MIT faculty and administrators and alumni/ae from around the world gathered to honor Professor Richard de Neufville last month as he stepped down after 24 years as chair of the Technology and Policy Program (TPP).
"Richard approached the creation, development and nurturing of TPP in a manner that modeled the systems approach needed to make any significant systemic change," Professor David Marks, director of the Center for Environmental Initiatives, said at the tribute. "The increase in students and the accomplishments of TPP alums is proof of the program's success."
Institute Professor Thomas Magnanti, dean of the School of Engineering, noted that "the integrative, experience-based education and research activities of the Engineering Systems Division, and of TPP in particular, are becoming increasingly important to the future of MIT's School of Engineering." Professor Magnanti is also co-founder of MIT's Leaders for Manufacturing Program and System Design and Management Program.
For his TPP efforts, Professor de Neufville has won MIT's Irwin Sizer Award for the Most Significant Improvement to MIT Education, and more recently the MIT Class of 1960 Fellowship for two years beginning next month. He was also named a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Palmes Acadï¿½miques by the French government in 1999.
Established in 1976, TPP set the tone for many of MIT's subsequent interdisciplinary programs. More than 700 alumni/ae are now using knowledge gained at TPP to become leaders in government, industry, consulting and academia. Graduates include six Rhodes Scholars and five members of the MIT Corporation.
"TPP offers management and policy complements to engineering education and lets students apply them to their areas of interest," noted Professor de Neufville. "The program therefore prepares highly technically competent men and women to understand and deal with engineering systems design issues within their full economic, management and political contexts." Because they take this systems-based, holistic approach, TPP graduates are "engineers and scientists with a difference," he said.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 7, 2000.