MIT Reports to the President 1997-98


The Center for Technology, Policy, and Industrial Development was founded in 1985 to foster teaching and research 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 do at least two things: allow us to enjoy technology's benefits, and, 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 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. Director of the CTPID in 1997-98 is Prof. Joel Clark; Associate Directors are Prof. Charles Fine and Prof. Michael Piore.


The International Motor Vehicle Program (IMVP), established in 1979, is a multidisciplinary research enterprise that conducts comprehensive studies of the automobile industry. Its current research efforts focus on three key factors that will govern the evolution of the automobile industry into the next century: the fluctuation of power relations within the global supply chain, the future of the "lean" paradigm of industrial organization, and the need for an industry that is socially as well as economically viable. Changes in customer preferences, vehicle and information technology, industrial globalization, and the policies of both public and private institutions raise a wide range of issues whose resolution will determine the future course of the industry. The IMVP research program is exploring these changes through a broad-based portfolio of research, conducted worldwide, that is tracking these changes and developing a deeper understanding of both the principles underlying them and their implications for the future of this industry and the society of which it is part.

1997-98 has been a transition year for IMVP. The Co-Directors, with the strong support of the IMVP Sponsors, agreed to concentrate and coordinate the Program's research agenda around a more narrow set of research projects, with key financial and management responsibility residing with a handful of Principal Investigators. This research will be concentrated in four areas: Management of the Extended Enterprise, Technology, Social Agenda, and Globalization. The transition to this new agenda will continue into the current year.

Among its other major activities, in September 1997 IMVP hosted a Policy Forum in Korea. In May of 1998 IMVP was co-sponsor of a Technology Supply Chains conference held at MIT. IMVP also continues its collaboration with a number of affiliate programs, including the International Car Distribution Programme based in Great Britain.

Co-Directors for IMVP are Profs. Joel Clark and Charles Fine. Research Director is Dr. Frank Field III.


The Lean Aerospace Initiative (LAI) , begun in September 1993, is a consortium of 16 aerospace companies, 14 U.S. Government agencies, labor representatives, and MIT. It has as its goal: "To significantly reduce the cost and cycle time for military aerospace products throughout the entire value chain while continuing to improve product performance." LAI research is being conducted by 20 faculty members from the Schools of Engineering and Management, 21 graduate students from several MIT courses and Graduate programs, and six research staff members of the Center for Technology, Policy, and Industrial Development

In 1997-98 LAI expanded to include the space sector (satellites and launch systems) in addition to the previous airframe, engine, and avionics/missiles sectors of the original Lean Aircraft Initiative. Also, the Lean Enterprise Model (LEM), an organized compilation of LAI research findings and other related information, was reworked and released as a web-based product. Further information on LAI can be found at Director of LAI is Prof. Earll M. Murman.


The Lean Sustainment Initiative (LSI) began in May 1997 and will be in a planned Transition Phase through September 30, 1999. The ultimate goal of LSI research is to reduce the cost of logistics support in the United States Air Force and increase the flexibility and responsiveness of the entire public-private logistics support system.

In its Startup Phase LSI developed a basic understanding of the Air Force sustainment system and made preliminary assessments with respect to "lean" principles and practices in key areas of the system. Lean Sustainment's next phase will move toward a more fully robust research project that will focus on: obtaining feedback on Startup Phase results and adding greater fidelity to the research areas investigated; benchmarking world-class sustainment practices across the public-private sectors; and facilitating a collaborative process that will enable the sustainment public-private team eventually to design an effective lean sustainment model for the early 21st century from the research results developed by LSI's current efforts. Director of LSI is Prof. Wesley Harris.


The Fast and Flexible Communication Projects have been part of a government initiative to improve U.S. manufacturing capability and analyze product development in the automotive and aerospace industries, focusing in particular on the relationship between complex assemblies and multiple sources for parts and tooling. Originally designed as a 28-month project in 1994, the research was extended to 1998 and divided into 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. In May 1998 the projects completed their final Reports.

The Projects' research focused on developing more "agile" or "fast and flexible" communications and processes. One component of the research included hypothesis-testing of agile manufacturing principles that were developed by the Agile Manufacturing Forum at Lehigh University. The Projects have deployed faculty, staff, and graduate students from MIT and Lehigh University at multiple manufacturing sites of participating companies: the General Motors Saginaw Steering Division and Luxury Car Division, the Northrop-Grumman Vought Center, the Boeing Commercial Aircraft Group, several Ford Motor Company facilities, and a primary sheet metal supplier, the Budd Company. Co-Directors for the Projects have been Prof. Charles Fine and Dr. Daniel Whitney.


The Cooperative Mobility Project's (CMP) 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. CMP 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.

The Mobility Project has established the International Mobility Observatory, a worldwide effort to identify, evaluate, and document outstanding examples of innovative mobility systems and strategies. A series of case studies has been prepared that examines how urban areas around the world have implemented mobility strategies. Research is also being conducted on mobility and the environment, focusing on global warming and air pollution. Director of CMA is Associate Dean Daniel Roos.


The Research Program on Communications Policy (RPCP) has the following objectives: To study technical and economic developments and government and other policies that challenge maintaining an open interface between scalable digital systems and broadband networks; to facilitate dialogue on these issues across industries, across government agencies, and across academic disciplines; and, to disseminate the results of these activities.

Major RPCP projects developed over the past year and continuing into 1998-99 include:


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, over the past five years emphasizing automobile materials and processing. 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 tailor-welded blanks in sheet metal stamping or hydroformed metal structures--in a wide range of applications and contexts. Three continuing research projects for MSL have been: (1) establishing the impact of automobile technology and performance initiatives on the development of vehicle materials and processes (particularly lightweighting and low production-volume initiatives); (2) evaluating and assessing alternative vehicle recycling and recovery technologies and strategies; 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 challenge of achieving environmental excellence together with business success. The Program's mission is to work to improve environmental quality through research that develops profitable strategies for industry and effective policies for governing society.

Two major projects for TBE are: a research initiative that studies the ways companies are adopting non-regulatory codes of environmental management; and a set of studies that looks 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 subjects associated with the Technology and Policy Program at MIT as well as research opportunities at the interface of law and technology. Research activities included the design and evaluation of policies intended to encourage technological change that would prevent chemical accidents and pollution through the application of regulation, liability, and economic incentives; promote environmental justice by involving communities in governmental and corporate decisions that affect their health, safety, and environmental concerns; and that investigated sustainability, trade, and the environment. The Program's director is Nicholas A. 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 650 graduates, TPP is the largest program of its kind in the world. Students require between one and two years to complete the degree, which includes writing an interdisciplinary thesis that focuses on a Technology Policy issue.

TPP also has an active doctoral program in Technology, Management, and Policy. This Program has about 20 dissertation students at any one time. Over the past three years it has placed graduates in major universities in the United States, Europe, and Latin America, as well as with the US government. and industry.

Additionally, TPP conducts an active international outreach program. This year a new association was initiated with the Instituto Superior Tecnico of Portugal, at which TPP associate Dr. John Ehrenfeld has arranged to spend a sabbatical. Prof. Nicholas A. Ashford has similarly arranged a sabbatical at another affiliated institution, theTechnical University of Delft (Netherlands). These institutions join many other universities and educational agencies with which the program actively maintains relations, particularly in France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Japan.

Also noteworthy this year were the achievements of TPP graduate Lissa Martinez, who was elected to the MIT Corporation alongside another Program graduate, Elizabeth Stock, who serves as a Representative of Recent Graduates. 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. Topics explored in 1997-98 included developments in communication technology, the economics of telecommunications markets, and regulations in the communication industry. Sessions are held approximately every two weeks.

This year the Forum also conducted the "Media in Transition" project, a major initiative funded by the Markle Foundation that will continue into 1999. The project held lecture series, international conferences, panel discussions, and Internet activities concerned with emerging communications technologies. An experimental web site also was mounted in connection with the project:

In 1997-98, completing its development and association with CTPID, the MIT Communications Forum moved its affiliation to the Department of Humanities. 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.

Joel Clark

MIT Reports to the President 1997-98