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MIT today announced a $25 million donation by Ray and Maria Stata for the creation of a complex of buildings designed to foster interactions and innovations among MIT's faculty and students in computing, information science, artificial intelligence, and linguistics and philosophy.
The Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation has voted to honor the Statas by naming this complex of buildings for them. Theirs is the largest gift ever received by MIT for a building project.
"What is exciting is that we started simply with the idea of bringing all the laboratories, faculty and students together in a new building project," said Mr. Stata, a member of the Class of 1957 and founder and chairman of Analog Devices. "But this has evolved into a vision of an architectural design that will catalyze the interaction of students and faculty and stimulate invention and exchange of ideas across many disciplines.
"Even in this age of instant electronic communication, there is no substitute for the casual, creative personal contact that this new complex will facilitate."
A year ago, the Statas pledged $10 million toward this project, but as the concept and scope grew, so did their commitment -- to $25 million.
President Charles M. Vest said, "This is an extraordinarily generous commitment from an alumnus who, as the long-time chairman of the Visiting Committee of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, led the drive to integrate our computer science facilities into the core of the campus and fulfill a goal MIT has had for many years. The state-of-the-art facility we envision will facilitate learning, research and interaction within the department and across other disciplinary boundaries."
MIT expects to have a leading architect design the complex, which will have numerous common areas and small meeting places where teachers, researchers and students from many academic disciplines can informally meet and talk about the next breakthrough in their fields.
The buildings, totaling more than 300,000 square feet, will bring together teaching and research space for the Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS), the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Laboratory, the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems, and the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy faculty who use sophisticated computational models to study language acquisition and processing. Provision also has been made for facilities for brain and cognitive sciences work.
The complex will be located on Vassar Street adjacent to the Sherman Fairchild Building, which houses the electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) faculty and the Research Laboratory for Electronics. The 2.8-acre site currently is occupied by Building 20, the World War II "temporary" structure where MIT engineers refined the development of radar that helped win that war.
Mr. Stata is enthusiastic about MIT's long tradition of innovation and entrepreneurship. MIT alumni/ae and faculty have founded 4,000 companies which employed 1.1 million people in 1994, according to "MIT: The Impact of Innovation," a BankBoston report released this year.
He co-founded his first company, Solid State Instruments, in 1962 in Cambridge with two former MIT classmates. "That company was founded, really, on a shoestring," he said. "With me not earning any money, Maria supported the family in the early years. Fortunately, we were able to sell that company, which provided the nest egg to start Analog Devices. Maria's been my partner in life and whatever success we have had, we earned together."
They have two grown children, Nicole and Raymie. Their son Raymie received the SB in EECS from MIT in 1991, the SM in 1992 and the ScD in 1995.
Mrs. Stata, a teacher who supported the household on her salary for the first couple of years of their marriage, commented, "I appreciate the fact that MIT provides an opportunity for students, like Ray, to reach their full potential regardless of their economic background. MIT means a lot to me now, as I have a husband and son who benefited greatly from their MIT education."
Mr. Stata said he always had it in his mind to start a company. "My dad was a small-town electrical contractor in Oxford, PA, so I saw what it was like to run your own show. It seems natural for MIT graduates to form companies. I believe that the connections students and teachers and researchers make in these new buildings will prompt them to become entrepreneurs, since there will be many inventions created here."
ORIGINS OF ANALOG DEVICES
In 1965, Mr. Stata co-founded Analog Devices with another MIT graduate, Matt Lorber, in Cambridge, and he has built the integrated circuit manufacturer into a company with more than 6,000 employees and $1.2 billion in sales. The company is now headquartered in Norwood. It recently added a manufacturing plant in Cambridge to manufacture micromachined sensors for automobile air bags on the site of the former Instrumentation Laboratory, where Mr. Stata did his master's thesis.
Mr. Stata, who received both master's and bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering from MIT, noted that tuition for most of MIT's history has covered only half of the cost of providing an MIT education. "If you compound the interest on the subsidy over a lifetime, that comes to quite a debt," he said. "Alumni should repay that debt, and go beyond, if possible, to assure that others get the same opportunity we had. MIT depends on alumni to sustain its excellence, and I hope other alumni follow my example and step up to the plate."
Mr. Stata has been a member of the Corporation since 1984 and a member of the Executive Committee since 1994. He has chaired the EECS Visiting Committee since 1985.
Provost Joel Moses noted that the Ray and Maria Stata Professorship was created in 1984, at a time when enrollments in EECS were at an all-time high. "The gift was a great boost to the morale of the department. This new and magnificent gift comes at a time when there is a large shift of enrollment to computer science within the department. It too provides a tremendous boost in morale," Dr. Moses said.
In addition to founding Analog, Mr. Stata is also a founder and chairman of the Center for Quality of Management, a group of Boston-area CEOs who learn from each other by sharing best practices and by developing and delivering training programs to help their companies become more competitive.
He was the first president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, which he helped found in 1978. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a trustee of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Robert A. Brown, dean of engineering, said, "Computer science and information technology are at the heart of many of the most important developments in engineering. This project will lead to a facility with state-of-the-art laboratories and classrooms for faculty, staff and students involved in this revolution. Moreover, it will centralize those activities on campus, where they can have the biggest impact on students and faculty in related areas throughout the Institute."
The LCS and the AI Lab have operated in off-campus rented quarters at 545 Technology Square since the 1970s and now occupy almost an entire nine-story building.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 10, 1997.