in 1861, geologist William Barton Rogers recognized a need for formal training
in engineering and applied science. Based on the concept of "learning by doing,"
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was a response to the emerging industrial
age. MIT's focus on science and technology made it unique among colleges in the
United States and abroad. Boston Tech (now MIT) opened its doors in 1865 on Boylston
Street in the Back Bay and moved across the river to its Cambridge site in 1916.
A university with a global reputation, MIT takes pride in its innovative
community of students and faculty whose technological achievements
include the first chemical synthesis of penicillin and vitamin A,
the development of inertial guidance systems, and the design of artificial
limbs. Students like James McLurkin, winner of the 2003 Lemelson-MIT
student invention award, thrive in MIT's ever-evolving framework of
new ideas. His colony of robotic ants, patterned after swarming insects
found in nature, work together to perform tasks. The new Ray and Maria
Stata Center, designed specifically by Frank O. Gehry to stimulate
creative spirits like McLurkin, opened in 2003.
MIT's ties with industry
are extraordinary, and Greater Boston benefits from MIT's high number of entrepreneurs.
Only 9 percent of MIT undergraduates are from Massachusetts, but more than 42
percent of the software, biotech, and electronics companies founded by MIT graduates
are located in Massachusetts. A recent study concluded that MIT inventions added
billions of dollars to the U.S. economy each year and 150,000 jobs. Ray Stata,
class of 1952, founded Ananlog Devices, Inc., a world-leading semiconductor company,
in 1965. In 1990 MIT professor Rodney Brooks and students Helen Greiner and Colin
Angle founded iRobot to develop robots for industrial, military, and domestic
use. Thomas Massie and his wife Rhonda Massie, both MIT graduates, founded SensAble
Technologies in 1993 to commercialize and manufacture interface devices to create
touch-screen technology for computer users. In 2000 MIT graduate Robin Chase founded
Zipcar, Inc., a new concept in car-sharing and use.
In an exciting new
partnership, MIT will administer the newly created Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute,
an interdisciplinary, multiorganization facility with the mission of discovering
the underlying causes of disease. The new Institute and the many industries founded
here are examples of the cross-fertilization of talent and ideas that have always
been at the center of Boston's contributions to education, technology, medicine,
and finance worldwide.
Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy, 2001|