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ESD launches new engineering center

Professor Daniel Hastings, director of MIT's Engineering Systems Division (ESD), has announced the formation of the Center for Engineering Systems Fundamentals, effective Sept. 1. The new center will focus on pulling together the elements that will eventually define the new field called engineering systems.��

Hastings noted that the need for the center was identified in ESD's strategic plan and endorsed by the faculty, adding that the new center is crucial to the long-term intellectual development of engineering systems at MIT.

The Center for Engineering Systems Fundamentals (CESF) will be engaged in several areas, among them developing seminars and other ways to discuss engineering systems fundamentals; collaborating with faculty to bring in resources and shape the center's relationships with ESD's other research centers -- the Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development and the Center for Transportation and Logistics; and sponsoring an engineering systems book series and a biannual international symposium.

CESF will be led by Professor Richard Larson and report to ESD in MIT's School of Engineering.

Larson holds a dual appointment in civil and environmental engineering and engineering systems, and is founder of the Learning International Networks Consortium, which will hold its third conference at MIT in October. He also served as co-director of MIT's Operations Research Center for over 15 years, as director of MIT's Center for Advanced Educational Services, and was the founding director of the Forum on the Internet and the University.

Larson said, "The field of engineering systems looks at engineering design and analysis of large-scale systems broadly, incorporating important aspects of the social sciences into more usual technical engineering considerations. It will also re-examine the culture of engineering design, for instance, in the use of uncertainty. Instead of the usual engineering approach to minimize risk due to uncertainty, we also need to examine how to maximize opportunity created by uncertainty.��We have an intellectually diverse set of faculty members looking at all of the relevant issues, and we should have some exciting times ahead of us!"

CESF will be housed in E40 and nearby buildings.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 21, 2005 (download PDF).

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