“ Scientific and technological knowledge must be harnessed to effective policy discourse if we are to understand the issues, and ultimately to solve the problems, before us. We need to work together to develop the enabling technologies, the underlying institutional requirements and the organizational frameworks that are critical to achieving a more sustainable environment and economy-in short, a more livable world.”

Charles Vest (1996)
15th President of MIT


Duration: 1991 - 1995

Overview and Impact

In partnership with the American University in Beirut (AUB), TDP established the AUB/MIT Collaborative Program in Science, Technology, and Development. The program focused on collaborative research and supplementary educational activities related to the reconstruction and development of Lebanon . "Reconstruction" extended beyond physical reconstruction to include rebuilding human institutions and the science and technology infrastructure.

The program's backbone was the collaborative research initiatives between AUB faculty, research staff, and graduate students and their counterparts at MIT and MIT advised on education support systems. The collaborative program extended beyond the participation of AUB and MIT to include other educational institutions, official bodies, and private organizations in Lebanon on a project-by-project basis.

In addition to its direct contribution to the reconstruction of Lebanon , the program enhanced research, graduate education, and development of faculty and research staff at AUB. It also helped to orient the research capabilities toward meeting national needs in Lebanon and promoted cooperation between AUB and other academic, government, and industry organizations in the country.

The AUB/MIT program contributed significantly to research and education at MIT. Institute faculty, research staff, and graduate students gained an expanded awareness of the critical ways in which science and technology contribute to social and economic development and obtained first-hand knowledge of the challenges and opportunities inherent in the international transfer of advanced technology. In addition, program activities and projects provided timely materials and resources for the subjects offered in MIT's Middle East Program, as well as new courses on sustainable development in various parts of the Institute.

Eight AUB faculty members and nine MIT faculty members participated in short-term faculty development visits. Seven AUB students were admitted to graduate degree programs at MIT, three at the Ph.D. level and four at the master's level.


The program included supplementary education activities such as personnel exchanges, workshops, short courses, seminars, and conferences.

Sampling of Faculty Involved

Nazli Choucri Associate Director, TPD and Professor, Political Science
Joseph Ferreira, Jr. Professor, Urban Studies and Planning
Ralph A. Gakenheimer Professor, Urban Studies and Planning
Donald Harleman Late Professor, MIT
Marija Ilic Research Affiliate, Engineering Systems Division
James L. Kirtley, Jr. Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Steven R. Lerman Dean for Graduate Students
Fred Moavenzadeh Director, TDP, James Mason Crafts Professor of Engineering
Frederick P. Salvucci Senior Lecturer, Center for Transportation and Logistics
Richard E. Tabors MIT Affiliate
David Gordon Wilson Professor Emeritus, Mechanical Engineering

Research Projects

The AUB/MIT Collaborative Program undertook seven research projects, involving nine AUB faculty members, 17 AUB graduate students, 12 MIT faculty/research staff members, and 12 MIT graduate students.

Multimedia Educational Technology
Passenger Transportation Options for a Revitalized Beirut

Rebuilding the Residential Structure of a Metropolitan Beirut
Reconstruction of the Lebanese Electric Power System (LEPS)
Refuse Disposal with Energy Recovery in Greater Beirut

Wastewater Treatment & Disposal for Communities Along the Coast of Lebanon

Human Resources for Industrial and Technological Development

This project focused on:

  • assessment of existing infrastructure for technology development in Lebanon;
  • identification of alternative models for the education system and its links to the country's science and technology infrastructure; and
  • exploration of effective cooperation between government, business and industry, and academic institutions - the Technology Triangle - that would stimulate and sustain robust industrial and technological development.

Multimedia Educational Technology

This project aimed at developing a base of technology at AUB that could develop state-of-the-art multimedia education packages to support all types of teaching and learning in Lebanon, including university education, technical and vocational training, secondary and elementary school education, and continuing education for professionals and adults.

The project had several components. One was the evaluation of various hardware and software for developing and delivering educational multimedia packages. In order to apply the technology, a prototype project was undertaken that involved the preparation of a multimedia package on the Water Resources of Lebanon. Another important part of this project was development of a Microsoft Windows version of the multimedia authoring tool AthenaMuse2, which was developed at MIT to work under the Unix operating system.

Passenger Transportation Options for a Revitalized Beirut

This project focused on the review of urban transportation in Beirut , followed by an analysis of options for reorganization of the transportation sector and of short-term measures for alleviating traffic congestion. AUB and MIT researchers examined a number of basic issues resulting from many years of major civil instability in the Beirut Metropolitan Area and the need to redevelop relatively basic governmental capacity. The collaboration also sought to secure stronger theoretical underpinnings of a comprehensive approach to reducing congestion.

Rebuilding the Residential Structure of a Metropolitan Beirut

This project studied factors that would bear significantly on housing in Metropolitan Beirut, to formulate appropriate strategy and tools for urban reconstruction and development.

The research aimed to demonstrate how Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies could give decision-makers the tools to understand land value distribution as well as market pressures on construction and urban development. Such an understanding can be used to support land use policies and target areas for development and urban growth.

Reconstruction of the Lebanese Electric Power System (LEPS)

This study set forth a basis for introducing advanced information procession to solve on-line and off-line power engineering control problems. The reasonable knowledge-based information development in this work can support any complex decision-making process to achieve a secure operation and expansions of the LEPS.

Refuse Disposal with Energy Recovery in Greater Beirut

This project collected samples of solid waste every two weeks for the more than a year from six locations in the Greater Beirut area to determine the composition, moisture content, and heating volume of waste materials.

All possible alternatives for disposal of this solid waste were carefully analyzed and evaluated, with particular emphasis on recycling and energy recovery and including composting and incineration.

The proposed innovative design was compact, well-integrated, and unrivaled in efficiency. The design was based on a gas turbine and a novel modular heat exchanger and fluidized-bed combustor.

Wastewater Treatment & Disposal for Communities Along the Coast of Lebanon


This project investigated economical and effective methods for chemical treatment of wastewater using readily available, inexpensive materials. Laboratory tests indicated that seawater (as a source of magnesium) and lime (to raise the pH), when mixed with wastewater at the proper dose, effectively removes turgidity, suspended solids, biological oxygen demand, particulate chemical oxygen demand, phosphorous, nitrates, and coliforms.

^ back to top

© 2009 MIT Technology and Development Program