the School of Engineering in January. Professor James Orlin remains as the Operations Research Center Co-Director from the Sloan School.


JR East Professor Joe Sussman was honored this year by MoveMassachusetts 2000, a coalition of business, labor, environmental and professional groups and municipalities which aim to develop a cooperative and systematic transportation strategy for the region. As Chair of the Artery Business Committee's (ABC) Traffic Management Subcommittee, Sussman was honored for his role in mitigating the traffic impacts of the Central Artery/Tunnel Project now being built in Boston.

PhD student Scott Ramming (MST'94) was presented with a George Krambles Transit Scholarship in the amount of $2000 for 1998. Ramming was nominated by Nigel Wilson, Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering, and selected on the basis of his paper, "A Bus-Based Proposal for Short-Term Circumferential Transit". Some ideas from that proposal–cross-town transit with limited stops accepting subway passes–have since been incorporated at the MBTA.

Recipients of the 1998—1999 UPS Doctoral Fellowship were Ozie Ergun of the Operations Research Center and Joan Walker of the Center for Transportation Studies. Ergun and Walker were chosen to share the fellowship award for their respective proposals "A Very Large Scale Neighborhood Search Approach for Vehicle Routing Problems" and "Behavioral Realism in Land Use Modeling."

The New England University Transportation Center at MIT chose Jon Bottom as its UTC Outstanding Student of the Year 1999. Mr. Bottom was selected based upon a competitive process that included all eligible students who receive financial support from the New England University Transportation Center.

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

Yossi Sheffi

MIT Reports to the President 1998-99