MIT Reports to the President 1997-98


The Leaders for Manufacturing Program (LFM) is a partnership between MIT and 20 U.S. manufacturing firms to discover and translate into teaching and practice principles that produce world-class manufacturing and manufacturing leaders. This partnership is motivated by our shared belief that excellence in manufacturing is critical to meeting the economic and social needs of individuals, firms, and society, and that the health of U.S. based companies operating in global markets is essential to the nation's well-being.

The purpose of the program is identify, discover, and translate into practice the critical factors that underlie world-class manufacturing in a way that:

LFM is a partnership between the School of Engineering, the Sloan School of Management and leading manufacturers. Launched in 1988 with significant industry funding, the program emphasizes collaboration and knowledge sharing with its partner companies across the entire spectrum of "Big-M" manufacturing enterprise issues. LFM supports students both as fellows in the program and as research assistants throughout the institute. Both groups of students participate in a research program that is directed by a joint faculty-industry committee. The largest component of the educational efforts is the Fellows Program, a 24-month dual-masters degree (engineering and management) experience involving a single integrative research project carried out on site in partner firms.

This year marks the 10th year of operation for LFM. Beginning with an educational program, it has become a joint education and research program with increasing emphasis on outreach activities that foster more effective two-way knowledge transfer between MIT, the partner companies, and the larger global manufacturing community.


48 Students in the class of 1998 completed the Fellows program and 90% have taken positions in manufacturing firms. 26 students have taken positions with one of the LFM partner companies. AlliedSignal, Qualcomm, and Dell were notable for a large number of hires from the class. Industry continues to show strong support for hiring LFM graduates.

Each of the 48 graduates completed an internship at a partner company during the summer and fall of 1997. Internships are focused projects of concern to the partners, accomplished by interns with company support and MIT faculty guidance. Representative projects this past year include: at Bay Networks, modeling and optimizing the supply chain resulting in cutting major inventories in half; at ITT, an implementation of the "Critical Chain" method of task management to product development resulting in up to 25% reduction in project lead times. These internships have provided significant immediate economic benefit to partner companies. They also have increased faculty involvement in current industrial problems and as a result have impacted both MIT on-campus research and classroom teaching.

42 students (Class of `99) completed their first year of on-campus studies and are starting their 6 month internships. 48 new students (Class of `00) were admitted and have begun an intense summer session. All of these students have significant practical work experience.

LFM has worked with the Deans of the Sloan and Engineering schools to create a position of Director of Leadership for the Sloan School and LFM. A search process to fill the position is underway. This person will integrate and coordinate the various aspects of LFM's leadership curriculum, and will work to expand the leadership offerings for the Sloan School as a whole.


Research has been conducted with seed funding from LFM in the following areas: Product Life Cycle Analysis, Scheduling and Logistics Control, Variation Reduction, Design and Operation of Manufacturing Systems, Integrated Analysis and Product Development, Culture and Organizational Change, and the Next Generation Manufacturing project. Each area has both a faculty and an industry leader. The groups focus on detailed issues of benefit to several member companies, but with implications for many companies. On-site student interns have played a valuable role in teaming with on-campus researchers to more effectively define problems, gather data, and analyze it. Mid-stream and end-of-internship presentations convey research results to MIT and partner company personnel.

The Organization Change group has focused on how LFM companies change, and specifically, how they utilize the LFM program to accomplish change. This initiative has resulted in an assessment of the real value of LFM to companies and provided recommendations back to the program and partner companies for better utilization of graduates of the program. To date, studies at seven of the partner companies have been completed.

The Next Generation Manufacturing project is an effort within LFM to address its mission statement challenge of discovering the principles for future world-class manufacturing. Phase one of the project, completed in January, 1997, was partly funded by NSF. This past year LFM partner companies committed funds to continue the project and have adopted NGM's framework as the guide against which the curriculum and research of LFM be mapped.

A collaborative project by LFM and Stanford's SIMA program on remote diagnostics has been continued for its second year. The second annual conference on remote diagnostics was held in May of 1998. Partner companies have strongly supported such research performed jointly by multiple universities.


LFM has added Celestica as an internship partner of the program. Chrysler Corporation will not continue as an active partner this coming year. LFM has teamed with MIT's Whitehead Institute to apply manufacturing expertise to the operations of the Human Genome Mapping research project. Students this year have also taken a number of internships in foreign countries as part of LFM's efforts to reflect the global nature of its member companies.

LFM continues its efforts to extend the educational experience to other audiences in our partner companies beyond the Fellows. A six day Industry Leaders Course on Product Development was held at MIT for 40 partner company personnel with sessions spread over a two month period. The course schedule and the content were tailored to an industry audience and were well received.

Within MIT there have been actions which have brought increased collaboration between a number of programs with similar missions. A Dean of Engineering Systems was appointed and LFM and six other industry related programs were joined to form a nucleus for a possible future Engineering Systems Division. Within this group, LFM is working closely with the Systems Design and Management Program, sharing class offerings and support staff. LFM also jointly developed internships with the Center for Innovation and Product Development (CIPD), placing two LFM students in projects sponsored by industrial partners of CIPD.

The National Coalition for Manufacturing Leadership (NCML), a partnership of 14 Universities with joint management and engineering programs, hosted a joint recruiting forum at the University of Michigan. This has been very popular with Coalition partner companies and will be repeated each year.

A series of sessions were held during the year bringing MIT faculty and partner companies together. The LFM Governing Board met at both Kodak and Alcoa plants, focusing on issues of specific concern to these companies. Two workshops were held for company people to come to campus to review the results of the Fellows research projects as well as LFM sponsored research group activities.


In May 1998, partner company representatives and MIT faculty participated in a workshop to review the Knowledge Transfer aspects of our program, resulting in the following recommendations for the coming year:

Explicit steps for dissemination of the learning of internships will be built into the definition process for the projects. There is a strong feeling that the internships are very valuable as they are, but that the inter and intra company dissemination of learnings will be significantly improved.

LFM will work with its industry partners to better define those learnings which are gained through real-life, on-the-job experiences which are critical to successful manufacturing leaders. Having better defined these usually implicit expectations of company leaders, LFM will work with the partners to bring these in an accelerated fashion to those people the companies look to as future leaders, both LFM students and current company personnel.

The Director of Leadership will be brought into LFM to integrate the leadership curriculum into a more continuous, reinforcing set of experiences. Leadership is an ongoing area of emphasis for LFM.

As recommended by the partner companies, the Next Generation Manufacturing (NGM) project will be mapped against our current curriculum and research activities, including the Fellows theses completed to date, to assess the fit between our current activities and the framework set out in NGM. The study of graduate utilization will be continued, completing the assessments of the remaining original partner companies. Seed funding will also continue for the seven LFM research groups listed above.

The activity to involve a non-US company in the program will be continued. It is expected that one or two new companies will join the program this year, one of which will likely be a European company, with Siemens being the leading candidate. Collaboration with Universities in Singapore is also actively being pursued as a way to extend the impact of LFM to a set of academic institutions which can help our partners with their operations abroad.

Within MIT, LFM is actively sharing staff and resources with the System Design and Management program. Both programs have similar missions and overlapping partner companies. These efforts will provide better service to the industry partners and reduce operations costs through shared infrastructure.

The Knowledge Transfer Committee will repeat and enlarge its course for Industry Leaders on product development. The initial course was quite successful and has created a call for more such offerings.

Personnel changes this year included the addition of Gail Cheney as Fellows Program Assistant. Staff members Valerie Aquaviva, Michele Brodeur, Nancy Pratt and Romana Runtas have moved on from their positions with LFM.

Current Program Directors are: Stephen C. Graves, Management; David E. Hardt, Engineering; William C. Hanson, Industry.

More information about LFM can be found on the World Wide Web at the following URL:

Paul Gallagher

MIT Reports to the President 1997-98