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Through a joint appointment in the Sloan School of Management and School of Engineering, longtime Xerox Corp. engineer and manager Maurice F. Holmes will become the Institute's first professor of the practice in management. Also named professor of the practice in engineering, Mr. Holmes will be the second to hold that title in the School of Engineering.
Currently corporate vice president and chief engineer at Xerox, Mr. Holmes will join MIT on January 1. Considered one of the world's leading experts in product delivery, he recently has worked for and with the Institute in various capacities. One of the founders of the Center for Innovation in Product Development, Mr. Holmes has served for the past three years as chairman of the center's governing board.
Richard Schmalensee, dean of the MIT Sloan School, said, "Maurice Holmes is an excellent addition to the Sloan School and the Institute. He is a leading practitioner and effective innovator in the art and science of product development. His insight and experience will enhance our research efforts and enrich our students' classroom experience."
During the 26 years Mr. Holmes spent at Xerox, his career evolved from design engineering to program management to corporate management, where he developed and implemented one of the most successful end-to-end product development systems in American industry.
"Typically, the product design team hands off to prototype, then to large-scale manufacturing, then to marketing and finally to service," said John B. Vander Sande, dean of the School of Engineering. "Maurice is a real innovator in eliminating the 'handing off' enterprise and making this a seamless process from inception to commercialization. His main strength is that he is a visionary in this field.
"We expect him to play a leadership role in product design and product development at the Institute and in alerting government agencies and others to the importance of this aspect of engineering," said Professor Vander Sande.
"Professor of practice" is a new title at MIT for distinguished practitioners who have had a significant impact on one or more fields of particular importance to MIT's academic programs and who demonstrate a deep commitment to enhancing those programs. Mr. Holmes will be the first outside appointment in the new Engineering Systems Division and the first professor of practice at Sloan. The position is for an outstanding individual who has demonstrated a unique, world-class ability to improve practice in industry or government.
Mr. Holmes's joint status will facilitate increasing linkages between the new division and Sloan, said Daniel Roos, associate dean for engineering systems.
As professor of practice, Mr. Holmes will work on expanding and conveying knowledge about product development. Through research and teaching projects, he hopes to improve US capability to achieve and sustain the highest levels of customer satisfaction and product value, combined with long-term industrial vitality and profitability. In addition, Mr. Holmes will continue to work with students in the product development track of the Systems Development and Management (SDM) program.
"I've been associated with MIT for several years now with the Center for Innovation in Product Development," Mr. Holmes said. "I'm joining MIT in this new position because at MIT we have a chance to make a real difference in American society. I think our program has a chance to give American industry a strategic competitive advantage in the area of product development."
"At Xerox, Maurice Holmes has introduced a myriad of innovative concepts and processes," Professor Roos said. "He provides a critical real-world 'value added' to the expanding important product development activities at MIT. As an innovator and integrator, Maurice has successfully worked at the interface of engineering and management, design and manufacturing, research and commercialization and, more recently, industry and MIT."
Mr. Holmes, 55, earned a bachelor of science from the University of Pittsburgh in 1970 and a master's degree from the University of Rochester in 1974.
He served on the advisory board of directors of the National Science Foundation from 1986-90 and that of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers from 1987-92. In addition to various corporate boards, he serves on the board of trustees of the Rochester Institute of Technology. He is married, has four children and lives in Rochester, NY.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 16, 1998.