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Five MIT centers and laboratories have been joined in a new organizational structure to coordinate and strengthen teaching and research in technology, management and policy issues linked to large-scale systems.
The new organization-the MIT Program in Technology, Management and Policy (TMP)-will facilitate the work of the five centers and labs, which together account for about $10 million in research funding and supervise some 200 graduate students.
The TMP program will be directed by Professor Daniel Roos, an engineer with extensive technology and policy experience. He is a co-author of The Machine that Changed the World, a $5 million, five-year study of the international automotive industry, published in 1990.
Involved in the TMP program are:
- The Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development, which Professor Roos has directed since 1985.
- ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½The Materials Systems Laboratory, directed by Dr. Joel P. Clark, POSCO Professor of Materials Science and Engineering.
- The Center for Construction Research and Engineering, directed by Professor Fred Moavenzadeh.
- The Technology and Policy Program, chaired by Professor Richard de Neufville.
- The Center for Transportation Studies, directed by Professor Yossef Sheffi.
Dean of Engineering Joel Moses announced the formation of the TMP program. It is the second umbrella group he has established in recent months. The first was the Program in Environmental Engineering Education and Research (PEEER), headed by Professor David H. Marks. Both groups will work together closely.
"Many of our most significant societal problems," Dean Moses said, "are driven by scientific and technical factors, but solutions lie beyond the purely technical. Solving them will challenge the engineers we educate, and we must provide appropriate educational and research opportunities to prepare these engineers to assume future leadership roles. The TMP program will help us do that.
"By joining the efforts of these five labs, centers and educational programs, MIT gains intellectual coherence, enhanced visibility to the outside world, and a critical size in this area. Together these groups can initiate research programs, establish curricula and attract faculty more easily than they could individually."
Professor Roos announced three initial educational initiatives:
- Establish an interdisciplinary doctoral program in Technology, Management and Policy which would ultimately replace the ad hoc programs now organized individually by each of the centers.
- Coordinate the already extensive continuing education programs offered working engineers.
- Explore how separate professional-level masters programs might evolve into new educational initiatives in large-scale systems.
The TMP program will also participate in new research initiatives involving several centers and laboratories. A current example-an examination of the national transportation system considering mobility, environmental impacts, energy alternatives, economic development, international competitiveness and land use. Participants include the Energy Laboratory, the Sloan Automotive Laboratory and three TMP program centers.
The TMP program will seek to serve as a catalyst for change and a facilitator of innovation, Professor Roos said. Being planned are seminars aimed at resolving conflicts between the public and the private sector; educational programs for senior public officials; and participation in demonstration programs to test new concepts.
The TMP program's focus will be on large-scale open systems, Professor Roos said.
"As the name suggests, the systems we are dealing with are large in scale and scope, involve the participation of many organizations, often both public and private, and are complex both from technical and social perspectives.
"They are 'open,' because they involve interaction of the technical system components with social systems-the public and institutions-and natural systems-the environment.
The TMP program is working closely with the Committee on Large Scale Open Systems, chaired by Professor Michael W. Golay of the Department of Nuclear Engineering. The committee is studying new educational initiatives in open systems at various degree levels and how the TMP program might provide the mechanism to implement them.
Professor Roos said other faculty and groups are encouraged to join the TMP program, which has links to all five of MIT's schools-Engineering, Science, Architecture and Planning, Humanities and Social Science, and Management.
Professor Ann F. Friedlaender, former Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science, an economist and one of the faculty involved, called the new program "an exciting development" which she said "should serve as a focal point for interdisciplinary activities dealing with the interface of technological and societal issues related to large-scale systems."
Professor Harvey M. Sapolsky of the Department of Political Science, also involved in the TMP program, said it "is certain to provide new opportunities for social scientists, management scientists and engineers to collaborate on devising solutions to some of the most difficult policy problems of our time."
The TMP program's two primary objectives, Professor Roos said, are
to establish "a new vision of engineering planning and design, valid not only for our specialties but also more broadly for engineering,"
and to diffuse within MIT's five schools the expertise in systems technology and policy that has been developed in the individual centers involved in the new program.
A version of this article appeared in the April 1, 1992 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 36, Number 25).