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Massachusetts Institute of Technology - 2016

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Research Description

Research Description By Graduate Engineering Department

Aeronautics and Astronautics

From its founding as the first university aeronautics program in the United States, MIT’s Aeronautics and Astronautics Department has been at the forefront of the most exciting developments in air and space technology, such as developing the Apollo guidance and navigation systems in the 1960s and leading today’s efforts to reduce the impact of aviation on the environment and create the autonomous/humans-in-loop systems of tomorrow. Our core competencies and strategic thrusts in research and education present both grand challenges and grand opportunities for aerospace, for the nation, and for the world. Our ability to address challenges and opportunities is multiplied by our linkages within the department, across MIT, and around the world. We are a vibrant, connected department, invigorated with new faculty hires, and advancing the state of the art in air transportation, autonomous systems, small satellites, and aerospace engineering education. MIT AeroAstro core competencies are: disciplines essential to aerospace vehicle design, real-time aerospace information sciences, advanced computational methods supporting design and decision-making, disciplines essential to human-system collaboration, atmosphere/space sciences and their integration with aerospace systems, and complex systems design, implementation, and operation.

Biological Engineering

MIT’s biological engineering (BE) department is on the forefront of the emerging biology-based engineering discipline. BE researchers fuse engineering principles with the knowledge and tools of molecular life sciences in order to solve contemporary problems through the measurement, modeling, and rational manipulation of biological systems. We prepare engineers and scientists to create biology-based technologies to benefit a range of diverse areas including human and environmental health, agriculture, manufacturing, and defense. Our faculty explores complicated problems arising from societal needs and concerns. BE researchers direct leading-edge research programs designed to address those problems.

Chemical Engineering

With the one of largest research faculty in the country, MIT’s Chemical Engineering Department offers programs of research and teaching which span the breadth of chemical engineering with unprecedented depth in fundamentals and applications. Our broad undergraduate program covers the application of chemical engineering to a variety of specific areas, including energy and the environment, nanotechnology, polymers and colloids, surface science, catalysis and reaction engineering, systems and process design, and biotechnology, with a track focusing on chemical-biological engineering for students interested in the emerging biotech and life sciences industries. Graduate study at MIT offers the opportunity to do important, leading-edge research in any of a broad range of innovative areas. Grad students may also earn a professional master’s degree through the David H. Koch School of Chemical Engineering Practice, a one-of-a-kind program where students help define and solve engineering problems at industrial hosts around the world by applying chemical engineering fundamentals. In collaboration with the Sloan School of Management, the Department also offers a doctoral program in Chemical Engineering Practice, which integrates chemical engineering, research and management. At all levels, research in the department focuses on fundamental knowledge and applied technologies, converging with that of many other fields; we work across disciplines within MIT as well as with research organizations and commercial enterprises worldwide.

Civil and Environmental Engineering

The intellectual focus of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT is discovery and innovation. We seek to understand the world, invent, and lead with creative design to sustain life and society in ever-changing environments. Emphasizing the use of quantitative approaches, CEE features two vibrant centers of gravity: environment, what exists as natural systems; and infrastructure, what is created by human activity. Our faculty and staff educate our students so they are best equipped to serve the nation and the world as professionals, scholars, academic leaders, and entrepreneurs. Our research and educational programs challenge the status quo, advance the frontiers of knowledge and expand the limit of the possible. We develop and apply pioneering approaches that range from basic scientific principles to complex engineering design, at scales from the nano to the global. We offer undergraduate degree programs in the broad areas of infrastructure and environment, and our graduate programs provide limitless possibilities at the frontier of knowledge and innovation.

Computation for Design and Optimization

Please refer to the Center for Computational Engineering research description.

Computational and Systems Biology

The MIT Computational and Systems Biology Initiative (CSBi) is a campus-wide education and research program that links biologists, computer scientists and engineers in a multi-disciplinary approach to the systematic analysis of complex biological phenomena. CSBi places equal emphasis on computational and experimental methods and on molecular and systems views of biological function. Multi-investigator research in CSBi is supported through a sophisticated research infrastructure, the CSBi Technology Platform. CSBi includes about eighty faculty members from over ten academic units across MIT's Schools of Science and Engineering, the Sloan School of Management, the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and the Broad Institute.

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

The faculty, students, and staff of MIT’s electrical engineering and computer science department have helped develop the technologies and infrastructure of the information age, ranging from the Internet and search engines to cell phones, high-definition television, and optical tomography. Current research reflects our ongoing leadership and innovation and promises to continue transforming the way people live, work, and play. Research is conducted in affiliated interdepartmental laboratories, and includes research in artificial intelligence and applications; robotics; computer architecture; software, systems, and networks; computation theory, cryptography, and algorithms; communications, control, signal processing, and optimization; devices, electronics, electrodynamics, and photonics; biomedical science and engineering; and computational biology.

Health Sciences and Technology

The Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology (HST) a unique collaboration that integrates science, medicine and engineering to solve problems in human health. It brings together scientists, engineers, and clinicians from MIT’s School of Engineering, MIT’s School of Science, Harvard Medical School, Harvard University, and Boston- area teaching hospitals. HST’s Educational Programs are distinguished by a strong quantitative orientation, hands-on experiences in clinical settings, and interdisciplinary and translational research projects. Our faculty have outstanding record of accomplishment in healthcare research, bringing innovation from the laboratory bench to the patients’ bedside and also bringing clinical insight from the bedside to the bench. A multidisciplinary approach emphasizes the quantitative and molecular science of medicine and biomedical research. Focus areas include developing approaches to transform diagnosis (imaging, medical devices, computational algorithms), addressing challenges in infectious diseases, improving the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease, and offering novel approaches to understanding brain function and neurological disorders.

Institute for Data, Systems, and Society

The Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS) at MIT advances education and research in analytical methods in information and decision systems, statistics and data science, and the social sciences, then it applies these methods to address complex societal challenges in areas such as finance, energy systems, urbanization, social networks, and health analytics. Technology advances, in areas such as smart sensors, big data, communications, computing, and social networking, are rapidly scaling the size and complexity of interconnected systems and networks, and at the same time are generating masses of data that can lead to new insights and understanding. Research at IDSS aims to understand and analyze data from across these systems, which present unique and substantial challenges due to scale, complexity, and the difficulties of extracting clear, actionable insights. With faculty participation from all five schools at MIT, IDSS embraces the collision and synthesis of ideas and methods from statistics, data science, information theory and inference, systems and control theory, optimization, economics, human and social behavior, and network science.

Materials Science and Engineering

Researchers in MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE) are concerned with the design, fabrication, and use of all classes of materials, and with the environmental, health, economic, and manufacturing performance of materials. 
DMSE research ranges from the fundamental physics and chemistry of materials to their design, processing, and applications. Research areas span the spectrum of electronic, optical, and magnetic properties; biological and polymeric materials; structural and environmental materials; materials for energy and catalysis; and nanostructured materials; and includes both experimental and computational research.

Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest and most versatile of the engineering professions. This is reflected in the portfolio of current research and education activities in the department, one that has widened rapidly in the past decade. Today, our faculty are involved in projects that aim to bring engineering solutions to a spectrum of global challenges, ranging from developing alternative clean and renewable energy technologies including research in photovoltaics, wind energy, fuel cells, and carbon sequestration; developing the materials, processing, systems and technologies that will bring clean water to the developed and developing world; developing the instrumentation, controls and technologies required for medical treatment and biomedical exploration; design of the vehicles, acoustics and control systems for underwater exploration and environmental monitoring; designing the structure, materials and advanced technologies needed for better protection and security of our first responders and soldiers; exploring and decoding optimized biological designs to engineer new materials and devices stemming from the biomimetics of fish swimming to clam burrowing to snail locomotion to natural armor structures providing protection ; development of new thermal and membrane technologies for water purification and desalination; and the design, manufacture and control of precision devices and machines for competitive technologies. These projects cover the fundamental engineering science underpinnings up to the design, manufacturing and fabrication of the new structures, devices, and technologies. These and our many other projects reflect the wide-ranging interests of our professors and students " while addressing global needs and concerns. There are seven principal research areas in the Mechanical Engineering Department at MIT, each encompassing several laboratories and academic programs that foster in-depth analysis and experimentation.

Nuclear Science and Engineering

Nuclear power supplies about 20 percent of the electricity used in the United States and is an increasingly important energy source worldwide. Nuclear science and technology has numerous additional beneficial applications " and the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT is at the forefront of many of them. Our researchers develop nuclear reactors for diverse uses, including power generation, fluid fuels production, waste management, and space propulsion, and they contribute to security goals by exploring techniques for detecting and assessing nuclear threats. They apply nuclear technologies to the physical sciences in areas ranging from neutron interferometry to radiation modeling, they develop quantum information systems, and they work in direct support of international efforts to demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion power. Research in MIT’s Nuclear Science and Engineering Department, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2008, is conducted in three broad application areas: fission engineering and nuclear energy, fusion and plasma physics, and nuclear security.

Supply Chain Management Program

The Supply Chain Management (SCM) program attracts business professionals from across the globe to experience its unique combination of master's level coursework, professional development, and industry interaction. Started in 1998 by the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, SCM provides its graduates with proficiency in both problem solving and change leadership. They are now practicing these skills in a wide variety of industries, including consulting, manufacturing, retail, logistics, distribution, and software. Companies worldwide are turning to logistics and supply chain management to give them strategic advantage and they’re hiring SCM graduates to implement that change. In just ten months, SCM students earn a Master's of Engineering in Logistics degree -- the U.S.'s first engineering graduate degree program of its kind -- and hone their supply chain expertise through an intensive program that includes: a challenging curriculum, cutting-edge research (including a thesis project), communication skill development, leadership training and extensive industry interaction.

System Design and Management Program

The System Design & Management (SDM) program offers a customizable portfolio of programs for companies seeking to build or strengthen a systems thinking capability within their technical organizations. Their degree options include the SDM master’s program, a career-compatible program for experienced technical professionals leading to an MS in engineering and management jointly offered by the MIT School of Engineering and the MIT Sloan School of Management. They also offer an Integrated Design and Management (IDM) track for early to mid career professionals in design, engineering, and management.

Research Description By Engineering Research Center

Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab

The Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS) is an Institute-wide initiative created to coordinate and promote water and food research at MIT, emphasizing the deployment of effective technologies, programs, and policies that will have a measurable and international impact as humankind adapts to a rapidly expanding and evolving population on a changing planet. J-WAFS currently funds a number of PIs in the School of Engineering, including some interdepartmental and cross-school collaborations.

Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems

The Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems (CANES) was established in September 2000 by the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering and the MIT Energy Laboratory (now the MIT Energy Initiative) to create through research a better understanding of nuclear energy systems that promise more favorable economics, safety, proliferation resistance and environmental impact. The Center’s programs involve the development and application of methods for the design, operation, and regulation of current and advanced nuclear reactors and fuel cycles. This requires advances in knowledge about traditional scientific and technical disciplines, such as computational methods for multi-scale physics and materials under harsh environments, as well as modern methods of systems probabilistic decision and safety analysis, together with human interactions and management science.

Center for Computational Engineering

The MIT Center for Computational Engineering (CCE) is an interdisciplinary unit involving faculty and researchers from MIT’s Schools of Engineering, Science, Architecture and Planning, and Management who focus on innovative methods and applications of computation. Our educational programs, a master of science program in Computation for Design and Optimization (CDO) and a doctoral program in Computational Science and Engineering (CSE), seek to train future generations of computational scientists and engineers to both develop and use sophisticated computational methods for a wide variety of applications. CEE offers two degree programs: Computation for Design and Optimization (CDO) is an interdisciplinary master's degree program providing students with a strong foundation in computational methods for the design and analysis of complex engineered and scientific systems. The CDO program emphasizes educational breadth through introductory core courses in numerical analysis, simulation, and optimization. The Computational Science and Engineering (CSE) PhD program undertakes advanced specialization in a computation-related field of their choice through focused coursework and a doctoral thesis in this field. The CSE degree is awarded by one of the following five departments: Aeronautics and Astronautics, Chemical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Nuclear Science and Engineering; the specialization in computational science and engineering is highlighted by specially crafted thesis fields.

Center for Transportation and Logistics

Research in the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics (MIT CTL) focuses on understanding transportation system planning, operations, management, and logistics modeling and supply chain management for shippers; technology and policy analysis for government; and management, planning, and operations for trucking, railroad, air, and ocean carriers. CTL’s Global Supply Chain and Logistics Excellence (SCALE) Network of research and education centers now spans North America, Europe, Asia, and South America and enrolls more than 100 graduate students a year. The Center’s research programs directly involve more than 80 MIT faculty and research staff from a wide range of disciplines, as well as researchers from the Global SCALE Network. CTL’s research falls under three themes: supply chain management and logistics, all aspects and modes of transportation, and new systems approach to the field of aging, technology, and innovation. The first research program of its type, the AgeLab has developed a robust research agenda that addresses transportation, well-being, longevity planning, and housing for an aging society. AgeLab research is pioneering the impact of autonomous systems on an aging population as well as family caregivers in the home and car. It also aims to expand the role of retirement planning in healthy independent aging.

Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

The Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) is an interdisciplinary laboratory of over 800 people that spans several academic departments and has ongoing active projects with members of every academic school at MIT. CSAIL is committed to fundamental research across the whole range of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence disciplines, and to new applications that these disciplines enable. The scope of CSAIL’s research and education activities includes studies in core artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, medical applications, artificial-life, molecular and cellular biology; graphics, natural language, speech, and vision; architecture, compilers, languages, networks, and SW engineering; theory in the areas of algorithms, applied computing, complexity theory, cryptography, distributed systems, and supercomputing. CSAIL also hosts the World Wide Web Consortium, and contributes to its development of the semantic web. The Laboratory fosters participation in research by undergraduate and graduate students. Research assistantships are available to graduate students for work in all aspects of the research program. Graduate students typically are enrolled in the Departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Mathematics, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Biological Engineering, or Health Sciences and Technology. Undergraduates may become involved through MIT's Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program.

David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research

The Koch Institute (KI) conducts cross-disciplinary research to solve the complex problems of cancer and rapidly translate innovation to benefit patients. One of seven NCI-designated basic research cancer centers, the KI comprises more than 50 laboratories and 1,000 researchers. Leveraging MIT's strengths in the life sciences and engineering, the KI engages cancer biologists and chemists; materials, chemical, electrical, mechanical and biological engineers; clinicians and computer scientists; in a unique and genuinely collaborative research model. Literally and figuratively situated at the nexus of MIT's campus, the Cambridge biotech hub, and Boston’s renowned cancer hospitals and healthcare centers, the KI is continually expanding its network of relationships with clinical, industrial, and organizational partners. The KI not only creates new knowledge about the processes that drive cancer, but it also creates new tools, devices, and technology to use that knowledge in directly combatting cancer development and progression. Our investigators are focused on five research areas that we believe are critical for rapid progress toward controlling cancer: nanotechnology-based cancer therapeutics, detection and monitoring, metastasis, personalized medicine, and cancer immunology. Ultimately, KI researchers are dedicated to bringing the boldest and most innovative ideas, the latest science, and the most advanced technology to bear together in the fight against cancer.

Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation

The Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation is a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship through its support of MIT faculty and student research and by facilitating collaboration among entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and innovative businesses. The center carries out its mission of stimulating innovation and moving technology from the laboratory to the marketplace though several activities, including its grant program, its catalyst program, innovation teams (“i-Teams”), and events and conferences. The center “Selects, Directs and Connects”. It is an active part of the MIT and Greater Boston entrepreneurial ecosystems. Since its inception, the Deshpande Center has funded more than 125 projects with $15 million in grants. Thirty-two projects have spun out of the center into commercial ventures, collectively raising more than $500 million in outside financing. These companies are providing revolutionary products in life sciences, information technology, healthcare, imaging, energy and materials.

Industrial Performance Center

The Industrial Performance Center (IPC) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is an interdisciplinary community of researchers dedicated to the study of innovation, productivity, and industrial development in the United States and around the world. Founded in 1991, the IPC carries out field-based research that brings scientists and engineers together with social science and management scholars creating a forum for deeper inquiry in collaboration with industry, government and other stakeholders. Our research teams observe strategic, technological, and organizational developments in industry and analyze the implications for firms, their employees, and the societies in which they operate. Through its work with business, government, and educators, the center helps leaders better understand global industrial developments and create practical new approaches for strengthening business strategies, public policies, technical practices, and educational programs. The IPC serves as a focus at MIT for interdisciplinary research on the rapidly changing global economy, monitoring and analyzing patterns of organizational and technological practice in different countries, regions, and local communities, interpreting them for our partners and sponsors, and feeding our observations and insights back into the core disciplines and educational curricula of the Institute.

Institute for Medical Engineering and Science

The Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) aims to pioneer novel research and graduate education paradigms to advance health and to educate the next generation of leaders working at the convergence of engineering, science, and medicine. IMES has three important immediate goals: 1] To serve as an integrative force across MIT and create an intellectual hub of research and education at the convergence of engineering, science, and medicine. 2] To create strategic partnerships with collaborating hospitals and industry that could be transformative for health care. 3] To provide a robust home for the Health Science and Technology graduate program. Achieving these goals is will have broad impact on units at MIT and on the collaborating institutions in the Boston area. In support of these ambitions IMES draws on HST’s 40-plus years of providing world-class training to leaders in health science and technology. HST’s MD and PhD educational programs through the MIT-Harvard Medical School partnership, form a significant historical, structural, and administrative underpinning that is important for IMES’ potential and growth. IMES anticipates significant growth in educational and research programs as partnerships with the hospitals are put in place, and new faculty members are recruited in partnership with MIT departments. In partnership with HMS, IMES will also play a significant role in educating physician-scientists and physician-engineers who can integrate approaches from the physical sciences and engineering with the practice and science of medicine.

Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies

The Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (ISN) is a team of MIT, Army and industry partners working together to discover and mature field technologies that dramatically advance Soldier protection and survivability capabilities. Team members collaborate on basic research to create new materials, devices, processes and systems, and on applied research to transition promising results toward practical products useful to the Soldier. The ISN Mission includes not only decreasing the weight that Soldiers carry but also improving blast and ballistic protection, creating new methods of detecting and detoxifying hazardous chemical and biological substances, providing physiological monitoring and automated medical intervention, and enhancing situational awareness. No weapons or classified research is performed. Approximately fifty faculty members from 12 MIT academic departments, together with approximately 100 graduate students and 40 post docs, participate in ISN research each year. ISN projects often cut across traditional engineering and scientific disciplines in order to provide the breadth of expertise needed to deal with complex, multi-faceted research problems encountered in carrying out the ISN mission. The ISN basic research portfolio consists of five strategic areas: lightweight, multifunctional nanostructured materials; Soldier medicine; blast and ballistic protection; hazardous substances sensing; and nanosystems integration.

Lab for Information and Decision Systems

The Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS) is an interdepartmental laboratory for research and education in systems, control, optimization, communication, networks, and statistical signal processing. These disciplines, which span the domain of the analytical information and decision sciences, play a critical and pervasive role in science, engineering, and society more broadly. LIDS provides a melting pot of disciplines that share a common approach to problems and a common mathematical base with an energized environment that fosters the research needed for the future and instills in our students the disciplinary depth and interdisciplinary understanding required of research and engineering leaders of today and tomorrow.

Materials Processing Center

The Materials Processing Center (MPC) was established as an interdisciplinary center within MIT’s School of Engineering in response to a recognized national need to improve the materials processing knowledge base and streamline the process of translating materials research results into industrial innovations and applications. The Center’s basic philosophy focuses on uniting the materials research community at MIT by forming closer ties and collaborative research opportunities with industry. Collaboration on research ventures, technology transfer, continuing education and communication among industrial and governmental entities are our top priorities. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the field of materials processing, faculty and research staff affiliated with the Center come from a range of fields beyond the traditional materials science and engineering group. Contributions are being made by scientists and professionals in chemical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, as well as in aeronautical and astronautical engineering, civil engineering, nuclear engineering, environmental engineering, ocean engineering and chemistry. The Materials Processing Center builds upon MIT’s history of close ties to industry.

Microsystems Technology Laboratories

The Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL) was established in the mid-1980s inside the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department as an interdepartmental laboratory that supports microsystems research encompassing work in circuits and systems, MEMS, electronic and photonic devices, and molecular and nanotechnology. Our research is enabled by a set of shared experimental facilities, as well as a vibrant industrial consortium. Annually, MTL supports the research of greater than 900 students and staff who are sponsored by contracted research of more than $81M. Over the years, MTL has evolved and grown into an Interdepartmental laboratory reaching across the entire Institute. Centers supported by MTL include: Medical Electronic Devices Realization Center (MEDRC), the Center for Excitonics, the MIT-MTL Center for Graphene Devices and 2D Systems, and the MTL-MIT Gallium Nitride (GaN) Energy Initiative. MTL fosters new technology initiatives within MIT and provides shared technical infrastructure to research groups across the institute, as well as to external affiliates.

Research Laboratory of Electronics

The Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE), MIT's leading entrepreneurial interdisciplinary research organization, provides a collaborative and vibrant intellectual community for more than 600 researchers. Through RLE faculty, the Laboratory has made significant discoveries over the years in various areas including Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) and High-Definition Television (HDTV), and has celebrated achievements such as a Physics Nobel Prize win and the emergence of Bose Corporation. Originally rooted in the exploration of Airborne Radar, RLE aims to create a stimulating and supportive environment for visionary and diverse research, and strategically deploys resources to achieve excellence in research and education, and to support translation of engineering innovations to application technologies that are relevant to today and critical to tomorrow.

Sociotechnical Systems Research Center

The Sociotechnical Systems Research Center Center (SSRC) focuses on addressing the increasingly complex sociotechnical issues that affect our world. SSRC works with faculty, researchers, and staff from across MIT's five schools and with partners in industry, government, and academia to examine the opportunities and challenges that these global issues present. SSRC's $8.9M (FY12) research portfolio includes projects in a wide variety of sectors including automotive, biotechnology, healthcare, information quality, and materials systems. For more information and a complete list of the labs within SSRC, please visit