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Faculty hears plan for new division, housing

A proposal to establish an Engineering Systems Division (ESD) and an update on plans to develop a new undergraduate housing system were discussed at the faculty meeting last Wednesday.

Earlier in the meeting, the faculty voted to establish a PhD program in archaeological materials, administered by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. The faculty also approved changes in its rules and regulations to accommodate the naming of a chancellor.

Professor John B. Vander Sande, acting dean of the School of Engineering, and Professor Daniel Roos, associate dean for engineering systems, presented the case for the ESD, which was recommended by a special committee chaired by Professor Thomas Eagar. The interdisciplinary entity would be modeled after the recently established Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Health.

The ESD program would involve the Schools of Engineering, Humanities and Social Science, and Architecture and Urban Planning as well as the Sloan School of Management. Faculty would hold "two-key" appointments, with hiring, evaluation, salary review and promotions for "two-key" appointees shared by ESD and the department.

"Interaction with each department would depend upon the department's need and the department's desire," said Professor Roos.

ESD's goal would be to develop a better understanding of the behavior and design of engineering systems, to train leaders and to explore the changing roles and relationships between universities, industry and government.

Initially, ESD would focus on five master's-level programs that now serve more than 400 students a year: Leaders for Manufacturing, System Design and Management, Technology and Policy, Master of Science in Transportation and Master of Engineering in Logistics. Later, research programs would be developed to support the educational initiatives. These would involve the Center for Innovation in Product Development; the Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development; the Industrial Performance Center; and the Center for Transportation Studies, which now account for $20 million a year in research grants.

After five to seven years, a committee appointed by the dean of engineering would evaluate the program.


Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow outlined the game plan for designing the new housing system. He said a project coordinator and a chair for the committee that will manage the process will be named shortly.

Students, alumni/ae, faculty and representatives of the administration will be involved in designing the new system, he said. The steering committee will include four students (including representatives of residence halls and FSILGs), two faculty, two alumni/ae and members of the Office of the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education. The roster would include a housemaster, undergraduates and graduate students, he said.

The project coordinator would work full-time on the program and be responsible for its progress, Chancellor Bacow said. A design competition will be held during IAP in January, with participants working in teams that receive a kit and a "suggestive, not exhaustive" list of problems to be addressed. Participants would be invited to briefing sessions on the present system, budgets, resources and given a timetable for the project.

Students, alumni/ae and other interested parties will be eligible to enter the competition. Multiple winners will be chosen, which the steering committee will blend into two plans to be subjected to public scrutiny. The goal is to submit a final program for administration approval next fall.

Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education Rosalind H. Williams noted that the discussion involved a "systems design problem" that was being approached "in a very MIT way." She said she anticipated an "interweaving process" with rush/orientation in the fall.

President Charles M. Vest ended the meeting on a high note by recounting a recent conversation he had with former Provost Joel Moses, now on sabbatical at Columbia University. "Joel is taking voice lessons at Juilliard," he said. ������������������

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 28, 1998.

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