World War II's impact on MIT and vice versa will be the focus of Technology Day 1995, when nearly 3,000 alumni and their guests return to the campus on Friday, June 16, for a program commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of the war that transformed the Institute, the nation and the world.
The theme will be "War, Technology, Peace, Change," reflecting the cascade of events in those years of crisis.
The day's activities include a dedication to alumni who lost their lives in the defense of the country in all wars-their names are inscribed on the walls of Lobby 10-and a noon fly-over of some World War II aircraft.
It was 55 years ago that Vannevar Bush, a major figure in the history of MIT, was given the crucial assignment of marshaling science and engineering for the war effort. Dr. Bush was successful in proposing a civilian agency, independent of the military, to tackle this effort. The major response at MIT was the creation of the Radiation Laboratory-the Rad Lab-which developed microwave radar. The lab became the largest of its kind in the world. The radar units it developed played leading roles in achieving victory in land, sea and air operations, yet its legacy was wider and deeper than that.
From the Rad Lab's successful model of an interdisciplinary laboratory arose one of MIT's major laboratories of today-the Research Laboratory of Electronics-and from the Rad Lab's ranks came many of the Institute's major figures in later years, among them Albert Hill, Jerome Wiesner, Louis Smullin and Jerrold Zacharias.
The Tech Day program will begin at 9am when Paul E. Gray, chairman of the MIT Corporation, welcomes the alumni and their guests to Kresge Auditorium and introduces the keynote speaker, the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Her subject is "The World War II Imperative for Democracy."
Professor Robert C. Seamans Jr. '42 of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, former Secretary of the Air Force and former president of the National Academy of Engineering, will recall the days of war. His talk is titled "World War II Comes to MIT."
Dr. Gray will then outline "MIT's Responses To the World War II Experience."
Professor Lester C. Thurow will follow with a talk on "The Economic Impact on Society" of the global conflict.
President Charles M. Vest will address "MIT and the Future."
A lunch will follow in the Johnson Athletics Center, where William J. Hecht, executive vice president of the MIT Association of Alumni and Alumnae, will offer words of welcome.
Afternoon panels will include: Economics of War and Peace with Professor Harvey Sapolsky, director of the Defense and Arms Control Studies Program; War and Accelerated Social Change with Professor Daniel Kryder of the Department of Political Science; and Ethics, Technology and Conflict with Professor Merritt Roe Smith, director of the Program in Science, Technology and Society.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 17, 1995.