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Harvard Celebrates the launching of the School of Engineering and Applied Scienc 精选

已有 12333 次阅读 2007-9-20 15:40

 

Harvard Celebrates the launching of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences September 20, 2007.

 

 

When the words “Harvard” and “engineering” are mentioned together, one often is asked the question: “Harvard teaches engineering?” This is understandable given the fact that MIT is only two miles down the Charles River in the same city of Cambridge,  the fact that the entire school of engineering and applied sciences at Harvard is only 1/3 the size of the EECS department of MIT, and the fact that MIT was established in 1865 and Harvard’s engineering school did not come into full status until 1950.

However, the history of the Harvard School actually is rather interesting and colorful. First of all, Harvard has the oldest endowed professorship in engineering in the US – the Lawrence professor of engineering (chair currently occupied by my friend Frederick Abernathy , a mechanical engineer specializing in fluid mechanics and manufacturing technology) . However, before 1950 Harvard had a miniscule engineering school. Around the turn of the 20th century, there lived in Boston an enormously wealthy inventor by the name of Gordon McKay who made his fortune in shoe making machinery. He had no heirs but six young mistresses. He was considering donating his entire fortune to the MIT after his death. However, a neighbor and friend of his was a history professor at Harvard and convinced him to give the money to Harvard instead. However, his will stipulated that the bulk of his estate should first be used to support his six mistresses in the style they have grown accustomed to. Only after they have all died will the fortune come to Harvard. As it turned out the last of his young mistresses died in 1948 at the ripe old age of 98. Between the time from turn of the 20th century to 1950, Harvard did  not have access to the bulk of the  money which by the standard of today is about 120 million dollars. Today it costs 4 million dollars to endow one professorship at Harvard. Thus the Gordon McKay endowment amounted to about 30+ tenured professorships – a big sum in any university. In fact, at one point Harvard University in its puritanical tradition thought it was rather unseemly that Harvard should wait for the deaths of the mistresses of others. So Harvard decided that she rather let MIT have this future “fortune” after all and proceeded to transfer the assets of the then miniscule engineering school together with the Gordon McKay Will to MIT. However, this caused some distant relatives of Gordon McKay to sue Harvard for violating his expressed will and thus they (i.e., the distant relatives) instead should be entitled to the fortune. Consequently, Harvard had to swallow her pride and retrieve the assets from MIT. In any case after nearly half a century in 1949, Harvard finally received the fortune and appointed a committee head by Vannever Bush, a scientific/engineering giant of his time who wrote the famous ”Science – the endless frontier” paper that herald in the establishment of the US National Science Foundation and the postwar boom in scientific and technology research in the US.  The committee was to decide what to do with this sudden influx of money – in other words, how to appoint 30 professors and in what area. John Von Neuman was also a member of this committee which eventually prepared a report known as the Bush report. Basically the report said this:

 

Given MIT was already well established nearby, it makes no sense for Harvard to try to compete with MIT subject by subject. Furthermore she will never be big enough to compete anyway. Instead Harvard should simply concentrate on appointing excellent people and never mind what area they should or will cover in engineering and applied sciences. Breakthrough and innovation are unpredictable anyway and faculty members should be given complete freedom.

 

However, the Gordon McKay Will did specify that his fortune is to be used to support “mechanical engineering and related arts” since he made his fortune in machines. Thus, the first strong group established in the Division of Engineering and Applied Physics (DEAP), as the school was then called, was the applied mechanics group. Four of the five original members of the faculty group were all members of the National Academy of Sciences and of Engineering and giants in their respective subfield. Of course the term “related arts” in the Will was interpreted rather loosely to include in subsequent years, applied mathematics, solid state physics and electronics, system engineering, environmental science and engineering, and computer science and engineering (Note: Harvard built the world’s first electro-mechanical digital computer in early 1940s, the Mark I-IV series. The original Mark I was on permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, and at Harvard.). From 1950 on, it took about twenty years to complete the 30+ professor appointments. I started as assistant professor in 1961 and received tenure in 1965. Thus, I am among the last of this first wave of teacher/researcher appointed before 1970 and retiring before 2010. In the 1980s and 1990s additional fund raising by the University added more professorships to the Division with the current total at 50+ faculty members. DEAP later on changed its name to DEAS dropping the “physics”  term in favor of “sciences”. But it has very much followed the recommendation of the Bush report. We have no departments but only informal groupings. Faculty members are free to pursue any kind of research so long as one can attract students and funding. A famous Harvard operating rule is “each tub on its own bottom”, i.e., decentralization at the individual faculty member level. The semi-serious joke was, “DEAS has 50+ professors and 50+ departments”.  I was initially appointed as member of the applied mechanical group since during 1960 they were the strongest group. Eventually we formed our own systems and control group in cooperation with other electrical engineers. In a university with departmental structure, such territorial change and transfer will be more difficult to carry out.

 

The DEAS operated very much as a big department under the faculty of arts and sciences for many years until recently. In 2006-07,  it was officially approved to operate as a School and changed its name to SEAS. Financially it operates same as the business, law, and medical schools, i.e. independent with own budget and endowments. Administratively it is still under the faculty of arts and sciences although with a great deal of independence.  September 20th was selected to be the official day of launching of SEAS. Here is the program of celebration.

Note added 7/23/08: For a you tube video and IEEE spectrum article about the new school go to


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrIlUPg99rY

 

and

 

http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/apr08/6097


Engineering a Renaissance
The Launch of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Cambridge, Massachusetts


 

12:30 PM                      Registration and lunch                                 

                                    Pierce Hall Lawn, 29 Oxford Street

 

 

1:30 PM                        Celebration

                                    Pierce Hall Lawn, 29 Oxford Street

 

                                                Welcome

Venkatesh Narayanamurti
John A. and Elizabeth Armstrong Professor;
Dean, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Introduction

Thomas E. Everhart ’53
Former President of the California Institute of Technology and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics, Emeritus

Susan Graham ’64

Pehong Chen Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley and President of Harvard’s Board of Overseers (2006-2007)

Launch

Drew Gilpin Faust
Lincoln Professor of History
President, Harvard University

Blessing

Peter J. Gomes ’68
Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church

 

 

 2:15 Pm                       Celebration concludes / travel to sanders theatre

                                                                                                                                                                       

 2:30 PM                       symposia

                        Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall, 45 Quincy Street

 

Keynote Address

Charles Vest
Former President of MIT and President of the National Academy of Engineering

Bridging Disciplines: The Role of Engineering and Applied Sciences in Tomorrow’s University

H. Vincent Poor
Dean, Princeton School of Engineering and Applied Science

Subra Suresh
Dean of the School of Engineering, MIT

Moderated by Michael D. Smith, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Engineering and Applied Sciences in the Wider World: Solving Societal Problems

Harvey Fineberg ’67, ’71, ’72, ’74, ’80
President of the Institute of Medicine (Equivalent of  a US National Academy of Medicine)

Paul M. Horn
Senior Vice President and Director of Research, IBM

John Holdren
Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy and Director Science, Technology, and Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; Chair, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Moderated by Howard A. Stone, Vicky Joseph Professor of Engineering and Applied Mathematics; Associate Dean for Academic Programs, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
                         

 

 

6:00 PM                        Symposia Concludes/Travel to the Charles Hotel

 

 

6:30 Pm                        Cocktails

The Charles Hotel, One Bennett Street

Ballroom Foyer, 3rd floor

 

 

7:15 PM                        Dinner & Presentations

The Charles Hotel, One Bennett Street

Ballroom, 3rd floor

 

Welcome

James R. Houghton '58, M.B.A. '62
Senior
Fellow of Harvard College and member, the Harvard Corporation

Remarks & Video Presentation

Steve Hyman
Professor of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School;

Provost, Harvard University

 

Drew Gilpin Faust
Lincoln Professor of History
President, Harvard University

 

Venkatesh Narayanamurti
John A. and Elizabeth Armstrong Professor;
Dean, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

 



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