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WINTER 1992 

in the 1990s 


Robert C. Stempel '55 
Chairman and CEO 
of General Motors 

'"-iiiif 1 ^; 





— • *# 


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WPI Journal 



" 10 





What's Good for General Motors Today? Michael Dorsey 
The 1980s was an eventful decade for the world's largest manufacturer. General 
Motors Chairman Robert C. Stempel '55 explains what the corporation learned 
during those critical 10 years about making quality products for the highly 
competitive automotive market, and how it is applying those lessons to become 
a stronger company in the 1990s. 

The New Wave in Manufacturing Carol Campbell 
Power to the people. It may sound like a leftover slogan from the '60s, but more 
and more, American corporations are learning to make their employees key 
players in the quest for quality. As manufacturing executives at seven corpora- 
tions explain, involving and empowering workers is a critical step on the road 
to competitiveness. 

Flights of Fancy 

Here's a look at several of WPI's best-known buildings — up close and personal. 
In this four-color photo essay, we capture some of the embellishments and 
details that give these buildings their unique character and charm. 

Education on the Front Lines Cathy Kalenian 

In the classrooms and laboratories of the Washburn Shops, students enrolled 
in manufacturing engineering, WPI's newest accredited academic program, are 
learning to become the manufacturing executives and the industrial innovators 
of the 21st century. 

The Entrepreneurial Spirit: Steady As She Goes Michael Dorsey 
Robert H. Beckett '57 waited until the time and circumstances were right to 
found his own company. Since then, his unswerving vision and quiet leadership 
have helped Robec Distributors grow into the nation's most profitable distribu- 
tor of desktop computers, peripherals and software. 


34 Communique: Climbing Between the Peaks. Donald F. Berth '57 

Front Coven Robert C. Stempel poses with a General Motors concept car. Story on page 2. Photo 
courtesy General Motors. Opposite: Paul Cotnoir, director of the Manufacturing Engineering Appli- 
cations Center, left, and graduate student Fredric Gold use a horoscope to examine the transmission 
housing of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Story on page 21. Photo by Janet Woodcock. Back Cover. A 
detail from a hand-colored engraving of the WPI campus by Richard Rummell, completed in 1908. WPI 
has launched a drive to endow the maintenance of its academic buildings, including Boynton Hall. 
Stratton Hall and the Washburn Shops, seen here from left to right. Story on page 34. (Note: Alumni 
Gymnasium, completed in 1916 and seen in the background, was added to this print at a later date.) 

Staff of the WPI Journal: Editor, Michael W. Dorsey • Alumni News Editor, Ruth S. Trask • Writers, Bonnie Gelbwasser and Neil Norum • Designer, Carol Hoyle Ballard 

• Photographer, Janet Woodcock • Alumni Publications Committee: Samuel Mencow '37, chairman • Paul J. Cleary 71 • James S. Demetry '58 • Judith Donahue SIM '82 

• William J. Firla Jr. '60 • Carl A. Keyser '39 • Robert C. Labonte '54 • Roger N. Perry Jr. '45 • The WPI Journal (ISSN 0148-6128) is published quarterly for the WPI Alumni 
Association by the Office of University Relations. Second class postage paid at Worcester, MA, and additional mailing offices. Printed by The Lane Press, Burlington, Vt. 
Diverse views presented in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or official WPI policies. We welcome letters to the editor. Address correspondence 
to the Editor, WPI Journal, WPI, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609-2280. Phone: (508) 831-5609, FAX: (508) 831-5604, Electronic mail (Internet): 
Postmaster: If undeliuerable, please send form 3579 to the address above. Do not return publication. Entire contents m 1992, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. 

Winter 1992 

What's Good for 
General Motors 

By Michael Dorsey 

After a decade of dramatic change, the world's largest 
manufacturer is striving to become a smaller, leaner 
and more efficient corporation to better face the enor- 
mous pressures of foreign competition, and to better 
survive one of the longest recessions in recent memory. 
What did GM learn during the tumultuous 
1980s about building high-quality products, about bal- 
ancing automation and human resources, and about 
competing in the global marketplace, and how is it 
putting those lessons to work to tackle the challenges 
it faces today? GM's chairman and CEO, WPI's own 
Robert C. Stempel '55 (left), provides some answers. 

n 1952 President Eisenhower nominated Charles 
"Engine Charlie" Wilson, a former General Motors 
president and a major GM stockholder, to be his 
secretary of defense. Asked whether his ties to a 
corporation that counted defense contracts as an im- 
portant part of its bottom line would pose a conflict of 
interest in his new job, Wilson replied, "For years I've 
thought what was good for the country was good for 
General Motors, and vice versa." 

While General Motors' impact on the well-being 
of the United States may have diminished somewhat 
since those days, it is still the largest and most impor- 
tant manufacturing company in the world. Its work 
force numbers close to half a million. About 10,000 
dealers sell its products. Some 30,000 suppliers pro- 
vide it with parts and raw materials, and its assembly 
lines are the nation's largest consumers of steel, rub- 
ber, glass and plastic. 

It's not surprising, then, that decisions made in 
the 14th-floor executive offices of the General Motors 
Building in Detroit have the power to captivate the 
international business press, and quickly become 
the focus of conversations around water coolers and 
dinner tables from coast to coast. 

Such was the case on Dec. 18, 1991, when Robert 
C. Stempel '55, a 33-year General Motors veteran who 
became chairman and CEO 18 months ago, stood 
before a packed press conference and announced a 
major resizing of the corporation. Over the next five 
years, Stempel said, GM will close 21 of its 125 assem- 
bly and parts plants, reducing its capacity by one-fifth, 
and eliminate 74,000 blue- and white-collar jobs (nearly 
18 percent of its North American work force), shrink- 
ing the company to about half its 1985 size. 

WPI Journal 

The announcement was the latest step 
in a series of actions — including an historic 
$2. 1 billion special charge against earnings 
in 1990— that GM has taken over the last few 
years to improve its competitiveness, pro- 
ductivity and profitability by bringing its 
manufacturing capacity and payroll in line 
with its worldwide auto sales. Those sales 
have been declining in recent years due 
chiefly to the erosion of consumer confi- 
dence brought on by a lingering recession. 

In 1991, for example, sales of GM ve- 
hicles fell by about 600,000 over 1990 levels, 
leaving the company facing losses of up to 
$3 billion (GM last earned a profit— $4.85 
billion — in 1989). The drop in earnings fol- 
lowed a decade in which the company's 
share of the North American market steadily 

GM, which once made 52 percent of all 
cars sold in the U.S., saw its market share 
drop from 46 percent in 1980 to just over 35 
percent by the end of 1991. Over the same 
period, the share held by Japanese auto- 
makers rose from 15.7 percent to 29 percent. 
Significantly, the size of that market has also 
declined — from about 14 million vehicles 
in 1980 to about 12 million vehicles today. 

How did General Motors arrive at this 
critical era of belt-tightening? How did a cor- 
poration that once seemed the stable, solid 
heart of American enterprise find itself in 
the midst of an urgent quest to rebuild and 
remake itself? Much of the answer lies in the 
events of the 1980s, 10 years of dramatic 
change at GM, and a decade that posed 
some of the most significant challenges the 
corporation has faced in its 83-year history. 

Several critical events in the 1970s paved 
the way for the eventful '80s. The most im- 
portant was the oil embargo of 1973, which 
sent gasoline prices soaring and created a 

! tremendous demand for smaller, more fuel- 
efficient cars. American car companies re- 
sponded with models like the Ford Pinto 
and the Chevrolet Vega, but consumers 
seemed to prefer imports like the Honda 
Civic. In fact, Japanese carmakers made 
significant inroads into the U.S. car market 
during the rest of the 1970s. 

In 1978 the U.S. was hit with another oil 
embargo and the federal government intro- 
duced the first fuel-economy standards for 
cars. General Motors, which had already 
begun a program to downsize its larger 
cars, accelerated that program and set out 
to make virtually every one of its vehicles 
smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient. 

The oil embargoes, combined with a re- 
cession in the mid-1970s, led to declining 
sales for all three U.S. automakers. In re- 
sponse, GM laid off thousands of workers in 
1979, and the following year the company 
posted its first yearly loss in 60 years— $763 
million. As the 1980s began, it was becoming 
clear to many that American automakers 
had a bigger problem: the Japanese were 
beating the Big Three American automakers 
in two critical areas — quality and cost. By 
selling cars that appealed to U.S. consumers 
and keeping their manufacturing costs 
down, the Japanese were giving GM, Ford 
and Chrysler a run for their money. 

Some of the ways in which GM re- 
sponded to the competitive pressures of 
the early 1980s were destined to erode con- 
sumer confidence. For example, the move 
to downsize cars resulted in car series — 
the J-cars of the early 1980s, for example, 
or the GM-10 series introduced later in the 
decade — with models that looked too much 
alike or that lacked the eye-catching styling 
of their foreign competitors. More and more, 
consumers also came to see GM cars as 

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The 1992 Cadillac Seville, winner of the top award from three major automotive 
magazines, is a product of GM's redoubled commitment to making quality cars. 

!SS ^ 18 

The NUMMI plant in Fremont, Calif., 
a joint venture between General 
Motors and Toyota. NUMMI was one 
of several experiments GM engaged 
in during the 1980s to learn how to 
make its manufacturing operations 
more competitive. 

being lower in quality and more expensive 
than the vehicles rolling off the Toyota and 
Honda assembly lines. 

Recognizing that it was losing ground to 
the Japanese, General Motors made a major 
effort to upgrade and automate its plants 
in the 1980s (see Lesson 1, next page). The 
plant improvements were an attempt to 
lower GM's production costs, an area where 
it has long lagged behind even its domestic 

While GM found that automation is 
important, it learned that other ways of im- 
proving productivity (many pioneered on 
Japanese factory floors)— like keeping mini- 
mum inventories of parts on hand, finding 
ways to involve and empower workers, and 
becoming committed to the continuous im- 
provement of both products and the manu- 
facturing process — were even more vital. 

To learn more about these techniques, 
GM engaged in several partnerships with 
Japanese companies during the 1980s (see 
Lesson 2, next page) and launched a new 
car division, Saturn, to apply these lessons 
and to develop its own manufacturing inno- 

Even before GM's Dec. 18 announcement, 
auto analysts were in agreement that Gen- 
eral Motors is making good use of the les- 
sons it learned in the decade just past and 
is beginning to turn the giant corporation 
around. While it will take time to rebuild 
consumer confidence lost in the 1980s, car 
buyers and the automotive media seem to 
like the high-quality cars GM is putting into 

Sales of the 1992 Buick Park Avenue, a 
stylish midsize car, are running about 34 
percent ahead of sales of the previous ver- 
sion of the model. The Chevrolet Caprice 

Winter 1992 

was named Motor Trend's Car of Year in 
1991, and the new Cadillac Seville has cap- 
tured top awards from three major automo- 
tive magazines. While Japanese makers still 
earn the top spots on the index of customer 
satisfaction published by the California- 
based J.D. Power & Associates, Buick 
and Cadillac ranked fourth and seventh, 
respectively, on the most recent list — the 
only U.S. carmakers to appear in the top 10. 

Over the past two years, GM has re- 
vamped many of its models and introduced 
a flurry of new vehicles, including 16 new 
cars and trucks for 1992— the largest new 
car rollout in automotive history. These cars 
are winning consumer approval for their 
sleek, aerodynamic styling and high quality. 
In addition, the company is winning a well- 
deserved reputation as a technical leader in 
such areas as anti-lock brakes and electric 

GM has also been at work streamlining 
its massive organization. Its parts-making 
divisions have declined from 12 to nine. The 
division that makes brakes and suspension 
systems for GM cars is being merged with 
the one that makes hardware related to 
those systems. The GM engine and trans- 
mission divisions have been merged into 
a single powertrain division. 

And, while GM as a whole continues to 
lose money, its two major acquisitions of 
the 1980s— EDS, a computer services com- 
pany, and Hughes Aircraft— are both doing 
well. But Stempel acknowledges that there 
is still much to do. For example, GM is still 
the highest-cost auto manufacturer and its 
plants are still not as efficient or as flexible 
as those of the Japanese. 

GM's latest advertising campaign says 
the company is "putting quality on the 
road." With 24 other car companies also 
putting quality — in the form of some 600 
models of cars and trucks — on that same 
road, GM will have to continue to improve 
the way it designs, engineers and makes 
cars to remain competitive. The Journal 
asked Robert Stempel what lessons he feels 

his company distilled from its experiences 
in the 1980s and how it is using those les- 
sons to meet its goals for the decade ahead. 
Here are his answers: 


Balance Automation With 
Well-Trained Workers 

In the late 1970s General Motors launched a 
major effort to modernize its aging assem- 
bly and parts plants and introduce robotics 
and other automation technology to its fac- 
tories. By the end of the 1980s the corpora- 
tion would spend about $77 billion on plant 

"Many of our plants were built in the 
1920s and 1930s," Stempel says, "and were 
of a style that was just the way they used to 
teach at WPI. They had high bays and col- 
umns and cranes and so forth — a lot of ver- 
tical motion. So, we built new plants and 
refurbished older ones, because if you're 
going to be competitive in today's world 
you need modern, up-to-date facilities." 

The new and renovated plants incorpo- 
rated some of the latest ideas in manufac- 
turing, Stempel says, such as unloading 
parts and materials near where they'll be 
used in the plant to minimize trucking and 
handling, and reducing the amount of room 
needed for parts storage by keeping just 
those raw materials on hand that are neces- 
sary for the immediate future— what's 
known as just-in-time inventory. "Most of 
all, we decided we better be pretty flexible," 
Stempel says, "because we don't know what 
the automobile is going to look like in the 
future, other than that it will probably have 
four wheels." 

While the investment in plant moderniza- 

Workers at the modern Saturn plant have 
stantial role in ensuring the quality of the 

tion has paid off by giving the corporation a 
modern manufacturing base, its experimen- 
tation with automation has taken longer to 
bear fruit, Stempel says. "Early in the 1980s 
there was a feeling that you could do every- 
thing with robots— that they would make 
things quite simple. We've learned over time 
that you want to automate things that are 
repetitive or that take a lot of grunt work- 
things like the precision placement of parts 
or precision welding. None of us can do the 
same thing perfectly hour after hour, but a 
robot can. 

"But where you have tasks that may vary 
from car to car, or tasks that will be con- 
stantly changing, don't discount a well- 
trained worker. The human body is still the 
most adaptable machine when it comes to 
reprogramming. So you need a balance of 
automation and people. That balance is 
what makes it work." 


Make Workers Part 
of the Quest for Quality 

While General Motors worked to upgrade 
and automate its plants, it also entered into 
several critical projects during the 1980s 
aimed, at least in part, at learning why Japa- 
nese automakers were able to turn out high- 
quality cars faster and less expensively than 
U.S. manufacturers. The most important of 
these undertakings was a joint venture 
launched in 1983 with Toyota Motor Sales 
Co., Japan's largest and most profitable car 

Called NUMM1 (New United Motor Manu- 
facturing Inc.), the company today builds 
the Geo Prizm, the Toyota Corolla and a 
Toyota pick-up truck at a GM plant in 

Fremont, Calif. GM 
and Toyota each 
appointed half of 
the members of the 
NUMM1 board of di- 
rectors and the plant 
itself is managed by 
Japanese and Ameri- 
can staffers. 

"The joint venture 
was really a learning 
laboratory for Gen- 
eral Motors," Stempel 
says. "We wanted to 
know what the Japa- 
nese did differently 
that we might also 
try. Was their success 
due to the fact that 
they come from a 
country half-way 

been given a sub- around tne § ,obe ' or 
products they make, is it the fact that they 

WPI Journal 

do things differently than we do?" 

GM discovered that while automation 
and advanced technology played a role in 
Toyota's success, the way it manages its 
plants and people is far more important, 
Stempel says. "We learned about just-in-time 
inventory, about ideas like continuous im- 
provement — even about things as simple as 
workers using visual signals to let people 
know when they are running out of materi- 
als or when something isn't quite right on 
the line. Overall, it's been a good learning 
experience for us." 

The techniques employed at NUMMI, in- 
cluding a strong emphasis on human devel- 
opment and placing responsibility for 
decision making and quality improvement in 
the hands of hourly workers, would ulti- 
mately play a role in the success of General 
Motor's Saturn Division. Saturn represented 
GM's attempt to start with a clean sheet of 
paper and invent, not only a new car, but a 
new way to design, engineer and build it. 

Created over eight years at a cost of 
about $3 billion, Saturn is the first new GM 
division since founder William Durant ac- 
quired the Pontiac Body Co. in 1916. 
Stempel says Saturn was designed to ac- 
knowledge some fundamental rules about 
manufacturing that GM had come to appre- 
ciate. "You've got to understand that cus- 
tomers today are only going to accept the 
highest-quality products," he says. "They're 
looking for something new and fresh and 
they're looking for something that's done in 
a short period of time. So Saturn was set up 
to meet those demands. 

"The objective was to build a small, 
highly fuel-efficient, affordable car here in 
the United States at a profit. We set some 
very tough parameters for ourselves, be- 
cause we realized that if we can't build a 

"We're Going to Walk Throug 


1 ■ 

1 1. 

Stempel, on campus to deliver the 1987 
Commencement address, stops to admire 
a race car designed by WPI students. 

he man who took charge of General 
Motors on Aug. 1, 1990, has had a life- 
long fascination with cars. Bom in 
Trenton, N.J., Robert C. Stempel grew up 
in Bloomfield, N J., where he worked in a 
garage to earn money for college. He later 
fixed cars for schoolmates while earning his 
degree in mechanical engineering at WPI. 
After he graduated in 1955, he worked 
briefly for General Electric and served in 
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but his 
real ambition was to land a job at General 
Motors. He began as a design engineer in 
the Oldsmobile chassis design department 
in 1958. His first assignment, designing part 
of a wheel assembly, went poorly, but he 
learned and went on to develop the front 
suspension and transmission for the 1966 
Toronado — GM's first postwar front-wheel- 
drive car. Stempel's design for the system 
that joined the transmission to the front 
axle is considered a significant engineering 

After earning an M.B.A. from Michigan 
State University in 1973, he was chosen spe- 
cial assistant to then-GM president Edward 
Cole. Under Cole, Stempel helped develop 
the catalytic converter, a revolutionary 

Cadillac general manager John O. Grettenberger tells workers 
at the Hamtramck plant they've won the 1990 Baldrige Award. 
Robert Stempel can be seen behind the podium at left. 

small car profitably, it will only be a matter 
of time before we go out of this business." 
The first Saturns went on the market in 
1989, and so far the experiment seems to 
have been a great suc- 
cess. "We've stayed 
with our goal of having 
only the highest-quality 
product," Stempel says. 
"We've gotten good cus- 
tomer acceptance — it's 
one of the few cars we 
have on the market to- 
day that's really selling 
well — and buyers are 
recommending it to 
their friends and neigh- 

As it did with the 
products of the NUMMI 
experiment, GM is shar- 
ing the lessons of Saturn 
with its other divisions. 
"We're taking the people 
training, the educational 
skills, and the idea of 

teamwork and applying them. We've been 
doing that from day one. In some units it's 
worked very well; in others, where we have 
more of a history of friction between labor 
and management, it will take a little longer 
to get it through the system. 

"Sharing these experiences is something 
we do on a regular basis at General Motors. 
And we do share both ways. We share where 
we've screwed up, and we share where 
we've had successes. It's important to take 
apart your failures, to say, 'OK, we learned 
that once, let's not learn it again, guys.' With 
success we say, 'let's see how many times 
we can spread that good example in our 
various organizations.'" 

One way GM is spreading the idea of em- 
powering workers is the Quality Network, an 
agreement enacted between GM and the 
United Auto Workers in 1987. The agreement 
says that all GM employees — from the chair- 
man on down — are partners in the process 
of delivering quality vehicles to customers. 
Essentially, the Quality Network is a way of 
sharing the goals of the corporation with 
all employees and then giving them the 

Winter 1992 

Ms For Bob Stempel" 

device that enabled GM cars to meet strict 
government emissions requirements. 

Over the next 14 years he held increas- 
ingly important positions that exposed him 
to all aspects of GM's worldwide operation, 
including director of engineering for Chevro- 
let, vice president and general manager of the 
Chevrolet and Pontiac divisions, vice presi- 
dent and group executive of the Buick- 
Oldsmobile-Cadillac Group, and executive 
vice president of the overseas and truck 

In 1987 he became the youngest GM presi- 
dent in 30 years; three years later he was 
named chairman and CEO, becoming only the 
second person since Alfred P. Sloan to hold 
both the president's and chairman's jobs. 

A football player at WPI, Stempel is an 
imposing 6 feet 4 inches, but he has the 
warmth and charm to quickly put people at 
ease. Known for his long workdays, his thor- 
ough understanding of cars, and his willing- 
ness to take charge in tough situations, 
Stempel was hailed by GM employees and 
dealers — and by financial analysts — when 
he took over the top spot at GM. 

Within the corporation, he is known as a 
fair manager who values loyalty and who likes 

to manage through teamwork. To encourage 
participation and debate, he meets with his 
management team around a round table in 
his office. He's known for giving credit where 
it is due, but also for accepting blame when 
things go wrong. "He's the kind of leader who 
takes the lumps, and we're going to walk 
through walls for Bob Stempel," Richard 
G. LeFauve, president of the Saturn Corpora- 
tion, told the Wall Street Journal last year. 

"For several years now we've been focus- 
ing on teamwork at General Motors," Stempel 
says. "As we made the transition to smaller, 
lighter, front-wheel-drive vehicles, we real- 
ized that we had to change 75 years of auto- 
motive history and that we'd have to work 
together to do that. So the sense of team- 
work has been building. I've certainly tried 
to improve communication so we all know 
what's going on and we can respond in a 
better fashion to the customer." 

Stempel's watch has been marked by 
some of the greatest challenges GM has ever 
faced — challenges that began on his second 
day as chairman, when Iraq invaded Kuwait 
and sent auto sales sliding. "My first day on 
the job was great," he says. "The rest of them 
could have been a lot better." 

resources to use their skills and ideas to 
help realize those goals, Stempel says. 


Serve Your External 
and Internal Customers 

The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality 
Award was created by the Department of 
Commerce in 1987 to recognize American 
corporations that have made the greatest 
strides in improving their quality and cus- 
tomer satisfaction. To qualify for the award 
a company must do a detailed self-evalua- 
tion in seven categories, including leader- 
ship, strategic quality planning and human 
resource utilization. Often, the process of 
completing this evaluation teaches a com- 
pany valuable lessons about just where it 
falls short in the quest for quality. 

That's what happened when General 
Motors' Cadillac Division decided to com- 
pete for the award in 1989. "That first year 
they got into the finals, but they didn't win," 
Stempel says. "But it encouraged them to 
go ahead and try it the next year, and, of 

course, they did win it. [Other winners in 
1990 were the Rochester division of IBM, 
Federal Express and the Wallace Co.] It's 
been terrific for the work force; they're very 
proud of it. Today they're 
building our new Seville 
and Eldorado, which 
have won tremendous 
acceptance worldwide." 
What made the differ- 
ence at Cadillac? While 
the division adopted 
many new ideas and pro- 
cedures aimed at in- 
creasing the quality of 
its products — including 
many of the ideas dis- 
cussed elsewhere in this 
article — one of the most 
fundamental and benefi- 
cial changes it made at 
its modern Hamtramck 
Assembly Center was to 
make its employees 
aware of their role in the 
pursuit of quality. 

Cadillac adopted the notion of the inter- 
nal and external customers: the external 
customer is the buyer of a Cadillac automo- 
bile; the internal customer is the next per- 
son on the assembly line whose work is 
affected by how well the previous person 
does his job. 

"If you go through that plant today," 
Stempel says, "you'll find that everybody 
understands what quality is and what it 
takes to make a quality vehicle. That whole 
work-force training paid off, because each 
worker knows if he doesn't do his job right, 
somewhere down the line it's going to cause 
a problem for someone else." 


Good Manufacturing 
Begins With Good Design 

"With the tremendous number of auto 
manufacturers today, all offering high-qual- 
ity products, it's imperative that we increase 
our competitiveness by getting our costs 
down and getting our cars to market faster," 
Stempel says. "One tool for doing this is 
design for manufacturing or design for 
assembly. It's a terrific technique." 

Essentially, design for manufacturing 
encourages designers, engineers and pro- 
duction experts to work together at the be- 
ginning of the design process to assure that 
when the car makes its way to the assembly 
line it can be put together as quickly and 
efficiently as possible. "It causes us to make 
our cars with as few parts as possible, and 
to make sure that there is virtually only one 
way to fit those parts together, reducing the 
chances for misassembly," Stempel says. 
"It's really just good old commonsense engi- 
neering. We're using it extensively and it's 
working out quite well." 

The 1992 Buick Park Avenue is one of several new 
GM models that is easier to assemble, thanks to a 
technique known as design for manufacturing. 

WPI Journal 

Europe is a Bright Spot, 
But the Japanese Are Coming 

One of the bright spots for General 
Motors during the 1980s was the 
turnaround of its European opera- 
tions — a success in which Robert Stempel 
played an important role. Today, GM is 
Europe's fastest growing and most profit- 
able carmaker. With a unified European mar- 
ket just around the corner, the gains the 
company has made on the Continent over 
the past 10 years will place it in good posi- 
tion to stay competitive. 

Part of the reason for GM's success in 
Europe was the revamping of its product 
line to replace boxy, look-alike cars with dis- 
tinctive and attractive vehicles like the Opel 
Kadett, the second most popular car in Ger- 
many and GM's best-selling vehicle world- 

The company also modernized its manu- 
facturing plants and used a heavy dose of 
synchronous engineering to make its cars 
easier and cheaper to build. Better relations 
with union workers in Europe allowed the 
carmaker to introduce three-shifts-a-day 
production at several plants, further boost- 
ing productivity. As a result, GM's productiv- 

ity is second only to Peugeot in Europe. As 
head of GM's Adam Opel unit from 1980 to 
1982, Stempel helped introduce the Kadett 
and also helped build strong ties to labor. 

In more recent months, GM has ex- 
panded its manufacturing and marketing op- 
erations into Eastern Europe and the former 
Soviet Union, and now has a greater pres- 
ence on the Continent than even some Euro- 
pean carmakers. But to date, GM and its 
European rivals have not had to deal with 
heavy competition from Japanese compa- 
nies. That will soon change, as the Japanese 
begin to gear up their operations in Europe. 

"We're going to have to stay ahead of the 
game in Europe," Stempel says. "We've had 
a great learning experience in the U.S., and 
we'll be able to profit from the mistakes 
we've made right here. Now we must con- 
tinue to reduce our manufacturing costs and 
get even more efficient in Europe. We're not 
far behind the Japanese in the U.S., but our 
European operations will have to get leaner 
without sacrificing our high level of Euro- 
pean quality. Yes, we're pleased with our 
success in Europe, but we're not resting 
on our laurels." 

Stempel says nearly all GM designers 
have been trained in design for manufactur- 
ing and several new GM cars have benefited 
from the technique, including the new 
Cadillac Seville and the Buick Park Avenue. 
The 1992 Seville, for example, has 50 per- 
cent fewer parts in its front and rear bumper 
systems than its predecessor. With fewer 
parts, cars go together faster and less ex- 
pensively, a benefit GM is keenly aware of. 
A company study in 1989 found that 41 
percent of the difference in productivity be- 
tween a GM plant and a comparable Ford 
plant was due to differences in design. 

Cost saving is not the only benefit of sim- 
plifying design, Stempel says, noting that, in 
general, the simpler the design the more re- 
liable and durable the product. He says this 
new approach to design has made particular 
inroads into the manufacture of the elec- 
tronic systems that control emissions on 
GM vehicles. 

"Some of the systems found in cars to- 
day are very complex, with many devices, 
computers and associated wiring," Stempel 
says. "We've tried to simplify the design, 
and yet maintain all the controls. With less 

complexity, we've increased the reliability. 
But more important, a simpler system lends 
itself to more precise control of emissions 
and better fuel economy. It's not by accident 
that we are the fuel economy leader." 

Good design is also 
enabling GM to stream- 
line the number of unique 
parts it uses in its cars. 
For example, it is reduc- 
ing the number of GM en- 
gine families from nine to 
five, trimming its ignition 
systems from seven to 
three and combining 
some of its 19 platforms 
(the metal framework on 
which a car is built). 


ing as independent functions to be per- 
formed in series. As Charles M. Jordan, GM's 
vice president for design, told the Canadian 
magazine Maclean 's last year, "We used to 
design a car and then throw it over the 
fence to the engineers. After a while, they 
would toss it back and say they couldn't do 
this or that. Then, after a few more rounds, 
we would both toss it over the fence to the 
manufacturing guys, who would raise a 
whole new series of objections." 

As a result, General Motors was taking 
far too long to bring new cars to market, 
Stempel says. "It used to take us on the 
order of 60 months — five years — to go from 
concept to showroom floor," he notes. 
"Today, most of our cars are coming to 
market in 36 months or less. The best of the 
Japanese companies, we find, are doing it in 
about 27 months. We're continuing to work 
on this process — we've gotten cars out in 
as little as 34 months." 

Stempel says the time from concept to 
marketable car has got to be less than three 
years if customers are to perceive new cars 
as fresh and exciting. To accelerate its 
speed to market, GM has adopted synchro- 
nous engineering, which essentially means 
bringing the designer, industrial engineer 
and production engineer together at the be- 
ginning of a new car project. GM has gone a 
step farther and brought the workers who 
will actually assemble the car into the initial 
planning process, an idea that came out of 
the Saturn program. 

Saturn assembly workers have been 
given a say in many matters previously re- 
served for senior management — things like 
the layout of the factory floor, the choice of 
dealers, and even the selection of the 
company's national advertising agency. 
Stempel notes that Saturn workers visited 

Integrate Design, 
Engineering and 

For many years, GM 
looked at design, engi- 
neering and manufactur- 

The body panels of the Saturn are put on last, making 
it easier for workers to assemble the car's interior. 


Winter 1992 

When it is put on the market later this decade, GM's Impact will become the 
first modern electric car manufactured by a major automaker. Impact will be 
built by the highly skilled work force at GM's Lansing (Mich.) Craft Centre. 

the vendor contracted to build the machines 
used to assemble the car's underbody. "As a 
result of their input," he says, "the equipment 
is more worker friendly: there's less lifting, 
turning, stooping and so forth. If a guy's been | 
putting cars together most of his life, he's got 
ideas about what makes things easy and 
what makes them harder. It's really worth- 
while listening to him." 

Synchronous engineering reduces sur- 
prises when a new car reaches the assembly 
line, Stempel says. "If you know you're going 
to use a weld gun that needs a certain 
amount of access, you can design that access 
into the body. If you know you're going to 
have an operation that requires lifting from 
underneath the vehicle by an automated sys- 
tem, you can design in the proper clearance 
or put in special brackets. 

"You may even want to change the way 
you build things. At our Opel facility in Ger- 
many, we use what we call a cockpit load, 
where the assembly that includes the instru- 
ment panel, heater, steering column and so 
on is built outside the car and put in fully as- 
sembled. By eliminating the need for workers 
to do tedious work while lying on their backs 
inside the car, you reduce mistakes. This idea 
came about because process engineers were 
there at the design stage." 

Integrating design, engineering and pro- 
duction can help make manufacturing facili- 
ties more flexible and better able to respond 
quickly to the changing marketplace. At its 
highest level, flexibility means being able 
to build several different vehicles on the 
same line, switching effortlessly from one 
to the other, but it can also mean making 
several versions of the same car with a mini- 
mum of equipment. 

On the Saturn assembly line, for example, 
the same equipment can be used to make 
either automatic or manual transmissions be- 
cause, though the transmissions share only 
some parts, all of their parts were designed 

to be handled by the same machines. This 
saves about 60 percent of the cost of build- 
ing transmissions on two different lines. 
Similar thinking went into the design of the 
engine line, where of 86 workstations, 50 are 
common to the single-overhead-cam and 
dual-overhead-cam versions of the engine. 
At the Cadillac Division, the idea of syn- 
chronous engineering was expanded into 
a more comprehensive management tech- 
nique called synchronous organization. In 
this approach, all parts of the manufactur- 
ing enterprise — human resources, financial 
management, design, engineering and manu- 
facturing — are integrated. The goal is to 
identify the parts of the operation that drive 
the cost of production, and then eliminate 
those that add no value to the product. 


Quality is What 

the Customer Says It Is 

In his opening remarks to the third 
National Quality Forum in 1988, then-GM 
president Stempel provided a simple defini- 
tion of quality: "responding to the voice of 
the customer — meeting his desires and re- 
quirements." Chairman Stempel says he is 
still committed to that definition. 

"If a customer is looking at one of our 
automobiles and he says, 'Well, you know 
that isn't really a good fit and this doesn't 
look right to me,' the fact that 1 can show 
him a whole raft of data showing that our 
car is just as good as anyone else's is irrel- 
evant. He said he didn't like it. 

"To make products that hit the mark, you 
have to listen to the voice of the customer. 
When a customer walks up to our new Park 
Avenue, LeSabre or Bonneville, his first reac- 
tion is, 'Wow, what a car.' He's made a visual 
assessment. He's seen that not only is it an 
integrated design that looks good, but the 
fits are good. When he gets in it and it starts 

and runs well, then we've got him interested. 
So, you really have to work to listen to what 
the customer is saying about your products." 

To stay on top of evolving customer de- 
mands, GM employs the Continuous Auto- 
motive Marketing Survey. At regular intervals 
after a car is bought — starting soon after the 
purchase and continuing through the fifth 
year of ownership — GM surveys the owner 
and asks how well the car is meeting his or 
her expectations. 

Customer surveys also enable GM to 
fine-tune its cars once they're on the market, 
Stempel says. "For instance, a couple of 
years ago, owners told us that the legibility 
of the instrument panels in our trucks suf- 
fered in strong sunlight or at certain angles. 
We made changes and polled customers 
again to see if they were satisfied. Obviously, 
you want to catch as many of these things 
as you can during pretesting, but there's 
nothing like going after the person who's 
bought a car or truck to find out what he 
likes and dislikes." 


Break Out of the Boxes 

One of the lessons of synchronous organi- 
zation is that it's no longer good enough to 
be just a good designer or a good industrial 
engineer or a good production person. 
Manufacturing professionals must be pre- 
pared to cross the lines between disciplines 
and learn how their jobs affect every part of 
the operation. They must be ready to give 
up the comfortable, insulated boxes they've 
worked in for so long, Stempel says. 

"Some people put an awful lot of empha- 
sis on particular disciplines," Stempel says. 
"1 put a lot of emphasis instead on education. 
It doesn't matter whether you're an engineer, 
a physicist, a chemist or a financial person. 
All of those disciplines have a place, but ev- 
ery one of them begins with a fundamental 
education, training and logic in the way you 
do things. 

"There are no more one-man bands. I 
can't run General Motors by myself. It takes 
the coordinated effort of a lot of people. Per- 
haps it was my education at WPI, but some- 
where along the line I learned that you must 
depend on others — that you're going to need 
the skills of others — so you must learn to 
bring out the best in people. That's what 
you have to do today. 

"This business is complex, whether 
you're looking at it as a financial analyst, or 
whether you're looking at it as an engineer," 
Stempel adds. "Success depends on more 
than one man and more than one discipline. 
You've got to manage all of those disciplines 
in a cohesive manner to bring out the best 
in the organization." 

WPI Journal 

The New Wave in 


Rv Paroi Pamprfi I ^^ 

More and more, manufacturing companies are 
discovering that the key to quality and competitive- 
ness lies in unleashing the hearts and minds — and 
not just the muscles — of their employees. 

Once, the twin targets of productivity and profitability were the major 
concerns of manufacturing executives everywhere. The bottom line 
was simple: find ways to make products more quickly and less expen- 
sively than the competition. In the 1970s and early 1980s, automation 
seemed the best hope for reaching those targets and gaining a competitive 
edge. With the proper programming, it was thought, robots could do just 
about any job better and cheaper than human workers, saving companies 
time and money. 

Today, while automation continues to play an important and ever-growing 
role in industry, manufacturing managers have learned that robots will 
probably never truly take the place of people on the factory floor. Instead, 
driven in large part by the success of their overseas competitors, especially 
the Japanese, American manufacturers are turning more and more to tech- 
niques aimed at empowering their employees and unleashing their potential. 

The techniques go by a variety of names, but they share a common purpose: 
making workers true partners in the pursuit of competitiveness. Increasingly, 
competitiveness itself is being redefined, for most manufacturing executives 
now agree that a successful company must do more than simply make 
products faster and cheaper; it must be able to anticipate and meet the 
constantly rising expectations of consumers. 

Where once corporations tended to look at workers as interchangeable, 
often disposable cogs in the manufacturing operation, today they are valued 
as individuals with a wealth of talent, insight and creativity that can be 
harnessed to help design and build quality products. In this brave new world, 
where quality is king, even the traditional relationship between management 
and labor is being replaced with a new model. Today, managers are likely to 
join their employees in quality circles and manufacturing cells to work 
cooperatively to refine and continually improve the way their companies make 

In the following pages, seven alumni employed as manufacturing execu- 
tives at major American companies talk about how those firms are riding this 
new wave in manufacturing. 

Carol Campbell is a free-lance writer living in Sturbridge, Mass. 
10 Winter 1992 

The Image of 
Quality at Polaroid 

Ronald P. May 64 

Manufacturing Program Manager 
Polaroid Corp. 
Waltham, Mass. 

Polaroid, the leader in instant photog- 
raphy since it introduced the Land Cam- 
era in 1948, is constantly tracking the evolv- 
ing demands of consumers to assure that its 
products are in tune with them, according 
to Ronald Klay. "We want to deliver quality 
products based on the perceptions and 
needs of the consumer." 

Klay is currently in the midst of a project 
that involves managing the development of a 
new instant camera and film system from the 
concept stage through design and manufac- 
turing. Code-named "Joshua," Klay says the 
product will go on the market later this year. 

As part of the Joshua program, Polaroid 
is using a new approach to product develop- 
ment that calls for the entire process to be 
supervised by the same management team, 
he says. This team approach has carried 
over to the manufacturing floor, where work- 
ers have been organized into work units re- 
sponsible for understanding and managing 
the entire manufacturing process. 

"Sometimes there is resistance to change 
like this," Klay says, "but generally people 
are willing to try new ways of doing things. 
They're seeking a feeling of ownership in the 
products they make and some influence in 
the decision-making process. This is what 
we hope to make possible through the team 
concept approach." 

To get the process under way, Klay says 
he has had to successfully integrate employ- 
ees from several of Polaroid's operating 

Ronald Klay shows off some of the advanced 
automated equipment used in the manufacture 
of film at Polaroid. 

units. "When a team is established," he 
explains, "a significant adjustment and train- 
ing period is required. The employees are 
reoriented to their new jobs, and managers 
who have not had direct involvement in 
manufacturing find themselves actively 
engaged in operational concerns related 
to assembly." 

Klay says the film manufacturing opera- 
tions, for which he is directly responsible, 
will make significant advances in manufac- 
turing technology. "With the use of sophisti- 
cated management information system 
(MIS) software, we will monitor the con- 
sumption of raw materials and the system 
performance in real time," he says. "The 
assembly process will be fully controlled by 
computers and will be operated as a modu- 
lar system. Essentially, that means that each 
major operation will operate independently 
of the others, but be interconnected by 
computerized conveyors. Should one part 
of the line have to stop, the others will con- 
tinue, with partly assembled product being 
placed temporarily into in-line storage until 
the affected operation resumes." 

The assembly process 
will also make use of a 
monitoring system called a 
vision analyzer. The analyz- 
ers, developed by a Need- 
ham, Mass., company called 
Cognex, record images of 
the product at key points in 
the assembly process and convert them to 
digital information. The digitized images are 
then statistically analyzed to evaluate how 
closely the product falls within predeter- 
mined control limits. Processes that fall out- 
side these limits are immediately corrected, 
greatly increasing the consistency of the 
end product. 

Klay joined Polaroid as a production 
supervisor in 1971 after working as a manu- 
facturing engineer at Texas Instruments in 
Attleboro, Mass., and serving as president of 
and a partner in South Shore Metal Products 
Inc. in Braintree, Mass. He was named manu- 
facturing manager in 1982 and recently 
became manufacturing program manager. 

Klay says Polaroid is actively restructur- 
ing all of its design and manufacturing capa- 
bilities to take advantage of the benefits of 
the team concept. "The bottom line is qual- 
ity in both product consistency and photo- 
graphic performance," he says. "I think the 
team approach we've implemented with the 
Joshua project, as well as the advances in 
manufacturing technology we've made, go 
a long way toward meeting that objective." 

Improving Quality with People Power 

William C. Zinno '63 

Vice President of Manufacturing 
Miller Electric Manufacturing Co. 
Appleton, Wise. 

Those close to manufacturing operations 
recognize that the work force is chang- 
ing," William Zinno says. "Today's produc- 
tion workers want more say in the decisions 
that directly affect them. We managers also 
want to involve more employees in the deci- 
sion-making process. We want them to bring 
their minds — as well as their hands — to 
their jobs." 

To do so, Miller Electric, whose products 
include electric arc-welding power supplies 
and related equipment, is in the midst of a 
pilot employee empowerment effort it 
launched in 1990. Under the program, the 
company has organized production workers 
into a manufacturing team consisting of a 
production coordinator and about 75 em- 
ployees, all focused on producing a single 
product line. The group acts as a self-man- 
aged business unit, determining its own 
staffing, scheduling and so on. 

The team uses a consensus approach to 
determine whether or not changes need to 
be made in the product or in the processes 

WPI Journal 


used to manufacture it, Zinno says. "While 
the decisions may sometimes be a bit 
slower in coming, they are usually much 
better than those made by a single indi- 
vidual, and people are committed to them." 

Zinno says Miller's pilot manufacturing 
area is deliberately compact. "The group's 
final assembly line builds just what is 
needed each day, which drastically cuts the 
amount of inventory and the lead time nor- 
mally needed to manufacture the products." 

Before the business unit approach, the 
assembly line operated in a traditional man- 
ner, with items assembled in several steps 
by separate groups of workers in different 
locations. For example, to make electric 
transformers, one group would wind the 
coils, a second would crimp the ends, a 
third would assemble the coils into mag- 
netic cores, and a fourth would do the re- 
quired welding of the transformer assembly. 

Within the business unit, every worker is 
trained to do many jobs, and the team as a 
whole is responsible for getting the product 
made. This cross-training enables workers 
to switch operations according to the 
changing work load on the assembly line, 
which makes the manufacturing process 
more efficient and responsive. But even 
more, Zinno says, because workers are so 
thoroughly involved in the product, they 
feel a greater sense of responsibility for and 
commitment to its quality. 

"Workers can better see how their jobs 
affect the end customer," he says. "Another 

advantage of this approach 
is that employees become 
intensely dedicated to the 
company because of the free- 
dom we allow them to have 
in their jobs." 

Miller Electric was 
founded in 1929 in the base- 
ment of Niels C. Miller, who 
made one of the first direct- 
current welders and began 
by selling the devices to lo- 
cal blacksmiths. Today 
Miller's descendants run an 
international enterprise that 
employs more than 1,600 
people. The company's primary customers 
are distribution networks for welding supply 
companies who, in turn, sell equipment to 
end users such as fabricators and body 
shops. Miller's competition comes largely 
from three domestic manufacturers, who 
sell to many of the same distributors. 

"There is fierce competition in the cost 
and quality of the product," Zinno notes. 
"The challenge is to run with less inventory 
and lower production costs, while at the 
same time maintaining a primary focus on 
improving quality." 

By looking at its manufacturing opera- 
tions from the perspective of its employees, 
Miller hopes to achieve the kind of world- 
class quality it needs to make its products 
stand apart from those of its competitors, 
Zinno says. "To make improvements in our 

Zinno, center, listens to a briefing by a member 
of a manufacturing team, part of Miller Electric's 
employee empowerment program. 

products and processes, Miller has always 
focused on people rather than things. We 
will continue to follow that philosophy in 
the years to come." 

Prior to coming to Miller in 1990, Zinno 
was vice president of manufacturing at the 
Turbo Products Division of Dresser Rand in 
Olean, N.Y. In his present position he handles 
all plant operations, including assembly, fab- 
rication, production control, maintenance, 
and plant engineering. "What has made this 
job truly exciting for me is the opportunity to 
branch out and develop this pilot employee- 
empowerment process," he says. 

Zinno says the pilot program, which he 
describes as promising, is continually im- 
proving and maturing. He says the company 
plans to expand it throughout its manufac- 
turing operation in the months ahead. 

Gearing Up To Make a Medical Wonder 

Christine Powers '75 

Director of Manufacturing 
Biopure Corp. 
Boston, Mass. 

You've been involved in a car accident 
and you've lost a lot of blood. As emer- 
gency crews work to stabilize your vital 
signs, you begin to go into shock. At one 
time medical technicians may have had few 
options other than wrapping you in a blan- 
ket and keeping you comfortable until you 
reached a hospital, where doctors could do 
a transfusion to replace the lost blood vol- 
ume and get oxygen to your cells. In the fu- 
ture they'll be able to do more, thanks to 
researchers at Biopure Corp., makers of a 
hemoglobin-based blood substitute that can 
be administered on the spot through a 
simple injection — without the need for 
cross-matching of blood types. 

For Boston-based Biopure, a biotechnol- 
ogy firm that has until now been involved 
strictly with research and development, the 

production of this new product will mark 
its first experience with manufacturing, 
notes Christine Powers, who is responsible 
for Biopure 's manufacturing operations. 

Before joining Biopure, Powers worked 
as a process engineer for Clairol Inc. and 
Armor-Dial Inc. She later joined Baxter 
Travenol Labs Inc., where she ultimately 
became a product manager. "I was lured to 

Powers examines a 
sample of Biopure's 
first product, a blood 

Biopure in 1989 by the start-up 
opportunity — by the chance to 
build an organization that I be- 
lieve is necessary," she says. 

Having hired most of 
Biopure's 16 manufacturing em- 
ployees (the company, founded 
in 1984, currently employs 81 
people), Powers is now training 
them to work within the con- 
straints of a pharmaceutical manufacturing 
environment and to adhere to strict Food 
and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. 
The company has already initiated the first 
part of a three-part FDA review to determine 
the safety and effectiveness of Biopure's first 
product in humans. Previously, the company 
performed a lengthy series of tests on 
animals in support of this submission. 


Winter 1992 

In addition to humans, animals will also 
benefit from the new product. In fact, Bio- 
pure will become the only company to mar- 
ket a blood substitute to veterinary clinics. 
The market for the product in human medi- 
cal treatment, on the other hand, will be far 
more competitive, Powers says. For this 
reason, the company has signed a strategic 
agreement with Upjohn Co., which will 
handle all marketing and distribution for 
the human product in the U.S. 

Powers says the production process 
used to make the blood substitute, devel- 

oped at a pilot manufacturing facility in 
Boston, begins with the product's raw 
material — blood from slaughtered cattle. 
The red blood cells are separated and 
broken open, so their hemoglobin can be 
recovered. The hemoglobin is then refined 
in a patented process that includes an ex- 
tensive purification step. 

Of particular importance is a filtration 
system that separates the blood before it is 
purified, Powers says. "This process allows 
us to produce large quantities of the prod- 
uct at a relatively low cost," she adds. 

Because the entire operation is carried out 
in a controlled environment, workers must 
wear "bunny suits" that completely cover 
their bodies, Powers adds. 

Current plans call for the animal product 
to hit the market in 1993, with the human 
product to follow in 1994 or 1995. Powers, 
who says she is confident that the new 
product will receive a positive response in 
both of its markets, is currently preparing 
the company for a comprehensive effort 
to gear up its production facilities to meet 
the anticipated demand. 

A Focus on People 
Issues at Du Pont 

David F. Gilbert '54 

Manufacturing Resources Manager 
Du Pont Co. 
Wilmington, Del. 

Founded in 1802 to make gunpowder, 
Du Pont today is a $40 billion operation 
that manufactures a host of products, in- 
cluding chemicals, synthetic fibers, elect- 
ronics and polymers. Each of the company's 
seven principal business sectors, as well as 
Du Pont's Conoco subsidiary, could consti- 
tute a Fortune 500 company in its own right. 

David Gilbert, with Du Pont for 37 years, 
joined the company's engineering services 
division field program just after completing 
his military service in 1956. This training 
program was attractive, he says, because at 
the time he wasn't sure what he wanted to 
do in his career. Over an eight-year period 
Gilbert worked on assignments in four loca- 
tions, gaining experience in engineering 
development, research, new processes 
and management. 

Deciding upon the management route, 
Gilbert transferred out of engineering into 
an industrial department and now works in 

Du Pont wants to more fully involve employees 
ical manufacturing sites in the operation of the 

the chemical manufacturing division of the 
chemical sector. Over the years he has held 
a variety of supervisory positions, including 
plant manager at four locations and techni- 
cal consultant in a joint venture with a 
Japanese company. 

In his current post he serves as a re- 
source for the manufacturing staff at all 
28 of the chemical sector's manufacturing 
sites, handling personnel matters and serv- 
ing as a representative to various other 
departments. While many of his challenges 
involve employee safety and environmental 
awareness (Du Pont boasts the lowest in- 
jury rate in the world and is the leader in 
the elimination of ozone-damaging fluoro- 
carbons from refrigerants and solvent prod- 
ucts), he says Du Pont has, over the last 10 
years, turned its attention more and more 
to the "people" aspect of running the 

Like so many other companies, Du Pont 
is trying to break down the rigid corporate 
hierarchy in favor of a total team approach. 
Gilbert says there is an effort to remove lay- 
ers of management, while maintaining 
strong employee motivation. 

"We're working harder at including all 
levels of employees in the 
business aspects of our 
operations," Gilbert says. 
"By sharing more business 
information with employees 
and increasing their in- 
volvement with our cus- 
tomers, I think we've made 
our employees feel they are 
more 'in on the action.' I 
think they also have a bet- 
ter appreciation of how 
they can add value to our 
business effort." 

He acknowledges that 
at its 28 chem- the breakdown of tradi- 
company. tional management roles 



Du Pont's David Gilbert. 

has created a new problem — how to assure 
that workers can still advance within the 
corporation and be recognized for their indi- 
vidual contributions. Gilbert says Du Pont's 
management teams are working to support 
the greater contributions of employees 
through increased recognition and rewards. 

"At our operating sites, plant managers 
have been given more authority to identify 
and reward employees and teams for their 
value-added contributions," he says. 

Diversity is another key focus at Du Pont 
today, Gilbert notes. "We are a global com- 
pany with a whole range of cultures repre- 
sented in our people," he says. "We're 
learning to appreciate the value of this 
diversity and to utilize the best inputs of 
all our people in our business." 

Another "people issue" receiving increas- 
ing attention at Du Pont, Gilbert says, is the 
recognition that a successful career does 
not necessarily have to lead to a position in 
management. "When I was coming up in the 
organization, it seemed that the managerial 
route was the best way to advance. Now I 
feel Du Pont has established the technical 
or professional and the managerial routes as 
ways to motivate and reward contributions. 
One of the values of this is you don't end up 
creating poor managers out of outstanding 
technical or professional people." 

WPI Journal 


Raising Standards by Raising Awareness 

Stuart C. Kazin '61 

Vice President of Manufacturing 
and Distribution, Worldwide 
Lotus Development Corp. 
Cambridge, Mass. 

YY hen Lotus Development Corp. made 
" * its debut in the computer software 
world in 1982, it quickly became a leader in 
application software packages. Within four 
years the company was a $225 million multi- 
national corporation whose major product, 
Lotus 1-2-3, had become the all-time best- 
selling personal computer software product. 

However, intense competition among 
makers of personal computer software over 
the past decade has shrunk the effective life 
span of new products to less than a year, on 
average, increasing pressure on publishers 
like Lotus to upgrade their software as 
quickly and efficiently as possible. 

To retain its position as a leader in soft- 
ware development, Stuart Kazin says Lotus 
is currently developing a new type of prod- 
uct called "groupwear," which is designed 

to facilitate communications within a com- 
pany. The products will include Notes, which 
will allow an entire company to access in- 
formation in a single database at the same 
time, and CCMail, an electronic mail system 
developed by a California company 
acquired by Lotus. 

Kazin says he spends a great deal of his 
time traveling between Lotus' Cambridge, 
Puerto Rico, Dublin, and Singapore manufac- 
turing locations, where he strives "to build 
strength from the inside out." High on his 
agenda these days is diversity-awareness 

Kazin and his staff have identified a need 
to draw employees closer by having them 
acknowledge their differences and the po- 
tential to use those differences in a positive 
manner in product development. To do 
this, Lotus hired consultants who trained 
selected staff members in diversity aware- 
ness. These staff members now supervise 
three-day workshops that focus on stereo- 
types, beliefs and diversity, among other 
topics. More than 500 of Lotus' 2,000 U.S. 

A worker adjusts equipment that copies computer disks at Lotus' manufacturing 
facility in Cambridge, Mass. The company produces 100,000 disks every day. 

Lotus' Stuart Kazin. 

employees have completed the training, and 
Kazin says he has already seen improve- 
ments in energy levels, quality of perfor- 
mance, and business orientation. 

Kazin's background includes a master's 
degree in aeronautics and astronautics from 
MIT, a stint as general manager of the Preci- 
sion Measurement Division of Dynamics Re- 
search Corp. in Wilmington, Mass., and a job 
as general manager of the analytical division 
of Foxboro Corp., a maker of process-con- 
trol systems. He joined Lotus in 1985 as 
director of manufacturing and distribution 
and was named a vice president in 1988. 

Manufacturing at Lotus means making 
duplicate copies of software products on 
disks— 100,000 disks a day— and packaging 
them with written documentation into 
boxes that are then shrink-wrapped. While 
the manufacturing process is fairly conven- 
tional, Kazin says he hopes to improve 
productivity through the use of diversity- 
awareness training. 

He says he also plans to build on the 
positive outcomes of the awareness training 
by forming a cross section of Lotus workers 
into Corrective Action Teams (CATs). The 
CATs will draw on the knowledge of indi- 
viduals from different segments of the 
manufacturing field to attack and quickly 
solve any customer problems or concerns. 
The solutions to those problems will be in- 
corporated into the next generation of soft- 
ware products. Kazin says this "systematic 
quality-improvement process," for which 
the CATs will be responsible, is essential 
in today's competitive software industry. 

"Your definition of quality must be based 
on customers' requirements," he says. 
"When these requirements are not met, you 
vigorously solve the problem and solve it 
forever. When mistakes are made, I like to 
see them be 'innovative mistakes.'" 


Winter 1992 

Bringing Automation to 
The Oil and Gas Industry 

William U. Pursell Jr. '59 

Vice President of Manufacturing 
Cameo Products and Services Co. 
Houston, Texas 

Cameo supplies a variety of production 
and safety equipment used in oil and 
gas wells, most of which are located off- 
shore. Competition among manufacturers 
of this equipment has become especially 
fierce in recent years, according to William 
Pursell. In response, he says, Cameo has 
turned increasingly to automation. 

For some of its processes, the company 
has been a major innovator of manufactur- 
ing systems that employ automatic turning 
and milling machines, which have built-in 
chuck jaw changers, tool storage, and mea- 
suring devices. The machines are supported 
by robots that load and unload parts, by 
coordinate measuring machines, and by 
two automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) 
that move parts about the plant. 

"This automated equipment is arranged 
into cells in our new factory," Pursell says. 
"The AGVs carry parts from the machining 
operation cell to the coating and audit in- 
spection areas, and then return them to the 
machining cells. We call this our flexible 
manufacturing systems or FMS shop." 

The market in which Cameo competes 

is changing, Pursell says. 
"Where once customers 
were concerned primarily 
about quality and perfor- 
mance," he says, "the 
market is now quite price 
sensitive, though customers 
still demand high quality in 
our products. Cameo is a 
customer-driven company. 
Our objective is to meet our 
customers' requirements 
with a reasonable return 
to our investors." 

The equipment and 
systems employed in 
Cameo's FMS shop enable 
the company to make its products economi- 
cally in small lots. For example, Pursell says, 
because they can quickly switch between 
various tools and processes, the milling 
and turning machines can make all the 
machined parts needed for an assembly in 
one session. "This results in shorter deliv- 
ery time and reduces the amount of work 
we have in progress," he notes. 

Pursell says automated systems like 
this will be the key to the future success 
of companies like his. "The bottom line here 
is profitability," he says. "Automation will 
enable us to lower our costs and become 

Some of the components of Cameo's flexible manufacturing systems (FMS) 
shop can be seen in this photo: at top, left, the turning and milling machine; 
at top, center, a robot that loads and unloads parts for the machine; and at 
bottom, right, an automatic guided vehicle that moves parts around the plant. 

Pursell, at right, and two workers examine an auto- 
mated turning and milling machine, part of Cameo's 
modern FMS facility. 

more competitive overall." 

Pursell's expertise in manufacturing 
comes from 30 years of experience in the 
field. He began his career in 1962 as a 
project engineer at SKF Industries Inc., mak- 
ers of ball and roller bearings. He became a 
plant manager before leaving in 1973 to join 
Reed Tool Co. in Houston as materials man- 
ager. He also worked briefly for Hydril Co., 
producers of premium threads on produc- 
tion tubing used in oil and gas wells, and for 
Hinderliter Energy Equipment Corp., fabrica- 
tor of wire-rope sheaves, traveling blocks 
for cranes, and low-pressure well heads. 

At Cameo, Pursell is responsible for 
plant maintenance, purchasing, manufactur- 
ing engineering, materials management and 
the "direct-hour" employees who run the 
machines. When Cameo hires, he says, it 
looks for highly skilled and well-trained 
workers, as well as degreed mechanical 
and electrical engineers with expertise in 
manufacturing. "These qualifications add a 
degree of sophistication to our manufactur- 
ing talents," he says. 

Pursell says Cameo is currently review- 
ing its entire manufacturing process — from 
quotations to shipment — with an eye to- 
ward reducing cycle time. "Innovations such 
as modular product drawings, paperless 
operations, multifunctional task teams, and 
work teams on the shop floor are all helping 
us achieve our goal of shorter lead times," 
he says. "Automation of not only the manu- 
facturing process, but of our communica- 
tions systems will be vital to achieving 
that goal." 

He notes that Cameo is also implement- 
ing the concept of factories within factories. 
"These individual operating units will have 
their own resources and their own work 

WPI Journal 


teams, which will focus on meeting our 
customers' requirements, as well as on re- 
ducing the cost of parts and improving our 
quality. All employees within these factories 
within factories will be assigned to one of 
these teams." 

The team approach is part of Cameo's 

total quality management program, aimed, 
Pursell says, at meeting customer require- 
ments by getting all employees involved in 
the process of improving quality. In addi- 
tion, Pursell says the company is currently 
developing a strategic quality plan "that will 
serve as an umbrella for all of our opera- 

tions. We've done well despite the ups and 
downs of the market. We now have a new 
set of challenges facing us. By streamlining 
all our manufacturing operations, we will 
meet these challenges and build on the 
qualities that have made us successful 
over the years." 

Learning from the 
Pioneers at Clairol 

Richard R. Nabb 73 

Vice President of Manufacturing 
Clairol Inc. 
Stamford, Conn. 

According to Richard Nabb, the market 
for consumer hair care products is 
becoming more competitive all the time. 
Clairol, a subsidiary of Bristol-Myers Squibb 
Co., has long been a market leader with fa- 
miliar brands like Miss Clairol, Quiet Touch, 
Loving Care and Final Net. Today, though, 
Nabb says Clairol is looking for new ways 
to hold on to that lead. 

"Consumers are not as loyal to brand 
names as they were 10 years ago," he says. 
"Today they can choose from among many 
similar versions of the same product, so 
they look to get the most value for their 
money. Before they buy, they also consider 
factors like ease of use, environmental 
friendliness, and the number of applications 
per package." 

Nabb, a 19-year veteran with Clairol (he 
held a summer job with the company in 
1972, while pursuing his degree in mechani- 
cal engineering at WPI, then joined the com- 
pany full time as a production supervisor 
after graduation), oversees packaging, engi- 
neering, processing, packaging materials 
and purchasing for Clairol. 

Until recently he also handled ware- 
house and distribution operations. In an 
effort to gain consistency and improve pro- 
ductivity, Clairol consolidated the ware- 
house, distribution, financial, and customer 
service operations of its consumer product 
group with those of the Bristol-Products and 
Drackett divisions of Bristol-Myers (which 
make such health-care products as Bufferin 
and Nuprin and such household products 
as Windex, Draino and Renuzit). 

Recently, Nabb says, Clairol has begun 
to focus on issues related to technology and 
human resources in an effort to increase its 
competitive edge. "With 70 percent of our 
product assembly and packaging processes 
handled by machinery, we want the manu- 
facturing process to work as smoothly as 
possible," he notes. "To do this we must pay 

Drawing on the ideas of quality 
pioneers W. Edwards Deming and 
Philip Crosby, Clairol has embarked 
on an innovative quality manage- 
ment program, Richard Nabb says. 

careful attention to the design of our pack- 
ages and equipment. In particular, we must 
consider whether these designs make good 
use of the capabilities of the manufacturing 
process as it operates today, and anticipate 
rapid changes in manufacturing technology. 
A design is useless unless the technology 
exists or can be developed to back it up." 

One new type of manufacturing technol- 
ogy Clairol is evaluating for its packaging 
lines is the vision system, a camera that 
checks products for defects at various 
stages of the assembly process. The system 
can also spot potential jams in the flow of 
partly assembled products and then stop 
the process automatically. "The Japanese 
call this "Jidohka" or auto-no-motion," 
Nabb says. 

Nabb says Clairol is currently using a 
computer system that tracks weights, torque 
and productivity during the assembly of 
containers of liquid products, like shampoo, 
hair color and fixative, to verify that they 
are being filled and packaged properly. The 
system reduces the number of containers 
that must be rejected at the end of the pro- 
cess because they do not meet customer 

Before the computerized control system 
was installed, the weight checks were 
tracked manually, which was inefficient. 
The computer is also much more accurate 

than manual weighing, Nabb says, and al- 
lows an operator to anticipate problems 
and take corrective action, which further 
reduces errors. 

Drawing on the philosophies of quality 
pioneers W Edwards Deming and Philip 
Crosby, Clairol is adopting an innovative 
quality management program. At the heart 
of the program, Nabb says, is an effort to 
invest in Clairol's shop-floor employees by 
providing them with additional training and 
by raising their educational levels. For ex- 
ample, through the company's Quality Skills 
Enhancement Program, workers can im- 
prove their reading and math skills. 

The quality management program is an 
outgrowth of Clairol's Quality/Productivity 
Improvement Process or Q/PIP. Through 
training and education, the program encour- 
ages workers to become thoroughly familiar 
with their jobs and with the processes to 
which they contribute. Q/PIP also seeks to 
make the workplace a "quality culture" by 
teaching workers to embrace diversity and 
engage in cooperative problem solving. 

Q/PIP is an alternative to traditional 
approaches to management, which Nabb 
says "are not effective methods to manage 
change in the current marketplace." Under 
the program, senior managers at each work 
site are given responsibility for one or more 
of Philip Crosby's steps for implementing a 
quality improvement process. These include 
measuring quality, setting quality goals and 
communicating them to employees, foster- 
ing employee education, and striving for 
zero defects. Managers are responsible for 
analyzing and improving the procedures 
and systems at their sites that play a role in 
total quality management. 

According to Nabb, Clairol will undergo a 
complete corporate changeover during the 
next few years as Q/PIP is fully imple- 
I mented. For example, managers will no 
longer simply delegate work to employees; 
instead they will become leaders of work 
groups that will solve problems coopera- 
tively. Developing its employees and giving 
them the responsibility to work together to 
improve productivity and quality will ulti- 
mately give Clairol the competitive edge it 
seeks, Nabb says. "The company that can 
get and keep the best and the brightest will 
be the winner." 


Winter 1992 

Flights of Fancy 

Throughout history, architects have enjoyed adding 
distinctive flourishes to their designs, personal 
touches that add nothing to the structure or func- 
tion of a building, but which enhance its visual 
appeal. Such embellishments as statues and 
gargoyles, decorative cornices and portals, 
ornamental stonework, and multicolored 
patterns of brick help make structures 
more pleasing to the eye, give them 
a sense of drama, importance or 
even whimsy, and give each 
building a unique identity. 
While the popularity of 
ornamentation waned 
during the middle of 
this century — a 
period that gave 
us the sleek but 
sterile glass 

tower — building designers are again letting their imagi- 
nations run free and are accenting their creations 
with sometimes unexpected splashes of color, 
texture and form. 

At WPI, some bits of architectural orna- 
mentation are enjoyed by even casual ob- 
servers — the arm and hammer weather 
vane on the Washburn Shops, for ex- 
ample, or the giant concrete seal on 
the north face of Goddard Hall. 
Others, such as the statue of 
Minerva atop Sanford Riley 
Hall, often go unnoticed. In 
these pages we present a 
sampling of flourishes 
and embellishments 
that give the WPI 
campus a look 
all its own. 

WPI Journal 



Making an Entrance 

Noted architect Stephen Earle designed Salisbury 
Laboratories 20 years after the completion of Boynton 
Hall, also his design. He was asked to create a solid, 
functional laboratory building to house the college's 
science departments. Earle fulfilled his charge, but 
allowed the artist within him to break loose here and 
there in the otherwise austere design. A close look 
reveals how the architect gave various functional 
elements a quiet beauty through simple embellish- 
ment, such as in this arched brownstone portal 
adorned with a terra-cotta Institute seal. Salisbury 
Labs was the gift of Stephen Salisbury III in honor of 
his father, the first president of the Board of Trustees. 

Clear Artistry 

Alden Memorial, currently undergoing an ex- 
tensive renovation, is considered by many to be 
WPl's most attractive building. Named for George 
I. Alden, the college's first mechanical engineer- 
ing professor and a founder of Norton Co., the 
building was a gift of the George 1. Alden Trust. 
It is heavily embellished — inside and out — with 
ornamental stone carvings and hand-carved 
woodwork. A series of 27 stained glass window 
medallions in its great hall tell the story of 
American history, starting with the early days of 
exploration and settlement and ending with the 
inventive genius of the likes of the Wright Broth- 
ers and Samuel F.B. Morse. These medallions 
were designed by Wilbur H. Burnham, whose 
work can also be seen in the National Cathedral 
in Washington, D.C. 

Blowin'inthe Wind 

The weather vane on the Washburn Shops 
tower is not the same arm and hammer 
that adorned the building when it was 
completed in 1868. The original, fashioned 
from a sketch made by Charles Morgan, 
then superintendent of Washburn and 
Moen Co. and later founder and president 
of Morgan Construction Co., was stolen in 
1 975, probably as a student prank, and was 
never returned. In 1978 a contractor work- 
ing on renovations to Washburn commis- 
sioned a metal worker to make a replica 
based on photos of the familiar landmark. 


Winter 1992 

Medieval Athletes 

The grotesques that circle Alumni Gymnasium, seem- 
ingly engaged in a variety of sports, are the work of 
Harry T. Easton, a sculptor who specialized in build- 
ing embellishments. Many of his stone carvings, in- 
cluding the gargoyles, door and window frames, and 
steps of Alumni Gym, were carved from limestone 
quarried near his home in Bedford, Ind. According to 
Easton's son William, he had a whimsical streak 
common to many medieval sculptors; he liked to 
incorporate the faces of his clients into his work, 
although no records exist to indicate whether the 
Alumni Gym gargoyles were modeled on the faces of 
former faculty or staff members. 

CTJ ffl 


The Goddess ofSanford Riley 

This statue of Minerva, the Roman goddess of 
wisdom, sits high atop the roof of the college's 
first residence hall, watching over the occu- 
pants of this Tudor-style building. The statue 
was the gift of the alumni of R. Sanford Riley's 
old fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Riley, a 
member of the Class of 1896 and president of 
Riley Stoker Corp., died in May 1926, shortly 
before he was to be elected to the WPI Board of 
Trustees. The statue, which served as a finial 
to the completed building, was cast from lead. 

The Seal of Approval 

This 10-foot-tall, 5-ton WPI seal made from 
cast concrete is one of the few flourishes 
on Goddard Hall, an otherwise spare, mod- 
ern building. The seal adorns the wall fac- 
ing heavily traveled Salisbury Street, form- 
ing an elegant signpost for the thousands 
of cars that pass by each week. Completed 
in 1965, WPI's centennial year, Goddard is 
one of two academic buildings given to the 
Institute by the F.W Olin Foundation. Its 
neighbor, Olin Hall of Physics, was built in 
1 959. Goddard, home of the Chemistry and 
Chemical Engineering departments, hon- 
ors rocket pioneer Robert H. Goddard '08. 

WPI Journal 


Timeless Beauty 

The $500 needed to build the clock that now looks down from the tower of Boynton Hall was raised by the 
Institute's earliest students. Ironically, the clock became the bane of many a student in succeeding years as its 
gong (removed in 1890) summoned them to classes and tattled on those who tried to slip into their seats a few 
minutes late. Not surprisingly, students sought their revenge on more than one occasion by stealing the clock's 
gilded hands. Made, in part, from 1 ,500 pounds of cast iron, the clock was crafted by F.E. Howard &Co. in Boston. 
It was displayed in a store window in downtown Worcester for a few days before its installation on May 1 7, 1867. 

A Face in the Garden 

The home of the late Aldus 
Higgins, chairman of Norton 
Co., Higgins House is an archi- 
tectural gem, marked by a de- 
lightful mix of materials and 
styles. The house is filled with 
personal touches and flights of 
pure whimsy. The exterior, for 
example, is decorated with gar- 
goyles of the animals that the 
Higgins family spotted on the 
property. This face peeks out 
from the ivy to greet visitors to 
the exquisite English Tudor 
gardens, a carefully planned 
network of flower beds, arbors, 
hedges and brick walks that 
adorn the Higgins House 


Winter 1992 


On the Front lines 

By Cathy H. Kalenian 

Manufacturing engineering, WPI's newest 
accredited degree program, is preparing 
students to help meet the competitive 
challenges american industry faces today, 
and to create and manage the manufac- 
turing companies of tomorrow. 


LJ or more than 125 years, WPI has been blending 
1 the theoretical and practical sides of engineering 
A and applied science to produce graduates well- 
equipped to manage the manufacturing industries of the 
day, and to help create the manufacturing technologies 
of tomorrow. That tradition continues today, as the Insti- 
tute expands and enhances its unique educational and 
research programs in manufacturing. 

During WPI's formative years, students balanced 
their course work with hands-on practice in a model 
manufacturing plant housed in the Washburn Laborato- 

Professor Richard D. Sisson Jr. directs WPI's educational programs in manufacturing engineering 

ries, the oldest building in the nation used 
continuously for engineering education. By 
using state-of-the-art manufacturing tools to 
actually make useful and marketable prod- 
ucts, WPl's early graduates gained insights 
into the manufacturing process that helped 
them found many successful industrial 
firms, including such leading Worcester 
companies as Wyman-Gordon Co. and Riley 
Stoker Corp. 

In more recent years, manufacturing 
has been utterly transformed by computers, 
robots and advances in materials science. 
And while American companies competed 
primarily with one another 125 years ago, 
today they face a heated battle for survival 
in a constantly expanding global market- 

To educate a new generation of gradu- 
ates to help American industry succeed on 
this highly competitive stage, WPI in 1986 
launched a new degree program in manufac- 
turing engineering. The Institute's newest 
accredited academic program, manufactur- 
ing engineering is preparing students to 
meet challenges WPI's founders could 
barely have dreamed of. 

The roots of WPI's most recent manu- 
facturing program can be traced back a 
decade to a large room on the lower level of 
the Washburn Shops, the site of the 
Institute's original shop program. In 1981 
Walter L. Abel '39, then vice president of 
research and development at Emhart Corp. 
(now part of Black and Decker), and several 
fellow Emhart employees set up camp in 
that room to help the Institute establish a 
brand new laboratory in advanced manufac- 
turing called the Manufacturing Engineering 
Applications Center (MEAC). 

Through this joint venture, Abel, now 
president of Management of Technology in 
Avon, Conn., hoped to learn about the 
"breaking technology" his company and its 
many divisions (including the Tru-Temper 
Division and the Shoe Machinery Division) 
needed to remain competitive. 

Emhart donated the lab's first robots and 
became its first charter member — followed 
quickly by General Motors Corp., General 
Electric Co., Norton Co., Digital Equipment 
Corp. and Heald Machine Corp. "That was a 
time when every company wanted robots," 
remembers current MEAC director Paul D. 
Cotnoir. "The drive was to eliminate classic 
bottlenecks on the manufacturing floor 
through the use of automation. The princi- 
pal justification for the use of robots was 
labor reduction." 

An Emhart division that made door-lock 
sets was the first to bring a real-world manu- 
facturing problem to MEAC. Working with 

Smoothing Out the Rough Edges 

No matter how carefully they are 
machined, most metal parts must 
have their edges smoothed and shaped 
before they can be used. For manufacturers 
of aircraft engine parts, the processes of 
edge contouring and deburring are espe- 
cially critical. In aircraft engines, sharp cor- 
ners can create stress and adversely affect 
a part's service life. On the manufacturing 
floor, burrs and rough edges can make parts 
hard to handle and assemble. In service, 
burrs can break off and pass through the en- 
gine, causing catastrophic damage. 

In 1991 WPI's Manufacturing Engineering 
Applications Center (MEAC) won a patent 
for a robotic system it developed in 1988 for 
General Electric Co. The system is capable 
of precisely contouring the edges of aircraft 
parts, while at the same time removing any 
burrs it encounters. "GE has been a long- 
time member of MEAC, so we're proud to 
have earned a patent for the company," says 
MEAC director Paul Cotnoir, who completed 
his master's thesis while working on the 

Drawing on the work of other research- 
ers, including a research group at MIT, the 
MEAC team tested as deburring tools nylon 
brushes impregnated with abrasives, abra- 
sive grinding points and various types of 
rotary files. Because of their ability to reach 

the many recesses of the complicated metal 
parts, and because they can remove large 
amounts of metal quickly, rotary files made 
from tungsten carbide were ultimately 

When the files were attached to a robot 
arm selected for its high accuracy and stiff- 
ness, the result was a workstation that 
could successfully edge and deburr the 
titanium and superalloy parts, using the 
surfaces of the parts themselves as a guide. 
Spinning at 30,000 rpm, the files contoured 
the edges of the parts with an accuracy of 
two-thousandths of an inch. Just as impor- 
tant, the robot finished the task in less than 
an hour — about one-sixth the time needed 
to complete the operation manually — and 
virtually eliminated the need for rework and 
quality assurance checks. 

Currently, WPI is engaged in a new 
deburring project for GE, which came about 
when Arthur Gerstenfeld, professor of man- 
agement and director of WPI's Center for the 
Management of Advanced Automation Tech- 
nology, was contacted by the GE Defense 
Systems Division in Pittsfield, Mass., which 
makes transmission housings for the Brad- 
ley Fighting Vehicle. The division wanted to 
develop a system to automate the deburring 
of the housings, a process now done manu- 
ally with hand-held tools. The process is 

MEAC engineers, WPI students devised a 
robotic system that could undertake the 
labor-intensive process of assembling the 
various springs, small screws and other in- 
tricate parts. But while the system was not a 
success — the robot took 30 minutes to carry 
out a task that human workers could com- 
plete in a tenth of that time — the project 
demonstrated the feasibility of automating 
a complex manufacturing process. 

Another early MEAC project was the 
Rivet Tool Test System (RTTS), which auto- 
mated the testing of tools for Emhart 's POP 
Fasteners Division. Using a robot and other 
automation equipment, RTTS replaced 
human operators in the repetitive task of 
inserting and setting individual rivets and 
observing the results over a long period 
of time. 

For Norton Co., MEAC developed an 
automated work cell to unload and stack 
grinding wheels before they were fired. The 
system paid for itself in less than two years, 

based largely on materials savings. While 
MEAC has chalked up many other similar 
success stories over the years, its mission 
has evolved along with the notion of how 
automation fits into the manufacturing 

Initially, Cotnoir notes, many companies 
hoped to see robots replace human workers 
in all manner of manufacturing operations, 
resulting in significant cost savings. Today, 
however, most manufacturing executives 
realize that robots are not the answer to 
every problem. 

"Robots still work well in dangerous or 
repetitive operations, like welding," he says. 
"But the emphasis is no longer on develop- 
ing 'islands of automation,' but on flexible 
automation — that is, systems that can re- 
spond quickly to design changes and vari- 
able product requirements. While labor 
savings are still important, increased pro- 
duction, efficiency and quality are even 
more critical. Now we spend little time 


Winter 1992 

Clockwise from lower left, graduate student Fredric Gold, Reinaldo Niella '92, 
MEAC Director Paul Cotnoir and Rodrigo Gutierrez '92 use a brush attached to 
a robotic arm to deburr a sample of aluminum taken from a transmission 
housing for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle (a complete housing is seen at right). 

time-consuming — it takes eight hours to 
deburr one housing — and inefficient — 95 
percent of the housings need some rework 
after the first deburring. 

Gerstenfeld referred the request to John 
J. Bausch III, assistant professor of mechani- 
cal engineering, who completed his master's 
thesis at MIT in 1983 developing a similar 

deburring system. Bausch, in turn, received 
a grant from GE to create the new system. 

Working with Bausch and Cotnoir, grad- 
uate student Fredric M. Gold has accepted 
the task of finding the best way to remove 
the burrs. Because the housings are made 
of aluminum, a much softer metal than the 
nickel-based superalloy used in the aircraft 
parts, the burrs need not be removed with 
the same degree of precision. Therefore, 
techniques may prove effective that were 
unsuccessful in the earlier project. 

"Although brushes did not work for the 
aircraft engine parts, they may work fine for 
the aluminum transmission housings," Gold 
says. "Although this is not considered preci- 
sion deburring, the method we choose must 
be thorough, because if a burr comes loose 
it can seize the entire engine." 

While undergraduates Reinaldo F. Niella 
'92 and Rodrigo R. Gutierrez '92, who are 
completing work on their Major Qualifying 
Project, experiment with different types of 
brushes, Gold is investigating other meth- 
ods of deburring, including electrochemical 
deburring, cascade deburring and tumbling. 
The latter two methods use hard particles 
that rub against the metal to wear down 
the burrs. 

"We are experimenting with various 
types of media we might use with these 
methods," Gold says. "Anything hard can 
be used — even walnut shells. We also need 
to determine which method will be eco- 
nomically feasible for GE." 

designing robot systems to do specific 
tasks; instead we automate whole manufac- 
turing processes using a wide variety of 
state-of-the-art tools and techniques. We 
look at the big picture, providing solutions 
for the entire manufacturing floor." 

In recent years MEAC has also turned 
its attention to how automation can help 
smaller industries that must fight the same 
battles for competitiveness as their larger 
cousins. With a grant from the now defunct 
Massachusetts Center for Applied Technol- 
ogy, MEAC helped introduce computer- 
aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) 
to the state's smaller sheet metal firms to 
help them reduce the time it takes to create 
new sheet metal designs. 

"The system is dead accurate," says 
John Colognesi, vice president of South- 
bridge Sheet Metal, one of the first compa- 
nies to participate in the MEAC project. 
"We recently built a large, complicated 
frame made of tubular members and 

various angles. It would have taken a week 
of layout to develop it with traditional meth- 
ods; with computer-aided design we devel- 
oped it in a matter of a day." Colognesi says 
his company had long hoped to implement 
a CAD/CAM system, but lacked the time and 

More recently, Bay State Skills Corp., a 
quasi-state agency, hired MEAC to help the 
sheet metal industry export its products. 
"These efforts clearly illustrate the multi- 
disciplinary nature of manufacturing engi- 
neering at work for area corporations," 
Cotnoir says. 


n the years after MEAC's founding, the 
laboratory — which acquired a host of full- 
scale robots and automation equipment 
from its industrial partners — became the 
centerpiece of a manufacturing research 
and education program. In addition to 
teaching courses in robotics, manufacturing 

technology, materials and computer-aided 
design, faculty from the Mechanical Engi- 
neering Department and engineers from 
MEAC advised hundreds of undergraduate 
Major Qualifying Projects and nearly 20 
master's theses in manufacturing. 

In 1986 the Institute consolidated its 
expertise in manufacturing education into 
a new undergraduate degree program; a 
master's program was added a year later 
and the university's first Ph.D. candidate in 
manufacturing enrolled in 1989. In 1991 the 
programs received accreditation from the 
Accreditation Board for Engineering and 
Technology (ABET). 

"There are only 10 ABET-accredited 
bachelor's degree programs in manufactur- 
ing engineering in the United States," notes 
Richard D. Sisson Jr., professor of mechani- 
cal engineering and director of manufactur- 
ing engineering. "WPI is one of the few 
places that offers B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. 
degrees. To date, we've had more than 

WPI Journal 


60 graduates from the undergraduate pro- 
gram and five from the master's program." 

Reflecting the multidisciplinary nature 
of modem manufacturing engineering, the 
curriculum is taught by faculty members 
from the Mechanical Engineering, Electrical 
Engineering, Management and Computer 
Science departments. The program includes 
four core areas of study: materials and pro- 
cesses; product engineering; computer 
control and manufacturing systems; and 
production systems engineering. 

According to Sisson, the program em- 
phasizes a systems approach to manufac- 
turing, where students are taught to see the 
individual parts of the manufacturing pro- 
cess — from product design to manufactur- 
ing and testing — not as separate, unrelated 
processes, but as parts of a unified whole. 

WPI's relatively young manufacturing 
engineering program has already begun to 
garner national attention. In 1990 the Soci- 
ety of Manufacturing Engineers recognized 
its first student honor society ever — the 
society founded by a group of WPI students 
led by Theresa A. Schmidt '92. The students 
petitioned the national organization when 
they realized that manufacturing engineer- 
ing was the only major area of study at WPI 
that did not have its own honor society. 


aterials and processes, the first 
, core area of study, explores the 
properties of modern manufacturing materi- 
als and looks at how they react to such pro- 
cesses as casting, forging, injection molding 
and grinding. Understanding the fundamen- 
tal mechanisms by which materials are 
shaped and new surfaces are created is 

In this 1985 photo, former MEAC engineer Robert Bean, left, and Alan Cloutier of 
Norton Co.'s Vitrified Grinding Wheel Division look over a MEAC-designed system 
that unloads and stacks grinding wheels, seen at center, before they are fired. 

critical in modern manufacturing, notes 
Christopher A. Brown, assistant professor 
of mechanical engineering, who heads up 
this area. 

"Many students arrive thinking that 
manufacturing is all robots and computer 
controls," Brown says. "But if we're only 
intelligently controlling the same old pro- 
cesses, we haven't necessarily reached our 
potential for effective manufacturing. That's 
why my teaching and research focus on 
where the tool meets the workpiece." 

Brown, whose research specialty is con- 
ventional and electric-discharge machining, 

has been a pioneer in the study of machined 
surfaces. To better understand the charac- 
teristics of these surfaces he uses fractal 
geometry, a new form of analysis he first em- 
ployed while doing research on machined 
surfaces at the Swiss Federal Institute of 
Technology in Lausanne. 

"Fractal geometry allows us to charac- 
terize the essence of complex shapes, such 
that their character is represented over a 
wide range of scales," he says. "Over the last 
few years, we've been able to use scanning 
electron microscopes and scanning tunnel- 
ing microscopes to generate hundreds of 
thousands of bits of data about the topogra- 
phy of a machined surface at the atomic 
scale. Theoretically, with such data we can 
now approach product and process design 
issues over a range of scales that extends 
right down to the atomic level." 

Fractal analysis can prove especially 
useful in situations where a designer must 
create a part that has to perform different, 
seemingly contradictory functions at differ- 
ent geometric scales, Brown says. "For ex- 
ample," he notes, "a substrate for a coated 
cutting tool needs to be smooth at larger 
scales, but rough on a fine scale to effec- 

From left, graduate students Robert 
DeLang and Kris Timmermans and 
Professor Christopher Brown test 
the effects of electric-discharge 
machining on a ceramic sample. 
DeLang and Timmermans are 
students at Catholic University 
in Leuven, Belgium. 


Winter 1992 

tively anchor the coating. Fractal analysis 
helps us see how to decouple large- and 
fine-scale functions and manufacturing 
processes and handle them separately." 

At the other end of the manufacturing 
spectrum is production systems 
engineering — the use of effective manage- 
ment and organizational techniques to pro- 
duce a high-quality product manufactured 
by motivated employees. To accomplish 
this goal, production engineers use produc- 
tion planning and control, quality planning 
and control, risk analysis, and simulation, 
among other techniques. 

"This fourth core area of study rounds 
out a manufacturing engineering degree 
program that prepares students to be 
equally skilled in areas that range from in- 
dustrial robotics to advanced materials and 
processes," says Enio E. Velazco, assistant 
professor of management. "But in addition 
to being technologically ready, graduates 
of this program will be prepared to analyze 
and improve operational systems from a 
human standpoint." 

Notes Sharon A. Johnson, assistant pro- 
fessor of management, "The kinds of ques- 
tions we pose to our students include: What 
and how much do I produce this month to 
limit inventory, but still satisfy my custom- 
ers? Can I economically justify the cost of 
a new product design? Can I improve a 
process by reducing setup time, while still 
maintaining quality? How does automation 
affect my company's organization and im- 
pact workers? 

"We're asking the students to look at the 
big picture. Automation and new technology 
must be reviewed on the basis of how they 
relate to all functional areas within a com- 
pany. The human factor is very important." 

To learn firsthand how to put these 
management tools to work in real-life situa- 
tions, students who specialize in production 
system design often complete their Major 
Qualifying Projects in the field solving 
problems for sponsoring companies. For 
example, Rosana A. Espino '93, Erik H. 
Krauss '92 and Andrea K. Toland '92 are 
working with Dover Instrument Corp. in 
Westboro, Mass., which customizes preci- 
sion air-bearing positioning systems, to 

Andrea Toland '92, center, 

discusses the computerized 

scheduling tool she is 

helping develop for Dover 

Instrument Corp. with 

management professors 

Sharon Johnson, left, 

and Enio Velazco. 

develop a computerized scheduling tool 
that will analyze capacity and resource 
utilization in the company's manufacturing 

The scheduling model, which will be 
used to plan projects on a monthly basis, 
will provide feedback to the sales depart- 
ment, helping the sales force quote ship- 
ping dates to customers. Because Dover is 
a small company, the students are attempt- 
ing to fashion a system that will not require 
the firm to purchase new equipment or add 

Jodi A. Pisinski '93, Jennifer L. Wood '92 
and Tara Lynn Zaharoff '92 are working with 
Norton Co. to develop a recycling program 
for the abrasives the company uses to make 
grinding wheels. The students will address 
the technical, environmental and economic 
feasibility of a recycling program, and 
attempt to design a program that will not 
adversely affect the manufacturing process. 

To prepare students adequately to man- 
age modern manufacturing enterprises, the 
WPI faculty strive to expose them — in the 
classroom and through projects — to the 
most current techniques in production man- 
agement. More often than not, these are 
techniques that were pioneered by Japanese 
firms. One example is the Taguchi Method, 
a technique based on statistically designed 
experiments that allow engineers to analyze 
operational systems, identify the effect of 
various factors on particular measures of 
performance, and prioritize various meth- 
ods for improving the manufacturing 

"Our students are learning to be critical 
of the status quo, and to always look for 
possible areas of improvement," says 
Velazco, whose teaching focuses on statis- 
tical quality control. In the classroom pro- 
jects that Velazco assigns, students are 
asked to analyze data that have already 
been used by engineers at real companies 
to solve manufacturing problems. 

"In some cases, the students have come 
up with different solutions than the ones the 
engineers found," Velazco says. "When time 
allows, we meet with the engineers to deter- 
mine if improvements can be made based 
on the students' findings. 

"My effort to present the latest Japanese 
manufacturing techniques to students is re- 
flected in the number of MQPs and master's 
theses that students have undertaken focus- 
ing on the Taguchi Method," adds Velazco, 
who, with help from a grant from General 
Electric Co., is currently developing a new 
undergraduate course in Total Quality Man- 
agement, another leading-edge management 

Students pursuing undergraduate and 
graduate degrees in manufacturing 
engineering at WPI can complete their 
MQPs, theses and dissertations in industry- 
sponsored centers and laboratories in 
robotics, flexible automation, process con- 
trol, advanced materials processing, and 
computer-aided design and manufacturing, 
among other disciplines. Students specializ- 
ing in the human side of manufacturing can 

WPI Journal 25 

This Robot's Way Above Par 

Computer-integrated systems and 
intelligent process controls are as 
important to manufacturing opera- 
tions as the automatic hardware itself," 
notes John J. Bausch III, assistant profes- 
sor of mechanical engineering. "For a great 
many traditional processes, better control 
software is the only mechanism available 
to improve performance. 

"One of the long-range objectives of 
computer-integrated manufacturing is to 
close the gap between design and manu- 
facture," he adds. "By combining com- 
puter-aided design methods to model a 
part with computer-aided manufacturing 
methods to produce it, we can completely 
automate the manufacturing process." 

Working with David C. Zenger and 
David J. Olinger, also assistant professors 
of mechanical engineering, Bausch is cur- 
rently advising three groups of under- 
graduates who are studying intelligent 
process control by creating a robot that 
might seem more useful on the golf course 
than on the factory floor. Called the Inte- 
grated Putting Robot, the machine can size 
up the bumps and contours of a green and 
figure out the best way to swing a putter 
to drop the ball in the hole. 

"Though the end result may not be 
closely tied to the typical manufacturing 

From left, Sean Doherty '92, John Berube '92, Professors John Bausch and 
David Zenger, Michael Vecchione '91 , Professor David Olinger, and James 
McCleery '92 form the gallery as the Integrated Putting Robot attempts to 
sink a four-footer on this carpet-covered "green." 

operation," Bausch says, "the ability to pro- 
gram the robot system to analyze the green 
surface and adopt the trajectory of its 
stroke in real time is extremely valuable. 
This is actually a very realistic manufactur- 
ing problem." 

The robot had its origins in an idea 
Zenger had for a fun way to cap his 
course in robotics. Each student in the 
class develops a program for the robot, 
which holds a standard putter in its arm, 
and practices putting on a flat green. 

complete projects through the Center for 
the Management of Advanced Automation 
Technology (MAAT), which, under the direc- 
tion of Arthur Gerstenfeld, professor of 
management, helps industrial sponsors 
overcome the obstacles that often stand in 
the way of implementing and benefiting 
from advanced automation. 

The newest center, the Center for Intelli- 
gent Processing of Materials (CIPM), is one 
of two multidisciplinary research centers 
recently created at WP1 as part of the Insti- 
tute's Strategic Plan for the 1990s (the other 
is the Applied Bio-Engineering Center). 
Directed by Richard Sisson, the center is the 
umbrella organization for a number of labo- 

According to Sisson, the goal of the new 
center is to create intelligent systems for 
the processing of materials by integrating 
three fundamental manufacturing sub- 

systems: an interactive database of math- 
ematical and heuristic models of materials 
processes; advanced sensors and data- 
acquisition systems that measure key 
attributes of the materials; and a supervi- 
sory control system that utilizes the models 
and the sensors to intelligently control the 

"More broadly," he says, "we will seek to 
develop the kinds of integrated, interactive 
and intelligent processing systems that 
American industry will need to create prod- 
ucts that are competitive — both here and 
abroad. In the process, we're also providing 
a valuable learning experience for WP1 

One of the first of the new laboratories 
to fall under the CIPM umbrella is a facility 
for the study of electric-discharge machin- 
ing (EDM). "Through the center we are seek- 
ing to advance our understanding of the 

spark-erosion process," notes Christopher 
Brown, the lab's founder. "The goal is to ex- 
tend the capabilities of EDM beyond its cur- 
rent applications — primarily machining hard 
metals for making tools and dies — to new 
areas, like the production of ceramic com- 

Other CIPM centers include the Center 
for Hydrogen Embrittlement of Electro- 
plated Fasteners, which addresses the sci- 
entific and industrial problems associated 
with the fasteners (lost time, accidents and 
product liability due to embrittled fasteners 
cost corporations millions of dollars each 
year), and the Center for Carburization 
Heat-Treatment Studies, which helps indus- 
tries streamline and optimize the traditional 
carburization process, a method of impreg- 
nating carbon into metals using heat. 

Recently, six WPI researchers, under the 
auspices of CIPM, submitted a proposal to 


Winter 1992 

From left, Christopher Maxwell '92, Christopher Kelley '92 and Jeffrey Poggi 
'92 work on software that will tell the putting robot how to translate a "putting 
plan" formulated by a computer model into the proper swing of the putter. 

They then compete against one another, 
providing manual feedback to the robot un- 
til it can sink a putt on the same green, 
which now has a few added contours. 
"At Professor Olinger's suggestion," 
Bausch says, "we created this Major Qualify- 
ing Project to automate the process of ad- 
justing to the changing green surface. Now 
the robot will probe the putting surface, 
analyze the information, and adjust the 
speed and the arc of its swing appropriately. 
Our hope is that the robot will do better on 

its own than it does under the students' 
control during the competition." 

To complete the task, one group of 
students (Christopher D. Kelley '92, Christo- 
pher A. Maxwell '92 and Gregory R. Tucker 
'92) is developing a computer model to 
predict the path of the ball and choose the 
initial ball velocity and direction. Another 
team (Jeffrey P. Poggi '92, Johan Van 
Achterberg '91 and Michael F. Vecchione 
'91) is developing an application program to 
generate the surface of the green on a com- 

puter screen and simulate the motion of 
the robot and the ball. 

The third group (John A. Berube 
'92, Sean T. Doherty '92 and James A. 
McCleery '92) is developing the software 
that will translate the output of the mod- 
els into the proper movement of the robot 
arm. Each "putting plan" will be fed to the 
robot and tested; if the robot fails to sink 
the ball, the students will reanalyze their 
models and assumptions. 

Bausch says the most important as- 
pect of the project is the fact that it brings 
together different specialities within 
mechanical engineering to develop a suc- 
cessful automated process. "The analysis 
group tends to consist of students inter- 
ested in aerospace and numerical meth- 
ods," he says. "The computer-integration 
group consists of ME majors with a broad 
interest in advanced computer systems. 
And the computer-aided manufacturing 
group is more hardware-design oriented." 

"Whether at WPI or in the real world 
of industry, professionals with varying 
specialities must learn to work together," 
says Zenger. "That's the real goal of the 
Integrated Putting Robot project. While 
each student in this project has his own 
expertise, the end process will not be 
successful unless there is a group effort 
and good communication." 

the U.S. Army for funding for a major project 
on the intelligent processing of powder met- 
als. Notes David C. Zenger, assistant profes- 
sor of mechanical engineering, the project 
will seek to integrate the various aspects of 
powder-metal processing — from the analy- 
sis of the metal to the design of the manu- 
facturing systems — all of which are now 
studied in isolation. 

"Our goal is to develop the framework 
for an interactive, integrated and intelligent 
system so that design and process flow 
together concurrently," he says. "Since 70 
to 85 percent of product cost is determined 
at the earliest stages of product design, 
there is an incentive for early optimization 
of product design and accurate prediction 
of the manufacturing and processing 

Since its founding days, WPI has mea- 
sured its success in many ways, but the 

most important bottom line has always been 
the success of its graduates. For a young 
program, manufacturing engineering has 
already achieved its share of success, notes 

"Our graduates are doing quite well in 
industry," he says. "Many are being hired 
by large corporations for their management 
and manufacturing engineering training 
programs. For example, General Electric's 
Manufacturing Management Program hires 
many of WPl's manufacturing engineering 
and mechanical engineering graduates. In 
addition, many graduates are working with 
small companies, providing them with state- 
of-the-art engineering expertise that will 
help them stay competitive." 

For these students, the education they 
received at WPI — in particular the real-world 
projects — have provided a significant edge 
in the work place, Sisson says. "Our 

approach to manufacturing education lets 
students apply their newfound knowledge 
and problem-solving skills to real-life situa- 
tions. They have to solve problems within 
the same cost and time constraints they'll 
face once they get out there on the real 
shop floor. There is no substitute for that 
kind of experience. 

"Our students are not working in a 
vacuum," he adds. "They are out there in 
the field, developing a human touch. Gradu- 
ates of our manufacturing engineering pro- 
gram will be tomorrow's top manufacturing 
executives, leading companies into the 21st 
century using skills developed at WPI and 
tested in the field." 

Kalenian, a free-lance writer living in Prince- 
ton, Mass., once ran a manufacturing business 
with her husband, Paul A. Kalenian 76. 

WPI Journal 


The Entrepreneurial Spirit 

Thirteenth in a Series 

Steady as She Goes 

By Michael W. Dorsey 

hen he can, Robert H. 

Beckett '57, chairman 

and CEO of Robec 
Distributors in Horsham, Pa., 
likes to leave behind the de- 
mands of his busy life and go 
sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. 
Like the countless generations 
of watermen who've navigated 
this vast inland waterway be- 
fore him, Beckett knows that 
negotiating the Chesapeake 
requires a steady hand on the 
tiller and a clear vision of where 
you're going and how you're 
going to get there. 

Beckett has taken a similar 
approach to his own career. 
Though his desire to create and 
manage his own company sur- 
faced early in life, he waited 
more than two decades until 
the time and circumstances 
were right to make the leap. 
"I started talking about starting 
my own business when I was a 
senior at WPI," Beckett says. 
"But 1 didn't know what to do 
or when to do it. Later, I was 
concerned about my kids— I 
didn't want to jeopardize their 
educations. But I always knew 
that someday 1 would start my 
own company." 

That someday arrived in 1978. With his employer, 
Decision Data Inc., facing a serious financial crisis, Beckett 
was forced to take a critical look at his career options. He 
decided the time had come to go his own way. At that time, 
desktop computers, which were still in their infancy, were 
already making inroads into business and industry, and 
Beckett could see that virtually unlimited opportunities 
existed for entrepreneurs who could find their own 

Robert Beckett '57 in the warehouse of the 
105,000-square-foot headquarters of Robec 
Distributors in Horsham, Pa. 

niche in this rapidly expanding 

With G. Wesley McKinney, 
a Decision Data sales execu- 
tive, Beckett founded Robec 
Inc. The company's first ven- 
ture was a new software prod- 
uct aimed at surveyors and real 
estate developers. Given criti- 
cal information about a parcel 
of land, the product could help 
carry out the financial and 
technical analyses involved in 
turning the land into a finished 
development. The software 
could even subdivide the land 
into lots, add streets and utili- 
ties, and draw the results on a 

"We took the package to the 
state surveying show at the 
University of Pennsylvania and 
immediately got a request to 
demonstrate it to the execu- 
tives of a large surveying in- 
strument manufacturer," 
Beckett says. As a result, Robec 
won a contract for nearly $2 
million worth of hardware and 
software, including 120 Z/80 
desktop computers and associ- 
ated printers and plotters. 

Around that time, Okidata, 
a manufacturer of computer 
printers, released a new printer for personal computers. 
Impressed by Robec's experience with printers and its 
sales success, Okidata provided the opportunity for the 
company to act as a distributor. Robec agreed, and in the 
process firmly established itself as an up-and-coming 
wholesale distributor of microcomputers and peripherals. 
It's been more than a decade since that day, and Beckett 
has never looked back. 


Winter 1992 

ore than anything, it was football 
I that first brought Robert Beckett 
to WPI. The son of a machine shop inspec- 
tor who emigrated to the United States from 
Belfast as a young man, Beckett was born in 
Trenton, N.J., in 1933. As a student at 
Hamilton High School in Trenton, Beckett 
excelled at mathematics and physics and 
played on the football team. After graduat- 
ing in 1951, he spent a year at The Penning- 
ton School, a New Jersey preparatory 

Beckett's academic credentials earned 
him admission to several colleges, including 
Lafayette, Delaware and Rutgers, but finan- 
cial constraints led him to put off college for 
a year. "I had actually enrolled at Lafayette 
and attended freshman orientation," he 
says, "but I decided not to start until I could 
gather additional financial support." 

Instead, to earn money for college he 
worked in the service department of a local 
Ford dealership as a mechanic and a service 
salesman. In the evenings he held down a 
second job on the night shift at a gas sta- 
tion. That fall Beckett's prep school foot- 
ball coach told him that Charles McNulty, 
football coach at WPI, would be visiting the 
area to look for good students interested in 
a technical education. Beckett agreed to 
meet him. 

"McNulty and I talked in December and 
he invited me to visit WPI the following 
spring," Beckett says. "I had such a desire 
to go to college someplace, and I was so 
pleased to find someone who seemed will- 
ing to help. Not having the financial where- 
withal to go to college, and feeling the 
frustration that goes along with that — that 
was a low point in my life. I've always appre- 
ciated how WPI made it possible for me to 
get an education." 

With the aid of a matriculation scholar- 
ship, Beckett enrolled in the fall of 1953. 
"I still had to work to earn money for ex- 
penses, but I enjoyed my years at WPI. I got 
a lot out of my education." 

While at the Institute, Beckett was a 
member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and 
joined the Athletic Council, the Varsity Club, 
ROTC and the American Society of Mechani- 
cal Engineers. He was on the staffs of Tech 
News and Peddler, and was elected to the 
Tech Senate each of his WPI years, serving 
as president his senior year. He also won 
election to Skull, the senior honor society, 
and Phi Delta Epsilon, the journalism honor 

In addition to his activities, he was active 
in sports, competing on the swimming and 
tennis teams as a freshman and sophomore. 
As a guard on the football team, he lettered 

as a junior and a 
senior and played on 
the undefeated and 
untied team of 1954. 
"I wasn't a star," 
Beckett says, "but I 
was a steady player. 
I'm still that way. I'm 
one of those people 
who likes steadiness 
and stability. I think 
that's one of the 
things that has made 
Robec successful." 


arly in his 
career, Beckett 
learned the rewards 
that stability can 
bring. After complet- 
ing six months of mili- 
tary service, he joined 
Leeds & Northrup in 
North Wales, Pa., a 
maker of electronic 
recorders, controllers 
and test instruments. 
On-campus interviews 
had earned him offers 
from eight other com- 
panies, including 
Alcoa, Curtis-Wright, 

Goodyear and IBM, but none of these firms 
could promise Beckett a position that would 
let him make full use of his engineering 

"I didn't want a position that could be 
filled by a nontechnical college graduate," 
he says. "I thought to myself, 'If they don't 
put any value on a technical education, 
why did I bother to get one?'" 

A friend had suggested he check into 
Leeds & Northrup, and while he was home 
for Christmas vacation during his senior 
year he visited the plant. "I was so im- 
pressed with the kind of job they offered 
me — it just hit me right," he says. "It was 
exactly what I wanted." 

Beckett started out in field sales in Mil- 
waukee. "The Midwest is warm and friendly, 
but difficult to penetrate," he says. "But I 
outlasted the competition. I was there for 
five years, and in that time the Honeywell 
representative changed twice. All of a sud- 
den, I was the veteran; mine was the face 
the customers had seen more often, so I 
started to get more business." 

From Milwaukee, Beckett was trans- 
ferred to Pittsburgh, where he played a 
critical role in developing instrumentation 
and central control systems for steel plants 

Robec's regional distribution centers keep busy shipping 
microcomputer systems out to customers around the country. 

and plants that processed taconite, a low- 
grade iron ore. 

"That was a time when industry was just 
beginning to centralize operations," he says, 
"using miniaturized instruments to gather 
raw data from throughout the processing 
operation and pulling it into a central loca- 
tion. Centralization was an essential step 
before you could even consider putting in 
a computer. Once you had all the data in 
place, you could figure out how to handle 
it through mathematical models of the 

While at Leeds & Northrup, Beckett 
and a fellow employee, Ken Bullinant, were 
approached by Don Stein, the president of 
a small Glassboro, N.J., instrumentation 
company called K-Tron Inc. Stein was inter- 
ested in developing some new measurement 
devices for industrial processes, and 
Beckett and Bullinant spent several week- 
ends at K-Tron completing the design for 
one of Beckett's ideas, a gravimetric feeder. 
All three would ultimately share a patent 
for the design. 

"A gravimetric feeder measures the 
weight of dry granular material as it passes 
along a conveyor belt, controlling the vol- 
ume of the stream as a function of its 

WPI Journal 


weight," Beckett says. "When you're blend- 
ing multiple streams — for example, mixing 
other ingredients in with dry cereals or con- 
trolling the ratio of raw ingredients feeding 
into a plastic extruder — a gravimetric feeder 
enables you to get the same formulation all 
the time." 

Eventually Beckett and Bullinant left 
Leeds & Northrup to join K-Tron, where 
they converted their original pneumatic 
feeder to an electronic device. It was the 
first digital feeder on the market and 
remains the standard in the field today, 
Beckett says. 

After five years at K-Tron, Beckett left to 
join Decision Data Inc. in Horsham, Pa., a 
manufacturer of equipment for IBM System 
3 business computers. As manager of OEM 
(original equipment manufacturer) market- 
ing, Becket sold Decision Data's products — 
including card readers, punches, reader- 
punches, and printers — to other computer 
manufacturers. He also spearheaded the 
launch of a new 120-character-per-second 
dot-matrix printer. 

In 1976 IBM announced its intention to 
entirely redesign its System-3 computers, 
making many of Decision Data's products 
obsolete and placing the company's future 
in doubt. For Beckett, it was a critical turn- 
ing point — one for which he'd been waiting 
for 22 years. By 1978 he would be president 
and CEO of his own company. 

The qualities Robert Beckett uses to 
describe himself — steadiness and 
stability — could apply as well to the com- 
pany he founded 14 years ago in Montgom- 
eryville, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia. As a 
value-added distributor of microcomputers, 
peripherals, software and supplies, Robec 
Distributors sells its products to about 
22,000 customers, who include value-added 
resellers (VARs), retailers and other com- 
puter businesses that, in turn, sell those 
systems to end-users. 

Since its birth, Robec has grown at a 
quick but steady pace. Starting in 1978 with 
a work force of just the two founding part- 
ners, Robec grew to employ 20 people and 
earn annual sales of nearly $4 million by 
1982. Four years later its sales had jumped 
to more than $68 million — an increase of 
over 1,500 percent — and its work force had 
risen to 128. 

The company passed the $100 million 
mark in sales during its 10th year of opera- 
tions in 1988, and today Robec posts annual 
sales of more than $200 million with a work 
force of 410 nationwide, including 180 in 
Horsham, Pa., where the corporate head- 
quarters were moved in 1987. This rapid 
expansion earned Robec the No. 10 spot 

MicroStack and the WPl 

Since they were introduced less than 
a decade ago, personal computer 
networks have helped businesses 
boost their productivity by linking indi- 
vidual personal computers together, 
enabling users to more easily share infor- 
mation and data. But even with the most 
powerful commercially available networks, 
companies can run into problems when 
they try to expand their networks to ac- 
commodate new users or new technology. 

A unique approach to networking devel- 
oped by Robec Distributors, with help from 
researchers at WPI, promises a simple yet 
easily expandable personal computer net- 
work. Called MicroStack, the system com- 
bines the power and resources of two or 
more off-the-shelf personal computers to 
create a multiprocessing computer. The 
system enables users to share memory, 
disk drives, printers and other peripherals 
connected to the stack, in much the same 
way that users of much more expensive 
mainframe or minicomputer systems can. 

"Our concept was that all the process- 
ing power of a networked system should 
be transparent to the user," says Robec 
Chairman and CEO Robert H. Beckett '57. 
"All he wants to see is that he has the re- 
sources he needs to get the job done. 
Where those resources are located 
shouldn't concern him." 

James Duckworth, seated, holds the Bus 
Interface Card he developed for Micro- 
Stack, Robec's revolutionary networking 
solution. David Cyganski stands beside 
a MicroStack setup running a test on 
TCPserver, the addition he wrote for the 
MicroStack operating system. 

While MicroStack makes use of hardware 
and software sold by other vendors, two key 
elements are available only from Robec. The 

on Inc. magazine's list of the 500 fastest- 
growing privately held U.S. companies 
in 1984. The company appeared on the list 
again in 1985, 1986 and 1987. Robec's suc- 
cess also earned Beckett the title of Dela- 
ware Valley Entrepreneur of the Year in 1988 
from the Arthur Young Co. and Venture 

WPl has also honored Beckett, who has 
served the college since 1986 as a trustee, 
and who, as chairman of the board's Devel- 
opment Committee, helped manage the 
highly successful Campaign for Excellence. 
(Beckett's own gifts to the Institute helped 
build the new George F. Fuller Laboratories.) 
In 1987 WPI presented Beckett with its Rob- 
ert H. Goddard '08 Alumni Award for Profes- 
sional Achievement. 

Robec's growth has been partly fueled 
by acquisitions. In 1985 the company pur- 
chased North Carolina-based InterAct Dis- 

tributing, which added a network of offices 
and warehouses in the South to Robec's 
own regional sales offices in Boston, Mass., 
Reston, Va., and Youngstown, Ohio. Other 
acquisitions, including the purchases of re- 
gional computer distributors in Texas and 
California, have enabled Robec to become 
a truly national company comprising 20 
branch offices from Seattle to Orlando, in- 
cluding regional operating and supply cen- 
ters in Horsham, Kansas City and Phoenix. 

"Territorially, that's all I want to do right 
now," Beckett says, "at least until I get all of 
our offices as strong as our East Coast of- 
fices. We might look at other locations in the 
future — potentially in Canada and Mexico, if 
trade barriers come down." 

Robec's steady growth is particularly 
striking when projected against the back- 
drop of the ups and downs of the computer 
industry over the past decade and a half. As 


Winter 1992 


first is the operating sys- 
tem, called Shared Resource 
Architecture, which enables 
several PCs to work as one 
computer. The other is the 
Bus Interface Card (BIC), 
the hardware that links the 
computers together and 
permits the rapid and or- 
derly exchange of data be- 
tween them. 

The BIC, a card that 
plugs into each of the PCs 
in the stack, was developed 
by R. James Duckworth, 
associate professor of elec- 
trical engineering, working 
under contract to Robec. 
"There were some special 
requirements for this card," 
Duckworth says. "It had to 
interface with the rest of their software, it 
had to support very high-speed but reliable 
communications between a number of PCs, 
and it had to be low cost." 

Working with graduate student Kenneth 
Viall, Duckworth produced a board capable 
of transferring data at the rate of 2 million 
bytes per second. Key elements of the de- 
sign included an advanced microprocessor, 
a SCSI controller (normally used to transfer 
data between a computer and a disk drive), 

and a special memory design that maxi- 
mizes the card's throughput. 

"We wanted the host PC to be able to 
write new information to the BIC at the 
same time that the BIC is sending previously 
received information out into the stack," 
Duckworth says. 

Duckworth not only designed the BIC 
and produced a prototype for Robec's 
approval, but supervised the manufacture of 
the cards by a local company. More recently, 
he and another graduate student, Samer 
Nubani, produced a new version of the card 
with a faster microprocessor and controller 
that increased its communications speed to 
5 million bytes per second. By integrating 
several functional elements of the old card 
into a small number of programmable logic 
devices, they also made the card easier and 
less expensive to manufacture. 

Nubani says his work on the BIC was 
equivalent to a "year's industrial experi- 
ence," and credits the project with helping 
him land a job as an engineer with Teleglobe 
Inc., an electronics company in Canada. 

In addition to supporting the develop- 
ment of the BIC, Robec provided computers 
and test equipment for WPI's Computer 
Architecture Laboratory, where much of the 
development work for the BIC took place. 
More recently, David Cyganski, professor of 
electrical engineering, and graduate student 

Michael J. Haley have used the re- 
sources of this lab to add a new feature 
to the Shared Resource Architecture. 

Called TCPserver, the new feature 
will allow MicroStack to communicate 
with workstations, mainframe comput- 
ers and networks that use the Unix oper- 
ating system as easily as it now does 
with PCs operating under the DOS oper- 
ating system. Unix machines generally 
communicate with the TCP/IP protocol, 
which is incompatible with protocols 
generally used in computer networks 
that link DOS-based computers. 

"This new addition will let Micro- 
Stack enter the all-important world of 
Unix computing, making its capabilities 
available to a much broader range of 
computer users," Cyganski notes. 

Using the enhanced Shared Resource 
Architecture and the BIC, MicroStack 
can link up to 63 individual PCs and doz- 
ens of peripheraJ devices, and can inter- 
face with terminals and PCs hooked into 
virtually any type of computer network. 

"We think it's a really exciting devel- 
opment," Beckett says. "One person 
who read about MicroStack said, 'You 
don't have an evolutionary product 
here — you've got a revolutionary prod- 
uct. It changes the whole way of thinking 
about networks.' " 

Robec completely assembles and tests every 
computer system it ships from its warehouses. 

Robec's own newsletter noted 
in 1986, the market for micro- 
computers experienced a "blip" 
in 1982 when the IBM Personal 
Computer was introduced, 
"convincing millions of end- 
users that it was safe to go 
micro." But after the blip 
came the "dip," when the flurry 
of demand for computer prod- 
ucts that followed the introduc- 
tion of the IBM PC began to 
taper off. 

Later, as the business and 
home computer markets be- 
came more saturated, the 
computer market softened 
and many computer makers 
went out of business or suffered 
hard times. More recently, the 
recession has further cut into 

the demand for computers and related 

What has enabled Robec to sail steadily 
on through these sometimes stormy seas? 
Beckett attributes much of the company's 
success to its unique approach to computer 
distribution. Most computer distributors, he 
says, have concentrated on selling high vol- 
umes of individual components, such as 
personal computers, printers and disk 
drives. Robec has, from the beginning, 
placed its emphasis on selling whole sys- 
tems, including everything — computers, 
peripherals, software, and networking 
equipment — that end-users need to use 
computers effectively in their businesses. 

"In the beginning, the big distribution 
companies were all commodities oriented," 
Beckett says. "The market was growing so 
fast, all you had to do was pick up the 
phone and you could sell something to 

WPI Journal 


somebody, as long as you kept your prices 
low. Robec is dispersed over multiple offices 
and our costs are too high to compete on 
that level, so we've always worked hard to 
keep the commodity sales — what I call the 
pull sales — from dominating the higher- 
margin system sales — the push sales. We've 
kept a balance between push and pull — 
between the value-added and commodity 
sales. That's really our strategy." 

Because Robec 's emphasis is on sys- 
tems, rather than components, the company 
can also provide its customers with a high 
level of support services. For example, it 
completely assembles and tests every sys- 
tem it sells before it is shipped — often with 
all the software installed— to assure that no 
problems will develop once the equipment 
leaves the warehouse. 

"I don't know of many other distributors 
who are doing that," Beckett says. "We actu- 
ally format the drives, load the operating 
system, and log on all the peripherals. When 
we ship it to the customer, all he has to do 
is set it up and turn it on." Robec is also 
one of the few distributors that maintains 
an in-house maintenance department. 

Unlike most computer distributors, 
Robec also invests heavily in education. It 
offers seminars and workshops on micro- 
computers and software, frequently mounts 
multicity tours to introduce its customers to 
new technology, and prepares its own corre- 
spondence courses. "When you distribute 
technology," Beckett says, "You have to 
spend a lot of time educating people and in- 
troducing them to the things you think will 

help their businesses. That kind of leader- 
ship is what's helped us be successful." 

As the computer market has matured 
and competition among distributors has in- 
creased, Robec has shifted more and more 
of its business into these value-added ser- 
vices, which earn much higher profit mar- 
gins than volume sales of computers or 
commodities. The value-added segment of 
his operations grew from 12 percent of over- 
all sales in 1987 to 36 percent in 1990. "We're 
not the largest distributor in this business," 
Beckett says, "but our model says we don't 
have to be because we're the most profitable 
distributor. And that's what will sustain our 

"As long as we maintain a feeling for the 
marketplace and the customers are willing 
to pay for the services we offer, we'll suc- 
ceed," Beckett says. "A lot of people say they 
are value-added distributors, but the only 
ones who really are, are the ones whose 
customers are willing to pay for that value." 

There is no better way to sell people on 
an idea than to put that idea to work 
yourself," Beckett says. At Robec, that's 
more than a philosophy — it's a way of life. 
In a business where suppliers and dealers 
must convince customers that, given the 
right technology and resources, they can 
make their business more effective and 
efficient, Robec leads by example. 

The company recently purchased and 
installed its own voice-mail system. It is now 
in the process of automating its warehouse 

Robec's emphasis on selling complete computer systems enables it to offer cus- 
tomers a broad range of services, such as this maintenance and repair facility. 

without outside help. Even the company's 
modern, 105,000-square-foot corporate 
headquarters and warehouse in Horsham 
is a monument to this do-it-yourself spirit: 
Robec employees planned the renovations 
of the original 45,000-square-foot-structure 
and supervised all of the work. The com- 
pany also acted as general contractor for 
the construction of a 10,000-square-foot 
office annex and a 50,000-square-foot 
warehouse expansion. 

Touring the building, a visitor quickly 
sees that Robec also practices what it 
preaches when it comes to the technology 
it sells. Virtually every administrative task 
carried out in corporate headquarters 
makes use of the microcomputers and 
software Robec distributes, and all of the 
company's computers — as well as all of its 
regional offices — are linked together with 
the company's networking systems. 

Using the products it sells is the best 
way to thoroughly understand how they 
work, Beckett says, and to anticipate the 
problems end-users may encounter in em- 
ploying them in their own applications. To 
this end, Robec puts its own business sys- 
tems to the test. Consider the tricks it asks 
its networks to perform every day: 

Each evening, after normal business 
hours, computers in Horsham call each 
branch office and collect data on the day's 
transactions. Data from Robec's entire na- 
tional distribution operation is consolidated 
and analyzed. The updated results are then 
fed back to the regional offices. On top of 
this, local networks at headquarters and at 
each branch office constantly keep track of 
new orders, automatically updating records 
in multiple offices, and printing out invoices 
and shipping documents. 

The company is currently implementing 
document imaging, a technology that re- 
places traditional paper files with electronic 
images that can be easily retrieved and 
viewed on a computer screen. "For example, 
with the imaging system, all shipping docu- 
ments arriving in our receiving department 
will be scanned into the computer," Beckett 
says. "They will be electronically attached 
to the purchase order, which will already 
be in the system. The payables department 
can then pull these documents up on the 
screen, check them over, verify the signa- 
tures, and pay the vendors. We may even 
scan in the checks and attach them to the 
other documents. 

"Eventually, we plan to do away entirely 
with historical files. After we thoroughly un- 
derstand the system, we can educate our 
VARs about how to use it and sell it. I be- 
lieve there will be a huge market for imaging 
systems in the next five years, as the prices 
for the technology continue to come down." 


Winter 1992 


Robec Distributors has become a family affair for Beckett. His wife, Pat, above, has long served as his administrative 
assistant. His daughter and two sons also work with him at corporate headquarters. 

Imaging is an example of how Robec is 
expanding into new high-end technology, 
instead of into new territory, Beckett notes. 
"In addition to imaging, we're getting into 
multimedia applications, heavier networks 
and network management, and worksta- 
tions," he says. "Because of our commit- 
ment to service and support, I think we're in 
a better position to market these products 
than many other distributors." 

In addition to products made by other 
companies (Robec is an authorized distribu- 
tor for about 50 computer and component 
manufacturers, including Motorola, Okidata, 
Sony, Unisys, Texas Instruments and Wyse), 
the company has also from the beginning 
developed its own business software. 

Its first package, the Robec Simplified 
Business System, originally ran on one of 
the first Z/80 desktop computers. The soft- 
ware provides the kind of real-time business 
support (sales-order entry, inventory con- 
trol, accounts receivable and payable, pur- 
chasing, and so on) that is usually attainable 

only on larger computers, and makes it 
available on a network of personal comput- 
ers. Robec has also developed its own com- 
munications software, Solo-Corn, and a 
unique, low-cost approach to networking 
called MicroStack (see related story). 

Most of these packages are the products 
of Robec's own research and development 
department, which is headed by Alexander 
C. Kramer Jr., vice president for advanced 
systems technology. Kramer, who earlier in 
his career developed one of the first operat- 
ing systems for real-time process controls, 
is one of four Robec employees who worked 
with Beckett at Leeds & Northrup. In addi- 
tion to McKinney and Kramer, they are 
John P. Puckett, senior vice president and 
general manager, and Charles Shaffer, direc- 
tor of operations for Base Two, a Robec 

Beckett says the Leeds & Northrup 
connection is significant, because that 
company's emphasis on system sales and 
applications helped shape Robec's own 

philosophy. But even more, it is a reflection 
of the value Beckett places on loyalty. He 
points with pride to the unusually low turn- 
over among Robec's employees. "We have 
some young people in sales who have been 
with us for seven years," he says. "Seven 
years in the micro industry is an enormous 
amount of time — and they're not the older 
salesmen, they're the younger ones." 

Beckett says he is also proud that his 
family has chosen to join him in the busi- 
ness. His wife, Pat, is his administrative 
assistant. His oldest son, Robert Jr., is sec- 
retary and vice president for marketing 
operations. His daughter, Susan K. Childers, 
is manager of advertising and publications. 
Son Thomas recently joined the firm after 
receiving his degree in marketing from Penn- 
sylvania State University. 

"That's the way this company is," 
Beckett says. "We don't constantly try to 
change direction, like some of our competi- 
tors. We stay with our people and our strat- 
egy, because that's what works the best." 

WPI Journal 



Climbing Between the Peaks 

A successful fund-raising cam- 
paign should achieve three 
significant outcomes: raising 
dollars and pledges for its objectives; 
accelerating the process of giving; and 
moving the institution to a higher "re- 
sults plateau" from which to conduct 
future fund raising. 

This article will address the third 
objective — fund raising between cam- 
paigns, or "climbing between the peaks." 
Note that I didn't say descending. Experi- 
enced mountaineers know that while 
going downhill awhile before making 
another ascent is refreshing, it makes 
reaching the next summit seem all the 
harder. Right now WPI is in such an 
interregnum — having reached a hard-won 
peak of $63.7 million, we are looking ahead 
to the next summit. 

So what are our plans for the next few 
years? For what do we need significant 
funding? I'll start with some simple prem- 
ises. First, WPI is a distinctive, high- 
quality institution that serves students at 
the higher end of the talent range. Second, 
to continue to offer its considerable diver- 
sity of programs, the Institute has been 
reaching out to serve students who reside 
well outside the founders' "drawing bound 
aries" of Central New England. 

Most of our current benefactors and 
future prospects will likely embrace these 
premises, for they want WPI to remain 
among the best. But the economic setting 
for and societal attitudes about higher 
education have changed dramatically, 






CO 60 


-i 40 



7879 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 

•1978 Base YEAR 

particularly in the past two to three years. 
These changes have created the need to 
build a new framework for our climb — one 
that is likely to be pervasive and enduring. 

In some respects, our task is easy to 
articulate. First, there must be constant 
renewal and enrichment of WPI's faculty. 
Second, the settings in which faculty con- 
duct their activities must be functional 
and up-to-date (especially for programs 
in science and technology). And third, the 
faculty and the settings must appeal to an 
increasingly discerning but limited mar- 
ket — prospective students. 

Faculty and students, of course, can 
and do speak for themselves. Settings — 
buildings and facilities — cannot. Together, 
though, these three interrelated consum- 
ers of funding must be kept in dynamic 
equilibrium. Satisfying one more optimally 
than the others will lead to an imbalance 
and, in the long run, to a less attractive 



77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 

Source: National Center for Education Statistics 

It is becoming impossible to satisfy 
fully this triad of faculty, plant and stu- 
dents, largely because there are too few 
donors right now with the necessary 
wherewithal and disposition. As provid- 
ers of life support to our climbers, we 
therefore must work on the most compel- 
ling and the most enduring objectives for 
the longer run by building WPI's endow- 
ment. At the same time, we must pursue 
current funding to fill in the outer edge 
of the annual institutional budget — what 
has often been referred to as the "2 per- 
cent margin for excellence." 

If you will, endowment builds for the 
future, while funds for the operating bud- 
get support the present. Success in both 
support streams is essential if WPI is to 
be the place that all of us want it to be — 
now and in the years ahead. (Figure 1 
shows the market value of the WPI en- 
dowment over the past 14 years; Figure 2 
shows the growth of the total endowment 


Some Representative High-Quality Liberal Arts Colleges 

of Dollars 

Total Student 

Per Student 

Amherst $269 1,584 $169,800 

Grinnell 287 1,373 209,000 

Middlebury 228 1 ,950 1 16,900 

Oberlin 245 2,971 82,465 

Pomona 296 1,392 212,600 

Smith 342 3,673 93,100 

Swarthmore 336 1,300 258,460 

Wellesley 374 2,214 168,900 

Wesleyan(CT) 271 2,863 94,650 

Williams 333 2,177 152,960 

Some Representative Institutions Similar to WPI 
(Principally Science and Technology) 

of Dollars 

Total Student 

Caltech $467 1,821 

Per Student 


7,090 42,172 

563 119,893 

4,562 56,993 

9,536 147,232 

6,556 35,082 

4,220 253,080 

Stevens 52 3,120 16,540 

WPI 98 3,970 24,736 

Source: Voluntary Support ol Education 1990, Council lor Aid to Education (CFAE) 

Carnegie Mellon 299 . 

Harvey Mudd 68 

Lehigh 260 . 

MIT 1,404 

RPI 230 , 

Rice 1,068 . 


Winter 1992 



FY1985' FY1991* 

(in millions (in millions 

of dollars) of dollars) 

Endowment 38.2 51.3 .... 

Tuition/Fees Revenue 12.4 18.3.... 

Total Revenues 27.3 32.7.... 

Instruction & Library 7.8 10.1 .... 

Financial Aid 3.9 6.3 .... 

Operations and 
Plant Maintenance 2.2 2.2 .... 

(in percent) 






'Constant dollars. Basis: 1978 

(Source: 1990-91 WPI Annual Report) 


The Objective: Endow a new undergraduate 
scholarship fund representing the pooled gifts 
of alumni and friends. 

The Challenge: Howard G. Freeman '40 and 
Robert H. Beckett '57 each pledged $100,000 
to launch the fund. 

The Audience: 8,000 alumni (an equal number of 
prior student-grant recipients and randomly 
selected non-grant recipients). Individuals with 
outstanding pledges to the Campaign for Excel- 
lence were excluded. 
Donors: 1,172. 

Total Pledged: $229,959 (exclusive of match- 
ing gift monies). (This campa j gn is ongoing.) 

for U.S. colleges and universities over a 
similar period; Table 1 compares WPI's 
endowment strength to that of several 
other institutions.) 

The WPI Alumni Fund has provided, 
and continues to provide, much of those 
needed current dollars. Including donors' 
corporate matching funds, but less the 
major Reunion class gifts (usually directed 
to specific capital purposes), Alumni Fund 
contributions account for about 10 percent 
of our fund-raising results. However, the 
remainder of this article concerns the 
need to balance off fund raising for one-of- 
a-kind projects, such as the renovation of 
a campus building, and the enhancement 
of our institutional resources with endow- 
ment building. 

Most one-of-a-kind projects are either 
thoughtfully planned (and often post- 

poned!) or opportu- 
nistic. The former are 
often easier to man- 
age from a develop- 
ment perspective, but 
the latter are often 
more seductive. We 
know, for example, 
that roofs have a 
certain lifetime; they 
must be continually 
repaired and occa- 
sionally replaced. 
Buildings must be painted — inside and 
out — to preserve their structural and 
aesthetic value. And from time to time, 
they may undergo interior space recon- 
figurations to make better use of existing 
space. These are planned events. 

Opportunistic projects come about 
when a new faculty member or a group 
of faculty get together to create a new 
course, curriculum or research project. 
Specialized equipment, dedicated space — 
usually with some particularly novel con- 
figuration — and new or enhanced support 
services are elements of opportunistic 
fund raising. That is, they arise somewhat 
unexpectedly— and opportunities come 
and go quickly — so speed is often of the 

As an example of a planned project, we 
are currently completing a full interior re- 
furbishment of Alden Memorial, its first in 
about a half-century of service. The pro- 
ject, which includes adapting existing 
space for better usage, will cost $2.7 mil- 
lion (roughly four times the original cost 
of the building). Currently, we are putting 
together the funds needed to create up- 
graded facilities for mechanical engineer- 
ing in Higgins Laboratories and Stoddard 
Labs. Higgins is of the same vintage as 
Alden Memorial, and it, too, will be getting 
its first major overhaul. The price tag for 
installing an elevator, replacing rotted nails 
that hold up the roof slates, significantly 
enhancing power and other services, and 
reconfiguring space for more modern 
usage will amount to at least $5 million. 

Worth pointing out is that these major 
interior renovations continue a long- 
standing tradition at WPI — ensuring that 
our historic (and hence aging) buildings 
are maintained to serve contemporary 
needs. So far we have renovated Boyn- 
ton, Washburn and Stoddard, Salisbury, 
Atwater Kent, the Foundry (now the 
Project Center), and AJden Memorial. 
When the Higgins restoration is com- 
pleted, our only truly "old" academic 

building left to do will be Stratton. 

But let me get to the essence of the 
climb before us. One-of-a-kind and oppor- 
tunistic projects have some unique charac- 
teristics. For example, they can be post- 
poned, neglected or deflected, but doing 
so too often will lead eventually to 
a physically impoverished institution, one 
that is no longer attractive to the very 
people who make it what it is today. To 
avoid that fate, we must build our endow- 
ment — aggressively — along three broad 

Endowing Financial Aid 

Given what WPI is facing, its endowment is 
inadequate — though not woefully — for the 
long term. For example, our current expen- 
ditures for undergraduate financial aid 
roughly equal the income available from 
our $110 million endowment. (The Board 
of Trustees' "spending rule" permits the 
Institute to put 5.5 percent of the average 
market value of the endowment for the 
previous two fiscal years toward current 

The Trustee Investment Committee is 
vigilant in maintaining an "aggressively 
prudent" posture in endowment invest- 
ments, and it should continue to do so. 
But while the financial aid example above 
is a bit misleading, since only a portion 
of the money we allocate to student aid 
comes from endowment income, it does 
suggest that were we to try to fund student 
aid entirely on our own (unaided by re- 
sources such as ROTC scholarships), we 
would be able to do nothing else (beyond 
what we could raise money for directly). 

We can help reduce the amount of the 
unrestricted endowment we now spend on 
student aid by building up an endowment 
specifically restricted to this purpose, 
though a look at Table 2 suggests that 
we have a ways to go before we reach a 
more secure plateau. About 65 to 75 per- 
cent of all engineering and applied science 
students enrolled at private institutions 
receive need-based aid. So unless we cre- 
ate new programs that might appeal to a 
more affluent constituency, our financial 
aid needs will not go away. And since 
future enrollment in programs that WPI 
currently offers is likely to come increas- 
ingly from minority families, our financial 
aid costs are likely to continue their 
upward spiral. 

There is a bit of the chicken-and-egg 
issue here. A $1 million expenditure on 
financial aid will support about 20 high- 

WPI Journal 35 


George I. Alden Chair in Engineering (1970)* 

Paris Fletcher Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities (1985) 

George F. Fuller Professorship in Mechanical Engineering (1964) 

Harold J. Gay Professorship in Mathematics (1968) 

Robert H. Grant Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship (1988) 

Weston Hadden Professor of Electrical Engineering (1983) 

John Woodman Higgins Professor of Mechanical Engineering (1962) 

Milton Prince Higgins Professorship in Manufacturing (1988) 

Leonard P. Kinnicutt Professorship (1964) 

Kenneth G. Merriam Professorship in Mechanical Engineering (1977) 

Morgan-Worcester Distinguished Instructorship (1974) 

Walter and Miriam B. Rutman Professorship in Chemistry (1986) 

Joseph Samuel Satin Distinguished Fellowship in Electrical Engineering .(1982) 

Russell M. Searle Instructorship in Mechanical Engineering (1978) 

John E. Sinclair Professorship in Mathematics (1915) 

Harry G. Stoddard Professorship in Management (1982) 

The White Family Professorship (at-large) (1987) 

'Year ol Establishment 


Arvid and Marietta Anderson '20 Fellowship 

Robert H. '08 and Esther Goddard Fellowship 

John C. Metzger Jr. '46 Teaching Assistantship 
(Chemical Engineering or Chemistry) 

Norton Company Fellowship (Mechanical Engineering) 

Robert S. Parks 1893 Fellowship 

Carl '11 and Inez Weidenmiller Fellowship 

Helen E. Stoddard Fellowship in Materials Science 

Ralph E. Spaulding '09 Fellowship (Structural or Construction Engineering) 

need students for four years. A like 
expenditure in programs or facilities, on 
the other hand, will have a direct and last- 
ing impact on institutional quality. Still, 
without good students there would be 
no need for enriched programs, and 
vice versa. 

Some of our readers will recall being 
invited in 1989 to support the new Alumni 
Scholars Endowment (Figure 3). Since few 
donors can afford to contribute the mini- 
mum of $50,000 it requires to endow an 
individually named scholarship, the 
Alumni Scholars Endowment is an ideal 
way for donors to commingle their smaller 
gifts to build what 1 hope will be a major 
income stream for future generations of 
WPI students. Incidentally, about $22.2 
million of our endowment currently con- 
sists of gifts restricted to financial aid. 
We would need about $175 million (in 
current dollars) to cover our current 
student population! 

and Enrichment 

The creation of dis- 
tinguished profes- 
sorships and gradu- 
ate fellowships and 
assistantships is a 
popular and impor- 
tant way for colleges 
and universities to 
enhance their en- 
dowments. This 
type of endowment 
secures a growing 
share of an insti- 
tution's instructional 
costs — in perpetu- 
ity — helping to insu- 
late the institution 
against ups and 
downs in student 
enrollment and peri- 
ods of economic 
stress. Therefore, 
not only do named 
chairs help recruit 
and retain the ablest 
faculty, they can re- 
lieve the pressure on 
operating budgets. 

In fact, while 
such chairs were 
once "add-ons" to 
faculty counts, more 
and more they are 
being used to help in budget relief. If you 
were to survey the nation's most distin- 
guished institutions, you'd find that re- 
stricted endowment building for this ob- 
jective is growing apace. In fact, at some 
of the richest institutions, you'd discover 
that about 25 percent of faculty members 
either hold endowed chairs or receive 
much of their compensation from endow- 
ment restricted to faculty and instruction. 
Some $7.9 million of WPI's endowment 
is currently restricted to faculty chairs. In 
addition, $3.6 million was pledged during 
the Campaign for Excellence for this pur- 
pose (Tables 3 and 4). I'm pleased that six 
endowed chairs and eight fellowships and 
assistantships were generated during the 
Campaign, but we need a great many 
more — of both. (One day I hope we have 
a distinguished endowed professorship 
named in honor of Robert H. Goddard '08; 
Princeton and Caltech do!) In addition, 
there are open opportunities at WPI for 

endowing the positions of provost, under- 
graduate and graduate deans, academic 
department heads, head librarian, athletic 
director, and so on. We are limited only by 
the interest and imagination of our pro- 
spective donors! 

Building Trusts 

I've saved the hardest for last, for here 
the climb requires sturdy legs. The need to 
build endowments for financial aid and the 
faculty are obvious and well-understood. 
Without students and faculty, there would 
be no institution, and if either is substan- 
tially undernourished, the quality of our 
outcomes — educated young men and 
women — will not command the support of 
our most promising future donors. But our 
buildings and facilities play an equally vital 
role in the success of the Institute. 

When Yale University decided to com- 
mit a more significant portion of its annual 
operating budget and future fund-raising 
efforts to rebuilding its long-neglected 
physical plant, President Benno Schmidt 
suggested that it wouldn't be Yale were the 
university to conduct its educational pro- 
grams in tents. Vartan Gregorian, president 
of Brown University, recently expressed a 
similar sentiment. Facing growing pressure 
to increase spending for financial aid 
(Brown currently provides aid for 38 per- 
cent of its student body), Gregorian noted 
that if Brown were to respond to that pres- 
sure and neglect the other things that 
make it an attractive institution — things 
like the campus and the faculty — Brown 
would not remain an attractive place for 
future students. 

Repairing roofs, repointing brick 
facades and painting classroom walls are 
hardly seductive fund-raising targets. And 
because buildings don't talk, they are often 
neglected or forgotten, as financial re- 
sources get stretched to cover other grow- 
ing human needs and opportunities. 

Universities and colleges mean many 
things to many people, but the appearance 
of the physical plant is often a common 
denominator. While graduates may look 
back fondly on notable or caring faculty 
members, on friendships gained, on time 
spent in intercollegiate athletic competi- 
tion, or on the challenge of mental confron- 
tation, they almost always remember the 
beauty of the campus as it was in their day. 
Current students, faculty and staff want 
the environment in which they spend 
much of their waking hours to be attrac- 
tive and well-equipped. Prospective 


Winter 1992 

students, faculty and staff want to know 
that the campus is inviting and up-to-date, 
and that the library collections, computer 
facilities, and out-of-class environments 
convey a sense of institutional strength. 

A growing number of institutions will 
no longer erect new academic space un- 
less there is an up-front endowment to 
maintain that space. In one of its many 
wise and enlightened programs, The 
Kresge Foundation focused upon a unique 
subset of this issue— keeping teaching 
laboratories in the sciences current. WPI 
was one of several institutions to receive 
a challenge grant from Kresge's Science 
Laboratory Initiative. The $325,000 grant 
challenged us to raise $1.3 million for an 
endowment that will keep current our 
new Bioprocess Science and Technology 
Laboratory, located in the 102-year-old 
Salisbury Laboratories (Figure 4). 

In the narrow sense, the foundation 
required us to make a major commitment 
to ensure the currency and usefulness of 
the laboratory in the years to come. In the 
larger sense, though, it reminded us that 
as a science- and technology-driven institu- 
tion, we must think not only about main- 
taining our buildings, but what goes on 
within those buildings. One of our trust- 
ees, S. Merrill Skeist '40, put it well when 
he said a modern laboratory is like a preci- 
sion machine; both need substantial care 
and continuous investment if they are to 
remain useful. 

So what we are embarking upon is a 
special climb to create minimum endow- 
ment-maintenance funds, first for our his- 
toric buildings — Boynton, Washburn and 
Stoddard, Salisbury, Atwater Kent, and 
Stratton — and then for all our academic 
buildings— Higgins, Olin, Goddard, Kaven, 
Fuller, Gordon Library and Alden Memo- 
rial. Worth pointing out here is that most 
of our academic-use buildings (Higgins, 
Gordon Library and Harrington Audito- 
rium are major exceptions) were the gifts 
of friends, not alumni. At the very least, 
we owe it to their memory to care for 
these structures. 

Long before we thought of doing this, 
one discerning donor started a mainte- 
nance fund for Harrington Auditorium. 
That donor still contributes to the fund 
each year, and has already built up nearly 
$300,000 for this important initiative. 

Properly endowed, maintenance funds 
will enable WPI to keep all of its academic 
buildings in full repair (Table 5 includes 
target endowments for each building). 


The Objective: Help raise $1 .3 million to create 
a permanent maintenance endowment for 
the Institute's new Bioprocess Technology 

The Challenge: The Kresge Foundation pledged 
$325,000 toward the construction of the lab if 
WPI could raise the funds for the endowment. 
The Audience: 6,000 alumni and parents, includ- 
ing biology and life sciences majors, and alumni 
with little or no giving to WPI since 1986. 
Individuals with outstanding pledges to the 
Campaign for Excellence were excluded. 
Donors: 1 ,320 alumni and 1 ,056 parents. 
Total Pledged: $347,248 (exclusive of match- 
ing gift monies). $171 ,876 was from alumni and 
$175,372 from parents. 

(This campaign has been completed.) 

However, it should be noted that our 
intent is not to provide funds to retrofit 
any building for new uses; that would 
fall under the heading of a "one-of-a-kind" 
project. We've called this new, highly 
important endowment initiative Building 
Trusts, and have designed a special logo 
(Figure 6) to identify it. 

Much like the financial aid and aca- 
demic chairs and fellowship endowments, 
Building Trusts will create an additional, 
growing component of our endowment, 
making deferred maintenance less depen- 
dent on funds from the operating budget. 
In a sense, we'll be giving our buildings a 
voice of their own. 

In summary, our key objective for the 
next several years will be to build our 
endowment to provide the resources 
needed to enable WPI to remain the 
special place it has been for so many of 
us. While our current resources are the 
envy of many lesser institutions, we still 
have a long climb to ensure that they can 
place us among the very best. And you 
know, I just happen to think that that is 
where those who will make a difference 
want us to be. 

— Donald F. Berth '57 

Berth is vice president for university relations. 


The Objective: Create an endowed fund to 
help sustain an excellent and diverse athletics 
program for all students. 
The Challenge: George T. Abdow '53 pledged 
$1 for every $2 raised, up to $100,000. 
The Audience: 8,000 alumni and parents, in- 
cluding all Poly Club members, participants in 
club, intramural, recreational and varsity ath- 
letics, and nonathletes whose cumulative giv- 
ing for the previous three years was below 
$100. Individuals with outstanding pledges to 
the Campaign for Excellence were excluded. 
Donors: 890 alumni and 655 parents. 
Total Pledged: $1 76,478 (exclusive of match- 
ing gift monies). $109,962 was from alumni 
and $66,516 from parents. 

(This campaign is ongoing.) 


Alden Memorial $1,630,000 

Atwater Kent Laboratories 2,165,000 

Boynton Hall 1,230,000 

Fuller Laboratories 3,790,000 

Goddard Hall 2,450,000 

Gordon Library 2,390,000 

Harrington Auditorium 3,035,000 

Higgins Laboratories 2,055,000 

Kaven Hall 1,235,000 

Olin Hall 1,315,000 

Salisbury Laboratories 2,565,000 

Stratton Hall 745,000 

Washburn/Stoddard 1 ,465,000 

'Basis: Endowments that earn 5.5% (under WPI's 
"spending rule," income available for current opera- 
tions equals 5.5% of the average market value at 
close, June 30, for the previous two years). Each 
building's maintenance is calculated at 2% of its 
current replacement value. 

Figure 6. 




SPRING 1992 


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WPI Journal 


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The Discoverers Michael Dorsey 

This year the world remembers a voyage of discovery made five 
centuries ago by an Italian cartographer named Christopher 
Columbus. Today, modern Columbuses are at work in many fields, 
pushing back the boundaries of the unknown. Here are the stories 
of seven alumni who've made their own voyages of discovery as 
scientists and inventors. 

Charting a New Course Michael Dorsey 
For centuries, the arts of exploration and mapmaking have gone 
hand in hand. Today, at the headquarters of Hammond Inc., one 
of the nation's largest publishers of maps and atlases, they are 
opening new frontiers in mapmaking itself. 

Building a New Window on the World Michael Dorsey 
To scientists studying the phenomenon of global change, dealing 
with a staggering amount of data on the Earth and its natural 
systems can be a major obstacle. Three WPI computer scientists 
may have the answer — a brand new way of storing and processing 
scientific information. 

Al Anderson Starts a New Chapter Bonnie Gelbwasser 
For nearly three decades, WPI's modest head librarian has worked 
hard to make sure WPI's library has grown and changed with the 
changing demands of its patrons. As he approaches retirement, 
Anderson looks back on a long and productive career. 


L Advance Word: In Praise of Discovery. Michael Dorsey 
61 Final Word: Lighting a Fire in Young Minds. Ruth Trask 

On the Coven The world as it was known to 17th century explorers. Story on page 4. 
Map courtesy of Hammond Inc. Opposite: An undergraduate finds a quiet spot among the 
stacks in Gordon Library to explore a book. Story on page 27. Photo by Janet Woodcock. 

Staff of the WPI Journal: Editor, Michael W. Dorsey • Alumni News Editor, Ruth S. Trask • Writers, Bonnie Gelbwasser and Neil Norum • Designer, Carol Hoyle Ballard 

• Photographer, Janet Woodcock • Alumni Publications Committee: Samuel Mencow '37, chairman • Paul J. Cleary '71 • James S. Demetry '58 • Judith Donahue SIM '82 

• William J. Firla Jr. '60 • William R. Grogan '46 • Carl A. Keyser '39 • Robert C. Labonte '54 • Roger N. Perry Jr. '45 • Harlan B. Williams '50 • The WPI Journal (ISSN 0148-6128) 
is published quarterly for the WPI Alumni Association by the Office of University Relations. Second class postage paid at Worcester, MA, and additional mailing offices. 
Printed by The Lane Press, Burlington, Vt. 

Diverse views presented in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or official WPI policies. We welcome letters to the editor. Address correspondence 
to the Editor, WPI Journal, WPI, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609-2280. Phone: (508) 831-5609, FAX: (508) 831-5604, Electronic mail (Internet): 
Postmaster: If undeliverable, please send form 3579 to the address above. Do not return publication. Entire contents ®1992, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. 


In Praise of Discovery 

"The world we now 
view from the literate west — 
the vistas of time, the land 
and the seas, the heavenly 
bodies and our own bodies, 
the plants and animals, his- 
tory and human societies — 
had to be opened for us by 
countless Columbuses. In the 
deep present they emerge 
into the light of history, a 
cast of characters as varied 
as human nature. Discover- 
ies become episodes of 
biography, unpredictable as 
the new worlds the discover- 
ers opened to us. " 


With those words, Daniel J. Boorstin 
began his monumental 1983 study, 
The Discoverers. This year, as we 
observe the 500th anniversary of Christo- 
pher Columbus' first voyage of discovery 
to what would come to be called the New 
World, it seems fitting that we turn our 
attention to the men and women who 
have followed in the footsteps of the great 
explorers, scientists and inventors. They 
have pushed back the boundaries of the 
known and shed light on the unknown; and 
like the protagonists of the popular televi- 
sion series Star Trek, they have gone where 
no one has gone before. 

In tribute to this pioneering spirit, WP1 
devoted its 124th Commencement exer- 
cises on May 23 to the theme, "Discovery: 
Seeking Answers to the Unknown." The 
theme provided an opportunity to recog- 
nize a number of individuals who have 
earned the title "discoverer." They in- 
cluded Jane E. Shaw, president and chief 
operating officer of ALZA Corp., a world 
leader in the development of innovative 
drug delivery systems. 

Shaw, who received her bachelor's 
degree and doctorate in physiology from 
the University of Birmingham in England, 
spent the years between 1964 and 1970 at 
the highly-regarded Worcester Foundation 
for Experimental Biology, where she con- 
ducted research on prostaglandins, cyclic 
fatty acids that act like hormones in the 
body, helping regulate blood pressure 
and aiding in the contraction of smooth 
muscle. She joined ALZA in 1970 and as- 
sumed her current post in 1985. A holder 
of seven patents and the author of more 
than 100 papers in scientific journals, she 
is also known for her research in gastric 
physiology and the transdermal perme- 
ation of drugs. 

Commencement speaker Robert D. 
Ballard may embody more fully than most 
the true spirit of the discoverer. Born in 
Wichita, Kan., he earned a bachelor's de- 
gree in geology and chemistry at the Uni- 
versity of California at Santa Barbara. He 
attended graduate school at the University 
of Southern California, the University of 
Hawaii, and the University of Rhode Island, 

from which he received his Ph.D. in marine 
geology and geophysics. 

Today, Ballard is a senior scientist in 
the department of applied ocean physics 
and engineering and director of the Center 
for Marine Exploration at the Woods Hole 
Oceanographic Institute. It is in his capac- 
ity as marine explorer that Ballard has 
captured the imagination of millions 
around the world. 

Ballard has led or participated in 50 
deep-sea expeditions, exploring the world 
under the sea in such submersibles as 
Alvin, Trieste II and AT?-/. On one of those 
expeditions, mounted in 1974, Ballard rode 
in the cramped, dimly lit sphere inside 
Alvin nearly two miles beneath the Atlan- 
tic — the same ocean Columbus crossed 
nearly 500 years before — to get the first 
close-up look at the mid-ocean ridge. 

Like a 46,000-mile seam that rings the 
world, splitting the seabed beneath most 
of the world's oceans, the mid-ocean ridge 
is the source of the phenomenon known as 
continental drift. Searing hot lava emerges 
from this rift in the sea bottom, adding to 

Spring 1992 

the sea floor and pushing apart the plates 
on which the continents ride. In fact, were 
he to make his voyage today, Columbus 
would have to sail a bit farther— about 30 
feet— because of seafloor spreading. 

Because measurements of the tempera- 
ture of the ocean floor near the mid-ocean 
ridge showed that the rock there was cooler 
than it should have been, given the rela- 
tively short (in geological terms) period it 
had had to cool, scientists had theorized 
that cold seawater must somehow pen- 
etrate the crust, pick up heat, and bring it 
back to the surface. But no one had ever 
seen the vents from which this hot water 
must reemerge. 

In 1977 Ballard organized an expedition 
to a deep ocean rift near the Galapagos 
Islands in the Pacific Ocean. An unmanned 
vessel called Angus was sent down to find 
and photograph any sources of unusually 
warm water. When the film was processed, 
Ballard and his fellow scientists were 
startled to see a strange world populated 
by giant, foot-long clams. When he dove to 
the vents himself inside Alvin, Ballard found 
that tube worms, rattail fish, anemones and 
crabs also live in this community, which 
thrives thousands of feet deeper than the 
last ray of sunlight can penetrate. 

Analysis of the water pouring forth from 
the vents provided the answer to how these 
creatures survived in an environment that 
should have been devoid of life. The water 
was chock full of hydrogen sulfide (the gas 
that gives rotten eggs their foul odor) and 
bacteria. The bacteria metabolized the 
hydrogen sulfide. In the process they con- 
verted carbon dioxide in the water to or- 
ganic carbon compounds. The bacteria, 
in turn, became food for the community 
of vent animals. 

On a 1979 dive to the East Pacific Rise off 
the coast of Mexico, Ballard and his crew 
became the first people to observe "black 
smokers," chimneys formed from iron, zinc, 
copper sulfides and silver that belch forth 
jets of black water hot enough to melt lead. 
The flow of dissolved minerals from the 
black smokers and the warm-water vents 
may explain how the ocean became so salty, 
a mystery that has long eluded scientists. 

Ballard may be best known for his dis- 
coveries of the R.M.S. Titanic in 1985 and 
the German battleship Bismarck in 1989. 
Both ships were extensively explored by 
submersibles, including Argo, an unmanned 
vessel loaded with video cameras and 
lights, and Jason Junior (JJ), a small robotic 
platform attached to Argo by a tether that 
can explore and photograph places that are 
too risky for Argo — including the interior of 
the Titanic. The high-resolution pictures 
sent back by these machines painted haunt- 
ing portraits of these once-proud ships. 

After the Titanic expeditions, Ballard 
received hundreds of letters from school- 
children seeking information about how he 
found and explored the ship. In 1989 he 
established the Jason Foundation for Educa- 
tion to bring the excitement of undersea 
exploration directly to youngsters around 
the nation. Using the power of satellite com- 
munications, Ballard has taken more than 
500,000 schoolchildren with him on explora- 
tions of a fourth-century Roman shipwreck 
in the Mediterranean, sunken ships from the 
War of 1812 in Canada's Lake Ontario, and 
the Galapagos Islands. 

Named for the mythological Greek ex- 
plorer who discovered the Golden Fleece, 
the foundation has established primary 
interaction sites (PINS) at several locations 
around the country. One such site was set 

Opposite, technicians prepare to 
send a small robotic submersible 
called Medea below on a Jason 
Foundation expedition. Left, aboard 
the research ship Star Hercules, 
Robert Ballard points to an image 
of the German battleship Bismarck 
sent up from the deep by Argo. 

up in 1991 at the New England Science 
Center in Worcester. Each PIN received a 
command center that recreates the control 
station on Ballard's ship from which Argo 
and Jason, the successor to JJ, are con- 
trolled. Students at PINS can watch the 
underwater explorations live on large tele- 
vision monitors. At a few sites, including the 
New England Science Center, students can 
even fly the underwater robots. 

Throughout his career, Ballard has been 
driven by an almost primal urge to see what 
no one else has seen, to find the answers 
that have eluded others, and to broaden 
our understanding of the world in which 
we live. That motivation has nudged many 
WPI alumni into successful careers as scien- 
tists and inventors. In the pages that follow, 
you will meet several of them. Two, acousti- 
cal oceanographer Herman Medwin '41 
(page 7) and entrepreneur Dean Kamen '73 
(page 32), joined Ballard and Shaw on the 
platform at Commencement recently to 
receive honorary degrees. 

In this issue you will also meet Caleb 
Hammond '37, chairman of Hammond Inc., 
one of the nation's largest publishers of 
maps and atlases. Most of us have taken 
voyages of our own across strange lands 
and seas by delving into the pages of the 
family atlas. It may be no coincidence that 
Columbus himself was a cartographer be- 
fore he convinced Queen Isabella to fund 
his first trip across the Atlantic. The desire 
to explore and map the unknown is very 
likely a basic element of human nature, one 
that burns in all our hearts. 

As they begin their careers, the WPI 
students who recently received their hard- 
earned degrees will find no lack of unan- 
swered questions and uncharted waters. 
But, where once explorers were lured 
across oceans and deep into unexplored 
continents, today they may find themselves 
reaching out to the far side of the universe 
or into the very foundation of the atoms 
that make up everything we see. 

"This is a story without end," Boorstin 
wrote. "All the world is still an America. 
The most promising words ever written 
on the maps of human knowledge are terra 
incognita — unknown territory." 

— Michael Dorsey 

Spring 1992 


By Michael Dorsey 

Five hundred years ago, Columbus set sail into 
unexplored waters in search of a new route to the 
Indies. While we remember Columbus this year, 
he was just one of countless human beings driven 
by the need to go where no one has gone before, 
to build what no one before has even dreamed of, 
and to understand what once evaded under- 
standing. In the following pages are chronicled 
the stories of seven remarkable scientists and 
inventors who have listened to that inner voice 
that calls all of us toward the unknown — toward 
that unexplored region just beyond the horizon. 

Spring 1992 

A Magnificent Career 
Driven by Imagination 

During a career that has spanned more than four decades, 
C. Chapin Cutler '37 has often found himself squarely at 
the leading edge of the rapidly changing field of electron- 
ics. His inventions in radar and radio, telephone and tele- 
vision communications have earned him more than 80 patents and 
a worldwide reputation. "I don't think I'm really that smart," Cutler 
says as he looks back on those years. "1 just think my imagination got 
turned on at an early age and that gave me tremendous motivation." 

Cutler says he vividly remembers the moment his interest in ra- 
dio caught fire. He was 14 and sitting around with friends at a sum- 
mer camp not far from his home in Springfield, Mass. "This one 
camper had a yarn," Cutler says. "He said his brother had taken 
some old radio parts, built himself a transmitter, and used it to talk 
with people all over the world. I didn't believe a word of it." 

But the story intrigued Cutler, who went to the Springfield Public 
Library to look for books on radio. The only one he could find was a 
massive tome by a Columbia University professor. Fortunately, a 
friend steered him to a popular pulp magazine that had an article 
on building a one-tube "junk-box" radio. With parts purchased at a 
local Goodwill store, Cutler assembled the radio, slipped on the ear- 
phones, and heard the dits and dashes of a Morse code signal 
from a station in Mexico City. He was hooked. 

A short time later his father took him to a talk by a 
visiting scientist from the recently established Bell 
Telephone Laboratories. "The show was called 
'The Wonders of Radio and Communication,'" 
Cutler says. "The guy modulated a neon bulb, 
talked over a light beam, popped corn with 
radio waves, and demonstrated inverted 
speech. I was on the edge of my chair. 
That's when I learned about Bell Labora- 
tories, and that's when I decided what 
1 wanted to do with my career." 

Before he could work at Bell Labs, he 
needed an education, so he enrolled at WPI 
in 1933. His first concern, though, was not 
academics but money. Since his family could 
not provide financial help, he had to pay his 
own way. With the help of a young in- 
structor of English named Paul 
Swan, Cutler found dozens of odd 
jobs, including cleaning windows 
and stoking the boiler in the 
president's house and tending 
the boilers on winter evenings at 
the home of Aldus Higgins (now 
called Higgins House). 

Cutler began his WPI career as 
an electrical engineering major, but 
realized after his sophomore year 
that the electric power orientation 

This rendering of the Cutler Feed 
appeared in Time magazine in 1945 

of the curriculum wouldn't suit his needs. Against the advice of 
several of his professors, he and classmate Nathaniel I. Korman '37 
became general science majors and designed their own course of 
study, including courses in advanced calculus and advanced physics. 

He was hired by Bell Labs shortly after his graduation in 1937. 
During his first week he met Ralph Bown, head of radio research, and 
it was, Cutler says, "a love affair. There's no doubt about it, he liked 
me as much as I liked him." The fatherly Bown took Cutler under his 
wing and assigned him to a project team that was designing a 12- 
channel transmitter to improve trans-Atlantic telephone communi- 
cations. When that project was completed, he became involved in 
a crash, multi-corporation effort to design a radio proximity fuse 
for anti-aircraft shells. "That and radar won the Battle of Britain," 
Cutler remembers. 

Radar, which was just being developed as Cutler joined Bell Labs, 
would become his next project. In the fall of 1941 he was asked to 
design the waveguide circuitry for a radar that would operate in the 
three-centimeter band (called the x-band). Because a radar antenna 
must continually rotate through a full 360 degrees, the antenna and 
the amplifier can't be connected by a wire or a fixed waveguide — a 
special conduit for the microwaves. Rotating joints and a series of 
twists and bends in the waveguide are needed to get the 
energy into the spinning antenna. 

"A buddy and 1 engineered that well," Cutler says, 
"but we needed the antenna to terminate the wave- 
guide. We acquired the design and reproduced the 
antenna, but it didn't work; there was something fun- 
damentally wrong with it. I lay awake nights trying 
to figure out how to fix it. I went back to the lab, and 
with tin snips, ceiling wax and chewing gum, put 
together an antenna that worked." 

The waveguide-antenna system, dubbed the 
Cutler Feed, was produced by the thousands and 
was aboard every allied bomber that flew over 
Japan during the war. It also earned Cutler his first 
patent. "After that 1 became known as an inventor," he 
says, "which meant that there was someone from 
the Bell Labs patent department looking 
over my shoulder for ideas. That's how 
I was able to get so many patents. A 
lot of them aren't worth the paper 
they're printed on. One invention 
that I am proud of is the corrugated 
waveguide, which was classified in 
this country for many years." 
After the war Cutler's focus 
shifted to microwave amplifiers. 
He began by working on thermionic 
(triode) tubes adopted for microwave 
amplification. However, in 1944 
news reached America of Rudolph 

WPI Journal 

As one of the directors of Project Echo, Cutler started a tape of President Eisen 
hower's voice, which became the first signal sent coast to coast by satellite. 

Kompfner's invention in England of the traveling wave tube. "It is a 
much better amplifier in most respects," Cutler says, "but much work 
and many inventions were crucial to making it practical." 

In close collaboration with John R. Pierce, who would ultimately 
become executive director of research at Bell Labs, and Kompfner, 
who became associate director, Cutler contributed many inventions 
important to the success of the tube, which is now widely used in 
Earth satellite relay systems and in the military. 

The launch of Sputnik in 1957 ignited the space race among the 
superpowers. A few years later the U.S. launched Echo I, an alumi- 
nized balloon 100 feet in diameter designed to study drag in the 
upper atmosphere. Bell Labs realized the satellite would make an 
excellent testing ground for satellite communications. 

Partly under Cutler's direction, Bell Labs built a tracking station 
to monitor the satellite as it made its regular passes over North 
America. The station was the first to make use of a maser, a new kind 
of microwave amplifier that had revolutionary low-noise characteris- 
tics. A similar station was set up at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory 
Earth station in Goldstone, Calif., and the first radio transmission 
ever relayed in real time by satellite — a recording of President Eisen- 
hower's voice — was bounced off the satellite during its first pass. 

"I remember starting that tape with my own fingers," Cutler says. 
"It was probably the most exciting period in my life, because every- 
thing had to be done on the second. We had to have that antenna 
pointed exactly right, because this thing went whizzing from horizon 
to horizon in just 20 minutes." 

After the first transmission, Bell Labs and the Jet Propulsion Lab 
scored other firsts, including the first telegraphy and facsimile trans- 
missions by satellite and the first interactive voice conversation. 
"We were looking for scientific information, too," Cutler says. "For 
example: what is the transmission like, can you track the satellite, 
and is it reliable? For the first week, we didn't miss a pass. We were 
busy around the clock." Later, the Echo team served as technical 
advisors to Bell Lab Engineers who developed Telstar, the first suc- 
cessful active telecommunications satellite. 

While Cutler says the Echo project was one of the most enjoyable 
of his career, the work for which he is best known began as a casual 

lunchtime conversation in the late 1940s with 
Bell Labs colleague William Goodall, who was 
applying pulse code modulation (PCM) to the 
transmission of television. The technique in- 
volved transmitting a television broadcast as 
short bursts, or pulses, of digital information. 

Goodall had succeeded in digitizing the tele- 
vision signal, but Cutler saw an opportunity to 
use the digitization process to greatly reduce 
the amount of transmission capacity required 
for television (1,000 to 2,000 times the band- 
width needed for voice transmissions). 

A television picture consists of thousands of 
picture elements called pixels. A picture is built 
up line by line as an electron beam scans back 
and forth across the television screen. A com- 
plete picture, called a frame, consists of two 
interlaced scans and is typically transmitted 
every 30th of a second. 

Cutler's idea stemmed from the fact that a 
television signal contains a high degree of re- 
dundancy. One picture element, line or frame 
is likely to be similar if not identical to the one that preceded it. In 
Cutler's scheme, instead of coding each sample separately, only the 
difference between the amplitude of a new sample and the quanti- 
tized or coded value of the previous sample is coded. Errors in 
sampling are compensated for in subsequent samples and the trans- 
mission requirements are greatly reduced. He named the technique 
differential PCM or DPCM. In later years, when large signal-storage 
systems became available, the idea was extended to include the 
correlation of lines and frames of a television picture. 

One of Cutler's most important patents, DPCM received little 
notice for several years, but eventually the idea resurfaced and 
became generalized under the term predictive coding. Today, predic- 
tive coding is used in digital television transmissions, digital VCRs, 
fax machines, high-definition television, medical imaging systems 
and teleconferencing. 

In 1963 Cutler became director of electronic systems research at 
Bell Labs. In 1971 he was promoted again to director of electronic 
and computer systems research. During these years he headed a 
research team that performed pioneering work into a new form of 
mobile radio that would pave the way for today's nationwide cellular 
telephone service. 

Cutler's accomplishments as a scientist and inventor have earned 
him many honors over the years. A fellow of the American Associa- 
tion for the Advancement of Science and the Institute of Electrical 
and Electronics Engineers, he has received the IEEE's prestigious 
Edison Medal, Centennial Medal, and Alexander Graham Bell Medal. 
A member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National 
Academy of Engineering, he received WPI's Robert H. Goddard '08 
Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement in 1982. 

With no advanced degree, other than the honorary doctorate of 
engineering he received from WPI in 1975, he has taught Ph.D. candi- 
dates at Berkeley, Stanford and Caltech. He retired from Bell Labs in 
1979 to become a professor of applied physics at Stanford. Today, 
as an emeritus professor, he says he tries to instill in his students 
the same love of discovery and fascination for technology that has 
driven him since that summer day more than 60 years ago when he 
first heard those strange and wonderful tales about radio. 

Spring 1992 

Listening to Screaming 
Infant Microbubbles 

Herman Med win, center, and fellow professor O.B. Wilson, left, in 1990 with Rear Admiral Richard 
Pittenger, the "oceanographer of the Navy." Pittenger had been Medwin's student 25 years earlier. 

I f a raindrop falls in the ocean and no one is around to hear it, 
I does it make a sound? The answer is yes, according to Herman 
I Medwin '41, professor of physics at the Naval Postgraduate 
JL School in Monterey, Calif. The sound, he notes, contains a 
wealth of information that can help scientists gain a better under- 
standing of such phenomena as weather, climatological change and 
global warming. 

Medwin is a pioneer in the brand new field of acoustical ocean- 
ography, an outgrowth of underwater acoustics. While underwater 
acoustics, a science created in the wake of the Titanic disaster of 
1912, uses natural sound and sound generated by manmade devices 
to locate objects, such as ships, submarines or icebergs, in or on the 
water, acoustical oceanography uses the characteristics of sound 
propagation and scattering in water to learn about the ocean itself. 

Over the last decade or so, acoustical oceanographers have found 
ways to use sound propagation to answer a wide range of questions. 
For example, using techniques such as acoustical tomography, 
doppler sonar and side-scan sonar, acoustical oceanographers can 
measure the roughness of the ocean surface, study the characteris- 
tics of sediments on the sea floor, and measure the drift velocity of 
sediment carried along by ocean currents. By scattering sound off 
the air-filled swim bladders of marine organisms, they can track the 
migrations of fish and obtain counts of plankton and nekton far more 
accurately than with conventional methods. 

In recent years, a major focus of acoustical oceanography has 
been microbubbles — microscopic spheres of air generated by break- 
ing waves and raindrops. Until the mid-1960s, when Medwin first 

observed them, many scientists thought microbubbles could not 
exist in the ocean. 

"Physicists had shown that a bubble will not last in a beaker of 
clean water," Medwin says. "Either the bubble pops to the surface 
and bursts, or the air gets squeezed out of it in just a few seconds. So 
the weight of evidence from the laboratory was that bubbles couldn't 
persist in the sea." 

But Medwin knew these invisible bubbles had to be there. In 1964 
he and fellow acoustician Clarence S. Clay, with whom he later wrote 
Acoustical Oceanography, the standard textbook in the field, postu- 
lated that there must be bubbles under a rough sea surface. His mea- 
surements showed that the many millions of bubbles generated by 
breaking waves persisted for long periods as bubble clouds that 
could be found as deep as 30 meters below the sea surface. 

Medwin soon went back to sea with a laboratory device consist- 
ing of a sound source and a reflector separated by about a meter. 
After lowering the device into the water, he generated a burst of 
sound and observed it as it bounced back and forth between the 
sound source and the reflector. 

Laboratory work and theory had shown that the frequency of 
sound absorbed by bubbles is directly related to their size — the 
larger the bubble the lower the frequency it absorbs — so, by measur- 
ing sound absorption over a wide range of frequencies, Medwin was 
able to make precise counts of the numbers of microbubbles of dif- 
ferent sizes. "We found huge amounts of bubbles — just as we had 
predicted," Medwin says, "with radii ranging from 20 to 200 microns." 

What makes it possible for the bubbles to persist, Medwin says, is 

WPI Journal 

This plot shows the oscillating pattern of the sound 
produced by a "screaming infant microbubble." This 
pattern lets scientists identify the size of the raindrop 
that produced the bubble. 

small particles of plankton, bacteria and dirt that adhere to their sur- 
faces, preventing the air from being squeezed into the water. "In fact, 
bubbles are excellent scavengers," he says. "They ultimately drag 
this material to the surface, where it is deposited. Just as raindrops 
help to clear the atmosphere, bubbles help cleanse the ocean." 

The junk that enables microbubbles to persist also made it diffi- 
cult for optical scientists to verify Medwin's results for many years. 
Not all of the dirty bubbles generally show up in photographs, so 
most published counts were significantly lower than Medwin's until 
just a few years ago, when more sophisticated optical techniques — 
including one system that uses a laser to count the bubbles — be- 
came available. 

When he first observed the bubbles more than 25 years ago, 
Medwin says he had no idea how useful they would become in the 
study of ocean phenomena. Part of their utility stems from their ten- 
dency to oscillate violently for several milliseconds after they are 
generated, emitting a loud, high-pitched sound. These "screaming in- 
fant microbubbles," as Medwin dubbed them, are like radio transmit- 
ters, sending out brief messages about the waves or raindrops that 
created them. 

In recent years Medwin has made new measurements of micro- 
bubbles in the field, including measurements taken closer to the 
surface than any observations made before, and at lower frequencies 
than ever before. Using an 85-foot-high drop tower fashioned from 
a service shaft adjacent to his laboratory in Monterey, he has also 
begun observing how raindrops create microbubbles. 

The measurements show that raindrops produce microbubbles 
in sizes proportional to their own size — in other words, large drops 
create large bubbles and vice versa. Since each bubble size has its 
own characteristic sound spectrum, the sound created by a micro- 
bubble is a precise indicator of the size of the drop that created it, 
Medwin says. 

"This relationship enables you to dissect underwater sound. If 
you listen underwater when it's raining, you'll hear a tremendous 
roar, which is caused by the microbubbles. It sounds like a god-awful 
mess, but if you do a spectral analysis it turns out that different parts 
of the sound spectrum are caused by drops of different diameters. So 
you can tell the kind and quantity of rain that is falling and, by infer- 
ence, the type of cloud cover." 

Medwin has applied for a patent for this technique. He says he en- 
visions a network of sonobuoys spanning the Pacific Ocean record- 
ing the sound of rainfall across a vast expanse of water for which 


such data is sparse. More accurate data about rainfall over the 
oceans will help improve weather forecasts and enable scientists 
to create better models of the Earth's climate. 

A better understanding of rainfall patterns over the ocean may 
also lead to a better appreciation of global warming, Medwin says. 
The oceans are important sinks for carbon dioxide, the gas respon- 
sible for the greenhouse effect that causes atmospheric warming. 
Like other atmospheric gases, CO2 mixes with ocean water when rain 
and waves create bubbles. But without better data on oceanic rain- 
fall, it is difficult to say how much CO2 is making its way into the sea. 

Studying the ocean was far from Medwin's mind when he earned 
his B.S. in physics from WPI in 1941. After working as a weather 
observer for the U.S. Air Force in Europe during World War II, he 
earned his Ph.D. in physics at UCLA. At that time, the university ran 
one of the foremost programs in acoustics, a subject that had long 
fascinated Medwin because of his love for the violin. (As a high 
school student, he was voted the best violinist in his hometown 
of Holyoke, Mass.) 


Spring 1992 

At his 50th Reunion in 1991, 
Medwin, who has played the 
violin most of his life, was able 
to perform with the Medwin String 
Ensemble, which he established 
through a gift in 1987. 

He taught at Los Angeles City College for six years and continued 
the work in nonlinear acoustics he had begun as a graduate student. 
He then worked briefly for an acoustical engineering firm, where he 
analyzed the noise of jet engines and wind tunnels. He also designed 
the ventilating towers for the Callahan Tunnel under Boston Harbor, 
assuring that the fans that pump car exhaust out of the tunnel would 
not disturb the surrounding neighborhoods. 

In 1954, deciding he preferred teaching to consulting, he joined 
the faculty of the Naval Postgraduate School, where he has been 
ever since. "I knew nothing about the ocean then," he says, "but it 
was required that one teach courses in underwater acoustics be- 
cause the Navy operates in the ocean and acoustics is how you find 

Since then he has become one of the foremost researchers in his 
field. A recipient of WPI's Robert H. Goddard '08 Alumni Award for 
Professional Achievement and the Sigma Xi Distinguished Research 
Award from the Naval Postgraduate School, he is a fellow and presi- 
dent-elect of the Acoustical Society of America. And he is the author 

of more than 100 papers in scientific journals and holds several 
patents in acoustical oceanography. 

When he is not working with students or writing up his latest 
research results, Medwin runs a consulting firm, Ocean Acoustics 
Associates in Pebble Beach. He also continues to indulge his love 
of music by playing violin with a string quartet every week. In 1987 
Medwin, who performed with the Worcester Symphony Orchestra 
while he was a WPI student, gave WPI a gift with which it established 
the Medwin String Ensemble; he later provided another grant to 
create scholarships for WPI students who play string instruments. 

"My capabilities never showed at WPI," he says, "at least not by 
the conventional measures used then. But there are other measures 
that are awfully important, and these include tenacity and imagina- 
tion. It takes tenacity to study a string instrument and stick with it, 
and one needs imagination to perform and interpret music well. A 
scientist also needs those characteristics to be successful, but in 
reverse order— imagination to develop an idea and tenacity to 
see it through." 

WPI Journal 

Making Photography Simple 
Took Complex Engineering 

Edwin Land, inventor of the Land Camera and founder of 
Polaroid Corp., believed that the true value of a product 
could never be adequately measured by the cold, hard 
numbers of a corporate balance sheet. Instead, the worth 
of a piece of engineering, like the worth of a work of art, was in the 
elegance of its design and in the way it fulfilled the goals of its creator. 
"The bottom line," he once wrote, "is in heaven." 

As he looks back on 26 years as one of Polaroid's chief designers, 
John P. Burgarella '50 seems to embody that creative spirit. Describ- 
ing the intricate electronic mechanisms and the complex circuits he 
designed for Polaroid cameras and the revolution in instant photog- 
raphy he helped set in motion, what he remembers most is the 
beauty of the engineering itself and how his carefully crafted and 
tested electronic designs helped meet one fundamental goal — 
making photography a snap for millions of people the world over. 
Burgarella, who received a bachelor's and a master's degree in 
electrical engineering from WPI, the latter in 1952, joined Polaroid 
in 1960 after working for eight years for Doelcam/Honeywell Corp. 
in Newton, Mass. While there he developed a DC amplifier that em- 
ployed a magnetic modulator with no moving parts. Burgarella 
earned the first three of his 25 lifetime patents for the design. 

His first assignment at Polaroid was designing a computer-con- 
trolled system for a machine that made pack film, a recent Polaroid 
innovation. In the summer of 1960 Polaroid introduced the Model 900, 
the earliest Land camera with an electrically controlled exposure 
system. The camera was a "mechanical nightmare," Burgarella says. 
Clearly, Polaroid needed a new concept. 

The new concept was the Model 100, a design born in Polaroid's 
Applied Physics Laboratory. It would have a fixed-aperture lens and 
a shutter controlled by an electromagnet and an electronic timer. 
When the shutter button was pressed, the 
electronic timer and the magnet (which 
: closing, guillotine-type 

Opposite, John Burgarella with some of the revolution- 
ary cameras he helped design for Polaroid, including the 
Model 1 00, above, the first successful electronic camera, 
and the SX-70, below, the first fully automated camera. 

blade in place) were energized. At the same time, the opening shutter 
blade would be released, and a capacitor that timed the exposure 
would be unshorted. 

A photocell would regulate the amount of current delivered to the 
timing capacitor. The more light falling on the cell, the larger the cur- 
rent to the capacitor. The greater the current, the faster the capaci- 
tor would become charged and trigger a circuit that shut off the 
magnet, releasing the closing blade. The design ensured that the 
exposure time would be inversely proportional to the brightness 
of the scene the photographer was attempting to capture. 

Because of his experience with magnetic devices, Burgarella was 
asked to design the electromagnet and the keeper, a small piece of 
metal attached to the shutter blade that would hold it firmly to the 
magnet. The assignment marked the start of months of design and 
experimental work that would ultimately fill dozens of note- 
books with drawings, graphs, laboratory results and 
Polaroid photographs. 

The tiny u-shaped magnet that Burgarella de- 
signed could lift more than three-fourths of a pound 
with a current of just two-hundredths of an ampere. The 
keeper was designed to be as light as possible, so as 
not to slow the shutter. Because precision timing of 
the shutter was critical to obtaining a correct expo- 
sure, Burgarella had to find a way to make the mag- 
net release the keeper as quickly and as reliably 
as possible. 

To do that, he designed a special circuit that 

quickly quenched the magnet. He also gave the 

keeper a curved face so only a small section of 


Spring 1992 

the metal bar made contact with the 
poles of the magnet. Since the air 
around the keeper was far less perme- 
able to magnetic flux than the metal 
of the keeper itself, this curvature 
created what Burgarella calls a con- 
trolled air-gap that enabled the keeper %■ 
to break away more quickly than if its 
entire face had touched the magnet. The 
design allowed precise exposures as short as 1/1, 200th of a second. 

The Model 100 was the first camera with an automatic flash. When 
a flashbulb unit was plugged into the shutter, it activated a circuit that 
selected a shutter speed so that just the right amount of light from the 
bulb reached the film. "A flashbulb output peaks at about 12 millisec- 
onds," Burgarella says. "But if your subject is only a few feet away, 
you may need just l/16th of the total output— about 4 milliseconds 
worth." To get such precise "chunks" of light, the closing of the shut- 
ter had to be carefully synchronized with the firing of the bulb. 

While most of Burgarella's contributions to the Model 100 were to 
its electronic systems, he also did a careful mechanical analysis of the 
shutter to make sure the jolts caused by its opening and closing would 
not affect the operation of his magnet. This work resulted in several 
design changes, including a shock-absorbing bumper for the shutter. 
He also designed equipment to test his designs, helped set up the 
assembly line for the electronic systems at Texas Instruments, and 
designed test equipment for the shutter assembly line at Timex. 

The electronic systems developed for the Model 100 became 
the basis for most of the electronic cameras marketed by Polaroid in 
succeeding years. By 1968 Burgarella had become manager of a small 
department. Like many Polaroid managers, he was aware that a small 
design team was working in carefully guarded secrecy on a revolu- 
tionary new camera system. "There were no electronics people in the 
group then," Burgarella says, "so they would occasionally come down 
and ask me questions without divulging any secrets. Eventually they 
said, 'We can't get along without this guy." 

Burgarella gave up his department and became an individual con- 
tributor to what would become the SX-70, a fully automated single- 
lens reflex camera with a new type of film that developed right before 
the photographer's eyes. 

The initial design called for electromagnets to operate the shutter, 
as they had in the Model 100. But after more than two years of work in 
that direction, the concept had to be abandoned because the single- 
lens reflex design required multiple operations of the shutter to 
accommodate both viewing the scene and exposing the negative. 

Land decided to replace the magnets with solenoids. "This was 
a traumatic period for me because my wife had just been diagnosed 
with multiple sclerosis," Burgarella says. "Dr. Land knew 1 didn't like 
the idea of the solenoid shutter, but he wanted me to go along with it. 
He called me into his office and for the first 20 minutes all we talked 
about was my wife. He wanted to know what was going on and what 
Polaroid could do to help. It was only after that that he told me why 
he had really brought me in there. That's the kind of man Land was." 

The SX-70 had several modes of operation. For example, when 
the film pack was inserted, the camera had to eject the film cover. 
Taking a flash photo required the camera to quickly (within a mil- 
lionth of a second) determine which bulb in the flash bar was the 
next to be fired. 

The most complicated mode was normal picture taking (see 
diagram, page 10). To take a photo, the camera had to close the 
shutter, release a spring-driven, double-sided mirror that covered 
the film pack, reopen the shutter to let light bounce off the mirror 
onto the negative, close the shutter, bring the mirror back down, 
process and eject the exposed print, and finally, open the shutter 
again for viewing. 

Each mode of operation was controlled by an integrated circuit. 
While Burgarella designed the exposure-control circuits for all of the 
cameras before the SX-70, he says Polaroid did not have the expertise 
to create these complicated silicon chips. Instead, his team devel- 
oped block diagrams and logic tables that showed exactly what the 
circuits had to do and when each event must take place. The chips 
were designed by Texas Instruments and Fairchild Semiconductor. 

Power for the camera was provided by a custom-designed wafer- 
thin battery included in each film pack. Throughout the design phase, 
Burgarella held the unofficial title of "power czar," as it was his re- 
sponsibility to make sure that the various devices that consumed 
power — from the solenoids, to the motor that ejected the film, to 
the flash bar — stayed within a maximum power budget. 

Burgarella's work on Polaroid cameras earned him a number 
of awards and honors. In 1964, as a member of the small team that 
designed the Model 100, he received the Master Design Award from 
Product Engineering magazine. In 1984, WPI awarded him the Robert 
H. Goddard '08 Award for Professional Achievement, and he is cur- 
rently a member of the Institute's Electrical Engineering Advisory 
Committee. In 1981, Polaroid conferred on him the honor of senior 
engineering fellow, a title that had previously been bestowed on just 
two other Polaroid engineers. 

That title recognized more than two decades of fundamental 
contributions to technology that literally created the worldwide 
electronic camera industry and became the foundation for the 
success Polaroid has realized over the past three decades. 

It was also a tribute to a job that took Burgarella far beyond the 
traditional role of inventor. "There was a lot more to my job than you 
might think," he says. "1 had to be a manufacturing engineer, a test 
equipment engineer, a mechanical engineer, a manager and, at times, 
a diplomat. I could never be just an inventor." 

WPI Journal 


Unraveling the Genetic 
Code for What Ails Us 

For many years, scientists have known that clues to the 
causes of many human ailments are encoded in the enor- 
mously complex blueprint of the human genome. But it has 
only been within the past two decades that it has been pos- 
sible to begin unlocking these secrets with the tools of recombinant 
DNA technology. 

Armed with this newfound knowledge, doctors can now predict 
with great precision who may develop an ever-growing list of disor- 
ders, such as the fragile X syndrome, Duchene muscular dystrophy 
and cystic fibrosis, and who may pass these inherited diseases on to 
their children. Research in this new field, called molecular genetics, 
has provided exciting new approaches to identifying the causes of 
human disease and offers hope that someday it may be possible to 
treat — and perhaps prevent — many human ailments. 

For Stephen N. Thibodeau 74, the revolution in medical genetics 
arrived at just the right time. Having long been interested in medical 
research, he studied chemistry at WP1 and as a senior received a 
$5,000 grant from Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester to develop an 
antero-venous shunt for use in intensive care patients. He earned his 
Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Washington in Seattle and 
completed a postdoctoral fellowship in clinical chemistry at the 
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. 

Those were the years when the power of recombinant DNA 
techniques was just being realized. The ability to literally chop up 
strands of DNA and identify the pieces, or genes, responsible for 
specific disorders would soon revolutionize the study of medicine. 

In 1981, when Thibodeau became director of clinical chemistry at 
The Children's Hospital in Denver, Colo., he joined the revolution. His 
first project was to help locate the gene responsible for the fragile X 
syndrome, a condition that produces moderate to severe mental 
retardation in 80 percent of boys who have fragile X and less severe 
symptoms in about half of carrier girls. 

Along with a number of others, Thibodeau used linkage analysis 
to close in on the location of the gene. Linkage analysis takes advan- 
tage of a phenomenon called crossing over, which occurs during 
meiosis, the type of cell division that produces sex cells — eggs or 
sperm. Humans have 24 different types of chromosomes. Two, the 
X and the Y, determine gender and are called the sex chromosomes 
(females have two Xs; males have an X and a Y). Normal human body 
cells have two copies of each of the remaining 22 chromosomes. 

During meiosis, the two members of each chromosome type link 
up to form a pair. It is while the chromosomes are paired that cross- 
ing over occurs. A break develops in the same spot on each chromo- 
some and the broken ends cross over and combine to form two 
somewhat different chromosomes. To understand how this works, 
imagine two ropes — one red and one blue. Both ropes are cut in the 
identical spot and the ends are recombined so there are now two 
ropes, each of which is partly red and partly blue. 

Each chromosome is actually a long string of genes. The farther 
apart two genes are on this string, the more likely it will be that any 
one break will occur between them. When two genes are so close 

Stephen Thibodeau is using the latest advances 
in recombinant DNA technology to diagnose 
genetic disorders and chart the success of 
cancer treatments. 

that they are virtually never separated by chromosome breaks, they 
are said to be linked. To locate a gene, scientists search for mark- 
ers — sections of DNA with known locations — that are linked to the 
gene for which they are searching. 

In Thibodeau's laboratory, linkage analysis, using several pos- 
sible markers, was performed on DNA collected from the members 
of 30 families that have a large number of individuals affected by 
fragile X. These studies helped determine which markers provide 
a reliable means of identifying individuals with the gene, and also 
helped build a genetic map of the region around the gene. 

"Once you've placed a genetic locus next to a known marker, the 
next step is to characterize that region in more detail," he says. As 
the genetic map for the region becomes clearer, scientists look for 
candidate genes and then hone in on the one actually associated 
with the disease. "There are a number of groups, including ours, 
that are using this approach to look at a host of other disorders." 

Once a gene is isolated, Thibodeau says, scientists can begin 
to understand the underlying cause of the disease and the specific 
mutations — substitutions, deletions or insertions in the genetic 
code — that can occur within it. 

Since 1987 Thibodeau has been director of the Molecular Genet- 
ics Laboratory at the Mayo Clinic. In that post he and his colleagues 
use the results of research similar to the fragile X project in one of 
three primary ways: to identify people who are carriers of genetic 
disorders, but who exhibit no symptoms themselves; to diagnose, 
while they are still well, people who carry genes for disorders that 


Spring 1992 


do not appear until adulthood or people who have a genetic predis- 
position to developing cancer and other illnesses; and to spot seri- 
ous genetic disorders prenatally. 

"Recessive disorders, like cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy, 
are good examples of diseases for which carrier detection is impor- 
tant," Thibodeau says. "We may see a patient who has a sibling af- 
fected with muscular dystrophy. She is thinking of getting married 
and wants to know whether she is a carrier for the gene, and there- 
fore what her chances are of having a child affected with the same 

One adult onset disorder that Thibodeau has been studying is 
familial adenomatous polyposis or FAP, an inherited predisposition 
to colon cancer that affects one in every 5,000 Americans. It is char- 
acterized by the early onset of colon polyps (affected individuals can 
develop several hundred to several thousand polyps). If they do not 
receive regular checkups to look for polyps, virtually all patients with 
the FAP gene will develop colon cancer and die from their disease. 
Recently, several groups of investigators have characterized the gene 
associated with FAP and Thibodeau's lab has developed a test to 
detect individuals who carry the specific mutations that are believed 
to cause the disorder. 

Thibodeau has also been looking for the molecular genetic 
changes that are responsible for sporadic colon cancer. Although 
there is no obvious hereditary pattern for the sporadic form of colo- 
rectal cancer, Thibodeau says there is evidence that in most cases, 
individuals who have colorectal cancer may have a genetic predis- 
position to developing the disease. In fact, it now appears that a 
number of genes are involved in the process of tumor formation 
in colon cancer. 

"The major part of our research," 
he says, "involves taking a close look at 
these chromosomes to see if we can find 
the genes that might be implicated in 
the process of developing cancer." 
Thibodeau says each altered gene may 
give a cell a specific advantage as it 
progresses from a normal cell to a 
polyp (a benign tumor) to a carci- 
noma to a deadly metastatic lesion. 

The genetic tests Thibodeau hopes 
to develop for colon cancer will enable 
doctors to spot individuals who may 
have a strong tendency to develop the 
disease and also gain insight into how to 
distinguish the more aggressive tumors 
from other types. "The process involved 
in cancer formation is more complicated 
than the other genetic disorders we deal 
with and typically involves abnormali- 
ties in multiple genes," he says. "The 
clinical implications are enormous, how- 
ever, given the large number of individu- 
als affected by cancer each year." 

In addition to identifying individuals 
who possess genetic disorders, the tech- 
niques Thibodeau uses in his laboratory 
can also help measure the success of 
treatments for specific diseases, espe- 
cially cancers. One example is a type of 

Laurie Doud prepares to analyze a DNA sample 
in the Molecular Genetics Laboratory at the 
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. 

leukemia known as chronic myelocytic leukemia or CML. This dis- 
ease is thought to be caused by a translocation in which segments 
of chromosome 9 and chromosome 22 trade places. 

The switch brings a proto-oncogene — a gene that can promote 
the growth of cancer cells — from chromosome 9 into proximity with 
the so-called bcr gene on chromosome 22. Together they form the 
code for a protein that appears to give leukemia cells a selective 
advantage. "It turns out that virtually 100 percent of patients with 
CML have the 9-22 translocation, which is known as the Philadelphia 
chromosome," Thibodeau says. 

The 9-22 translocation is typically identified cytogenetically 
(that is, by staining the chromosomes and examining them under 
the microscope), though Thibodeau says molecular genetic tech- 
niques can spot the approximately 5 percent of CML cases that 
evade this type of analysis. More important, though, because these 
techniques can detect the presence of cells bearing the Philadelphia 
chromosome with great sensitivity — often as accurately as one cell in 
one million — they can serve as ideal warning systems for a relapse of 
CML after treatment. 

The laboratory has also developed techniques for monitoring 
the success of bone marrow transplants, a treatment sometimes 
employed for leukemia— a cancer of the white blood cells that origi- 
nates in the marrow. In this type of treatment, a recipient's bone mar- 
row is removed and replaced with marrow from a carefully selected 
donor. Before the transplant, DNA from the recipient and the donor 
are analyzed — a process called DNA fingerprinting. 

"Following the engraftment process, we look to see which cells 
are present," Thibodeau says. "We should see only cells with the 
donor's DNA in the marrow. If we see 
the recipient's cells, then presumably 
that means the leukemia is beginning 
to reappear." 

While the primary focus of 
Thibodeau's research is to characterize 
gene abnormalities and find ways to 
diagnose and treat individuals with 
genetic disorders like fragile X syn- 
drome and colon cancer, he acknowl- 
edges that the long-term goal of the 
work he and other molecular biologists 
are doing is to pave the way for such 
not-so-futuristic techniques as gene 
therapy, in which defective genes are 
actually replaced with good genes, to 
keep people from getting diseases in 
the first place. 

"Certainly, once we've found the 
gene for a disease, we want to take that 
one step further and find out how to 
treat and prevent the disease," he says. 
"There's no question that molecular 
biology and recombinant DNA tech- 
niques are having and will continue 
to have a profound impact on all facets 
of medicine. However, although we 
have made tremendous progress in 
the last decade, what we do not yet 
know about the human genome is 

WPI Journal 


Pushing the 
Software Envelope 

I n his 1966 book, Men, Machines and Modern Times, Elting E. 
I Morrison said, "The computer is no better than its program." 
I Since his student days at WPI, Roger J. Heinen 73 has been 
JL creating programs that have helped make the computers they 
run on powerful, versatile and innovative tools — not to mention 
highly successful products. 

From his 17-year career at Digital Equipment Corp., where he 
helped develop some of Digital's most critical and commercially 
successful software products, to his position today as the head of 
the Macintosh Software Architecture Division at Apple Computer, 
Heinen has continually found himself at the leading edge in software 
development. He credits much of his success in the rapidly evolving 
world of computing to the start he got at WPI. 

Heinen was one of the first students to earn his bachelor's degree 
under the project-oriented WPI Plan. For his Major Qualifying Project 
he helped develop an automated class scheduling system. "It was 
classic computer science," he remembers. "We worried about the 
science of it and we didn't step back and ask ourselves how hard it 
was going to be to implement and how long it was going to run once 
it was started." 

While a student, Heinen worked part time as a system program- 
mer for New England Telephone Co., an experience that helped him 
land a job after graduation as a programmer in Digital Equipment's 
quality assurance division. He says the Plan prepared him well for 
working at the major computer manufacturer. 

"Digital was especially team-oriented in those days," he says. "My 
project experience helped me to fit in quickly and to get off and run- 
ning right away. It was as if I arrived an already experienced engineer. 
That project experience lives with me today in my whole outlook 
about engineering." 

One of Heinen's early projects was contributing to the initial 
release of RSX-1 1M, one of the operating systems for the highly suc- 
cessful PDP-11, a member of Digital's original family of minicomput- 
ers. Operating systems are the programs that tell a computer how 
to do basic functions, like write data to files, compile and run appli- 
cation programs, and operate peripheral devices. "RSX-1 1M was the 
primary operating system for the PDP-11 from 1975 to 1980," Heinen 
says. "It was what made Digital great in those days." 

Up until the early 1970s, Digital's minicomputers stood alone- 
there was no way to easily move data back and forth between 
them or to get them to work together. Heinen's next project was 
called DECnet, an early attempt to create a networked computer 
system. "Our goal was to get two PDP-1 Is to talk to each other over 
a wire; this was a non-trivial job," Heinen says. "But that architec- 
ture has stood the test of time. A lot of what we designed and built 
in those years helped make Digital's reputation as a networking 

When Digital decided to introduce the VAX, a 32-bit computer 
designed to overcome many of the limitations of the 16-bit PDP-11 
architecture, Heinen, who had developed a reputation as a prolific 
software writer, was asked to join a small team assigned to develop 

Roger Heinen has been a pioneer in software develop- 
ment since his early days as a programmer at Digital 
Equipment Corp. nearly 20 years ago. 

the VAX operating system, VAX/VMS. Developing this complicated 
software package proved a major challenge, though convincing 
Digital that it was needed would prove equally taxing. 

"The VAX was ahead of its time — ahead of its real market need," 
Heinen says. "In 1975, when the project got off the ground, few at 
Digital thought they would ever sell one. It took the sheer willpower 
of the management, especially Gordon Bell, to propel the project to 
completion." First introduced in 1978, the VAX and VAX/VMS proved 
wildly successful and remain the heart of Digital Equipment Corp.'s 
business today. 

After the VMS project, Heinen decided he had had enough of op- 
erating systems and went looking for a new challenge. He found it in 
compilers, software that translates a program written in a high-level 
computer language into instructions a computer can actually ex- 
ecute. In 1977 he joined a four-person team that wrote a compiler for 
PL/1, a language widely used in scientific and business applications. 


Spring 1992 

The team took a novel approach to the design of the compiler, 
which they later explained in a book on compiler engineering. They 
created a "front end" that interacted with the programming language 
and a "back end" that generated the machine language. While the 
front end would work only with PL/1, the back end was designed to be 
language independent, which meant it could be used in virtually iden- 
tical form in compilers built to translate other higher-level languages. 
In fact, the team used the PL/1 back end to write a compiler for the 
language C. 

"While no one had ever constructed a commercial compiler the 
way we did, now they are all done that way," Heinen says. "There 
were a few early pioneers before us, but I think we really made that 
way of building compilers a commercial success." 

In the early 1980s, Digital introduced the Micro VAX, a minicom- 
puter that uses the VAX architecture. Heinen helped develop an oper- 
ating system for the MicroVAX called VAX/ELN, the first commercial 
object-oriented operating system (see page 24 for a description 
of object-oriented programming). 

ELN was a pioneer in the field of distributed operating 
systems, which meant that it could oversee the operation 
of programs that ran in several pieces on multiple com- 
puters. "We were forced to push the edge of the technol- 
ogy in terms of how we could develop and debug 
programs that might be running on multiple machines," 
says Heinen, who won a patent for his work on the 
design of the distributed debugger. 

During the remainder of the 1980s, Heinen became a 
corporate consulting engineer, a title reserved for a select 
group of senior engineers at Digital, and was eventually named to 
head the company's DECWEST Engineering Group in Seattle, which 
was working on new MicroVAX developments. 

In 1990 he decided to leave Digital to join Apple Computer and 
the fast-paced world of personal computers. As head of the Macin- 
tosh software division, he oversees a 1,000-person operation respon- 
sible for Macintosh system software, such as the System 7.0 operating 
system released a year ago, and tools for Macintosh software devel- 
opers. The division also provides support, including technical 
advice, documentation and marketing assistance, to the hundreds 
of third-party companies that write application packages for the 

Heinen says System 7.0 and its associated software (including a 
new multimedia architecture) will be the heart of Apple Computer's 
strategy for competing against industry rival Microsoft, which mar- 
kets the Windows operating system for IBM-compatible computers. 
Like the Macintosh system software, Windows is a graphical user 
interface in which users manipulate pictures and icons instead of 
typing in instructions. 

So far, Heinen says, Macintosh is more than holding its own. "Over 
the past two years we've seen a tremendous increase in the overall 
market share for Macintosh vs. Windows and PCs. We've also had a 
tremendous series of hit software products — we actually think in 

terms of hit products; it's a very funny computer business." 

While Apple's battle with Microsoft represents a competition for 
users who might otherwise choose IBM-based machines over the 
Macintosh, the company is also cooperating with Big Blue on 
another front. In an historic agreement announced last year, IBM 
and Apple will share technology and work jointly to develop a new 
generation of software products that will run on either company's 
machines, forming a bridge between the two largest sectors of the 
personal computer market. 

A precursor to the Apple-IBM alliance was a software package 
called Pink. Developed in part by Heinen 's division, the package 
allowed IBM programs to run on the Mac. The Pink development 
effort has evolved into Taligent, a company supported by Apple and 
IBM. Another jointly sponsored company, Kaleida, will develop inno- 
vative multimedia applications. "That part of the agreement is really 
focused on the future," Heinen says. "The object-oriented software 
Taligent is developing will solve problems we can foresee out into 
the late 1990s." 

Heinen's division 
at Apple Computer 
helped lay the 
groundwork for an 
historic alliance 
with IBM. 

Heinen says the Taligent work will address a growing problem 
with programmer productivity. While object-oriented programming 
has greatly simplified the process of writing complicated programs, 
it is still an inefficient and time-consuming process. "Taligent is an 
attempt to leapfrog evolution and make a quantum improvement in 
programmer productivity, something substantially farther than we 
can go on an evolutionary path with today's technology." 

While Taligent pushes the software envelope, Heinen says his 
Macintosh software division is trying to improve the graphical inter- 
face that has been the Macintosh's trademark since it was intro- 
duced in the early 1980s. "Graphics interfaces were a big step back 
then," he says. "Now we're trying to take them to the next plateau by 
using more senses than just sight. For example, we've demonstrated 
our voice recognition software because we really believe voice recog- 
nition, if done properly, can add tremendous value to the experience 
of using a personal computer." 

In his role as manager, Heinen says he no longer gets to do much 
of the active programming that makes advances like these possible. 
Still, he says he doesn't miss the hands-on involvement of his former 
life. "I'm always looking for a challenge, and right now my challenge 
in leading this organization is bigger that the challenge of writing 
some particular piece of software. But who knows, that might change 

WPI Journal 


Helping Out When 
Gods Materials FaH 

Each year about 240,000 Ameri- 
cans have surgery to replace 
their diseased or damaged 
hips and knees with artificial 
prostheses. The implantation of these 
mechanical devices, a type of operation 
first performed just three decades ago, 
has become a highly successful treat- 
ment for severe cases of osteoarthritis 
and rheumatoid arthritis, dramatically 
reducing the pain these and other debili- 
tating joint disorders can cause and 
restoring to recipients a near-normal 
range of motion and activity. 

For the past decade, Joint Medical 
Products in Stamford, Conn., has been a 
leading innovator in the design and de- 
velopment of knee and hip replacements. 
Since 1984, when the company sold its 
first hip prosthesis, more than 40,000 of 
the devices have been placed in patients. 
For Joint Medical Products co-founder 
Douglas G. Noiles '44, who today serves 
the company as executive vice president 
of engineering and development, the long 
and productive road to his current career 
in medical implants has earned him more 
than 60 patents. 

Noiles left WPI after his sophomore 
year to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps 
during World War II. He returned to com- 
plete his degree in mechanical engineer- 
ing in 1947. After graduation, he taught 
for three years in WPl's Mechanical Engi- 
neering Department before working as an 
engineer for Economic Machine Co. in 
Worcester, a maker of intricate machines 
that automatically affix labels to bottles, 
and for Saco-Lowell Shops in Biddeford, 
Maine, an old-line manufacturer of textile 

In 1955 Noiles joined a new Westinghouse division making tubes 
for radio and television. While there he was responsible for an inno- 
vation that greatly extended the life of television picture tubes. The 
change, a loop in a wire that had been subject to mechanical failure 
from frequent cycles of expansion and contraction, enabled Westing- 
house to extend its warranty from three months to two years. 

Noiles then joined Automation Engineering Laboratories Inc. 
in Stamford, Conn., a maker of specialized equipment to automate 
industrial processes, and became involved in a major project to 
develop automation techniques for the garment industry. After a 

Above, Douglas Noiles with some of his designs: foreground, right, a stapler that 
rejoins the ends of the colon or intestines; to the right, various designs for knee 
prostheses; in and near his hands, parts of a knee prosthesis. Opposite, the stem 
of the Joint Medical Products knee replacement and, in the box, some of the 
tapered porous-metal-coated femoral inserts. 

colleague left to work for a new firm in Norwalk, Conn., called United 
States Surgical Corp., Noiles decided to join that company as vice 
president of engineering. At the time, U.S. Surgical was in the midst 
of marketing one of the first commercial surgical staplers. 

The surgical stapler was invented in 1908 in Hungary, but the 
machines proved too bulky and too difficult to load to find wide- 
spread acceptance by surgeons for many decades. In the late 1940s 
Russian surgeons, fresh from the horrors of World War II, stepped 
up the development of the devices, which enable wounds to be 
closed and internal organs to be reconstructed much more quickly 


Spring 1992 

than with conventional 

One of U.S. Surgi- 
cal's first staplers, 
used to close the skin 
at the end of an opera- 
tion, consisted of a 
disposable cartridge 
that contained the 
staples and the staple- 
forming mechanism, 
and a hand-held 
instrument that pow- 
ered the cartridge. 
The cartridge was not 
reliable and the instru- 
ment, powered by 
compressed carbon dioxide, was fraught with problems, made worse 
when it was steam sterilized. 

Noiles helped solve the problem with the cartridge and developed 
a hand-powered instrument that proved more reliable than the gas- 
powered model. He also developed a ligator, an instrument that could 
quickly tie off a blood vessel in two places and cut in between, and 
contributed to the development of a device that can draw together 
the ends of the intestine or colon after a section has been removed 
and join them instantly with up to 33 staples. Work on these and 
other technologies earned Noiles the Eli Whitney Award from the 
Connecticut Patent Law Association in 1985. The award is given 
annually to an individual who has made significant contributions 
to law or science. 

To help get surgeons interested in its stapling products, U.S. Surgi- 
cal decided to offer orthopaedic devices. The hope was, Noiles says, 
that surgeons would try the implants and, at the same time, discover 
the advantages of using staples in this and other kinds of surgery. 
"An opportunity presented itself in 1971," he says. "American sur- 
geons wanted to do hip surgery, but the acrylic plastic bone cement 
developed in Europe for this type of procedure had not yet been 
approved by the FDA." 

Russian surgeons had developed a hip prosthesis that required 
no cement, and U.S. Surgical obtained the rights to it. The hip con- 
sisted of two titanium parts that replaced the ball and socket joint 
of the hip. A long, tapered stem topped with a cobalt chromium ball 
was driven into the top of the femur, while a cup-shaped socket was 
inserted into the pelvis. U.S. Surgical added flutes to the stem to en- 
able it to resist rotation and replaced the metal the Russians used 
inside the pelvic cup with ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene. 
The company also decided to develop its own knee replacement. 
The knee, a hinge that attached to the femur and tibia, replacing the 
function of the patient's own knee, would be a "last resort" prosthe- 
sis, to be used in about 5 percent of knee replacements where the 
body's own muscles and ligaments are not capable of holding the 
parts of the knee joint together properly or where a prior artificial 
knee joint has failed. 

At the suggestion of surgeons, who noted that the normal tibia 
is capable of limited rotation, Noiles designed a shaft and bearing 
that enabled the tibia to rotate. He added stops that limited the rota- 
tion of the tibia to 10 degrees to either side of center. When tests 
showed the design worked well, Noiles increased the range of rota- 
tion to 23 degrees. "This turned out to be a relatively successful 

device," he says. "We got a patent on it and have licensed several 
companies to use the invention." 

In 1972 the FDA approved the use of acrylic bone cement, and 
interest in the U.S. Surgical hip joint diminished. In addition, by the 
end of the decade the company's staplers were becoming great 
successes, and its orthopaedic products became less important. 
Noiles tried unsuccessfully to sell the hip and knee designs to 
other companies. 

By this time the character of U.S. Surgical, which had grown from 
a small company to a major corporation earning more than $100 mil- 
lion, had changed. "I didn't seem to fit in as well as 1 had when the 
company was smaller," Noiles says. "So I left U.S. Surgical and contin- 
ued to try to sell the technology. I finally decided somebody had to 
do something with these devices." 

With C. Anthony Whittingham, former vice president for finance 
at U.S. Surgical, Noiles founded Joint Medical Products in 1982. 
Noiles' first task was to reexamine and improve upon the Russian 
hip replacement. Unlike most hip prosthesis then on the market, the 
Russian hip was constrained, which meant the ball was enclosed by 
the socket and the two pieces could not be separated. The design 
made the hip difficult to install and reduced the patient's range of 
motion; however, it did prevent dislocation, an occasional problem 
in hip replacements. 

Noiles created a new socket that would hold the joint parts to- 
gether after the surgeon had implanted them separately and joined 
them. Noiles also designed the socket so it could be screwed into the 
naturally spherical depression in the pelvis. This threaded socket 
was eventually replaced with a socket coated with a porous metal. 
After implantation, bone would grow into the cavities in the coating, 
forming a strong bond that held the cup in place. 

Noiles also invented an insert for the socket that could be ad- 
justed into a wide range of positions and then locked in place. This 
enabled the surgeon to fine-tune the angle at which the femoral 
component met the socket. This patented design has been copied 
by other manufacturers, but Noiles says Joint Medical Products is 
involved in a patent interference proceeding to determine the 
technology's rightful inventor. 

To make the hip more versatile, Noiles created an extensive series 
of tapered inserts that fit into the femur and into which the stem of 
the femoral component fits. The porous-metal-coated sleeves enable 
the surgeon to custom fit the implant to the interior of the bone and 
help distribute the patient's weight evenly over the bone. Noiles also 
created a range of sizes for the ball, the femoral stem and the pelvic 
socket cup. 

Studies have shown that the Joint Medical Products design is 
more stable that other designs, Noiles says. "It's also pretty much 
accepted as the prosthesis of choice for revision surgery— when a 
hip prosthesis must be replaced— because the range of sleeve sizes 
we offer enables the surgeon to work with the great range of cavities 
that can result when an old prosthesis is removed." 

Currently, Joint Medical Products is preparing to introduce an im- 
proved version of the knee joint Noiles developed for U.S. Surgical. It 
also continues to monitor the performance of its hip joints and to 
make design changes as new information and ideas come to light. 
"Nobody has the answer to how to build a perfect joint replace- 
ment," Noiles says, "because we don't have God's materials. The field 
is always evolving, changing rapidly, which is testimony to the fact 
that we haven't found the right answer yet. But that also makes this 
an exciting business." 

WPI Journal 


Probing the Mysteries of 
The "Demon Stars" 

I n ancient times, watchers of the evening sky observed a myster- 
I ious star that would glow brightly for three nights and then in- 
I explicably dim before brightening again and starting the cycle 
JL anew. The Arabs called it "Al ghoul" or the demon star. Today, 
scientists know that Algol is actually two stars, a small but bright 
dwarf and a much larger companion that regularly eclipses it. 

Since those days, astronomers have discovered that binary star 
systems like Algol occur commonly throughout the universe. Within 
the past few decades, they have also come to realize that these sys- 
tems hold clues to fundamental physical processes that may help 
explain a wide range of cosmological phenomena. 

For nearly 30 years, Edward C. Olson '52, professor of astronomy 
at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been studying 
a class of double stars called close or interacting binaries. The stars 
in these systems orbit one another in close proximity and have or- 
bital periods ranging from a few days to a few weeks. 

What makes interacting binaries especially interesting, Olson 
says, is the tendency of matter to flow from one star to the other, 
where it forms a broad disk of gaseous material that slowly spirals 
inward until it is deposited or accreted onto the surface of the recipi- 
ent star. These accretion disks resemble similar structures associ- 
ated with a number of other stellar objects. 

"Accretion disks are integral elements in the formation of stars 
and planets," Olson says. "There are accretion disks associated with 
binary star systems that produce regular thermonuclear explo- 
sions — so-called novae. And there are probably accretion disks 
around quasars and the black holes thought to be at the center of 
very active galaxies. The accretion disks we see in relation to inter- 
acting binaries are weak, low-density examples, but they are highly 
observable, which is why we go after them." 

Accretion disks are a normal stage in the evolution of most close 
binary systems. Like all stars, the companions that make up a binary 
coalesced from clouds of interstellar gas. Eventually, as gravity accel- 
erated the collapsing gas 
balls, rising tempera- 
tures and pressures 
reached a point 
where hydrogen 
atoms began to 
fuse to form he- 
lium. The energy 
from this thermo- 
nuclear reaction 
stabilized the 
collapsing bodies, 
which settled into 
life as small, hot stars 
called dwarfs (our own 
sun will remain in this 
stage of evolution for 
another four billion years). 


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In interacting binaries, gaseous matter flows from a 
giant star, right, to a dwarf, forming an accretion disk. 

Edward Olson has spent nearly 30 years studying 
close binary star systems, which may help explain 
such celestial phenomena as black holes, quasars 
and the formation of stars and planets. 

Eventually, a dwarf star will consume all of the hydrogen in its 
core. As the atomic furnace cools, the energy that has kept gravity 
at bay subsides and the star begins a brief period of collapse. At 
some point, though, gravitational pressure ignites a thin shell of 
hydrogen around the collapsing core, causing the star's outer 
envelope to expand into a giant reddish ball. 

Because the masses of the partners in a close binary 
system are rarely identical, one star 
inevitably uses up its fuel before 
the other. As the spent star 
becomes a red giant, the 
gravitational force of its 
companion distorts its 
expanding gas envelope 
into a teardrop shape. 

Eventually, the peak of 
this teardrop (called the 
Roche lobe) passes the point 
between the two stars where 
their gravitational effects are in 
equilibrium. Like water reaching 
the top of a dam and overflowing, 
gas streams from the giant star to 
the dwarf at hypersonic speeds. If 


Spring 1992 

the stars are close enough, the gas stream may strike the surface of 
the smaller star directly. But more often, it passes behind and wraps 
around the star to form the characteristic accretion disk. 

Because of their proximity, close binaries appear as single points 
even in the most powerful optical telescopes. Therefore, scientists 
like Olson must use creative techniques to pick apart the light arriv- 
ing from a binary to "see" the physical processes occurring on each 
of the stars and in the accretion disk. 

Olson, working in collaboration with Paul Etzel, an astronomer at 
San Diego State University in California, has been observing binaries 
for many years through a one-meter reflecting telescope at the 
Mount Laguna Observatory, operated jointly by San Diego State and 
the University of Illinois about 50 miles east of San Diego. The tele- 
scope is equipped with a charge-coupled device or CCD, an elec- 
tronic detector that builds up a charge when it is exposed to light. 
After an exposure, the charge is read from the CCD in digital form. 
The process is faster and more sensitive than the photographic 
methods once used in astronomy. 

The CCD can also be linked with spectrographs, which, like 
prisms, break the light from a binary system into its component 
spectra. These spectra show whether the stars or the accretion disk 
absorb or emit energy at specific frequencies. The combination of 
absorption and emission lines in the spectra indicate which elements 
are present in the objects and also serve as their unique signatures. 

Seen through the spectrograph, an accretion disk produces a 
characteristic double-peaked hydrogen emission spectra. The two 
peaks are produced by the opposite sides of the disk — one spins to- 
ward the Earth and is therefore shifted by the Doppler effect toward 
the violet end of the spectrum; the other spins away from the Earth 
and is Doppler-shifted toward the red end. The extent of the Doppler 
shift indicates how fast the disk is spinning. 

By viewing these spectra under varying conditions, Olson gleans 
clues about the structure and behavior of the disk. Observations like 
these may provide an answer to one of the great mysteries associ- 
ated with accretion disks: what causes the gas to spiral in and be- 
come deposited on the star? 

Scientists believe that a process called viscous damping is re- 
sponsible, but to date they have not been able to fully explain how 
it works. The viscosity of the disk — the property that causes the gas 
particles to lose their angular momentum and fall toward the star — 
may result, in part, from collisions of gas molecules in the disk. As 
they collide, they give up energy as heat. Gravitational effects from 
the two stars and, perhaps, weak magnetic forces in the disk itself 
may also contribute. 

"There's a lot going on and it's always a question of just how 
much we'll be able to understand," Olson says. "It's quite a challeng- 
ing process. All you see is that little point in the telescope. The rest 
of it is solving puzzles." 

For several years, Olson has been at work on a computer model 
he hopes will become a powerful tool for unraveling many of those 
puzzles. The base for the model, the first ever developed for this 
class of binary star system, is the data from the observations Olson 
and Etzel have made of 12 binary star systems. Olson says the 
model, still in development, will be used to make predictions about 
how the disks should behave— predictions that can then be com- 
pared to the results of actual observations. 

"The model is really a diagnostic tool that probes the tempera- 
tures, pressures, rotations and viscous dissipation in the disks," 

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lambda (angstroms) 

Accretion disks produce characteristic double-peaked 
spectra. The peaks are caused by the edges of the 
spinning disk, each of which is Doppler shifted toward 
a different end of the spectrum. 

Olson says. "We should be able to investigate many of the important 
mechanisms associated with accretion disks using the model and our 
observations. Our hope is that the model will agree with the observa- 
tions, although that doesn't always guarantee that it's the right 

Olson says his interest in astronomy was sparked at a young age. 
He majored in physics at WP1 because it would provide the best 
possible foundation for a career studying the interactions of celestial 
objects. After graduation he taught for a year at WPI before he was 
drafted into the U.S. Army. He spent two years as a physics assistant 
studying the performance of Nike and Ajax missiles at the White 
Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico, and then, in 1961, earned his 
Ph.D. in astronomy at Indiana University, where he studied asymme- 
tries in solar absorption lines caused by convection and turbulence 
in the Sun's atmosphere. 

He continued studying the solar spectrum at Smith College as 
a member of the faculty of the Four-College (now Five-College) 
Astronomy Department in Western Massachusetts. It was during 
those years that he first became interested in close binary systems, 
a subject he continued to pursue at RPI and at the University of Illi- 
nois, which he joined in 1966. "The first ideas about how these sys- 
tems evolve were just being advanced," he says. "But the observed 
details were not very well in hand." 

In the intervening years, Olson says, it has been the quest to fill 
in those details that has kept his work exciting. "Astronomy has 
always had major puzzles throughout its history," Olson says. "The 
situation today is not that different, in that sense. The nuts and bolts 
of practicing scientists is solving puzzles and understanding chal- 
lenging situations." 

WPI Journal 



A New Course 

By Michael Dorsey 

in its maplewood, 

n.j., offices, 

Hammond Inc. 

is using a 


computer system 

to make maps. 

in the process, 

this 92-year-old 

company is taking 

the ancient art 

of cartography 

to places it has 

never been 


Caleb Hammond '37 with just a few of the maps and atlases published by Hammond Inc. 

Over the course of his 55-year 
career, Caleb D. Hammond '37, 
chairman of Hammond Inc., the 
nation's second largest publisher 
of maps and atlases, has seen the world 
change a great deal. Nations have come and 
gone, borders have shifted, cities have worn 
new names, rivers have been diverted, and 
islands have risen from the sea. But of all 
these transitions, the rise and fall of the 
Soviet Union has a special place among 
Hammond's memories. 

In 1939, after two years as a lubrication 
and sales engineer with the Texas Co., the 
forerunner of Texaco, Hammond joined the 
family-owned company founded by his 
grandfather nearly 40 years before. He was 
on the job only a short time when the Soviet 

Union signed a nonaggression pact with 
Hitler's Germany and rolled into the Baltic 
Republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. 

"At the time we were doing an atlas 
jointly with the Encyclopaedia Britannica," 
Hammond remembers. "We decided we 
were going to show these republics as part 
of Russian territory. The U.S. government 
saw the atlas and said we should show them 
as independent republics, since the U.S. 
had not recognized the occupation. They 
wanted us to call the atlases back, but they 
finally decided there was nothing they could 
do about it." 

Fast-forward 54 years. On the heels of 
an unsuccessful coup, the U.S.S.R. is literally 
falling apart and those same three Baltic 
republics have earned their independence 


Spring 1992 

once again. This time the winds of change 
are less kind to Hammond Inc. Sitting in a 
warehouse are thousands of copies of the 
latest edition of Hammond's Citation World 
Atlas, which includes maps of a complete 
Soviet Union. 

"Fortunately, many of those copies were 
unbound," Hammond says. "We are cur- 
rently reprinting the first 72 pages, which 
include maps of the U.S.S.R. and the coun- 
tries that border it. This Russian thing has 
been a pain in the neck, but it's changes like 
this that keep us in business. This year the 
Russians just overdid it." 

Change has been a fact of life for Ham- 
mond Inc. since its founding in 1900. The 
story goes that Caleb Stillson Hammond, 
a sales manager for Rand McNally & Co., 
asked for a $5-a-week raise from his 
employer. When he was turned down, he 
decided to quit and set up his own map- 
making business. 

One of Hammond's first products was a 
wall map with the United States on one side 
and the world on the reverse. The world 
map was drawn with a revolutionary new 
projection that showed countries in the 
northern latitudes more accurately than 
conventional maps. A world atlas soon fol- 
lowed and in succeeding years Hammond 
stayed on top of social trends and world 
news, publishing special maps and collec- 
tions tied to such events as the San Fran- 
cisco fire, Commodore Perry's trek to the 
North Pole, and World Wars I and II. 

The company survived lean times in the 
1930s and arrived at its golden anniversary 
in 1950 a thriving enterprise. That year cor- 
porate offices were moved from Manhattan, 
where Hammond had established the 
nation's first map store in 1911, to the New 
Jersey site the company has occupied ever 
since. Today Hammond continues to serve 
many of the markets it has developed dur- 
ing its first 92 years. 

For example, it produces the maps in- 
cluded in encyclopedias published by such 
companies as Encyclopaedia Britannica, 
World Book, Funk and Wagnalls, and 
Groliers. It publishes an extensive series 
of maps and atlases for use in schools. Its 
maps and reference and travel atlases find 
large markets in bookstores and map and 
travel shops. And the company produces 
a wide variety of items used as promotions 
and incentives by companies and organiza- 
tions ranging from Time Inc. and Reader's 
Digest to Ciba Geigy. 

Through all this change, Hammond Inc. 
has remained a family business, though that 
almost changed a few years back. Caleb 
Hammond became president of the com- 
pany in 1948, upon the death of his father 
and uncle, and chairman in 1968. At the age 

of 62 he retired to accept the post of chair- 
man of the board of the Maplewood Bank 
and Trust Co. At the time, his brother, 
Stuart, was president of Hammond Inc., his 
son, Caleb Dean Hammond III, was executive 
vice president, and his daughter-in-law, 
Kathleen Hammond, a former advertising 
executive with the New York Times, was vice 
president in charge of marketing. 

For some time, Stuart Hammond and sev- 
eral other relatives had been entertaining 
offers from potential buyers. When a cousin 
decided to place her sizeable share in the 
company on the auction block, Caleb 
Hammond and his son and daughter-in-law 
decided the time had come to act. They 
pooled their resources and bought the 
relative's holdings, along with several 
smaller shares, gaining a controlling interest 
in the firm. In the aftermath, Hammond re- 
joined the firm as chairman; his son, Dean, 
became president; and Kathleen Hammond 
was named executive vice president. 

What they found themselves in control 
of, Hammond says, was a company that had 
been languishing for several years as rela- 
tives debated its future direction. To revital- 
ize Hammond Inc., the company's new 
executives settled on a 
radical plan that would 
not only change the face 
of this 85-year-old firm, 
but the state of the art 
of cartography itself. 

While the technology 
of mapmaking had 
evolved considerably 
from the days when 
craftsmen laboriously 
drew each map by 
hand, it was still a time- 
consuming and largely 
manual process. Artists 
and draftsmen, working 
at drawing boards, hand- 
crafted maps with the 
help of editors, who drew 
on the latest information 
carefully stored in banks 
of file cabinets to assure 
the accuracy of names, 
river courses, mountain 
elevations and so on. 

The finished drawings 
were photographed and 
turned first into negatives 
and then into plates for 
the printing press. Updat- 
ing maps meant retrieving 
old drawings from stor- 
age, pulling off old, incor- 
rect labels, redrawing 
outdated features, and 
redoing indexes — a 

process that could easily consume several 
months. Hammond's new management team 
looked at the significant inroads computers 
were making into other areas of business — 
including the printing and publishing indus- 
tries — and wondered why their business, 
too, could not benefit from the computer 

The company began to build what it now 
calls the Hammond Digital Cartographic 
Database (HDCD), a comprehensive file 
of information about the entire world that 
enables Hammond Inc. to generate maps 
of virtually any area at scales as small as 
1:500,000. The first step in creating HDCD 
was to acquire a public-domain database 
created by the U.S. government. The com- 
pany also purchased about $5 million in 
computer equipment, including specialized 
graphics terminals designed for carto- 
graphic work and made by Intergraph 
Corp. in Huntsville, Ala. 

While a useful starting point, the govern- 
ment database was less than perfect, Ham- 
mond says. "We discovered that it had 
many, many inaccuracies. Also, we found 
out early on that there were a lot of things 
we wanted to do that the government never 

Caleb Hammond watches as his company's chief 
draftsman, Herbert Pierce, touches up the negatives 
for a new map of the world. 

WPI Journal 


worried about. For example, we had to 
spend a lot of time making sure that one 
section of the world would line up accu- 
rately with the sections around it." 

To create the software that would make 
this and other vital tasks possible, Ham- 
mond hired several computer programmers 
and called on a number of computer 
experts. Most notable among these was 
Mitchell J. Feigenbaum, professor of math- 
ematics and physics at Rockefeller Univer- 
sity in New York. Kathleen Hammond had 
met Feigenbaum at Cornell University in 
1970, when she was an undergraduate and 
he was completing postdoctoral work. 

After two years at Cornell, Feigenbaum 
completed another two years of post- 
doctoral studies at Virginia Polytechnic 
Institute and then joined the staff of Los 
Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, 
where in 1976 he discovered universality, a 
theory that explains what happens as natu- 
ral systems, such as flowing water, clouds 
or rising smoke, make the transition from 
orderly to turbulent or chaotic behavior. 
The discovery was a critical step on the 
road to chaos theory, widely considered 
one of the most important scientific ad- 
vances of modern times. 

Using the techniques of object-oriented 

programming (see story, page 24), Feigen- 
baum developed the algorithms that knit 
the information in the database into a seam- 
less representation of the globe (one that 
would cover two-thirds of a football field 
if printed out at the nominal scale of 
1:3,000,000). He also developed techniques 
that enabled the computer to adjust the 
level of detail displayed depending upon 
the scale of the map. 

For example, the complicated coastline 
of Maine can be shown in far greater detail 
on a map that displays just the state itself 
than on a map of the whole Eastern Sea- 
board. The software Feigenbaum developed 
also enables the computer to choose a 
projection for each map that displays that 
region of the world in the most realistic and 
accurate manner. 

Another key piece of software, on which 
a patent is currently pending, places type — 
such the names of cities and towns — on 
the map, a task that can be challenging in 
heavily developed areas where population 
centers lie close together. "Initially, we 
would have crashes in these areas where 
the names would just run into each other," 
Hammond says. "Feigenbaum developed a 
way of handling this by relocating names in 
an orderly way if they start to crash. This is 

something the government has been trying 
to do for 25 years." 

To date, the development of the data- 
base has consumed five chronological years 
and 150 man-years of effort. There are two 
types of data in the database. Linework in- 
cludes more than 1,000 types of geographic 
features, including coastlines, rivers, moun- 
tains, islands, roads, canals, railroads and 
political boundaries. Some details can have 
complex codes that include information that 
may show up only at certain map scales. 
For example, a detailed map might show the 
exact width of a river along with the courses 
of all of its tributaries, while a map with a 
broader scale may simply show the path 
of the main branch. 

Textual information is stored separately 
within the same database. Each population 
center is coded with its local name, its stan- 
dard name as determined by the U.S. Board 
of Geographical Names, and its historic 
name or names. The company is also trans- 
lating these names into multiple languages 
for maps and atlases published internation- 
ally. In addition to its name or names, each 
city and town is coded with its population. 
The population data determines how large 
the locality's name will appear on a map 
and — depending upon the map's scale — 


Spring 1992 

whether it will appear at all. 

There are no actual maps in the system. 
Working at computer terminals, a cartogra- 
pher creates a map by retrieving from the 
database information about an area bound 
by designated coordinates. The computer 
automatically draws in the appropriate bor- 
ders and map scales. The cartographer can 
choose from a wide range of colors and pat- 
terns to indicate geographic features, can 
use any of dozens of symbols for points of 
interest, and can select appropriate fonts 
for the type. 

Finished maps can be output in a num- 
ber of ways. For proofing, they can be 
printed on color computer terminals or on 
a host of high-resolution plotters and print- 
ers. Information can be stored on magnetic 
tapes or disks. And maps ready for publica- 
tion can be sent to a device that generates 
four-color negatives for printing. 

While the creation of the database was 
largely the work of computer experts, its 
maintenance will fall to Hammond's staff of 
editors. "The world is constantly changing," 

Opposite, cartographers update a computer-generated map of 
the Indian subcontinent. Above, Caleb Hammond looks over 
one of the thousands of maps in the Hammond Inc. archives. 

Hammond says. "Everybody hears about 
changes like Leningrad becoming St. Peters- 
burg once again, so you have to get those 
right. But there are so many other changes 
that happen all the time that few people 
hear about. The nice thing about this data- 
base is that you only have to make a change 
once. Whether it's a name change or a 
change in the course of a river, once it's in 
the database that change will be made for 
every map we produce with the computer." 

So far, Hammond has produced just a 
few products electronically, most notably a 
l:4,000,000-scale map of the Indian subconti- 
nent created last year for an international 
book fair. In addition, a computerized collec- 
tion of world flags was recently used in the 
production of wall maps of the United States 
and the world (the maps themselves were 
produced conventionally). 

Currently in production is the new 
Hammond Atlas of the World, a 304-page, 
ll-by-14-inch volume that will go on sale in 
September — by far the most detailed and 
accurate atlas the company has ever pro- 
duced, Hammond says. 
All of the more than 200 
maps in the collection 
are being created with 
the HDCD. When the 
atlas is complete, the 
database will be em- 
ployed to produce a 
wide range of other 
products, including 
many more area maps 
for travelers, small 
pocket-sized atlases, 
school atlases and — 
should a comprehen- 
sive road network be 
added to the data- 
base — a series of road 

Caleb Hammond, 
who is a member of the 
American and Royal 
Geographical societies, 
a former director of the 
Association of Ameri- 
can Publishers (then 
known as the American 
Textbook Publishers 
Institute), and a trustee 
emeritus of WPI (from 
which he recently re- 
ceived the Robert H. 
Goddard '08 Award for 
Professional Achieve- 
ment), says the data- 
base will enable the 
company to easily pro- 
duce specialty maps of 
all sizes, in a variety of 

custom styles, and with an infinite variety of 
information tailored for individual custom- 
ers. A good example, he says, are the ency- 
clopedia publishers with which Hammond 
has worked for decades. 

"In the past we've been able to give 
these companies maps at whatever size 
they wanted, but they all received basically 
the same maps," he says. "They've always 
wanted their maps to look different than 
anyone else's. Now it will be possible for us 
to do that. We'll be able to give them their 
own selection of areas and color treatments. 
They can choose to show mountains or not, 
and so on. We think this will open up brand 
new areas for us." 

With the computer it will be possible to 
produce all of these products in a fraction 
of the time that was once necessary. For ex- 
ample, creating the map of the Indian sub- 
continent from scratch, a task that might 
once have consumed six months of time for 
a team of editors and designers, took only 
a few weeks. Twice that much time would 
have been required to assemble the map's 
index of town names (something the com- 
puter now does automatically in seconds) 
in the "old days." Hammond says that in 
time, as the company gains experience with 
its computer system, the process should 
become even faster. 

While Hammond will create nearly all of 
its future maps and atlases with the comput- 
erized database, Caleb Hammond says there 
will always be products that can better be 
created or updated in a more traditional 
manner. These include special topical maps 
in various school atlases on things like in- 
fant mortality and the location of fossil de- 
posits. In addition, he says, the company 
has thousands of maps in its archives, some 
of which will continue to be updated from 
time to time and reused. Work like this will 
keep the company's staff of draftsmen, some 
of whom have been with the company for 
decades, busy for years to come. 

Currently, Hammond Inc. has the field 
of commercial computerized cartography 
virtually to itself. No other major mapmaker 
has created the type of advanced carto- 
graphic tools that Hammond has pioneered 
over the past five years. "I've enjoyed 
watching this progress," says Hammond, 
who adds that he may retire once again 
when the new atlas finds its way to book- 
stores this fall. 

"This is going to be the future of our 
company, and I couldn't be happier. In truth, 
I had no business buying out that relative, 
but I could see sections of the company 
withering and dying on the vine. I said, 
'Damn it, we're going to stick with it and 
turn this company around.' That's what 
we're trying to do." 

WPI Journal 


Building a New Window on the World 

By Michael Dorsey 


In an office of the not-too-distant future, 
a climatologist sits down at her com- 
puter workstation and types in a simple 
question: Has the rainfall across Southern 
California been affected by the shrinking 
rain forests of Brazil? In a few moments, the 
screen is filled with a patchwork of images, 
icons and menus. 

Using the computer's mouse to link 
together certain pictures and icons, then 
typing simple answers to questions the 
computer poses, she sharpens her search 
and then goes beyond her initial query, 
drawing in data on wind patterns, atmo- 
spheric gas exchange and solar radiation — 
some of it gleaned from computers located 
thousands of miles away — and integrating 
it with information coded in weather satel- 
lite photos pulled from a data bank in Wash- 
ington, D.C. Finally, she displays the results 
of her new computer model as a time- 
sequenced series of high-resolution maps. 

It may sound like science fiction, but a 
system like this is the ultimate goal of a new 
project being undertaken by a research 
team consisting of three faculty members in 
WPI's Computer Science Department and a 
professor of geography at Clark University. 
With a two-year, $315,000 grant from the 
National Science Foundation, the team 
hopes to take the first steps toward a radi- 
cal new way of handling the huge amounts 

of information that confront scientists study- 
ing the phenomenon of global change. 

WPI was one of 1 1 colleges and universi- 
ties around the nation (out of 1 15 that sub- 
mitted proposals) to receive funding in the 
first round of a new NSF initiative aimed at 
finding innovative ways to manage large 
scientific databases. The goal of the program 
is to overcome the limitations of the data- 
base software commonly used in scientific 
research, most of which is modeled after 
packages designed for business applications. 

For the most part, current scientific data- 
bases can't easily handle the staggering 
quantity of data often gathered in geographic 

or climatological research (weather satel- 
lites, for example, collect billions of bits of 
data every day). In addition, business-ori- 
ented databases generally lack the flexibility 
to adapt easily to new types of data or to 
new ways of analyzing it. This quality — 
called extensibility — is also required to 
accommodate metadata, or data about the 
data, which can include information about 
how, when and where the data were created, 
and about how they have been processed or 
recalibrated in the meantime. 

"As we looked at existing software," notes 
Nabil I. Hachem, assistant professor of com- 
puter science, "we also found that most 


Spring 1992 


concentrates either on the management of 
data or on the analysis of data. We wanted 
to find a way to integrate these functions." 

Hachem says the researchers also noted 
that most existing database systems de- 
signed for geographic and cartographic 
research— so-called geographical informa- 
tion systems or GISs — deal adequately with 
either spatial data (data that describes the 
distribution of things in space) or temporal 
data (which describes how something 
changes over time). A goal of the global 
change database project is finding a way to 
integrate spatial and temporal data, making 
it easier for researchers to study how global 

Graduate students Yu-Hong Zhang, 
left, and Ke Qiu are developing parts 
of a new database program that may 
revolutionize the way geographic 
and cartographic information is 
stored and analyzed. 

systems change over time, and to model 
how they may change in the future. 

To meet these challenges, the research 
team, which also includes Assistant Pro- 
fessor Michael A. Gennert and Associate 
Professor Matthew 0. Ward of WPI's Com- 
puter Science Department and Clark Univer- 
sity Professor J. Ronald Eastman, is turning 
to a technique called object-oriented 

A traditional program is a long list of 
instructions — called code — that tells a com- 
puter how to find and analyze data and what 
to do with the results. Sometimes hundreds 
of thousands of lines long, such programs 
can become so unwieldy that they are 
virtually impossible to update or even 

Object-oriented programs consist of dis- 
crete, self-contained modules called objects. 
Most objects describe specific entities, for 
example a thunderstorm over Kansas or the 
annual snowfall on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Encoded 
within the object is a description of how it 
behaves. For example, the snowfall object 
might include daily totals for snowfall and 
the program for computing a yearly aver- 
age. Metadata about the object can also be 
bundled into the object itself. 

With object-oriented techniques, com- 
puter programs no longer need be hand- 
crafted, as most are now. They can be 
assembled from existing objects, much 
like computers themselves can be pieced 
together from off-the-shelf components. In 
addition, objects are easily extensible— they 
can even evolve into new objects with new 
characteristics as the demands on them 
change. For example, the annual snowfall 
object can easily become a monthly snow- 
fall object or an annual rainfall object. 

"This is one possible solution to the 
problems posed by large scientific data- 
bases," Gennert says. "We think it's a good 
solution, but we'll have to prove that. One 

of the reviewers who read our proposal 
said our idea is either brilliant or it will 
never work." 

The idea for the global change database 
began about four years ago when Gennert 
and Ward became interested in finding ways 
to automate the process of creating and 
manipulating maps. They visited the U.S. 
Geological Survey in Reston, Va., to learn 
about the most pressing needs in automated 
cartography. Then, with faculty members 
from the Electrical Engineering Department, 
they put together a proposal to the NSF and 
the Defense Advanced Research Projects 
Administration (DARPA) for funding for a 
knowledge-intensive map analysis program. 

While the proposal was not funded, it led 
Gennert and Ward to do further research and 
develop, with the help of a graduate student 
and an undergraduate completing his Major 
Qualifying Project, a prototype map-display- 
ing program. In the meantime, the U.S.G.S. 
announced its intention to begin funding 
research on global change — a broad area 
that encompasses the complex relationships 
among the Earth's physical and biological 
systems and how they are affected by the 
activities of man. The causes and conse- 
quences of global warming, the destruction 
of the Earth's ozone layer, and the deforesta- 
tion of the tropics are all subjects that fall 
within the realm of global change. 

With the U.S.G.S. announcement as an 
incentive, Ward and Gennert drafted a white 
paper in which they refined their ideas and 
proposed a new software architecture that 
appeared to solve the needs of global change 
research. "This system would be able to store 
and manipulate data in a more general and 
powerful way than what the U.S.G.S. had 
envisioned," Gennert says. "We thought it 
was the right kind of forward-looking system, 
one that the field would need eventually." 

Gennert and Ward sketched out a working 
diagram of their system on a blackboard in 
Gennert 's office and modified it on a regular 
basis. As the system developed, the two re- 
searchers realized they were straying further 
and further from their own areas of expertise, 
which include image processing, image 
understanding, artificial intelligence and 
visualization. "We realized that this is really 
a large database problem," Ward says. "The 
ranges of types of data and the sizes of the 

WPI Journal 


Left to right, 
Michael Gennert, 
Matthew Ward and 
Nabil Hachem. 

databases posed problems that went 
beyond our abilities." 

They enlisted Hachem, whose area of 
interest is very large data and knowledge 
bases. Shortly after Hachem joined the 
group, the NSF put out a request for propos- 
als for new approaches to designing scien- 
tific databases. "They wanted a system that 
was appropriate for a specific field of current 
importance, but which incorporated ideas 
that could be extrapolated into scientific 
databases in general," Hachem says. 

Knowing that scientific databases often 
fall short because database designers focus 
on technology instead of the needs of the 
people who will use that technology, the 
team forged a link with the George Perkins 
Marsh Institute in the school of geography 
at Clark University. "We felt that being part 
of an interdisciplinary team would help 
us understand the needs of global change 
researchers," Hachem says. 

Those needs are considerable, as 
Hachem, Gennert and Ward have discovered. 
Scientists in this field deal with a wide range 
of data types, including cartographic data, 
such as elevations and information about 
land use and water runoff; satellite images of 
vegetation and weather patterns; point data 
on rainfall and solar radiation; and the out- 
put of mathematical models of groundwater 
flow and atmospheric circulation. 

"We've had weeks of discussions just to 
define what data is," Ward says, "and to con- 
vince ourselves that our system can cover a 
significant portion of the various types of 
data that global change researchers use. We 
don't want to leave out anything that's going 
to prevent our system from being useful." 

The diversity of data is only one of the 
challenges the researchers will face as they 
develop the global change database. Further 
complicating their work is the fact that the 

data are recorded in a wide variety of ways. 
Notes Ward, "Everything has a different file 
format. And it's all recorded at different res- 
olutions, different scales, and with different 
accuracies. How do you compare apples 
and oranges? You can either mold one type 
of data into another, or find some middle 
ground and hope you haven't lost too much 
of the data in the conversion." 

With object-oriented programming, each 
data object can contain a description of the 
characteristics of the data it contains. Other 
objects can be programmed with rules for 
how different types of data can be manipu- 
lated in a sensible way. "For example," notes 
Gennert, "it makes sense to ask for annual 
rainfall by summing the rainfall totals for 
each month. On the other hand, it doesn't 
make sense to get population growth by 
totaling the population totals for each month. 
You have to know how the data can be prop- 
erly interpreted, interpolated, extrapolated, 
predicted and calibrated." 

"Our goal," Ward says, "is not to solve all 
these problems, but to create an environ- 
ment in which they can be solved. Extensi- 
bility is a requirement for doing that. As 
people come up with new needs, new abili- 
ties and new data, the system will have to 
grow with it." 

By making each type of data a separate 
object, the researchers hope to make the 
system easy to modify. Adding new data 
types or new analyses, for example, should 
be as easy as plugging new objects into the 
database or modifying existing objects. 

Another important goal of the global 
change database project is making the 
program as easy to use as possible. To do 
that, they will place a visual interface — a 
sort of interpreter — between the user and 
the software. Ph.D. candidate Yu-Hong Zhang 
is currently developing a system that will 

enable users to ask questions about natural 
phenomena that change in both space and 
time — such as a moving cold front or the 
changing boundary between climatological 
zones — by manipulating images instead of 
typing long queries in an arcane computer 

"With most databases, forgetting one 
component of the query can result in a long, 
senseless search," Ward says. "We want to 
avoid that. We also want to have reasonable 
default specifications so people don't have 
to specify 20 things before they get some- 
thing out of a search. So we're creating a 
hybrid visual-text system that will enable 
users to both extend the system and get 
information out of it." 

Another Ph.D. candidate, Ke Qiu, is 
at work designing the model for the data 
objects, and is also developing the system 
that will retrieve data and guide its analysis 
in response to a user's queries. "We don't 
want the user to have to go through all the 
steps he or she must do now — finding the 
data, converting it to common scales and so 
on. We also want the user to be able to take 
the whole sequence of operations the com- 
puter might perform on a certain type of 
data and turn that into a new object that 
can be used again and again." 

Over the next two years, the team will 
develop a working prototype of the system 
that will then be tested with a wide range of 
geographic and cartographic data provided 
by Clark University. While the early proto- 
types of the new global change database 
software will be tested with data residing on 
computers at WP1 and Clark, the designers 
would ultimately like to give their system 
the ability to tap into international computer 
networks to gather information from diverse 
and potentially incompatible computer 
systems located around the world. 


Spring 1992 

Al Anderson Starts a New Chapter 

By Bonnie Gelbwasser 

Here's a riddle: Which word describes some of the 
materials in the George C. Gordon Library and the 
man who has presided over WPI's library collections 
for more than a quarter century? To those who know head 
librarian Albert G. Anderson Jr., the answer is simple: 

"Maybe it's my Scandinavian 
upbringing," says Anderson, 
who will retire on June 30 after 
29 years as the library's top ad- 
ministrator. Only the sixth librar- 
ian in the college's history — and 

the only man to have held the post— Anderson was preceded 
by Emily M. Haynes, who served from 1902 to 1942, and 
Bonnie-Blanche Schoonover, who was head librarian from 
1942 to 1963. 

Ask him about the hundreds of books and the primitive 
art that line the walls and shelves of his office on the first 

After nearly three decades as the head of the 

Institute's innovative and extensive collections, 

WPI's library director is set to retire. 

floor of the library and all he'll volunteer is, "The library is 
not my whole life. I have many other areas of interest." But 
ask this private man about the library and he becomes 
instantly loquacious. 

Anderson, who was born in Fargo, N.D., earned a bachelor's 
degree from North Dakota State 
University, a master's from the 
University of Wyoming, and a 
master's in library service from 
the University of Illinois. 

In the early 1960s he was 
living in Ann Arbor, Mich., and 
working as head of technical information for the Bendix Corp. 
and as a consultant for General Electric when he met Albert 
M. Demont '31 , a WP1 trustee. Demont mentioned the meeting 
to M. Lawrence Price, then dean of faculty at the Institute, 
and when Bonnie-Blanche Schoonover announced her retire- 
ment, Price invited Anderson to apply for the post. "When I 

WPI Journal 


Students take in an exhibit on the Tiananman Square 
uprising in the third-floor gallery in Gordon Library- 

saw Worcester on the map," he says, "I thought 
it must be pronounced 'Worchester.' Upon my 
arrival I was put straight." 

Anderson selected a propitious time to 
relocate to the city. When he arrived on 
campus in 1963, WPl's library was actually 
eight separate collections in six different 
locations. Humanities and social science 
publications were housed in a one-room 
library in the basement of Alden Memorial; 
the Chemistry and Chemical Engineering 
departments shared shelf space in Goddard 
Hall; and the Physics Department and the 
Civil, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering 
departments maintained their own separate 

Anderson immediately became part of 
a team, lead by Harry P. Storke (who had 
assumed the presidency of the Institute the 
year before) that was planning a new library 
that would house these varied collections. 
"President Storke wanted a library-museum," 
says Anderson. "He believed in creating a 
building to contain the printed word as well 
as artifacts of the past." 

When he learned that the idea would be 
too expensive to implement, Storke champi- 
oned the creation of a state-of-the-art library 
— one designed, Anderson recalled in a 
1987 article in the WPI Journal, as "a campus 
showcase... what a building in WPl's future 
would look like." 

Completed at a cost of 
$2.5 million Qargely funded 
by a $5 million bequest from 
George C. Gordon, a Cleve- 
land industrialist who gradu- 
ated from WPI in 1895), the 
65,000-square-foot Gordon 
Library brought all the infor- 
mation on campus together 
under one roof to be super- 
vised by a staff of trained 
professionals. The building, 
the first campus structure to 
be centrally air-conditioned, 
became a model for other 
college libraries. 

Gordon Library had space 
for 200,000 books and 450 
patrons. It featured carpeted 
meeting and seminar rooms, a 
first-floor music room, space 
for the Institute's archives, 
and many areas for study or 
relaxation. While not Storke's 
vision of a museum, the 
library incorporated display 
space for paintings, photo- 
graphs, prints and pottery 
in the lobby and in the wide 
third-floor corridor. The bot- 
tom floor housed the Worces- 
ter Area Computation Center 
(WACC). There were 1,700 students on cam- 
pus and 40,000 books on the shelves when 
it opened in the fall of 1968. 

Twenty-five years after its dedication, 
Gordon Library remains ahead of its time, 
although today it is almost as different from 
the building it was the day it opened as the 
new library was from the original discon- 

nected collections. WPl's student popula- 
tion is now about 3,800 and the building 
is bursting at the seams with more than 
350,000 volumes, nearly one million pieces 
of microfilm and microfiche, about 1,500 
magazine and journal titles, and some 2,000 
videotapes of course lectures. 

"This library is a dynamic facility that 
meets the times and the needs of the 
people," says Anderson. "Thirty years ago a 
library was basically a collection of books, 
monographs, periodicals, reference materi- 
als and technical reports — mostly in paper 
copy. Over the years, microfilm came into 
existence, which saved space by putting 
materials on a single image that people 
could access with a special reader. 

"As computers became more sophisti- 
cated, information could be stored in a 
different form, and a whole new world 
opened up for the user and the librarian," 
he explains. "As a result, the reference area 
of the library has changed drastically. There 
the printed word and the computer coexist 
to serve the patron. On the practical side, 
there is just so much basic material that can 
be stored in a college library. Our job is to 
open doors and windows to information in 
other libraries through on-line databases." 

Throughout his WPI career, Anderson 
has made a point of ensuring that Gordon 
Library has always met the needs of its 
patrons. "Three decades ago a typical engi- 
neering student was taught from the text 
and the library wasn't really needed for un- 
dergraduate students — it served the faculty 
and the graduate programs. 

"With the implementation of the WPI 
Plan, the whole concept of learning changed 
and this library became a major component 

While it serves a much larger constituency than it did 25 years ago, 
Gordon Library has remained a state-of-the-art facility by embracing 
the technological advances of the computer revolution. 


Spring 1992 

in that element of education. We had basic 
collections in the humanities and social 
sciences, but when the Humanities Suffi- 
ciency was added to the Plan we began co- 
operating with other Worcester academic 
libraries so we could share materials." 

In 1968 Anderson became the first chair- 
man of the Worcester Area Cooperating 
Libraries, a joint effort of 15 academic, 
public and special libraries sponsored by 
the Worcester Consortium for Higher Educa- 
tion. Its purpose was to facilitate the sharing 
of resources among member institutions 
and assist in the introduction of advanced 
library technology. 

Through WACL, library patrons now 
have access to more than three million 
volumes and serial subscriptions. "Since 
1974, WP1 has participated in the Online 
Computer Library Center Inc., the world's 
largest and most comprehensive database 
of bibliographic information," Anderson 
says. "The installation of a campus com- 
puter network, along with active coopera- 
tion from the Institute's College Computer 
Center, has enabled the library to expand its 

services. Faculty members and students can 
now 'use' the library from any location that 
has a connection to the network." 

"I have great respect for Al," says Susan 
Baughman, university librarian at Clark 
University's Goddard Library, which is part 
of the WACL. "He's forward-looking, very 
analytical, imaginative — and he very much 
believes in interlibrary cooperation." 

Ever the pragmatist, Anderson views this 
cooperation as a way to put patrons in touch 
with as much information as they need. 
"Worcester is rich in museums and libraries 
and sources of information," he says. "It's 
almost unique to have so many colleges in 
the system. We could not exist without our 
current programs with Clark, Holy Cross and 
the University of Massachusetts Medical Cen- 
ter, supplemented by the Worcester Public 
Library, Worcester State College, Assumption 
College, the American Antiquarian Society 
and the Worcester Art Museum. And, of 
course, we can go one step further: less 
than 50 miles to the east are the collections 
of Harvard and MIT." 

As head librarian, Anderson, who man- 

Chemical engineering graduate 
student Emel Inane prepares 
to peruse a few of the 350,000 
books housed in Gordon Library- 
Today, through a consortium of 
area libraries, students have 
access to more than three 
million volumes. 

ages a staff of 30 and a budget equal to 
about 3 percent of the total Institute budget, 
says he views himself as a catalyst. "The 
heart of any library is its staff," he notes. 
"They interpret to a great degree what is in 
a collection. They help build a collection, 
and they help in utilizing the collection by 
the patrons. My philosophy is, let other indi- 
viduals develop and let them set their mark, 
as long as it fits within the confines of the 

"Our librarians have expertise and inter- 
ests that contribute significantly to their 
work here. For example, Diana Johnson 
[reference and interlibrary loan librarian] 
has a degree in chemistry; Don Richardson 
[reference and technical reports librarian] 
has expertise in the area of bibliographic in- 
struction through formal and computer pro- 
grams; Margaret Riley [circulation librarian] 
and Deborah LaCroix [senior library associ- 
ate/cataloger] are musicians. 

"Lora Brueck [archivist, special collec- 
tions librarian and cataloger] is a photogra- 
pher who has brought many interesting 
exhibits to campus, and Helen Shuster 
[who will become interim head librarian 
after Anderson steps down] is an expert 
on automation. Carmen Brown [associate 
librarian and head, public services] ensures 
that all programs benefit the needs of the 
patrons, especially the students. They are 
the ones who pay the bills and enable us 
to serve. The result is that while Gordon 
Library is small and has a small staff, it 
has done more to innovate than some of 
the larger libraries in the country." 

"Although he doesn't say too much, Al 
Anderson is very supportive of his staff," 
says Diana Johnson. "My feeling is that 
he cares about us very much; I know he is 
always open to new ideas that are properly 

Anderson says his successor faces some 
significant challenges. "The library is run- 

WPI Journal 


Scott E. Lewis '95 receives some help in his search for information from 
reference librarian Joanne L. Williams. Williams and the library's other 29 
staff members are the "heart of the library," notes director Al Anderson. 

ning out of space. We need to expand shelv- 
ing for books and periodicals into the 10,000 
square feet of space on the lower level that 
was used by the College Computer Center 
until Fuller Laboratories was completed in 
1990. We need to create additional reading 
space for patrons, space for our staff, and 
space for the ongoing changes in technol- 
ogy. The building is tired. Its heating and air- 
conditioning system needs to be replaced, 
and the furniture needs to be renovated to 
create a fine aesthetic place that's enjoyable 
to be in." 

Despite the challenges, Anderson says 
this is an excellent time for someone to step 
into his shoes. "We're on the cutting edge of 
changes in library information," he says. 
"The whole aspect of adapting a building to 
meet the changing needs of the patrons is 

The new director will succeed, Anderson 
believes, if he or she continues the concept 
of the library "as a service organization, 
with staff members who are willing to adapt 
as adaptation is needed, and willing to be of 
service to whoever needs it." 

Anderson's own interests are reflected 
in the library's collection of materials about 
author William Faulkner, which he describes 
as "equal to, if not better than, almost any 
other collection in the city." It can also be 
seen in an excellent art and architecture 
collection, which serves the Worcester Art 
Museum, as well as art students at various 
other colleges. 

"My opinion of Al is that he is truly a 
gentleman in the accepted aristocratic 
sense of the term," says Louis J. Curran Jr., 
associate professor of music, who has been 
Anderson's friend since the librarian first 
joined the staff. "Al has a splendid eye for 
antiquities and things of beauty, which is 
reflected in the number of displays and exhi- 
bitions in the library. 

"While he would never mention the fact, 
Al was instrumental in preserving the por- 
traits of the college fathers. I found them in 
disastrous condition in the Boynton Hall 
tower. Al arranged for them to be restored 
at the Worcester Art Museum and hung in 
the great hall of Alden Memorial, where they 
were recently returned when renovations to 
that building were completed. 

"He's private even with his friends, but 
is extremely kind," Curran adds. "He and his 
wife were a great help to me when I was in 
the hospital a while back. He also has a pi- 
quant sense of humor and he loves plays 
on words." 

Anderson and his wife, the former Ann 
Lee O'Connell of Worcester, live with their 
daughter, a college student, in Holden, 
Mass., where they are active in several area 
organizations. "Retiring won't be any big 
deal," he says. "I'm looking forward to it. 1 
hope to volunteer, but not necessarily in the 
field of librarianship. My work at WPI has 
been very pleasurable, but in retirement I'll 
detach myself from that and go into some- 
thing totally different." 

I hese days a good library 
I is like a magician's top 
hat. While prestidigitators amaze their 
audiences by pulling doves, rabbits and 
scarves from tall black hats, today's 
librarians bring forth a vast universe 
of up-to-date information on virtually any 
topic from a constantly expanding system 
of computers and electronic networks. 

David Cyganski 75, professor of elec- 
trical engineering, has witnessed the 
changes that the Gordon Library has 
undergone over the past two decades. 
Cyganski enrolled as a freshman in 1972 
and went on to earn a bachelor's, a 
master's and a doctorate. He joined the 
faculty in 1980 and from 1989 to 1991 was 
vice president for information systems 
and services and vice provost, a post that 
included oversight of the library budget. 

"A good engineer uses the library 
every day— for research, for information, 
and to make classroom learning easier 
and more meaningful," Cyganski says. 
An avid reader with an interest in a wide 
range of scientific and technical topics, 
as well as music and gardening, he says 
he is probably one of the library's biggest 
patrons. He borrows books and has art- 
icles copied almost every day, and says 
he appreciates the changes Al Anderson 
has brought to Gordon Library. 

"Nowadays, it's a whole new world," 
says Cyganski. "We're at the pinnacle of 
on-line service, because of the way the 
library has embraced the computer. All 
a person has to do is log into our campus 
network and type 'library' to gain access 
to the world's largest on-line database. 
Without ever leaving your desk you can 
search the library's entire on-line catalog 
and the catalogs of more than 30 other 
schools. You can find out where a paper 
or publication is held and arrange for all 
sorts of materials to be delivered, faxed 
or photocopied." 

Jeffrey A. Bloom '87, a WPI student 
since 1983 (he has completed his bache- 
lor's and master's degrees in electrical 
engineering, the latter in 1990, and is now 
working on his Ph.D.), uses a modem to 
tap into this wealth of information from 
his home. He says the library's electronic 
services have come a long way since his 


Spring 1992 

Electronic Sleight of Hand 

Brings Users a Universe of knowledge 

Archivist Lora Brueck, standing, helps a student learn to use the Gordon Library's on-line catalog, which replaced the 
card catalog. With computers, patrons can now access a wide range of information from libraries all across the country- 

early years as a graduate student. Back 
then, he notes, only a few databases could 
be searched with computers that were 
sometimes difficult to use. 

"Because of those limitations, computers 
were just a supplement to the more tradi- 
tional information search using the card 
catalog," he says. Today the card catalog 
itself is accessed with a computer. 

Cyganski illustrates the speed and user- 
friendliness of the library's on-line services 
by accessing UnCover, a magazine database 
available through the Institute's computer 
network. He types in a request for informa- 
tion about Papoulis' Generalized Sampling 
Algorithm and in less than 10 seconds the 
computer searches through some 10,000 
journals to produce a list of articles and 
their locations. 

While the computer network allows 

him to spend less time there these days, 
Cyganski says there is still ample reason 
to visit the library building. "When stu- 
dents complain they are having trouble 
understanding their textbooks, I tell them 
to go to the library and look through other 
books that cover the same material," he 
notes. "There's always a big selection — 
there may be as many as 150 books on a 
particular topic. I tell these students to look 
through these other books until they find 
one that speaks their language, and to use 
that book to help follow the lectures." 

Bloom says he's used the library in just 
this way. "As an undergraduate, I appreci- 
ated being able to go to the audiovisual 
room and watch a lecture on videotape. It 
was a real help to be able to see a professor 
(even if it wasn't the one who was teaching 
your course) explain the material and pin- 

point the things you didn't understand. 
You could always rewind the tape if you 
needed to clarify the topic or problem." 

Cyganski says the new library technol- 
ogy has also changed the way he teaches. 
"1 expect my project students to be able to 
do more — to check more references — and 
as a result, to present work that is better 
considered and more organized. Being 
able to access everything everyone else 
has done on a particular topic allows you 
to be more original. It's bound to lead to 
better projects. 

"You know," he adds, "Stanislaw Ulam 
said that the most difficult unsolved prob- 
lem in mathematics is knowing whether 
someone has solved it before. In this age 
of library science, the computer is helping 
users tackle that dilemma." 

— Bonnie Gelbwasser 

WPI Journal 



Lighting a Fire in Young Minds 

It looks like Dean L. Kamen 73 
will have to change his busi- 
ness cards. The cards identify 
him as Dean Kamen, N.D. The 
N.D., he says, stands for no de- 
gree, but the 41-year-old entre- 
preneur and science educator 
recently received an honorary 
doctorate in engineering from 
the institution he left two de- 
cades ago before finishing his 
bachelor's degree in physics. 

In awarding such a presti- 
gious honor to one so young, 
WPI recognized both Kamen's 
impressive professional accom- 
plishments and his commitment 
to helping young people learn 
about the excitement of scientific 
discovery and the joy of creating 
new technology to solve real 
human problems — qualities that 
have been the driving forces in 
his own career. 

Kamen credits at least some 
of his fascination with science 
and engineering, as well as his 
love of hard work, to his father, a 
free-lance cartoonist and illustra- 
tor, and his mother, a teacher of 
bookkeeping and accounting 
(both help out today with his 
various businesses). Jack and 
Evelyn Kamen encouraged all 
four of their children to indulge 
their imaginations and natural curiosity 
about the world. 

More often than not, while their friends 
read comic books and played baseball, 
Dean and his older brother, Bart (now a 
physician), could be found in the cellar of 
the family home on Long Island with their 
Erector Sets, model trains, slot cars, chem- 
istry sets, photographic equipment and 

By the time he enrolled at WPI in 1969, 

Successful entrepreneur Dean Kamen wants to help young 
people know the joys and rewards of science and technology 

Kamen's curiosity and imagination had 
already begun to bear fruit. With Bart's 
help, he designed a portable medical infu- 
sion pump called the Auto Syringe. The 
device gives diabetics and other patients 
whose lives depend on frequent doses of 
medication a greater degree of freedom. 
It also lets the terminally ill receive pain- 
killing drugs in their own homes. In hospi- 
tals, the pump relieves nurses from having 
to constantly monitor transfusion patients. 

As news of Auto Syringe 
spread through the medical 
literature, the product became 
a huge success and Kamen 
found he was spending too much 
time running his business to 
attend classes. Still, he managed 
to engage selected professors in 
spontaneous four-hour discus- 
sions in their offices. (He and 
Harold W Hilsinger, associate 
professor of physics, still brain- 
storm occasionally.) 

The business soon outgrew 
the family basement, so Kamen 
moved it first to a nearby indus- 
trial park, and then to Hooksett, 
N.H. In 1982 he sold Auto Syringe 
in a multimillion-dollar deal to 
Baxter Health Care Corp., a sub- 
sidiary of Baxter International, 
but he kept the research and 
development end of the busi- 
ness, named DEKA Research and 
Development Corp., and set up 
shop in Manchester, N.H. 

Kamen also owns three 
buildings in Manchester's old 
Amoskeag millyards, as well as 
Telectrol Systems, which manu- 
factures energy management, 
automation control and digital 
control systems, and Enstrom 
Helicopter, a Menominee, Mich., 
company that builds helicopters 
sold and serviced by companies around 
the country, including Copters Unlimited 
in Laconia, N.H., which Kamen owns. 

In 1986 he purchased North Dumpling 
Island off the Connecticut coast. He rents 
the two-acre island, which has a renovated 
lighthouse with its own desalinization 
plant and generator and a replica of 
Stonehenge built by a former owner, to 
corporations and individuals for confer- 
ences and other events. To them, Kamen 


SPRING 1992 

is Lord Dumpling, who edits his own 
tongue-in-cheek newspaper, issues visas, 
and even prints his own currency, called 

Although he is king of his own island, 
Kamen has down-to-earth ideas on how to 
boost interest in science and technology in 
the United States. All of the income he real- 
izes from renting his island is used to fund 
U.S. FIRST (Foundation for Inspiration and 
Recognition of Science and Technology), an 
organization he founded in 1989. Designed 
along the lines of the U.S. Olympic Commit- 
tee, the not-for-profit alliance of business, 
education and government leaders seeks to 
promote science and mathematics literacy 
by sponsoring special events for young 
people across the country. 

Kamen and associate professor Harold 
a long talk about physics since Kamen' 

Recently, it held the first Maize Craze, 
through which dozens of companies and 
universities — including AT&T, Boeing, 
IBM, Xerox, Harvard, MIT and WPI— 
adopted high schools in their communi- 

Nicole Weiner, center, and Scot Trudeau, right, of the Doherty High School team 
watch as their robot's take of tennis balls is tallied during the Maize Craze. 

W. Hilsinger (left) have shared many 
s days as an undergraduate at WPI. 

ties. Engineers from each institution 
helped students design and build remote- 
controlled vehicles made from kits of 
motors, controllers and related materials 
provided by U.S. FIRST. The vehicles 
competed in Manchester to see which 
could pick up the most tennis balls in a 
set amount of time while maneuvering 
across a floor littered with cracked corn. 

First place went to the Clinton (Mass.) 
High School team sponsored by NYPRO 
Inc., whose president, Gordon B. Lankton, 
is a WPI trustee. In second place was a 
team from Doherty High School in Wor- 
cester, which was sponsored by WPI. 
The winners received their awards from 
D. Allan Bromley, science and technology 
advisor to President Bush, and the Clinton 
team was invited to the White House to 
meet with the president. 

Kamen also founded the Science 
Enrichment Encounters Museum (SEE) at 
his Technology Center in Manchester. He 
says the museum is his way of sharing 
with young people his passion for the 
natural world. An avid reader of the origi- 
nal works of scientists like Archimedes, 
Galileo and Newton, Kamen says he wants 
to persuade a new generation of children 
that superconductors can be just as inter- 
esting as the Super Bowl. "If I could con- 
vince children who are enamored of 
football to pursue science first, later they 
could buy the NFL and put it in their back- 
yard," he says. 

Kamen says his own goal in life is far 
removed from the NFL or even the success 
of his own bustling business empire. "I 
hope when I die that I will leave the world 
with significantly less ignorance," he says. 

— Ruth Trask 


A tribute to discovery and the 
many WPI alumni who, as 
scientists and inventors, are 
opening up new frontiers of 
knowledge and understand- 
ing, and proving that— 500 
years after Columbus first 
set sail— there is no short- 
age of unknown territory , 
yet to explore. 


SUMMER 1992 



New Worlds 
Of Computing 

WPI Journal 







The Soul of a New Center Diane Benison 
WPI's new Center for High-Performance Computing has catapulted the 
Institute into the big leagues of computer research and development. 
Here's the story of the center's birth and of its mission to transfer high- 
power computing technology into industry. 

Divide and Conquer Michael Dorsey 

How do you build a computer that can process a trillion instructions in the 
blink of an eye? The answer is massive parallelism — splitting up problems 
among hundreds or even hundreds of thousands of individual processors. 

First, Do No Harm Diane Benison 

Organ transplants. Hospital crash carts. Genetic therapy. The high technology 
that has permeated the practice of medicine has altered the age-old relation- 
ship between physician and patient— and not for the better, says bioethicist 
Thomas A. Shannon. 

Meeting the Need to Lead Francis C. Lutz 

In his first address to incoming freshmen as dean of undergraduate studies, 
Lutz offers a personal vision of the Institute's unique educational program and 
its potential to prepare students to take on the challenges of a new age and a 
changing world. 


Z Advance Word: A Trillion Here, A Trillion There. Michael Dorsey 

3 Letters: Where Does the Money Go?; Hitting the Ceiling. 

4 Investigations: Making Cancer Killers Deadlier; Probing Shrimp Genetics; 
Improving Laser Eye Protection. Michael Dorsey 

Explorations: Engineering a Roller Coaster; Flying by the Power of the Sun; 
Making a Warehouse More Efficient. Bonnie Gelbwasser 

32 Final Word: The Nancy Drew of the Crime Lab. Ruth Trask 

Front Cover A supercomputer was used to assemble this view of Venus from data sent back to 
Earth by the Magellan probe. Building the next generation of high-performance computers is the 
goal of WPI's new Center for High-Performance Computing. Story on page 10. Photo courtesy of 
NASA. Opposite: A summer scene in front of the "Wedge" between Daniels and Morgan halls. Photo 
by Janet Woodcock. Back Coven Alumni of the classes of 1 942 and earlier enjoy the annual 50-Year 
Associates Dinner in the great hall of the newly renovated Alden Memorial during Reunion in June. 
Watch for a photo essay on the restoration of Alden early next year. Photo by Janet Woodcock. 

Staff of the WPI Journal: Editor, Michael W. Dorsey • Alumni News Editor, Ruth S. Trask • Writers, Bonnie Gelbwasser and Neil Norum • Designer, Carol Hoyle Ballard 

• Photographer, Janet Woodcock • Alumni Publications Committee: Samuel Mencow '37, chairman • Paul J. Geary 71 • James S. Demetry '58 • Judith Donahue SIM '82 

• William J. Firla Jr. '60 • William R. Grogan '46 • Carl A. Keyser '39 • Robert C. Labonte '54 • Roger N. Perry Jr. '45 • Harlan B. Williams '50 • The WPI Journal (ISSN 0148-6128) 
is published quarterly for the WPI Alumni Association by the Office of University Relations. Second class postage paid at Worcester, MA, and additional mailing offices. 
Printed by The Lane Press, Burlington, Vt. 

Diverse views presented in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or official WPI policies. We welcome letters to the editor. Address correspondence 
to the Editor, WPI Journal, WPI, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609-2280. Phone: (508) 831-5609, FAX: (508) 831-5604, Electronic mail (Internet): 
Postmaster: If undeliverable, please send form 3579 to the address above. Do not return publication. Entire contents "'1992, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. 


A Trillion Here, A Trillion There. . . 


I he late Senator Everett 

I Dirksen is alleged to 
A have said once, "A bil- 
lion here and a billion there 
and pretty soon you're talking 
big money." Maybe it's infla- 
tion, or perhaps it's the nature 
of progress, but a billion just 
isn't what it used to be. 

Once upon a time Ameri- 
cans gasped at multibillion- 
dollar federal budgets; now 
our budget deficits alone run 
into billions — some 400 bil- 
lion at last report. As for the 
budgets themselves, they've 
already broken through the 
$1 trillion mark and they 
show no signs of stopping 
there. Major corporations now 
measure their revenues in 
billions of dollars, tapping into markets for 
consumer electronics, cars and computers 
that run well into the trillion-dollar range. 

It seems that if you want attention 
these days, you'd better be talking tril- 
lions. That is especially true in science. 
Chemists once seemed content to measure 
things in parts per billion, but now they 
routinely hunt down that one atom in a 
trillion. A new accelerator under construc- 
tion in Texas will push subatomic particles 
along with an astounding 20 trillion elec- 
tron volts of energy (assuming it doesn't 
get cut out of that $1 trillion-plus federal 
budget). And, as you'll read in our cover 
story, computer scientists are now souping 
up their computation engines with hopes 
of breaking the trillions-of-instructions- 
per-second barrier. 

But what's most amazing about this 
rush to count higher, measure finer and 
compute faster is just how blase we've 
become about really big numbers. As we 
casually bandy about the latest federal 
budget proposal or the newest advance in 
scientific technology, do we really know 
what we're talking about? Does anyone 
truly know how big a trillion is? 

It may simply be beyond our capacity to visualize very large 
numbers like the 100 billion stars in the known universe or the 
trillions of instructions high-performance computers may soon 
be able to process in the space of a second. 

Sure, on paper it seems simple. A trillion 
is 10 12 or the number 1 followed by 12 
zeros. Looked at another way, it's a million 
million or a thousand billion. But frankly, 
knowing that doesn't make it any easier to 
visualize. The fact of the matter is, it simply 
requires more imagination than the human 
brain can muster. 

It would seem we are most comfortable 
with numbers we can see. For example, on 
a clear, dark night you can see up to 6,000 
stars with the naked eye (depending upon 
how good your naked eye is). That's a 
reasonably big number, but you can still 
see it. There they are — 6,000 stars. But tell 
someone that there are another 100 billion 
stars out there in the known universe that 
he can't see, and you may as well be talking 
about the number of angels dancing on the 
head of a pin. 

In cases like this, science writers natu- 
rally turn to comparisons. For big numbers, 
the comparison of choice seems to take the 
form, "if a trillion objects (bricks, volley- 
balls, science writers) were laid end-to-end 
or stacked like cordwood, how far would 
they stretch?" In his delightful children's 
book, How Much is a Million?, David M. 

Schwartz uses this and 
other approaches. 

In words and illustra- 
tions, Schwartz tells his 
young readers that a mil- 
lion kids perched on one 
another's shoulders would 
stand more than 46 times 
taller than the highest plane 
has ever flown; a billion kids 
would stretch three times as 
far as the Moon; a trillion 
kids would nearly reach the 
rings of Saturn. What if you 
wanted to count to a trillion? 
Schwartz asks. Well, count- 
ing to a million would take 
23 days. Counting to a billion 
would take about 95 years. 
And, if you could keep count- 
ing for more than 190,000 
years, you might just reach a trillion. 

It's pretty clear that no matter what 
comparison you choose, you've got to use 
some pretty big numbers or expansive 
concepts to convey the idea of a trillion. 
Just how far are the rings of Saturn, any- 
way? (They're about 800 million miles 
away from Earth, in case you didn't know 
— it took the first Voyager probe 38 months 
to reach them). How long is 190,000 years? 
Of you could go back that far in time you'd 
find Homo sapiens still in the process of 
evolving from our ancestral species on 
the plains of Africa.) 

Perhaps it is enough simply to be 
amazed by concepts like a trillion — to 
know that they are beyond our ability 
to understand (which is, in itself, a sort 
of understanding). Perhaps by over- 
analyzing, we lose the sense of childlike 
wonderment that goes along with thinking 
about the astounding scale (both small 
and large) of the universe around us. As 
playwright Eugene lonesco once wrote, 
"Explanation separates us from astonish- 
ment, which is the only gateway to the 

—Michael Dorsey 

Summer 1992 

ffim^^^^MaBi^^BBgBWMBSBBiaflBSH WBM l MKl^JW II ill lilll III H I f l ll' lgBB8He a a^WB3HB«pa^W«B 

"Where is the Money Going?" 

To the Editor: 

I am truly amazed at the lack of outcry 
about the way WPI spends its money. 
Either nobody reads the Journal, or no- 
body really cares. I'm not sure which I find 
more frightening. 

In the Winter 1992 issue I found an 
article entitled "Climbing Between the 
Peaks." In it I discovered yet another pitch 
to alumni for more money. The justification 
presented was incredibly weak. However, 
what really disturbed me was Table 2 
(reprinted here). WPI's endowment has 
increased by roughly 6 percent per year in 
constant dollars since 1985! 

That means endowment funds have 
increased by over $2 million each year 
after inflation is accounted for. Tuition 
revenue has increased by almost 8 per- 
cent each year after inflation! And still 
our beloved alma mater cannot make ends 
meet. Where is the money going? Indus- 
try salaries have not even come close to 
keeping pace, before inflation. Entry-level 
salaries — in constant dollars — have actu- 
ally decreased over the same period. 

In the Summer 1991 issue of the Journal 
I found an article that proudly trumpeted 
WPI's $450,000 landscaping budget. Even 
at the ludicrous current tuition rate, a 

Hitting the Ceiling 

To the Editor: 

The Spring 1992 issue was an excellent one. 
I particularly enjoyed your series "The Dis- 
coverers." But I was seriously jarred when 
I came across the term "ceiling wax" 
(page 5, column 2). 

I'll grant that sealing wax (once widely 
used to seal letters, batteries, jars and, 
possibly, vacuum systems) is not often 
seen these days. But how often do you 
see anyone waxing a ceiling? 

I hope there are a few literate engineers 
still around, and that I'm not the only one 
who noticed. 

Charles H. Chandler '84 
Lexington, Mass. 



(in millions 
of dollars) 

(in millions Change 

of dollars) (in percent) 

Endowment 38.2 51.3 34.3 

Tuition/Fees Revenue 12.4 18.3 47.6 

Total Revenues 27.3 32.7 19.7 

Instruction & Library 7.8 10.1 29.5 

Financial Aid 3.9 6.3 61.5 

Operations and 
Plant Maintenance 2.2 2.2 

"Constant dollars, Basis: 1978 

(Source: 1990-91 WPI Annual Report) 

50 percent cut in landscaping would pay 
for 10 full scholarships. I have been told 
the landscaping is necessary to attract 
students. I suggest the best way to in- 
crease enrollment is to reduce tuition. 

In times of recession, real-world organi- 
zations must carefully consider and priori- 
tize their spending. Everything must be 
evaluated for its contribution to the core 
business. If you are truly planning for 
future growth, you should first market 
your organization carefully. What could 
be a better marketing tool than a satisfied 
alumnus? I suspect alumni are responsible 
for far more enrollments than shrubs or 
stone monuments. 

Second, you should invest only in 
facilities and tools directly related to 
current production, as well as in research 
devoted to advancing your future busi- 
ness. I'm sure a renovated Alden Memorial 
will be beautiful, but how does it contrib- 
ute to engineering and science education? 
Alden is a fringe benefit, not a prerequisite. 

The third thing you should do is care- 
fully invest in areas that will produce 
revenue indefinitely. A large portion of 
WPI's income comes from alumni. Why 
not invest in programs that produce more 
alumni? How much income does Alden 
Memorial generate yearly? How much 
will we get from the new headstone on 
Institute Road? 

In my opinion, the priorities for spend- 
ing should be (1) student financial aid or 
tuition reduction, (2) faculty compensa- 
tion, (3) direct-impact facilities such as 

classrooms, laboratories and student 
housing, and (4) administrative expenses. 
All other items are optional, and should 
be paid for by alumni who think them 

I believe WPI is not being managed 
responsibly. I call on the administration 
to justify how it can spend millions of 
dollars each year on things like landscap- 
ing and marble facades when there are 
thousands of bright, creative kids in 
desperate need of scholarship aid. 

If there is not enough money to go 
around, I recommend administrative staff 
and salary cuts. That's what we are facing 
in industry today. When intelligent 
businesspeople are short on resources, 
they cut overhead, not production. If 
WPI's administrators cannot find a way to 
live on a budget that increases every 
year — even after inflation — they should 
resign in favor of others with the neces- 
sary competence. I might suggest that 
future hirings be made from industry, 
rather than academia. WPI could use a 
large dose of real-world expertise. 

If you agree, I suggest you contact the 
administration and let them know. Con- 
sider designating your contributions to 
WPI for financial aid only. If you disagree, 
contact them anyway. They need to know 
someone is keeping an eye on them. The 
time for fiscal responsibility at WPI has 
come, and it's going to be here for a good 
long while. 

Peter M. Schoonmaker '80 
Woburn, Mass. 



Making Cancer Killers Even Deadlier 

While the many forms of cancer 
that can attack the human body 
remain major killers, treat- 
ments that employ carefully administered 
doses of radiation or chemical agents have 
proven highly effective in destroying tumors 
and prolonging the lives of cancer victims. 
But the success of radiotherapy and chemo- 
therapy strongly depend upon the degree 
to which tumor cells are oxygenated, a con- 
dition that has proven difficult to either 
measure or control. 

With a three-year, $180,000 grant from 
the Biomedical Engineering Research Grants 
Program of The Whitaker Foundation of 
Mechanicsburg, Pa., Christopher H. Sotak, 
assistant professor of biomedical engineer- 
ing, is developing a new noninvasive tech- 
nique for measuring tumor oxygenation that 
should make cancer treatments more effec- 
tive. The method employs magnetic reso- 
nance (MR), a powerful diagnostic tool that 
combines a strong magnetic field and radio 
waves to produce highly detailed images of 
the body. 

Radiation and many types of chemo- 
therapy are most effective when tumor cells 
receive adequate levels of oxygen (a few 
chemical agents actually work best when 
oxygen levels are low). Radiotherapy works 
by removing electrons from the DNA of 
tumor cells. If molecular oxygen is present, 
it binds to the sites from which the elec- 
trons were removed, preventing the cells 
from either carrying on life-sustaining func- 
tions or reproducing. 

Unfortunately, the rapid growth of most 
tumors outpaces the ability of the body to 
supply them with oxygen. As a result, cancer 
cells that are not near blood vessels tend 
to be oxygen deprived, a condition known 



Above, Sotak in WPI's Magnetic Resonance Imaging Laboratory. Below, the 
magnetic resonance spectrum for a perfluorinated hydrocarbon. This spec- 
trum changes in response to changes in tissue oxygenation, making these 
compounds ideal noninvasive probes for this parameter, which can affect 
the success of cancer treatments. 

as hypoxia. To overcome this problem, 
radiotherapy is usually administered in a 
series of doses, with the first dose killing 
well-oxygenated cells that lie near blood 
vessels and subsequent doses attacking 
more distant layers of previously hypoxic 
(and hence radioresistant) tumor cells that 
frequently become reoxygenated after the 
death of the intervening cells. 

"The problem is," Sotak says, "tumors 
reoxygenate at different rates. The ideal 
time to administer another dose could be 
several hours later or several days later. 
We'd like to be able to monitor the time 
course of reoxygenation and determine 
the most efficacious time to administer 
subsequent doses." 

To increase the effectiveness of any 
one dose of radiation, physicians can use 
chemicals called adjuvants that prepare the 
tumor by increasing the oxygen flow to the 
hypoxic cells. But gauging the effectiveness 
of adjuvants in the laboratory has proven 
a difficult, laborious process and their 
effectiveness in actual practice is not well 
understood, Sotak says. 

Using the method he is developing in 
WPI's Magnetic Resonance Imaging Labora- 
tory at the Massachusetts Biotechnology 

Research Park in Worcester, Sotak says it 
should be possible to accurately monitor 
changes in tumor oxygenation after an adju- 
vant is administered and determine the opti- 
mal time after its injection to start radiation. 

Sotak's method makes use of chemicals 
called perfluorinated hydrocarbons, which, 
because they can dissolve up to 50 percent 
of their own weight in molecular oxygen, 
have been employed for many years as arti- 
ficial blood substitutes. When administered 
as emulsions in large doses, perfluorinated 
hydrocarbons will accumulate in the reticu- 
loendothelial system of the liver, spleen and 
bone marrow. But they are also captured by 
macrophages, cells that protect the body 
from infection and foreign particles. 

Because macrophages tend to congre- 
gate at the sites of tumors, Sotak in earlier 
research was able to use perfluorinated hy- 
drocarbons as contrast agents — chemicals 
that make tumors stand out more readily in 
MR images. But what makes them especially 
valuable in his current research is the fact 
that a property of the signal they emit in an 
MR scanner is directly proportional to the 
amount of oxygen in the tissue surrounding 
them. That makes them ideal noninvasive 
probes for measuring tumor oxygenation. 

Summer 1992 

In work already completed, Sotak and 
a team of graduate students that includes 
Paul S. Hees (who will receive his Ph.D. in 
biomedical engineering from WPI this sum- 
mer), Bernard J. Dardzinski, and Limin Li, 
a postdoctoral fellow in physics, have used 
perfluorinated hydrocarbons to measure 
oxygen levels in tumors and have moni- 
tored changes in tumor oxygenation follow- 
ing the administration of nicotinamide, an 
adjuvant for radiotherapy. 

"We've convinced ourselves that the 
method works and that we can measure 
physiologically relevant changes in oxygen 
tension as a result of administering these 
pharmaceuticals," Sotak says. The next 
steps will be to study additional adjuvants 
and then to begin looking at how oxygen- 
ation within tumors changes after radiation 
or chemotherapy are administered, he adds. 

The studies Sotak's research team has 
done to date have employed a technique 
called magnetic resonance spectroscopy, 
which measures the average oxygenation 
level for an entire tumor. Since oxygen 
levels can vary widely within the same 
tumor— a fact that may prove vital in plan- 
ning a course of radio- or chemotherapy— 
Sotak is also developing a method that will 
display a color-coded, two-dimensional map 
of tumor oxygenation throughout a tumor. 
This technique should prove useful in eval- 
uating spatial differences in the response 
of a tumor to treatment. 

The ultimate goal of the project, Sotak 
says, is to translate the new technique and 
the software for displaying the oxygen map 
from WPI's research machine to the larger 
MR scanners used in clinical practice. To 
help make this transition, Sotak will work 
with Dr. Thomas Griffin, director of clinical 
research in the oncology division of the 
University of Massachusetts Medical 
School, who serves as a consultant on the 
work funded by The Whitaker Foundation. 

Once in routine use, perfluorinated 
hydrocarbons should prove valuable in 
the evaluation of a host of other medical 
conditions — including heart disease and 
stroke — that are either caused by or result 
in changes in tissue oxygenation, Sotak 
says. "We believe this method will have 
a wide range of applications, and should 
open up new doors for clinical diagnosis 
and treatment." 

The Whitaker Foundation was estab- 
lished in 1976 by the late Uncas A. Whitaker, 
founder and chairman of AMP Incorporated, 
now the world's leading producer of electri- 
cal and electronic connecting devices. Bio- 
medical engineering has always been the 
principal focus of the foundation. 

laser protection 
In the Blink of an Eye 

I lying low above the Persian Gulf, 
a U.S. Navy pilot rolls his A-6 and 
descends toward an unidentified 
destroyer. As the plane levels off, the ship's 
crew switches on a laser tracking system 
and the beam catches the pilot squarely in 
the eye. Blinded and in pain, the airman 
loses control of his jet, which spirals into 
the gulf and explodes. 

While that scenario is fictional, U.S. 
military planners worry that as lasers come 
to be employed more and more in modern 
weapons systems, the potential for dis- 
abling eye injuries among military person- 
nel—whether accidental or caused by 
offensive laser devices — is growing apace. 
Of equal importance is the threat lasers 
pose to the delicate optical sensors often 
used in battlefield equipment. 

Spurred by these concerns, the Penta- 
gon has been funding efforts aimed at devel- 
oping new forms of laser eye protection. 
This new technology should also find appli- 
cations in civilian research laboratories, on 
the manufacturing floor, in medical facili- 
ties, and in other places where lasers are 
routinely used. 

As part of this program, William G. 
McGimpsey, assistant professor of chemis- 
try, and Stephen J. Weininger, professor of 
chemistry, are using a sophisticated laser 
technique to create chemical compounds 

that might be suitable for use in these new 
forms of laser eyewear. Over the past two 
years McGimpsey and Weininger have re- 
ceived nearly $200,000 in funding for their 
research from the U.S. Army Research, 
Development and Engineering Center in 
Natick, Mass. 

One of the goals of this work is to de- 
velop eye protection that overcomes the 
limitations of laser goggles now commonly 
worn to protect the eyes from exposure to 
laser beams. "Laboratory eye protectors 
use colored filters to block out the intense 
light produced by lasers," McGimpsey 
says. "Unfortunately, these goggles greatly 
reduce the amount of light that reaches 
the eye and may also prevent a pilot or 
soldier from seeing certain colors, with 
potentially dangerous results." 

In addition, McGimpsey says, conven- 
tional laser goggles can block only selected 
frequencies of light. Since many weapons 
systems now employ lasers that can be 
quickly tuned to any of hundreds of frequen- 
cies, the Pentagon wants to develop laser 
eyewear that can block a broad spectrum. 

"Ideally, these goggles should be clear 
in normal light," Weininger adds, "but 
when struck by the beam from any laser 
should darken enough to cut light trans- 
mission by a factor of about 10,000. Then, 
just as quickly, they should become clear 

Weininger, left, and McGimpsey in the Laser Flash Photolysis Laboratory. 
McGimpsey holds a sample of a compound being evaluated for its potential 
use in a new form of laser eye protection. 

WPI Journal 

again. This should all happen within a few 
trillionths of a second, so the person wear- 
ing the goggles won't even know anything 
has happened." 

Finding chemicals that will meet those 
stringent requirements is a daunting task, 
McGimpsey says. To test candidates, he 
and Weininger are using a technique called 
two-photon-induced photoelectron trans- 
fer. The technique takes advantage of the 
fact that the coherent light from a laser is 
far more intense than normal light from 
lamps or the sun and can induce chemical 
changes that will occur only upon laser 

Working in the Laser Flash Photolysis 
Laboratory in the basement of Goddard 
Hall, the researchers first expose a chemi- 


F = 630 nm 





% a 






10 us 

In this example, a laser flash excites a com- 
pound to an elevated energy state. Before it 
can return to ground state, a second flash 
bumps it to a higher energy state. 

cal sample to a brief pulse of laser light. 
Molecules in the sample absorb a photon 
from this burst and are excited to a higher 
energy state. Before the sample can return 
to its original ground state, it is hit with a 
second laser pulse, which elevates it to a 
still higher energy plateau. 

As the sample decays from this higher 
energy state to the ground state, it can un- 
dergo chemical changes that don't occur 
when the same chemical is allowed to de- 
cay from a lower energy state. While they 
are induced with two separate laser bursts 
in the lab, these two-photon reactions can 
also occur when a chemical absorbs two 
photons from a single laser exposure. Nor- 
mal light, on the other hand, is too weak to 
cause such two-photon reactions. 

The goal, McGimpsey and 
■ Weininger say, is to find chemi- 
i cals that remain clear at lower 
i energy states, but which be- 
• come opaque when bumped 
] to a higher energy state by 
j laser-induced two-photon reac- 
j tions. So far, the chemists have 
tested about a dozen candidate 
molecules. To determine which 
organic compounds to test, 
Weininger, whose specialty is 
organic chemical synthesis, 
begins with the qualities de- 
sired in the final product and 
then works backward on pa- 
per through the intermediate, 
light-induced chemical reac- 
tions to arrive at a promising 
starting point. 

The chemicals Weininger 


synthesizes are actually systems that in- 
clude electron donor and electron acceptor 
molecules. The transfer of electrons be- 
tween the chemicals in these systems allows 
them to quickly return to their clear ground 
states after they have been darkened by la- 
ser light. 

Because it is unlikely that any one 
chemical system will respond to all frequen- 
cies of light, McGimpsey and Weininger say 
the goggles that may ultimately result from 
their work will probably consist of multiple 
thin layers of polymer, each of which will 
respond to a different frequency or band of 
frequencies. As the work progresses, they 
hope to begin testing candidate chemical 
systems to see whether they can be suc- 
cessfully incorporated into clear polymers. 

McGimpsey, who has been working with 
two-photon reactions for several years, 
says the techniques he and Weininger are 
using in this project have many other appli- 
cations. For example, in photochemical 
machining, two intersecting lasers tuned 
to different frequencies can be used to 
create highly complex molds by causing 
two-photon reactions in specific areas of 
a polymer. The reactions degrade the 
affected molecules, which can then be 
easily removed, leaving behind precisely 
hollowed-out spaces. 

The Laser Flash Photolysis Laboratory 
includes a pulsed Nd/YAG laser, a tunable 
flashlamp-pumped dye laser and an Exci- 
mer laser, all integrated and controlled by 
a computer system. The three-year-old lab 
has been equipped, in part, through grants 
from the U.S. Army and the Petroleum 
Research Fund. 

Genetics and the Great Shrimp Deficit 

What type of seafood is favored 
over all others by people in 
every corner of the United 
States? If you guess shrimp, you're right. 
Each year Americans gobble up millions 
of pounds of these squiggling marine crus- 
taceans. To satisfy that gargantuan appe- 
tite, huge quantities of shrimp must be 
imported each year from other countries. 
In fact, only 30 percent of the shrimp Ameri- 
cans consume each year is caught or grown 
in the U.S. 

In part, this need for foreign shrimp — 
a need that results in an annual trade defi- 
cit exceeding $2 billion — is due to the fact 

that the species of shrimp Americans 
favor— Penaeus vannamei — grows only in 
warm water and can, therefore, be harvest- 
ed only in the southernmost states. This re- 
quirement for warm waters has also limited 
shrimp farming in the U.S. to a few locations 
in Florida, Hawaii, South Carolina and Texas, 
with the result that only a tiny fraction of 
the annual U.S. shrimp consumption — about 
one hundredth of a percent — comes from 
these farms. 

To find a way to reduce the annual 
shrimp trade deficit, the Gulf Coast Research 
Laboratory Consortium, a group of eight uni- 
versity and independent laboratories, has 

launched the U.S. Marine Shrimp Farming 
Program. The goal of the consortium, which 
includes the School of Veterinary Medicine 
at Tufts University in Grafton, Mass., is to 
improve the productivity of U.S. shrimp 
farms by developing high-quality, disease- 
resistant strains of P. vannamei in much the 
same way that agricultural experts have 
developed robust strains of poultry and 
livestock over the years. Funding for the 
program is being provided by the U.S. 
Department of Agriculture. 

One thrust of the program is to find 
strains of shrimp that can resist viral dis- 
eases that have already wiped out shrimp 

Summer 1992 

Buckholt, left, and Bagshaw examine a Southern blot from the shrimp 
Penaeus vannamei (the blot is shown below). The dark bands on the blot 
correspond to specific fragments of DNA. The technique is used to look for 
genetic markers in the shrimp genome. 

production in Taiwan and now threaten not 
only the farming industry in Southeast Asia 
and Central America — the largest such 
operations in the world — but wild shrimp 
populations, as well. In addition, the consor- 
tium hopes to gain a better understanding 
of the genetics of P. vannamei in hopes of 
finding genetic markers linked to qualities 
that enhance shrimp growth and hardiness. 

Under subcontract to Tufts University, 
Joseph C. Bagshaw, professor and head of 
the Biology and Biotechnology Department, 
is tackling the latter task. Bagshaw, who has 
spent the last two decades studying the ge- 
netics of the genus Artemia, which includes 
brine shrimp — small crustaceans often used 
as food in aquaculture and in home aquari- 
ums — is one of the world's foremost experts 
on crustacean molecular genetics. 

"I have a freezer full of Artemia clones 
that we can use as genetic probes in this 

work," Bagshaw says. "I also know how to 
work with these genes, and I know some 
tricks we can use to get these answers 
faster." Those tricks will come in handy as 
Bagshaw and postdoctoral fellow Michael 
A. Buckholt, who recently completed his 
Ph.D. in biology at WP1, attempt to locate 
suitable markers in the shrimp genome, 
a process Bagshaw likens to finding a 
needle in a haystack. 

"We'll be using the same techniques 
geneticists use to find the genes for hu- 
man diseases," Bagshaw says. "But unlike 
those searches, where the basic biochemi- 
cal defect is often understood, we have no 
idea what makes shrimp grow faster or 
larger. We'll have to do it pretty much by 
hunt and peck." 

In his research on Artemia, Bagshaw 
became the first geneticist to find repeat- 
ed sequences — segments of DNA that are 
repeated over and over 
again — in the genome of a 
crustacean, and he says 
he and Buckholt will most 
likely find similar sequences 
in P. vannamei. If so, these 
sequences might be employ- 
ed as markers, Bagshaw says. 

A marker is a gene that 
lies near the gene for a dis- 
ease or other characteristic 
one is studying. Because of 
their proximity, the genes 
are said to be linked because 
they are rarely separated 
when segments of DNA 

change places or cross over during cell 
division. The researchers will find out 
how well the repeated sequences work 
as markers by seeing if they are linked to 
genes that give shrimp the ability to grow 
even faster. 

"We'll have to do some honest-to- 
goodness shrimp genetics," he notes. 
"We'll breed the shrimp and test them for 
the presence of the markers, and then see 
which of the markers always shows up in 
the fast-growing individuals. It's a lot of 
empirical work." 

Once enhanced growth characteristics 
can be linked to specific markers, Bagshaw 
says, the chromosomal regions adjacent 
to these markers can be examined in more 
detail in an effort to characterize the spe- 
cific genes that impart those favorable 

Bagshaw will also search the shrimp 
genome for a class of genes found in most 
organisms that seem to be related to 
growth. Research has shown that small 
segments of these so-called homeotic 
genes are almost identical from one spe- 
cies to another. Using a technique called 
the polymerase chain reaction, Bagshaw 
and Buckholt will zero in on these seg- 
ments and then clone the regions around 
them many times over to get enough DNA 
to study. 

"The genes in these regions should be 
associated with shrimp growth," Bagshaw 
says, "though we won't know exactly how. 
But they are obviously going to be desir- 
able markers for favorable growth charac- 

Armed with the knowledge that will 
come out of Bagshaw's lab, shrimp farmers 
should be able to develop new strains that 
will enable them to grow more shrimp and 
to get them to market faster (the process 
now takes about six months). Using similar 
techniques, other researchers are hoping 
to find genes that will give the shrimp 
a selective resistance to disease. "This 
research should give the U.S. a virtual 
monopoly on the production of superior 
strains of high-quality, specific-pathogen- 
free shrimp," Bagshaw says. 

But his research could be taken one 
step further, he adds. "1 would like to think 
about the prospect of literally genetically 
engineering shrimp the way we now engi- 
neer other domestic animals," he says. "We 
could produce shrimp that can grow even 
faster — maybe even shrimp that can grow 
well in the colder waters of the rest of the 
United States. 1 think this will be doable 

— Michael Dorsey 

WPI Journal 


Designing Better Ups and Downs 

Major Qualifying Project (MQP) by Heather M. Harrington '92, 
Peter A. Manor '93 and Sean P. Moore '92. 

Advisor: Frank D. DeFalco, professor of civil engineering. 

It's been said that what goes up must 
come down. That's especially true of 
roller coasters, where the secret of a 
thrilling ride is not only how high up you 
go, but how fast you come down — and, of 
course, the lifts, loops, banks and curls in 

With guidelines, specifications and de- 
signs provided by two roller coaster com- 
panies, and with the benefit of their own 
research into roller coasters at Busch Gar- 
dens, Disney World, and other theme and 
amusement parks, civil engineering majors 
Harrington, Manor and Moore used com- 
puter-modeled structural analysis and de- 
sign techniques to plan their own steel 
roller coaster. Theirs was one of three 
projects in civil engineering to receive 
WPI's 1992 Provost's MQP Award. 

In their report, the students explain 
that it is not speed alone (up to 60 miles 
per hour in some rides) that gives roller 
coaster riders that characteristic rush of 
adrenaline. Through strategic twists and 
turns, the truly great rides keep passen- 
gers in suspense by preventing them from 
seeing too far ahead. This limited line of 
sight provokes screams of terror and de- 
light by creating the illusion that the cart is 
about to collide with a steel girder or ca- 
reen off the track, until — at the last mo- 
ment — it miraculously veers off onto a 
safer path. 

To design their roller coaster, the stu- 
dents used ISDS/STAAD, a structural engi- 
neering program. In completing the design, 
they considered the geometry of the track, 
the effects of varying the heights of the 
peaks, the gravitational forces that would 
be experienced by the carts and their pas- 
sengers, and the various loads on the 
structure — including those created by 
wind and ice. They also had to think about 
the thrill the design would provide riders 
and about the aesthetics of the finished 

"Roller coasters have to appeal to the 
eye of potential riders," they say. "The best 
ones have some sort of geometry that will 
make spectators want to experience the 
ride — things like vertical loops and cork- 

screw-like sections." 

At 283 feet long, 106 feet 
wide and 85 feet high, the 
students' roller coaster 
would fit on an average foot- 
ball field. It would begin 
with a lift and then a drop of 
more than 73 feet, which 
would provide the momen- 
tum needed to propel the 
cart through the remainder 
of the 1,202 feet of track. 
Traveling at an average 
speed of 25 miles per hour and hitting a top 
speed of just over 45 miles per hour, riders 
would experience one vertical and one hori- 
zontal loop before reaching the end. 

"Civil engineers most often deal with 
project management, water works, the envi- 
ronment, roads, parks, subdivisions and 
bridges," the students say. "Structural engi- 
neering is one aspect of civil engineering 
that can provide solutions to a host of other 

Standing, from left, Manor, Moore and Harrington. 
Randall W. Levere '93, seated, created the sim- 
ulation seen on the screen. 

construction-related projects. One less 
obvious challenge is the roller coaster." 

For the student team, the roller coaster 
project was a chance to use modern tech- 
nology and sound design principles to 
break new ground. In their words, "this 
project provided the opportunity to use a 
civil engineering education to engineer a 
solution to a problem that does not have 
a textbook answer." 

Flying by the Power of the Sun 

MQP by Agnes Chan '92, Kwok-Hung Cheung '92, Kristin Conley '92, Paul Crivelli '92, 
Christian T. Javorski '92, Nancy P. Torrey '92, Michael Traver '92, Freddy Mathias 
Pranajaya '94, Jeffrey D. Rembold '93 and Sujay R. Setlur '93. 

Project Director: Andreas N. Alexandrou, associate professor of mechanical engineering. 

Advisors: William W. Durgin, professor of mechanical engineering; 

Ralph F. Cohn and David J. Olinger, assistant professors of mechanical engineering. 

Graduate Assistant: Charlotte Cody '90 (master's candidate). 


nvironmental problems such as the 
depletion of the ozone layer are spur- 
I ring scientists and engineers to con- 
sider solar power as an ecologically sensi- 
tive alternative to fossil fuels to power 
everything from automobiles to aircraft. 
The students, working in four teams, 
designed and constructed the Multi- 
purpose, Remotely Piloted Vehicle 
(MPRPV), a prototype of a design that 
could be used in surveillance and recon- 
naissance missions. The ultimate goal of 
the plane, which the students named 
"Surya," the Hindu word for sun, was to 

demonstrate the effectiveness of solar 
power as an alternative energy source. 

In June the design team presented a 
paper on the MPRPV at the Eighth Annual 
Summer Conference of NASA/USRA Uni- 
versity Advanced Engineering Design 
Program for Space and Aeronautics. 

The University Advanced Engineering 
Design Program brings together NASA engi- 
neers and students and faculty from engi- 
neering schools around the nation by inte- 
grating current and future NASA engineer- 
ing design topics into the university cur- 
riculum. Selected universities, including 

Summer 1992 

Saving Time and Money 

MQP by Michael C. Helm '92 and 
Elizabeth A. Plessis '92. 

Advisor: Enio £ Velazco, 
assistant professor of management. 

Sponsor Digital Equipment Corp. 

Digital Equipment Corp.'s Westmin- 
ster, Mass., facility is the company's 
primary finished goods distribution 
and consolidation center in the U.S. Be- 
cause of the tremendous volume of trans- 
actions processed at this distribution cen- 
ter, Digital has been working for several 
years to implement time- and money-sav- 
ing improvements through its own total 
quality management program. 

To improve competitiveness, the com- 
pany must identify customer requirements 
and ensure that Digital personnel and pro- 
cesses meet those needs. In addition to 
producing high-quality, reliable products, 
Digital has recognized that customers' 
expectations must include accurate billing 
and fast, safe deliveries. 

To address these issues, Digital has 
developed a methodology called AAT to 
help employees decrease hidden waste 
in manufacturing and administrative pro- 
cesses. Digital requires that problems be 
addressed and solutions conform to 

ISO 9000, a certification that any company 
planning to do business with the European 
Economic Community must obtain. 

Helm and Plessis were the first to intro- 
duce AAT to employees at the Westminster 
warehouse. At the request of the sponsor, 
they focused on analyzing the receiving 
and storage processes for incoming mate- 
rial. In the course of their research they 
interviewed engineers and other Digital 
employees working in the process. They 
also examined the processes through 
observation and hands-on experience. 

The students separated each step in 
each process, designed flow charts, com- 
piled a list of forms, and identified poten- 
tial areas for improvement within each 
process — such as idle time, double han- 
dling of goods, and bottlenecks. They de- 
termined that delays in data entry kept 
workers idle for short periods of time, and 
that delays in checking materials resulted 
in bottlenecks in quality control. 

Their recommended improvements 
included moving data entry (currently 
housed in separate quarters) to the ware- 
house floor to eliminate lag time and enable 
data-entry employees to assume more re- 
sponsibilities. They suggested eliminating 
duplicate forms, storing software in a single 
area, and, ultimately, converting to bar 

From left are Helm, Velazco 
and Plessis. 

codes to identify all items in the warehouse. 

"The work these students did at Digital 
was of great value to the company," says 
Velazco. "Digital was preparing to be au- 
dited for ISO 9000 certification at the time 
the students were working on their MQP in 
Westminster, and their findings assisted 
the company in improving this facility." 

"Digital has a strong policy of involve- 
ment with local universities," says Ken 
Kaminsky, a logistics analyst at Digital. "By 
providing students an opportunity to gain 
real business experience, we benefit from 
their knowledge and application of the 
latest technologies. This project, one of 
four our facility sponsored this year, gave 
us a fresh look at the work we do. It has 
resulted in real process improvement." 

From left with the Multi-Purpose Remotely Piloted Vehicle (MPRPV) are Chan, 
Conley, Traver, Javorski, Torrey, Crivelli and Cheung. 

WPI, are aligned with various NASA cen- 
ters. Students choose design projects in 
consultation with NASA, which provides 
technical expertise and guidance for the 
duration of the project. The projects must 

culminate in an oral presentation at the 
annual conference. 

The WPI teams designed the MPRPV to 
perform a sustained figure-8 flight pattern 
at an altitude of 50 meters using only solar 

power. Four test flights at WPI's Alumni 
Field were videotaped and shown during 
the NASA presentation. 

The plane was constructed by hand 
using composite materials, especially a 
carbon-fiber-epoxy laminate selected for 
its strength and light weight. The design 
resembles a glider and measures about 
2.5 meters from tip to tail. Its wings spans 
4.5 meters and support 120 solar cells 
donated by Mobil Solar Corp. The tail is 
constructed of balsa wood and plastic 
foam; its supporting spar is made of 
carbon-fiber composite materials. 

"The test flights demonstrated the 
aircraft's stability and controllability," 
Durgin says. "During March the solar angle 
became sufficient to provide energy for 
the maintenance of level flight with a slight 
reserve for climbing. This thin power mar- 
gin was the crux of the design effort. The 
trade-off between solar cell area and air- 
craft weight provided students a highly 
challenging design constraint." 

— Bonnie Gelbwasser 


The Soul of a New Center 

With the creation of the new Center for High-Performance Computing, 
WPI has become a major player in the hottest quest in computing — the 
race to develop a new generation of massively parallel high-performance 
computers that will revolutionize the practice of science and engineering. 

By Diane Benison 


kg or computer scientists, they are the equivalent ol 
I the Holy Grail. They call them the three T's: tips, 
1 terabytes and terabps (pronounced terabips). In 
laymen's terms, they translate to computation speeds in 
the range of trillions of instructions per second, memories 
capable of storing trillions of bytes of information, and 
communications systems that can send information over 
an optical fiber at the rate of trillions of bits per second. 

In each case, the goals are to increase the power of 
today's best supercomputing systems by a factor of a 
few hundred to a few thousand. Around the world, a 
small number of corporate, university and government 
laboratories are pursuing this dream, hoping to be the 
first to make machines and systems that meet the 
challenge of the three T's. 

In the United States, these efforts have been bolstered 
by a major commitment from the federal government, 
which sees the tera race as a way to help America capture 
the lead in what may well be one of the most important 
technological developments of the 1990s. The High- 
Performance Computing and Communications Initiative 
(HPCCI), passed by Congress and signed into law by 
President Bush late last year, will allocate to eight federal 
agencies — including the Pentagon's Defense Advanced 
Research Projects Agency (DARPA)— $3 billion over the 
next five years to fund research and development work 
in the three Ts. 

One of the overriding goals of the push toward tips, 
terabytes and terabps is the creation of computing tech- 
nology with which scientists can attack the "grand chal- 
lenges." A decade ago, Nobel Laureate Kenneth Wilson 
drew up a list of 10 scientific problems whose solutions 
will require computing power far in excess of what is now 
available. In describing the scope of the HPCCI last year, 
the president's science advisor, D. Allan Bromley, restated 
these challenges. They include such massive problems as 
deciphering the human genome, predicting global climate 
change a century in advance, and taming nuclear fusion. 

In a far-reaching move last October, WPI entered the 
tera race (and in the process, took a giant step into the 
national spotlight) when its Board of Trustees approved 
the creation of the Center for High-Performance Com- 
puting (CHPC). With the birth of the center, WPI was 
transformed overnight from a minor player in high- 

performance computing to a major player, notes WPI 
President Jon C. Strauss. 

"Launching CHPC was an opportunity for WPI to play 
a major role in the development of a field of significant 
importance — not just to this institution, but to our soci- 
ety," Strauss says. "High-performance computation will 
be one of the keys to improving all aspects of American 
technology for the next decade and beyond." 

Strauss took part in a press conference at the Massa- 
chusetts State House on March 4, 1992, during which 
CHPC was formally announced (the center had been 
placed in operation earlier in the year). At that press 
conference, Massachusetts governor William F. Weld said, 
"The Center for High-Performance Computing is another 
example of how we've embraced technology transfer in 
Massachusetts. As the largest center of its kind on the 
East Coast, it bolsters our national leadership in this im- 
portant initiative and puts us in a strong position to reap 
the best developments from federal research." 

The center is the "jewel of the East Coast in the tech- 
nology transfer movement," added Steven Tocco, state 
economic affairs secretary. "It's a linchpin in our efforts 
to make sure we don't get devastated by the downturn 
[in defense spending in Massachusetts]." 

CHPC was the brainchild of David Cyganski 75, 
professor of electrical engineering at WPI, and Thomas 
A. Probert, the center's founding director. The two began 
talking about the idea last June when Probert, who was 
then director of research for Encore Computer Corp., 
learned that Encore, having acquired the computer divi- 
sion of Gould Computer Systems from Nippon Mining Co. 
of Japan., was planning to move its research division 
from Marlboro, Mass., to its headquarters in Ft. Lauder- 
dale, Fla. Probert says the company's high-performance 
computer research group was reluctant to go. When 
Encore and the researchers could not reach an agreeable 
solution, Probert and Cyganski proposed an alliance 
between the Encore group and WPI. 

Prior to Encore's announcement, the company had 
developed a close working relationship with the Institute, 
primarily through the efforts of Cyganski and Probert. For 
example, Cyganski, who in addition to his faculty position 
was then vice provost and vice president for information 
systems and services, was involved in WPI's decision to 


Summer 1992 

Holding a prototype of one of the products of the Center for High-Perf ormance Computing, director 
Thomas A. Probert, center, poses with his staff in the computer room of CHPC headquarters in 
Marlboro, Mass. The center is developing a new computer system that will process trillions of 
instructions per second. 


purchase three of Encore's multiprocessing computers 
and communications equipment used throughout the 
Institute's campuswide computer network. In addition, he 
and Probert, as liaisons for their respective institutions, 
had begun to forge links between Encore's research team 
and researchers at the university. 

In their conversations, Cyganski and Probert outlined 
an arrangement that would enable the Encore research 
staff to continue its long-standing relationship with 
DARPA, while at the same time opening the door to fur- 
ther collaborations in high-performance computing be- 
tween Probert's group and faculty researchers, graduate 
students and undergraduate project teams at WPI. The re- 
sult of this brainstorming was CHPC, the Institute's new- 
est multidisciplinary research center. 

My idea was that building a functional, self-supporting, 
academically important, multidisciplinary research cen- 
ter can be a hell of an expensive and risky proposition," 
Cyganski says. "I thought this would be an interesting test 
of an altogether different approach — and it has worked. It 
is self-supporting. And it is contributing to our academic 
excellence in a variety of ways." 

When the proposal to acquire the Encore research 
group was announced on campus, it received the quali- 
fied endorsement of the faculty. (Concerned about 
the financial risks the center might pose, the faculty 

requested that those risks be covered from the endow- 
ment and not the operating budget.) But at their meeting 
last fall, the Board of Trustees decided the potential ben- 
efits of the center (including increased recognition for the 
Institute, the enhancement of WPI's research activity, and 
the boost the center might offer to the recruitment of new 
faculty members and students) outweighed the risks, and 
they approved the center unanimously. 

Since CHPC has been set up as a cost center, it will 
derive no operating funds from the university; instead it 
will be supported entirely by federal and industrial mon- 
ies. Still, Strauss acknowledges that some of the initial 
concern about CHPC will likely linger — on and off cam- 
pus — until the center acquires new federal contracts and 
until an anticipated growth in nongovernment funding 
begins to occur. 

Funding, in fact, was one of the key concerns as the 
center was being planned. While he says he was confident 
DARPA would agree to transfer some of its research mon- 
ies from Encore to WPI, Probert was relieved last Novem- 
ber when the agency announced it was awarding CHPC a 
$10.6 million contract to develop new high-performance 
computing technology for the Army and the Navy (see 
related story, page 15). 

The center has already completed a contract from the 
Open Software Foundation to develop a distributed file 

WPI Journal 


David Cyganski, left, and Frederick W. Wheeler '90, who recently received a master's degree in electrical engineering, 
work on a problem in image recognition. Understanding the benefits that could accrue to WPI from the center, Cyganski 
helped lay the groundwork for CHPC and became its major advocate on campus. 

server for its Mach operating system. The 
contract is part of a larger project to de- 
velop a real-time version of the operating 
system for parallel processing computers. 
In addition, the center will be seeking funds 
from other government agencies, including 
the National Science Foundation and the 
departments of Commerce and Energy. 

Strauss says WPI would not have re- 
ceived the DARPA funding without the 
Encore group, but Probert credits the com- 
bination of his group's previous work with 
DARPA and the university's unique educa- 
tional program for securing that first con- 
tract. Prior to receiving the grant, he notes, 
Cyganski gave a briefing on the WPI Plan, the 
Institute's project-based undergraduate cur- 
riculum, to DARPA officials, who seemed in- 
trigued by this innovative educational model. 

When WPI created CHPC, it hired as 
regular, full-time employees the 25 profes- 
sionals and five support staff members who 

constituted the Encore research team. The 
university decided to locate these new em- 
ployees in Marlboro, about 14 miles to the 
east of Worcester, because of a lack of ad- 
equate space on campus and because most 
of the CHPC staff live between Marlboro and 

Its location and the makeup of its staff 
(predominantly full-time professionals, 
rather than faculty members and graduate 
students) are not the only characteristics 
that distinguish CHPC from WPl's other 
multidisciplinary research centers; the cen- 
ter will also operate according to a different 
model. Probert says CHPC is committed to 
taking the knowledge and technology it de- 
velops in the course of its work and trans- 
ferring it rapidly into commercial use. 

"Our purpose is to transfer technology," 
he says firmly when asked to define his 
vision of the new center. Speaking with the 
animation of a man with a mission, he says 

he sees CHPC as a change agent, transfer- 
ring technology out of the lab, out of the 
classroom, out of the world of academic 
publication, and into prototypes for prod- 
ucts that will then be taken to market and 
supported by industry. 

Probert, who became familiar with this 
process as a principal scientist at MITRE 
Corp., as a consultant to the deputy 
undersecretary of defense for research and 
engineering, and as a founding director of 
the Computer and Software Engineering 
Division of the Institute for Defense Analy- 
sis, says it currently takes far too long for 
technological research and development 
to make its way into commercial use. 

"I spent 10 years in the Department of 
Defense working with 'Beltway bandits' and 
aerospace contractors," he notes. "I saw 
some pretty neat stuff being invented and 
developed within university and research 
labs, and then saw it sit on the shelf because 


Summer 1992 

it was too advanced, because there was no 
market for it at the time, or because it was 
just thrown over the transom for the devel- 
opment guys to do something with. The 
development guys would say, 'We don't 
understand this; it wasn't invented here.' 
Then they'd go and reinvent the wheel. 

"I did a series of studies at DOD looking 
at how technology is moved from R&D and 
into industrial practice. In the U.S. it can 
take 15 years from the time something is 
first published to the time 40 percent of it 
shows up adopted in industry. It's true 
across disciplines. And it's largely a people 
problem." Probert says the same process 
takes about eight years in Japan, a target 
he'd like to aim for at CHPC. 

Part of the problem, Probert says, is a 
difference in the way the two nations view 
base technologies. Japanese manufacturers, 
he says, regard base technologies like new 
multiprocessing architectures as sharable; 
only the specific products that grow out of 
those technologies are jealously guarded. In 
America, antitrust laws, regulations and cor- 
porate suspiciousness make sharing base 
technologies difficult. Therefore, competing 
companies must each go through the time- 
consuming and costly process of inventing 
these technologies on their own. 

Probert says the CHPC model, which 
calls for getting industry directly involved in 
the center, is designed to overcome some of 
these obstacles to technology transfer. Indi- 
viduals and corporations can join CHPC in 
a number of ways (see box), each of which 
carries with it a different level of financial 
and personal commitment and a different 
set of benefits. 

The highest level of involvement is spon- 
sorship, which corporations can earn with 
an annual fee of $48,000. The fee entitles 
sponsoring companies to bring their own 
technology problems to the center for con- 
sulting help. It also enables them to set up 
bridge programs to transfer technology 
prototypes developed at CHPC into early 
versions of actual products — called beta ver- 
sions — that can then be tested in the field. 

Not unlike the Japanese model, the 
center's base technology — much of it devel- 
oped with the support of government agen- 
cies that want to see this new technology 
put to widespread use — will be available 
to all sponsors, while the details of specific 
bridge contracts will be carefully guarded. 

Money alone, however, will not get a 
company into a bridge program. Bridge par- 
ticipants must send two high-level employ- 
ees to work with the CHPC staff as the tech- 
nology makes its way from research lab to 
test site. Probert says he sees this as critical 
to the success of the transfer process. 

Making the bridge program even more 

WPI President Jon C. Strauss, center, speaks to reporters at a State House 
press conference held earlier this year to announce the formation of CHPC. 
Massachusetts Governor William F. Weld, left, and CHPC director Thomas A. 
Probert look on. 

attractive is the fact that CHPC will charge no 
licensing fees for the technology it develops 
under government contracts. Sponsors will 
be able to make use of the technology at no 
charge, with the proviso that they pay royal- 
ties to the center on any product that results 
from it. But it is the collaboration between 
co-located employees and CHPC staff that 
will truly be the key to the successful trans- 
fer of technology, Probert notes. 

"Technology does not move through dia- 
grams and patents, through formulas or 
specifications, through literature, or even 
through prototypes," he says. "Technology 
moves through people. So you put people 
together and they develop credibility with 
each other, and then they actively transfer 
the technology. 

"We're going to show them how to take 
the things we know how to do and translate 
them into products. Then they'll go away and 
build those products. We may build them the 
beta versions, but they'll build the final prod- 
ucts — and they'll sell and support them. But 
this is the magic: they won't walk away with 
just a thing; they'll have an understanding 
that will allow them to modify the technology, 
to further it, and to extend it to meet their 
particular product dimension." 

In attracting potential sponsors, Probert 
says the experience of his research and devel- 
opment team has been a plus. That experi- 
ence includes the successful development of 
a number of hardware and software products 
for Encore, including a version of Mach for 
Encore's parallel processing computers; 
the first parallel implementation of Ada, the 
programming language used by the defense 
department; and a small-scale version of 

GigaMax, an early attempt at a massively 
parallel computer. 

That experience can save sponsors from 
making costly mistakes, as one company 
(now a sponsor) found out when it visited 
the center. "They were trying to build an ag- 
gressively packaged processing module and 
put it on a board," Probert says. "We said, 
'Don't do that. We tried it and found that the 
board will delaminate if you use that bond- 
ing technology.' They immediately saved 
$850,000 by moving the project in a different 

Because building technology bridges is 
as much a process of education as it is of 
research and development, Probert says 
it was a natural move to associate his re- 
search group with a university. Strauss 
says he agrees, adding that the goal of the 
center — finding real-world applications for 
leading-edge research — is a particularly 
good fit with WPI's "Two Towers" tradition 
of combining the academic and the practical 
(a philosophy captured in the Institute's 
motto, "Lehr und Kunst," which is usually 
translated as learning and the skilled arts). 

Strauss says he is as enthusiastic about 
CHPC as Probert, but for different reasons. 
While Probert is excited about the possibil- 
ity of changing the way and the speed with 
which industry incorporates new computing 
technology, Strauss sees a strong relation- 
ship developing between CHPC's research 
directions and the interests of WPI's Com- 
puter Science and Electrical and Computer 
Engineering departments. 

"I hope some of our regular faculty mem- 
bers will become engaged — either as con- 
sultants or as staff — in some of the ongoing 

WPI Journal 


Building Bridges: 

How to Get Involved in CHPC 

One of the primary goals of the 
Center for High-Performance 
Computing, according to its founder, 
Thomas A. Probert, is getting new develop- 
ments in computer technology incorporated 
into actual products as quickly as possible. 
To meet that goal, the center has invited in- 
dividuals and American high-technology 
companies to become directly involved in 
the center. 

Currently, CHPC offers four levels of in- 
volvement, each of which provides different 
advantages, and each of which has a differ- 
ent cost associated with it. Here is a quick 
look at how individuals and companies can 
join the technology transfer process: 

Membership: This is intended for indi- 
viduals. It is the least expensive level and 
entitles one to receive a periodic newsletter 
from the center that reviews its research 

and technology developments. Members 
may also attend an annual symposium on 
high-performance computing sponsored 
by the center. 

Cost: $350 per year 

Associate: This level is aimed at compa- 
nies. In addition to the benefits of member- 
ship, it offers access to the center's in-depth 
analysis and technical reports. The reports 
focus on specific topics and contain infor- 
mation on what the CHPC R&D team has 
found — through its own experience and its 
industry contacts— to actually work. 

Cost: $9,500 per year 

Sponsorship: This level is also aimed at 
companies. It includes the benefits of the 
associate level, plus consulting by the cen- 
ter staff to address technology issues on a 
time-and-materials basis. 

Cost: $48,000 per year 

Technology Transfer Programs: 

These are sponsor-specific bridge programs 
aimed at getting core technology incorpo- 
rated quickly into a sponsor's products. 

Cost: Negotiated individually on 
basis of scope of project 

Currently, the emphasis is on signing up 
sponsors and developing technology trans- 
fer programs. By early summer, CHPC had 
four sponsors: Encore Computer Corp., Mer- 
cury Computer Systems Co., Data General 
Corp. and the Open Software Foundation 
(OSF). Some of these members have also 
provided the center with equipment. For 
example, Data General has leased to CHPC 
$750,000 worth of its new Aviion computers 
at a substantial discount. In return, the cen- 
ter will develop a version of the OSF Mach 
operating system to run on the Aviion. 

Probert says he expects the center to 
have 20 sponsors by the end of its first full 
year of operation. Long-term plans call for 
the center to sign an unlimited number of 
members, 200 associates and 75 sponsors. 
He says he also expects that the center will 
ultimately be able to handle about 10 bridge 
contracts at any one time. To date, two 
bridge contracts have been completed and 
a third is anticipated. 

CHPC work, be it hardware or software de- 
velopment," he says. "I would expect that 
some of our graduate students would be 
supported as research assistants through 
CHPC and that more and more of our under- 
graduates would do their Major Qualifying 
Projects as part of the CHPC's work. 

"In addition, I would expect that we will 
draw more and more on the CHPC profes- 
sional staff to serve as adjunct faculty mem- 
bers, teaching courses and possibly some 
special professional seminars under the 
auspices of WPI. Several staff members are 
Ph.D.-trained and fully qualified to accept 
faculty appointments." 

One of those is Probert, who earned his 
master's and doctoral degrees in computer 
and information science at the University of 
Massachusetts after completing graduate 
work in biology at Northeastern University. 
In fact, he served as an adjunct professor at 
WPI in the 1970s and says he may be back in 
the classroom early next year. 

Cyganski says Strauss' hopes are already 
being realized. "We now have a constant 
pump of high-technology information into 
our educational program," he notes. "We 
have members of the center's staff giving 
lectures and co-teaching courses. We have 
graduate students completing theses work- 
ing hand-in-hand with WPI faculty and CHPC 

staff. We have several proposals for further 
academic research that have been co-auth- 
ored by researchers from the Institute and 
the center. I can't believe how much has 
happened in just a few months." 

Strauss says he sees other benefits ac- 
cruing to WPI from the creation and success 
of CHPC. In particular, he says the center's 
DARPA funding and its ability to attract fed- 
eral and industrial sponsors for itself and 
for other WPI programs will enhance WPI's 
own reputation and credibility among these 
funding sources. 

"I was a strong proponent of establishing 
this operation," he says. "But I'm more ex- 
posed on this than I am on most projects, 
because generally in my role as facilitator, 
I'm promoting an existing faculty member 
who is taking on or developing a new enter- 
prise. In this instance, we brought in a tailor- 
made enterprise and assumed more risk 
than the majority of our faculty was com- 
fortable with. We could not have done 
that without the strong support of Dave 
Cyganski and others who have signifi- 
cant credibility — well earned and well 
deserved — with their faculty colleagues." 

Strauss says he hopes alumni and the 
rest of the WPI community will share his 
vision. "This is an exciting venture that has 
excellent promise of success — success that 

will be to the benefit of WPI on both the aca- 
demic and the recognition fronts," he says. 
"I'd like our folks to be excited about the 
possibility of making a difference in an im- 
portant area. The grand challenges of com- 
putation are all means to an end. The end, of 
course, is the computational ability that will 
enable us to do better science and to learn 
more about our world." 

Probert echoes Strauss' hopes. "I want to 
be in the situation of MIT's Draper Labs," he 
says. "Draper turns down hundreds of mil- 
lions of dollars of research work and con- 
tract work every year. They do that based 
on the fact that they're full up; they can't 
take any more. 

"But there's not a single military radar 
project in the country that doesn't go 
through Draper Labs. Draper is the place 
to go to understand radar. You cannot get 
a project funded, and it will be questioned 
in Congress and in the military, unless you 
have a Draper guy look at it. That gives you 
an idea of their reputation. We want that 
reputation for CHPC." 

A former newspaper editor, Diane Benison 
is now a free-lance writer and editor who 
also teaches journalism in Clark University's 
College of Professional and Continuing 


Summer 1992 

Divide and Conquer 

The secret to building computers that 
can handle trillions of instructions per 
second lies in splitting problems into 
pieces and solving them simulta- 
neously on hundreds— or even hun- 
dreds of thousands — of individual 
processors. Here's an introduction to 
the brave new world of high-perfor- 
mance computing. 

By Michael Dorsey 

In 1959 WPI purchased one of its first 
digital computers, an IBM 610 Autopoint. 
Running at peak speed the machine 
could execute a few thousand instructions 
each second. Over the next few decades, 
computer speeds increased dramatically. By 
1980, when the Institute acquired a Digital 
Equipment Corp. DEC-20, mainframes were 
routinely cranking through programs at the 
astounding rate of a million instructions per 
second (mips), or about 1,000 times as fast 
as the IBM 610. 

Today, just over a decade later, the stage 
is being set for a million-fold jump in speed 
over computers like the DEC-20. The latest 
generation of supercomputers are already 
processing billions of instructions per sec- 
ond (bips), and a growing number of high- 
tech companies are setting their sights on 
the trillions of instructions per second (tips) 
mark. (Last fall, Cambridge-based Thinking 
Machines Inc. announced it had crossed 
that magic boundary in the laboratory with 
its newest Connection Machine.) 

How fast is a trillion instructions per sec- 
ond? Think about it this way: An excellent 
typist may tap out about 75 words a minute. 
If the average word is about six characters 
long, that amounts to 450 characters per 
minute or 7.5 individual keystrokes— just 
over one word — a second. In one second the 
IBM 610 could have processed at least 1,000 
characters, or about the number of words 

To Mesh Router 








The Lynx node being developed by the Center for High-Performance Com- 
puting consists of four powerful Motorola 881 10 processors with their own 
memory caches, 256 million bytes of memory and devices that will connect 
the module to a fiber-optic network. 

on two-thirds of a double-spaced typewrit- 
ten page. 

In one second the DEC-20 would have 
gone through a million characters, or about 
the number of words in two 250-page nov- 
els. By contrast, a one-tips computer could 
race through a trillion characters in that 
same second. That's like typing all of the 
words in 2,000 novels in the blink of an eye. 
The increase in computing speed achieved 
over the past three decades is akin to taking 
a jet that can fly 1,000 miles an hour and 
turning it into a starship that can travel 
1,500 times the speed of light. 

Reaching for the tips prize has required 
a new approach to computing. Traditionally, 
a computer has consisted of a single proces- 
sor, some form of storage or memory, and 
various input and output devices like key- 
boards and printers. Like a lone typist who 
completes a manuscript one character at 
a time, a single-processor computer plods 
through programs in serial fashion — one 
instruction at a time. 

To make computers faster, designers 
have turned to faster processors and have 
found ways to pack components closer to- 
gether on integrated circuits to shorten the 
distance electrons must travel as they whiz 
around these chips (see illustration, pages 
16 to 17). But designers who follow this ap- 
proach ultimately run up against barriers 
caused by the physical limitations inherent 
in the materials they use to make computer 
chips. Even exotic substances like gallium 
arsenide, which may be used in the next 
generation of supercomputers, have inher- 
ent speed limits. 

But there is another avenue to greater 
speed. Just as one can get a 10-chapter book 
typed 10 times more quickly by giving each 
chapter to a different typist, a computer can 
work through a computer program much 
faster if the program is first split into pieces, 
each of which can then run on a separate 
processor. This technique, called multi- 
processing or parallel computing, is the 

(Continued on page 18) 

WPI Journal 


The Road to the Tips Machine. 


Computing in a 
Straight Line 

Traditionally, computers have 

performed tasks in a serial or 

step-by-step fashion, the way an 

individual craftsman builds a 

product. In these machines, 

which include most personal 

computers and mainframes, 

a single processor carries out 

one instruction at a time. 

) Faster, 
il. Faster, Faster 

The first supercomputers achieved 
high speeds by accelerating the 
computer's internal clock, making 
the processor race through instruc- 
tions at a faster pace. This was 
accomplished by building smaller, 
faster circuits that could process 
information much more quickly. 
Some designers have experimented 
with still-faster materials, such as 
gallium arsenide, but so far these 
have proved difficult to work 
with and are less reliable than 
the silicon traditionally used in 
computer chips. 

3 Racing Down 
the Pipeline 

There are physical limita- 
tions to how fast one can make 
components or how closely one 
can pack them together. To 
add more speed, some super- 
computer designers split the 
central processor into sub- 
processors, each of which 
carries out just part of an in- 
struction — much like workers 
on an assembly line each do 
one part of a task. As the second 
subprocessor does its job, the 
first can be starting on the next 
instruction and so 
on, saving time. 


Summer 1992 


for Speed 

Many supercomputers use a 
vectored architecture in which 
several subprocessors simulta- 
neously perform the exact 
same operation on every num- 
ber in an array of data, called 
a vector. Today the dominant 
supercomputer design is sev- 
eral vector processors linked 
together. These machines gen- 
erally run at the low end of the 
bips range (that's billions of 
instructions per second). 

5 In Numbers 
There is Speed 

The latest trend in super- 
computing is called the massively 
parallel machine, in which prob- 
lems are broken up into many 
pieces and run on hundreds or 
even thousands of processors. 
Some of these designs operate on 
the principle of single-instruction, 
multiple-data (SIMD — pronounced 
sim-dee), in which each active pro- 
cessor is always performing the 
same task as every other processor. 
To reach the tips range — trillions 
of instructions per second — SIMD 
computers require many thousands 
of processors. 

6 Processors 
With Minds of 
Their Own 

The other approach in massively 
parallel computers is the mul- 
tiple-instruction, multiple data 
(M1MD, or mim-dee) mode, in 
which a smaller number of pro- 
cessors work independently, 
performing different operations 
on different pieces of data. The 
major challenge in using either 
SIMD or MIMD machines is writ- 
ing programs that effectively 
break down problems to take 
advantage of the speed inherent 
in having many, many processors 
working as a team. 

WPI Journal 


(Continued from page 15) 

one most designers of high-performance 
machines are turning to. 

There are two basic approaches to multi- 
processing. The first is called single instruc- 
tion, multiple data or SIMD (pronounced 
sim-dee). In SIMD machines the processors 
behave like galley slaves, each performing 
the exact same operation at the same time 
on different bits of data. In an image pro- 
cessing application, for example, one might 
want to quickly change the color of every 
picture element in a television image. With a 
SIMD computer, you'd assign one processor 
to each element, allowing the computer to 
accomplish the changeover in one step (on 
a single-processor machine, in contrast, the 
changeover would take as many steps as 
there are picture elements). 

SIMD computers derive their speed from 
sheer numbers, rather than from the power 
of the individual processors (one Connec- 
tion Machine currently on the market em- 
ploys 128,000 processors). But to use this 
computing horsepower, one needs a prob- 
lem that can be broken into many essen- 
tially identical pieces. But most scientific 
and engineering problems require a more 
flexible approach. That's why most multi- 
processor computers are MIMD or multiple 
instruction, multiple data machines. 

In a MIMD computer, a problem is bro- 
ken into units that are assigned to a com- 
paratively small number of powerful 
processors. Unlike the galley-slave 
synchronization of SIMD machines, 
each processor in a MIMD architec- 
ture can perform a different opera- 
tion on the data in its memory and 
can proceed at its own pace. 

"MIMD is far more powerful and 
far more general than SIMD," notes 
Thomas A. Probert, director of WPI's 
Center for High-Performance Comput- 
ing (CHPC), who says that MIMD is 
the path CHPC is following. Currently, 
engineers at the center are develop- 
ing a MIMD processor called Lynx as 
part of a $10.6 million contract with 
the Defense Advanced Research Pro- 
jects Agency (DARPA). Each Lynx unit 
or node will consist of four Motorola 
88110 microprocessors joined by a 
fiber-optic bus. These extremely fast 
(50 megahertz), reduced-instruction- 
set-computing (RISC) processors, 
along with 256 million bytes of mem- 
ory and an interface device, will fit 
in a box about the size of a slide 

By itself, Lynx would make an im- 
pressive small supercomputer. At a 
normal operating speed of 200 million 

instructions per second (that's the equiva- 
lent of 200 DEC-20s), it is faster than many 
machines currently on the market. But what 
makes it a contender in the tips race is its 
scalability. Put two Lynx nodes together and 
you double their speed; add 98 more, and 
you've got a computer operating at nearly 
20 billion instructions per second. In theory, 
there is no limit (other than price) on the 
number of Lynx nodes that can be joined 
into a single computer. 

"We've simulated up to 2,000 intercon- 
nected Lynx nodes," Probert says. "We've 
taken actual instruction traces from serial 
computers and fed them through the simu- 
lation, validating that the program does the 
right memory references and so on. We 
know it will work." 

The Lynx processors can be hooked to- 
gether by Galactica Net, a unique two- 
dimensional fiber-optic highway that can 
move data about at the rate of a million bits 
of information per second. Each processor 
is connected to a device called a router that, 
in turn, is linked to four other routers and 
so on. Galactica Net connects the proces- 
sors to each other and to a shared memory. 

While it can be slower than some other 
connection schemes used in multicom- 
puters, Probert says the simple mesh has 
two important advantages. First, it is easier 
to scale up a mesh into the type of mas- 
sively parallel machine needed to reach the 
tips benchmark. And second, because the 
connections between the processors and 

the mesh are fairly simple, there is no need 
for the specialized hardware that must be 
designed for some architectures — including 
the popular hypercube, which places the 
processors at the corners of a multidimen- 
sional cube. 

Galactica Net is a distributed, shared- 
memory architecture, which means that all 
of the Lynx processors make use of the 
same distributed, shared memory. To mini- 
mize what is known as data contention, 
which occurs when several processors try 
to manipulate the same piece of data at the 
same time, Probert says the CHPC designers 
have given each processor its own memory 

When several processors need the same 
data, each writes the information to its own 
cache. Only one processor can change the 
data; the others check to see whether they 
might need to alter it. When the first proces- 
sor is finished updating the data, it writes 
the new value into the caches of the other 
processors and into the shared memory. 
Another processor then gets the go ahead to 
change the data, and the process continues. 

Probert says CHPC has filed for a patent 
on the memory protocol and also has a 
patent pending on Galactica Net and the 
software that drives it. He notes that the 
center has deliberately placed much of the 
complexity of its multicomputer into this 
software, rather than into the hardware 
itself, even though the latter approach often 
results in a boost in operating speed. He 

Hundreds of Lynx nodes can be joined together by Galactica Net, a mesh-like fiber- 
optic network. Each Lynx node is connected to a router, which, in turn, is linked to 
four other routers. The routers connect the processors to each other and to a large 
shared, distributed memory. 


Summer 1992 

** We 'ue simulated up to 2, 000 interconnected Lynx nodes. We 've 
taken actual instruction traces from serial computers and fed 
them through the simulation, validating that the program does 
the right memory references and so on. We know it will work. " 

— Thomas Probert 

says the CHPC team has learned the value of 
this approach through experience. 

When CHPC's 25 engineers and designers 
constituted Encore Computer Corp.'s high- 
performance computer design group, they 
worked on a project called GigaMax under 
an earlier DARPA contract. The goal was to 
develop a bips computer, but the project 
became bogged down by the difficulty of 
designing and building hugely complex cir- 
cuit boards. "We learned that attempting to 
place all the complexity in the hardware to 
gain speed leads to problems," he notes. 

"We had to build 14-inch-by-l 7-inch com- 
puter boards that were 14-layers thick and 
that had components mounted on both 
sides. The state of the art in layout tools 
couldn't handle the complexity of those 
boards, so we had to do a lot of the layout 
by hand. It was almost impossible to imple- 
ment. Now we've moved a lot of that com- 
plexity into the software, which is far more 
flexible and much easier to modify." 

That does not mean that Lynx is not 
complex, Probert says. In fact, the sheer in- 
tricateness of the processor is the primary 
reason it exists now only in their minds and 
in computer simulators. "When you have 
things that are operating at 100 mips or 
more, you have to anticipate every single 
possibility," he notes. 

"That's where people fail. You just can't 
forget one condition. Since the programs 
execute so quickly, you can guarantee that 
almost every path through a circuit will be 
used at least once. If you've forgotten some- 
thing, you'll fail. And once you've built the 
thing, it's almost impossible to find where 
the problem is. With a parallel machine, a 
program might run differently each time 
through, and a bug may not show up every 
time you run it." 

Such seemingly random variations in the 
way the same program may run on the same 
machine is just one of the qualities of multi- 
computers that make programing them 
more challenging than writing instructions 
for serial computers, Probert says. To help 
users deal with these complexities, CHPC is 
developing a powerful suite of programming 
tools called Insight. One of the unique fea- 
tures of Insight is its ability to give a multi- 

computer a sort of introspective quality. 

"Insight enables one set of processors — 
through memory — to watch another set," 
Probert says. "The advantage is that it is 
nonintrusive; it does not obstruct the in- 
struction stream. No one else has anything 
like this. It's unique in the industry." 

Probert says using Insight is like plac- 
ing a glass window over the computer and 
watching how it goes about executing a pro- 
gram. To use the tool, a user installs small 
programs called observers. The observers 
attach themselves to specific locations in 
the computer's memory and keep track of 
all the operations that use those locations. 
By providing feedback on potential prob- 
lems with a program and by pinpointing 
ways the program may not be using the 
computer efficiently, Insight will help users 
write effective application software without 
having to be intimately familiar with the 
workings of the computer. 

Insight should help third-party software 
developers create libraries of application 
software for parallel computing, something 
that has not happened yet because of the 
limited marketplace for multicomputers 
(they currently account for just one-tenth of 
one percent of all computer systems in the 
U.S.) "Parallel processors are not available 
because the broad exposure is not there 
yet," Probert says. "Without the machines, 
application programmers don't write pro- 
grams for parallel machines. Without the 
programs, people don't buy the machines." 

Probert says university programs like 
CHPC may play a role in breaking this circle 
by giving students access to parallel com- 
puting and encouraging them to explore its 
possibilities. He says the advent of personal 
computers with multiple processors — which 
should be on the market around the middle 
of the decade — may also help shift the bal- 
ance toward parallel computing. 

As that shift takes place, Probert says 
myriad applications should open up for 
multicomputers. Many will be in science, 
where massive problems like studying 
changes in ecosystems or predicting the 
weather require the manipulation of mas- 
sive amounts of data. But, he notes, there 
are many other applications in manufactur- 

ing, biotechnology, business and other fields 
that can use the speed and power of parallel 
computing. Eventually, he predicts, all com- 
puters will be parallel. 

Many of these applications will have 
to operate in real-time, with the computer 
working fast enough to respond to events 
as they happen. Probert, David Cyganski, 
professor of electrical engineering, and 
John A. Orr, professor and head of the 
Electrical and Computer Engineering De- 
partment, are anticipating a grant from 
DARPA that will fund the development of 
a three-dimensional user interface that, 
when integrated to Lynx and Galactica Net, 
will enable users to manipulate satellite 
images in real time. 

Called Visual Lynx, the system will dis- 
play a three-dimensional representation of a 
picture as it is beamed down from the satel- 
lite. The user, whether a military analyst in 
Washington or a fisheries biologist out at 
sea, will be able to indicate a section of the 
image he'd like to view in more detail and 
direct the satellite to zoom in on it or em- 
ploy a different sensor to study it. 

"You've got a satellite up there and it's 
moving at 18,000 miles an hour and taking a 
picture," Probert says. "If it takes too long to 
do the processing and send the command, 
by the time the signal gets back up there the 
sensors will be pointing at something else. 
This is different from the traditional super- 
computer application, in which someone 
goes off and runs a program that might 
compute for minutes or even hours." 

While Visual Lynx will take a few years to 
develop, the first working prototype of the 
Lynx-Galactica Net system should be up and 
running in January 1993, Probert says. "We 
won't lay anything out before November. 
Now it's all staging, design, simulation and 
so on. Once it's built, it's built. We won't 
change it. That's why we'll do as much as 
we possibly can before we get to that stage." 

While this new multicomputing archi- 
tecture will be available to CHPC's spon- 
sors — and will, most likely, end up being 
transferred to many real products — Probert 
says the first "customer" for the system 
will be the federal government, which will 
decide whether Lynx or one of a few other 
"shadow technologies" being funded by 
DARPA will be adopted as a primary high- 
performance computing platform for the 
U.S. Navy. "If we're successful, this technol- 
ogy could be inserted into a major program. 
This is the kind of thing that makes compa- 
nies. The stakes are high, as are the risks, 
but the payoff could be very high indeed." 

Reporting by Diane Benison contributed 
to this article. 

WPI Journal 



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Do No Harm 

More than two thousand years ago, 
Hippocrates set forth that simple 
rule for physicians. But as modern 
technology has transformed the 
practice of medicine, enabling 
doctors to postpone death and 
manipulate the genetic code that 
is the root of human life, the line 
between healing and harming 
has been blurred. As professor 
of religion and social ethics, 
Thomas Shannon works to bring 
the ethical issues of modern medi- 
cine into sharp focus. 

By Diane Benison 

"I observe the physician 
with the same diligence 
as he the disease." 

— John Donne 

I'm not against technology. I'm not against its proper use. 
What bothers me is its improper use, or its overuse," Thomas 
A. Shannon says. Shannon, a bioethicist, has spent his adult life 
thinking and writing about the appropriate use of technology in 
health care, a topic he also focuses on in the classroom with his 
students at WP1. 

Because his expertise is recognized nationally, mainstream media 
call him occasionally for comment when the use of medical technol- 
ogy becomes news. But he's not likely to make the Oprah-Donahue- 
Povich circuit anytime soon. His story about being a guest on a 1977 
David Suskind Show on euthanasia explains why. 

"They interviewed me in advance over the phone," he remem- 
bers. "At one point the staff person said, 'You know, you're really 
too mild. Can't you take one extreme or the other?'" Shannon says 
he was startled. He'd been trying to identify the issues, methodi- 
cally examine the underlying values, and then weigh those values 
against one another. "They didn't want that," he says. "They wanted 

Shannon is thought-provoking, a quality not often thought of as 
entertaining by the electronic media. But if the standing-room- 
only crowd of alumni at Reunion in early June was any indication, 
Shannon is worth listening to. They sat and stood with focused 
attention during his 50-minute presentation. When his talk about 
ethics and health care ended, he spent another 15 minutes with the 
small group that stayed behind to ask questions. 

Shannon, professor of religion and social ethics in WPI's Humani- 
ties Department, has published his ethical arguments on a wide 
range of issues— including bioethics, theology, and peace and war- 
in the 15 books he has authored or edited and in 25 articles in 
scholarly and mainstream publications. He has also delivered more 
than 40 presentations at professional meetings. 

Among the honors he has earned at WPI for his scholarship and 
teaching are the Paris Fletcher Distinguished Professorship in the 
Humanities, which he currently holds, and the 1988 Trustees' Award 
for Outstanding Creative Scholarship. 

In his writings, Shannon advocates the adoption and use of 
medical technology within the context of meeting human needs. 
Those needs, he emphasizes, are not just biological, but may be 
emotional, psychological and spiritual, as well. More and more, 
though, as technology has come to drive medical decisions, a patient's 
biological needs are the only ones that are considered and valued, 
Shannon says. When that happens, the emphasis of the medical 
profession shifts from caring to curing, which may not be appropriate 
in all cases. 

Shannon says he believes the unintended consequence of tech- 
nology-centered medicine is materialistic, reductionist thinking that 

WPI Journal 



sees people as merely means to an end. He says this outcome 
was evident recently in the much-publicized case of a couple 
who conceived a child because they needed a compatible bone 
marrow donor for a daughter with leukemia. But more than 
anything, Shannon says, it is the neglect or disregard of those 
other human needs that concerns him. 

Though they are much more complicated, divisive and 
publicly discussed today, the primary ethical issues surround- 
ing modern medical technology and 
its use are "the same ones that have 
been around since the early days of 
bioethics about 25 years ago," Shan- 
non says. "Abortion, euthanasia, 
genetic screening, organ transplanta- 
tion, the definition of death, informed 
consent, research on human sub- 
jects — it's the standard list." 

Despite two and a half decades of 
discussion, Shannon says these 
issues are not any better resolved 
today than they were when he re- 
ceived his Ph.D. from the division of 
theological and religious studies at 
Boston University in 1973 (he also 
holds a bachelor of arts degree from 
Quincy College in Quincy, 111., a 
bachelor's of sacred theology from 
St. Joseph Seminary in Teutopolis, 111., 
and a master's of sacred theology 
from the Boston University School of 

"I think the positions are staked 
out better. What's changing is the so- 
cial policy and the social practice — 
and we're not getting much more unity 
of desire for legislation," he says, though he adds that legis- 
lation on such complex issues is not always a good idea, as 
laws — which are often too specific or too vague — can undercut 
privacy, personal autonomy and the medical doctrine of 
informed consent. 

A realist, Shannon says he doesn't expect to see the resolu- 
tion of any of the ethical issues raised by the use of medical 
technology anytime soon. "One thing that's remained constant 
over the last two decades is that technology continues to 
outpace ethics and the law," he says. "I think that's partly 
cultural, because in our country we take the position that 
nothing can be stopped. Instead, we implement technology as 
soon as it's available. 

"When problems do arise, we have to stop and say, 'Oh, now 
what are we going to do about this?' Then we try to regulate 
something that is already in motion, something that people are 
already using, and something that people claim they have a 
right to — even though it may be really problematic." 

In a sense, many of the ethical problems in medicine can be 
traced to the great success the medical profession has had in 
recent decades in developing new forms of treatment and 
disease prevention, Shannon says. As new ways of diagnosing 
and curing illnesses — things like CAT and MRI scanners, nuclear 
medicine and heart transplants — have entered the mainstream, 
physicians and patients alike have continued to look for even 
more powerful and exotic technologies. 

But placing new medical devices and procedures into ser- 
vice too quickly can be risky, Shannon says, because it is often 
difficult to anticipate the ultimate effects of a new technology. 

ne thing that's remained 
constant over the last two 
decades is that technology 
continues to outpace ethics and 

the law. I think that's partly 
cultural, because in our country 
we take the position that nothing 

can be stopped. Instead, we 

implement technology as soon as 

it's available. When problems do 

arise, we have to stop and say, 

'Oh, now what are we going 

to do about this?' 

He cites the invention of the automobile as an example of a 
machine that has had broad and unintended consequences, 
impacting both social patterns and the environment. Shannon 
says he doubts Henry Ford considered these implications when 
he started building cars. 

One of the general effects of new and more elaborate medical 

technology has been the rising cost of health care, Shannon 

notes. "Now the major problem is often not that we can't cure, 

but that when we do it requires ever 

more money and time." 

Shannon says he is not eager to 
belittle the advances of medical tech- 
nology. But he says he believes the 
tendency of physicians today to pay 
attention to data instead of to pa- 
tients' feelings is a problem inherent 
in that technology. "High-tech medi- 
cine is better at treating individual 
organs than individuals as a whole," 
he says. 

The phenomenon of "medical op- 
tions that quickly become obliga- 
tions" (as when hospitals feel they 
must always use intravenous feed- 
ing, resuscitators and defibrillators 
to keep critically ill patients alive) is 
another consequence of modern 
medical technology, Shannon says. 
When the obligatory use of such 
technology results in highly visible 
cases of persistent vegetative state 
(PVS) — like those of Karen Ann 
Quinlan and Nancy Cruzan — people 
become worried about getting 
trapped by the technology. 
That, Shannon worries, may cause some people to reject 
potentially helpful treatments, because they believe they won't 
be allowed to stop treatment once it has been started. He says 
he believes this fear of being trapped by high-tech medicine has 
helped drive the euthanasia movement, and also ignited inter- 
est in living wills and durable powers of attorney. 

The fear of being held hostage to modern medicine is a 
consequence of our inability to distinguish between caring and 
treating, Shannon says. "We have the sense that if we stop 
treating, we've stopped caring. That's a bad distinction. In some 
cases people simply cannot be cured, but we certainly can still 
care as they go through their illness. But our culture is bad at 
this. We'd like to turn it over to someone else — or to technology. 
You get the sense that the only thing that can stop treatment 
sometimes is a cosmic power failure — like the Northeast black- 
out — and that's awful to think about." 

Shannon says he is equally concerned about how that same 
technological imperative (a medical option becoming an 
obligation) has insidiously impacted our thinking about organ 
transplantation — with even broader social consequences. Con- 
stant advances in the technology of organ transplantation — 
and the resulting growth in the need for donor organs — are 
behind the ongoing debate about brain death and the growing 
movement to redefine what constitutes death, he notes. 

The first attempt in U.S. history to redefine death was a 1968 
article in the Journal of the American Medical Association that 
established criteria for irreversible coma. The article's primary 
purpose was to set forth a basis by which physicians could 
determine when a comatose patient could be declared dead. 


Summer 1992 


The criteria listed by the authors were unreceptivity and 
unresponsivity (total unawareness of externally applied stimuli 
and inner need), lack of movement, breathing and reflexes, and 
a flat electroencephalograph (EEG) for 24 hours. 

"Today we continue to define death according to brain 
criteria," Shannon says. "That's okay, because given the technol- 
ogy we have to maintain heart and lung function, death can be 
masked. What's critical is that death must now be 'whole brain,' 
including the brain stem," which regu- 
lates basic biological functions. 

The authors of the 1968 study gave 
two important reasons for their new 
definition, Shannon points out. "One 
was to empty hospital beds in inten- 
sive care units; the other was to get 
fresh organs." He says such utilitarian 
thinking is at the heart of most of his 
concerns about medical and biologi- 
cal ethics. 

The need for donor organs for trans- 
plants is undeniable. "More people 
need organs than get them," he says, 
noting that the reasons for the organ 
shortage include religious beliefs, the 
reluctance of many people to allow 
their bodies to be used for spare 
parts like so many junkyard cars, the 
lack of information about how to 
become an organ donor, and fear — 
perhaps not always openly 
expressed — that the medical estab- 
lishment cannot be trusted. 

The organ deficit has led to pres- 
sure to find ways to increase the 
supply, and that pressure has led to 
further efforts to redefine death, on the one hand, and new 
strategies to obtain organs — human or animal — on the other. 
Among those strategies are broader education efforts, as well as 
required request and opt-out programs. 

Most states have laws establishing required request pro- 
grams, which mandate that physicians and hospitals ask dying 
patients and their families for permission to remove useful 
organs immediately after death. While they can put pressure on 
families, Shannon says such laws protect an individual's right to 
decide what happens to his body. 

Currently, there are no U.S. states with opt-out laws, though 
some European countries have adopted them. The underlying 
assumption of such laws, which allow physicians to take a 
patient's organs after death unless he has requested in advance 
that they not be removed, is that, "when you die, you become the 
property of the state." If you can become the property of the 
state when you die, Shannon reasons, what will prevent the state 
from starting to see you as its property before you die? 

"One might think of fetal tissue transplantation," he says. 
"It's one thing for a woman to donate tissue from an abortion. 
It's another to simply take those tissues. That's an example 
where needs could drive practice. It's unlikely that the practice 
would be extended to the taking of blood, bone marrow or 
organs from living people, but the wedge would be there. It's a 
wedge issue." 

Shannon is equally critical of thinking that leads to the 
conclusion that, because the technology exists to transplant 
organs, because there are people whose lives could be extended 
through this technology (or who can afford to pay for the 

person may value the 

ability to reason abstractly, but 

that capacity isn't explicitly 

what gives a person value. 

At least I wouldn't think so. 

You can't define a person 

exclusively in terms of any one 

particular value. It's not any 

one thing — or even the sum of 

all our particular capacities — 

that make us valuable. I think 

it's something that goes a 

little beyond that. 

technology), and because there are insufficient organs to sup- 
ply all those who could benefit, we should increase the supply 
by loosening the accepted definition of what constitutes death. 
He says he is especially concerned that the definition is becom- 
ing centered more on the cognitive function of the brain, 
rather than on the whole person. 

Shannon says he does not believe technology and science 
are value-free, but rather are driven by underlying social 
values. And the value that underlies 
the attempt to redefine brain death 
overemphasizes the ability to think 
abstractly. He says he questions why 
intelligence and the capacity for 
abstract reasoning should be valued 
more highly than other human 

"A person may value the ability to 
reason abstractly, but that capacity 
isn't explicitly what gives a person 
value," he says. "At least I wouldn't 
think so. You can't define a person 
exclusively in terms of any one par- 
ticular value. It's not any one thing — 
or even the sum of all our particular 
capacities — that make us valuable. I 
think it's something that goes a little 
beyond that." 

In his 1985 book, What Are They 
Saying About Genetic Engineering?, 
Shannon argued that the tendency in 
our society to equate mental ability 
with human value sometimes leads 
us to socially disvalue people — such 
as individuals with Down's syndrome, 
sufferers of Alzheimer's disease, 
elderly patients in nursing homes or students in special edu- 
cation classes — who have a diminished capacity for abstract 

This tendency to equate human beings with fully function- 
ing brains was reflected dramatically in a recent court battle in 
Florida over a baby born with anencephaly, a nearly always 
fatal condition in which most of the brain is missing. The 
parents of Theresa Ann Campo Pearson were willing to have 
her declared brain dead to assure that her organs could be 
removed for transplantation while they were still usable. How- 
ever, the fact that her brain stem was functioning precluded 
doctors from making this declaration. 

The arguments made in the case included the idea of 
excluding "infants without intact brains from the current defi- 
nition and to consider them dead by virtue of brain absence," 
Shannon notes. It was, in effect, an attempt to redefine brain 
death solely in terms of higher brain functions. 

"Such a shift in definition assumes a normative link be- 
tween biology and personhood and comes close to deriving 
personal status — if not personhood itself — exclusively from 
neural activity," Shannon wrote in a recent paper on the case. 
In that paper he concluded that singling out one aspect of a 
human being and valuing it above all other aspects demeans 
human dignity. 

"In one sense, human value is an abstract concept," he says. 
"On the other hand, we certainly have to concretize it in some 
form, but once you begin to concretize it outside of a certain 
context, you blow it. As soon as you isolate it for study, you kill 
it." This phenomenon is not unlike Heisenberg's uncertainty 

WPI Journal 



principal, which says that the more accurately one measures 
the velocity of a moving particle, the more uncertain its location 
becomes, and vice versa. 

"A lot of times, when you study something by isolating it 
from the whole system, you lose a big part of it," Shannon says. 
"For example, the first patient a doctor treats is a cadaver. On 
the one hand, you can learn a lot from that. But on the other 
hand, there is a lot missing." 

Shannon says a host of similarly 
unarticulated and unexamined social 
and ethical issues surround biotech- 
nology, especially in such areas as 
genetic engineering and genetic 
screening. For example, he says he is 
concerned about the fact that as a 
society we often fail to distinguish 
between a carrier of a genetic disease 
and someone who has the disease. 

"A carrier is not afflicted by the 
disease," he says. "Genetic screening 
programs can identify both types of 
individuals, but if the distinction 
between them is misunderstood or 
confused, carriers could be prevented 
from receiving insurance policies or 
other health care benefits because of 
a wrong assumption that they are 

"Not only might such individuals 
be unjustly deprived of a variety of 
benefits, they are unfairly labeled , and 
this can serve as a basis of discrimina- 
tion." Already, he notes, a number of 
corporations and government depart- 
ments have attempted to use genetic 
tests to screen out employees with 
genetic traits that might make them 
more susceptible to the harmful 
effects of chemicals or other occupational hazards. 

However the ethical issues of genetic engineering develop, 
Shannon, who is about to begin work on a new book on the 
topic, will be there. He is also part of a research group at the 
Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) that is 
studying the theological and ethical issues raised by the human 
genome project with a $400,000 grant from the National Insti- 
tutes of Health (NIH). The Human Genome Initiative, as it is 
officially known, is a massive national project aimed at mapping 
the location of every human gene, a development that will have 
unimaginable implications for genetic technology. 

CTNS launched its study in the fall of 1991 to bring together 
geneticists, theologians and ethicists "to discuss the implica- 
tion of human genome research for understanding the relation- 
ship between God's creativity and human creativity, biological 
determinism and free will, our ethical responsibility for the 
future, and the role Judeo-Christian religions play in cultivating 
social attitudes and offering genetic counseling." 

The grant for the CTNS study came from funds specifically 
reserved by NIH for looking at the social issues surrounding 
the human genome project. "Three percent of the budget is 
earmarked for analysis of its social and ethical implications," 
Shannon says. 

These issues might include who will control the intimate 
details about individuals that will be revealed as the genome is 
deciphered. "People are talking about having genetic screening 

art of the problem I see 

in the genome project is that not 

all the communicators 

sufficiently attend to the 

context in which the gene 

operates — namely an organism or 

an environment. The fallacy that 

underlies genetic therapy, for 

example, is the assumption that if 

you have good genes you are 

going to be healthier. But there 

are environmentally caused 

diseases. You can have a decent 

set of genes and still get sick. 

done at birth," he says, "so we have a privacy issue here: Who 
controls your genetic profile, you or the state? 

"The issue of control is significant and a major question we 
have to deal with. We don't want to make genetic information 
the exclusive basis for how we treat people. Genes are not the 
sole determining cause of who we are." 

Shannon says the expectations many scientists appear 
to hold for the genome project worry him. He says many 
researchers have expressed the hope 
that "we're going to be able to cure 
diseases and make people the way 
we would like them to be — to be in 
charge of evolution. I don't think 
that's going to work." 

To begin with, he says, there are 
often complex relationships between 
genes that are not illuminated by 
simply knowing their locations. For 
example, the gene that makes one a 
carrier of sickle cell anemia also im- 
parts an enhanced immunity to ma- 
laria. But beyond those concerns, 
geneticists must keep in mind that 
not all diseases have genetic causes 
and not all human qualities have 
genetic origins. 

"Part of the problem 1 see in the 
genome project," he adds, "is that 
not all the communicators suffi- 
ciently attend to the context in which 
the gene operates — namely an 
organism or an environment." In par- 
ticular, he says, environmental 
effects on health are sometimes 
overlooked. "The fallacy that under- 
lies genetic therapy, for example, is 
the assumption that if you have good 
genes you are going to be healthier. 
But there are environmentally caused diseases. You can have 
a decent set of genes and still get sick. The bottom line is: be 
careful of exaggerated claims." 

Shannon says he is also wary of the consequences of 
knowing too much about one's genetic makeup. "It's clear that 
some of what we learn might be bad," he notes. "It may also be 
problematic." For example, he asks, will learning that your 
genetic constitution might make you susceptible to heart 
disease at a young age spur you on, or leave you overwhelmed 
by the prospect of a potentially shortened or constrained life? 
One question the NIH is not asking, Shannon says, is 
whether the human genome project should be carried out at 
all. Despite that omission, he says this "set-aside" will make 
possible the ongoing evaluation of ethical issues as the project 
moves forward, enabling the discussion to keep up with 
technological developments, instead of following them, as 
most often happens. 

The need for that kind of thinking and discussion is urgent, 
Shannon says, because we have already seen how technolo- 
gies can have unexpected implications and unanticipated 
applications. "Until we had good technologies for screening 
genetic diseases — and now genetic tendencies and traits — we 
couldn't attempt it," he says by way of example. "Now, because 
we can do it and because it's cost effective, there's more of an 
incentive for insurance companies to use the technology 
[to evaluate people]. So now we have a new problem." 


Summer 1992 


For Shannon, this is another example of how technology 
can come to drive human action, rather than carefully thought 
out human values determining when and how a particular 
technology will be used. He traces this anomaly to the values 
of the free market system and to our notion that progress is 
linear. Not all cultures share this notion, he says; some don't 
even have a model of progress. 

Indian culture, for example, has historically been 
governed by a cyclical model of time. 
"Obviously, you progress in time, 
but it's not directional," he says. "We 
in the West have the sense that we're 
going somewhere, even though we 
may not know where that somewhere 
is. The direction is typically upward 
and clearly forward." 

The hospital "crash cart" is an 
example of how progress can be 
seen as inevitable. Every hospital 
floor has a crash cart for emergency 
resuscitation, Shannon says. "Well, 
there it is. Now what happens if you 
don't use it? Well, you get chewed 
out for having equipment that you 
don't use. And because you're not 
using it this year, you can't buy any 
new technology next year. So you 
use it. And you don't always ask, 
'Should we use it?' Its very presence 
there — and the economic context — 
really mandate its use." 

Shannon has applied his willing- 
ness to ask questions and peel back 
each layer of an issue to a number of 
other polarizing topics, including 
abortion. In doing so he has often 
taken a careful look at the science 
behind the issues. For example, in a paper titled "Reflections on 
the Moral Status of the Pre-embryo" published in Theological 
Studies, Shannon and Allan B. Wolter, O.F.M., examine in meticu- 
lous detail the development of the fertilized egg in an attempt 
to establish when one can begin to refer to it as an indi- 
vidual human being. Their goal was to encourage theologians 
to take biology into account in discussions about abortion. 

"The best of medieval theologians argued within the 
context of their knowledge of biology," Shannon says. "We're 
simply doing the same thing with our model. It seems to me 
that the only reasonable way to discuss any kind of biological 
entity is to discuss it within the frame of reference in which 
you understand it, which is biology. But it's a model capable 
of enormous revision, so you have to keep rethinking in 
light of new knowledge." 

In his classes at WPI, Shannon tries to get his students to 
apply similar analyses to ethical issues. In particular, he 
teaches them that there are such things as better arguments 
and worse arguments and urges them to learn to distinguish 
one from the other, not only in his class, but in the work they 
will do as engineers, scientists and managers. This approach 
has helped make him one of the Institute's most popular 
instructors (he was rated the best college professor in the city 
in a Worcester Magazine readers' poll a few years back). 
Students say Shannon's classes challenge them to express 
their thoughts and feelings, and to marshall arguments to 
support their views. 

he best of medieval 

theologians argued within the 

context of their knowledge of 

biology. We're simply doing the 

same thing with our model. It 

seems to me that the only 

reasonable way to discuss any 

kind of biological entity is to 

discuss it within the frame of 

reference in which you understand 

it, which is biology. But it's a model 

capable of enormous revision, so you 

have to keep rethinking in light 

of new knowledge. 

Shannon says his own views about ethical issues have 
been shaped, in part, by his moral and religious background. 
He entered a seminary as a young boy, an experience he says 
exposed him to the world of scholarship — a world for which 
he seemed well suited. He was later ordained a Catholic 
priest, though by the time he reached his early thirties he 
had come to realize that he was better suited temperamen- 
tally for a secular life. He requested and was granted a 
dispensation from his vows. 

His leaving the priesthood was 
not, however, a departure from the 
Catholic Church. His years in the 
church helped shape his 
views on medical ethics and the 
morality of war, and also gave rise 
to an ongoing interest in method- 
ology, especially in Roman Catholic 
moral theology. Shannon is re- 
spected in Catholic theological 
circles, even if his views are not 
always in sync with the highest 
levels of the church. For example, 
his article on the moral status of the 
pre-embryo prompted a six-page 
letter from the National Council of 
Catholic Bishops, which noted that 
the views he and Wolter expressed 
were "open to dispute." 

Shannon's debates with Catho- 
lic dogma stem from his dedication 
to weighing, not just theological 
and moral issues, but the most 
up-to-date research in biology 
and medicine. His arguments have 
also benefited from his efforts to 
experience firsthand the reality of 
modern medical practice. Since 
1987 he has been a member of the Ethics Committee of 
Memorial Hospital in Worcester (now the Medical Center of 
Central Massachusetts — Memorial), where he goes on ob- 
stetrics and gynecology rounds with physicians and nurses 
and also conducts regular ethics rounds, particularly in the 
neonatal unit. 

"The purpose of ethics rounds is to alert physicians to 
the fact that the issues they face are not exclusively medical," 
he says, "that there are ethical issues, value issues, choice 
issues (the patient's), and cost issues that go along with a 
particular treatment." 

For several years Shannon was also a part-time associate 
professor of medical ethics at the University of Massachu- 
setts Medical Center in Worcester, the only teaching 
hospital in the state university system. While there he 
directed the ethics segment of a program that instructed 
young physicians in patient care. 

With those young physicians, as well as with the students 
who take his courses at WPI, he has always endeavored to 
impart a sense that there are no questions that can't be asked, 
for it is only by avoiding the tough questions that our society 
will continue to blindly embrace new technology. 

"Don't be afraid of progress," he says, "but don't let it 
become our master. We have to recognize that as human 
beings we have built-in limits. So we have to think about our 
sense of priorities, and be cautious in our expectations of 
what modern medicine can do for us." 

WPI Journal 


Meeting the Need to Lead: 
Thoughts on the WPI Experience 


By Francis C. Lutz, Dean of Undergraduate Studies 

Editor's note: Each fall WPI's New Student Orientation gives entering freshmen a chance to get used to their new 
school — and to learn about the ins and outs of student life at the Institute — before the rush of classes begins. 

In between the talks on residence hall living, the grading system, computer resources and so on, these young 
scholars spend a few minutes with the dean of undergraduate studies, whose duty it is to share with them his own 
vision of what makes the Institute a special place, and to introduce them to the intellectual adventure on which 
they are about to embark. 

The following is excerpted from the talk Frank Lutz gave last fall to the students of the Class of 1995 and their 
parents — his first such address as dean of undergraduate studies. As the WPI community prepares for the start 
of yet another academic year — with all of the achievements and challenges it will bring — we thought it might be 
worthwhile to take a look back at this timely message. 


Summer 1992 


m ood afternoon. As members of the Class of 1995, you 

I W are now part of a community of scholars in a place 
■ ■ where liberal learning and creativity are held in 
V^^ honor. In fact, the faculty here value learning so 
much that two decades ago they created a curriculum that, 
with proper effort on your part, will prepare you uniquely 
well for the challenges that face this nation and the world 
as we approach the next millennium. 

Today I'd like to tell you how I think a WPI education will 
help prepare you for the future. But before I do, let me tell 
you something about myself. I came to WPI in 1972 as an 
assistant professor of civil engineering. I'd intended to stay 
for just a year or two, but have instead been here for nearly 
two decades. I hope you find the same feeling of community 
that keeps me here. (Of course, I hope you earn your de- 
grees in fewer than 20 years!) 

In 1974 my wife and I moved to Washington, D.C., to open 
WPI's first off-campus project center. The year before, I and 
the students selected to undertake the first projects in Wash- 
ington had traveled there to meet with representatives of the 
agencies that proposed those projects and to lay the ground- 
work for the center. While in Washington, we stayed at the 
Howard Johnson Hotel from which the Watergate break-in 
had been coordinated. 

It was a memorable experience to be establishing a pro- 
gram in our nation's capital while impeachment proceedings 
were under way against the president of the United States. 
Since then, some 600 students have completed projects in 
Washington — something of which I am quite proud. 

What else of consequence was happening around that 
time? Well for one, most of you were born. In addition, New 
York's World Trade Center was completed; Billy Joel released 
his Piano Man album; Thomas Pynchon published Gravity's 
Rainbow; the Apollo moon landing program ended; Skylab 
was launched; and the selective service ended, as did two 
decades of U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. 

The parents here today have quite personal memories of 
those events; the students remember them as history — as 
you would any event that occurred before your birth. Years 
from now, you will have vivid memories of some of today's 
events, especially the turmoil taking place in Russia. The 
coup placed Glasnost and Perestroika in jeopardy, but 
freedom is too appealing to be denied. The free-market 
economy, even with its imperfections, is a better provider 
than communism. 

The world is changing, and it will continue to change rap- 
idly. Germany's reunification came upon us with surprising 
speed. The European Economic Community is poised to be- 
come a formidable global economic force. In 1997 Hong Kong 
will no longer be a British colony. 

Each of these events — and the manner in which our lives 
are influenced by them — will be colored by the technological 
advances of your lifetimes. But the social and cultural forces 
at work are also critical to an understanding of how these in- 
fluences will be felt by the people of the world. 

The sense of ethics that led to the resignation of Richard 
Nixon, the craving for freedom moving Eastern Europe to- 
ward democracy, the fear of the unknown and the repudia- 
tion of the past that Russians feel today, the genuine desire 
for German to reunite with German, and the concern moth- 
ers and fathers in Hong Kong feel for the futures of their chil- 
dren — these are all elements of our world that deserve your 

The late professor Thorn Hammond, left, with two 
WPI students in the early days of the Washington, 
D.C., Project Center. Founded during the Water- 
gate crisis, the center opened in 1974, shortly 
after the resignation of President Nixon. 

study. At WPI you will have the opportunity to meet fellow 
students from these and other regions of the world — to learn 
from them and to benefit from the differences they share 
with you. 

We are each of us different. And in an atmosphere of re- 
spect for intellectual discourse, we should celebrate those 
differences. We should be moving closer to achieving Martin 
Luther King's dream of a world where all people are judged 
not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their 

There are many things to learn beyond the world of aca- 
demics, and you will be encouraged to learn them while you 
are here — things like a code of ethics, a standard of conduct 
and a sense of honor. It's from these sources of learning that 
hope for the future draws its strength. 

I'd like to share three quotations with you. The first is by 
Mark Twain, who once said — and I'm paraphrasing — that 
when he was a boy of 14, his father was so ignorant he could 
hardly stand to have him around. But when he got to be 21, 
he was astonished at how much the old man had learned in 
just seven years. 

The second is by Plutarch, who wrote that the mind is 
not a vessel to be filled, but a flame to be kindled. The last 
is from a Commencement speech that Rossiter W. Raymond 
delivered at WPI in 1879. Speaking about WPI's educational 
program, Raymond said: 

"First, it is an experiment; secondly, as far as the experi- 
ment has gone, it has resulted in a highly satisfactory degree 
of success. The problem of education is a progressive one. 
The conditions are perpetually changing, and to a certain 
extent, these changing conditions peremptorily dictate 
corresponding changes in means and methods." 

These quotations convey much about WPI: about the 

WPI Journal 


Above, Professor Fred J. Looft III, left, and Dino Roberti '85 look over the first 
MITRE/WPI experiment package. For Randall Briggs '86, opposite, an IQP was 
the start of a research project that led to his pursuing a Ph.D. at WPI. 

faculty's focus on education as a continual 
process of learning that there is always 
more to learn; about the emphasis we place 
on creativity and inspiration, which provide 
the motivation to learn; and about the inno- 
vative spirit of experimentation and striving 
to be more than we would otherwise be, 
which we seek to instill in our students. 

As you think about the time between 
now and May 1995 (a time that will pass 
all too quickly), I hope you keep these 
thoughts in mind. As you prepare yourself 
to play leadership roles in engineering, sci- 
ence, business, education, politics or gov- 
ernment, these aspects of a WPI education 
will serve you well. 

WPI's educational program is particu- 
larly well-suited to those students who feel 
what I have come to call the need to lead. 
Who are these people? They are 

• Those who recognize the country's need 
for leaders who can recapture our inter- 
national competitiveness 

• Those who take no pride in the failure 
of our elementary and secondary edu- 
cational systems 

• Those who recognize that we will need 
new design approaches to keep our 
country's man-made infrastructure from 

• Those who see the enormously impor- 
tant wave of economic and social change 
sweeping the world as a movement in 
which to participate, not just observe 

• And those who see as a social need and 
a vast economic opportunity the con- 
struction of an infrastructure to help 
meet the needs of Eastern Europe, 
Russia, Southeast Asia, Latin and South 
America, Africa and the lesser-developed 

Before I talk about the special attributes 
of WPI's academic programs, it might be 
valuable to go over some of the unique 
aspects of the WPI Plan. Our academic year 
consists of four seven-week terms. Students 
take three courses each term (each is worth 
1/3 unit — 16 units equals four years of 
study; 15 units are needed to graduate). The 
only grades awarded are A, B and C (grade 
reports that are blank because a student 
earned less than a C in every course are 
called snowflakes in WPI slang). 

To graduate, a student must complete 
four physical education courses, broad dis- 
tribution requirements in areas of study per- 
tinent to his or her major, two social science 
courses, a Major Qualifying Project or MQP 
(which deals with a problem in one's major 
field of study), an Interactive Qualifying 
Project or IQP (which relates science and 
technology to social concerns and human 
needs), and a Sufficiency or minor in the 

Now, how does this hodgepodge prepare 
you for leadership? Well, the faculty might 
say that you will never be marked with a fail- 
ing grade for trying to master the content 

and concepts of any course at WPI, for if 
you are indeed lamps to be lit, and not buck- 
ets to be filled, we shouldn't dampen your 
spirits by labeling you a failure. 

Equally important, with seven-week 
terms you will not be burdened to the point 
of distraction by juggling six courses at the 
same time, struggling to master more facts 
than you can possibly assimilate. At WPI 
you will be responsible for three courses or 
their project equivalents at any one time. Of 
course, you will be responsible for learning 
the content of those courses fully, a respon- 
sibility that should require more of you than 
you might think. 

Then there are the projects — the MQP, 
IQP and Humanities Sufficiency. The prac- 
tice of engineering, the conduct of scientific 
inquiry, and the management of organiza- 
tions do not depend on turning in home- 
work, but on completing projects on time. 
To tackle projects one needs a mastery of 
technical disciplines (you will develop that 
by turning in your homework), a command 
of scheduling, the ability to work as part of 
a team, and communication skills. Above all, 
one needs the ability to synthesize informa- 
tion and solve problems. 

Certain of the projects prepare you for 
challenges that lie beyond the narrow con- 
fines of your technical discipline. Few engi- 
neers and scientists remain strictly within 
their original disciplines for more than a 
decade or so. Successful practitioners often 
move into management, where they must 
work with and compete against graduates of 
liberal arts programs. In addition, engineers 
and scientists must offer leadership — not 
just in technology development, but in the 
public use of that technology. 

No matter what your major, the MQP 
should provide a culminating experience in 
that discipline, help you develop self-confi- 
dence, enhance your communication skills, 
and ensure that you can synthesize the fun- 
damental concepts of the field. If your major 
is chemistry, you will achieve these goals in 
the laboratory, using state-of-the-art tech- 
nology to examine advancing theory. If you 
major in management, your MQP will likely 
focus on the increasing role that technology 
plays in modern production. In mathemat- 
ics, you might complete a theoretical thesis 
exploring graph theory or the motion of 
stellar systems. 

With the diversity of intellectual oppor- 
tunities available — a real strength of the 
MQP program — the learning experience 
can be tailored to the educational needs 
and individual interests of each student. 
Still, this diversity can get in the way of 
forming a true picture of the benefits of the 
MQP. Because so many of you are engineer- 
ing majors, and because design is so integral 


Summer 1992 

to the engineer's experience, let me use a 
group of engineering-design projects as an 
example of the substantive experience of 
the MQP. 

The M1TRE/WPI space shuttle projects 
program produced an experimental pay- 
load that was launched on the space shuttle 
Columbia on June 5, 1991. We are now de- 
coding and analyzing the experimental data 
that the package gathered. The experiments 
were developed by undergraduate students 
working with WP1 faculty in MQP teams and 
were financially and technically supported 
by NASA, MITRE Corp., AT&T, Raytheon, 
Digital Equipment Corp., Norton, General 
Electric and many other sponsors. (MITRE's 
support has been continuous since the start 
of the program in 1982; the corporation is 
now helping WPI students develop a second 
set of experiments we hope to launch during 
your academic careers here.) 

Among the experiments was one that 
sought to grow large and potentially 
valuable zeolite crystals in microgravity. 

Another studied the behavior of fluids in 
space. Student teams also developed an 
electronic system to record data on the en- 
vironment inside the canister that housed 
the experiments; the power supply and dis- 
tribution systems; the control and monitor- 
ing systems; and a physical structure to 
support and protect all of this. Typical of 
WPI, the payload also carried an experiment 
on film fogging designed by a sixth-grader. 

Just as engineers in the real world must 
face trade-offs, the students had to deter- 
mine how much of the package's limited 
space and weight to allocate to each experi- 
ment and how much battery power each 
would be allowed. This was a valuable ex- 
perience. As a result, 1 can assure you that 
while there is a lot of good solid science and 
engineering in the experiments, there is also 
a lot of camaraderie, long nights of trial and 
error, friendships and linked careers. 

Some of you may find the idea that your 
graduation will depend on the completion 
of a project like this a little intimidating. I 

can assure you that the shuttle program 
students had the same feeling when they 
were starting their college careers. They 
stretched themselves, and their project 
advisors were there to help. Think of the 
special feeling those students (now alumni) 
must have today. Then think about how the 
faculty must feel about the accomplish- 
ments of those students. 

Just as it will not be possible for a truly 
educated person of the next century to be 
ignorant of technology, nor can a techni- 
cally based education be thought of as well- 
rounded unless it has a strong liberal arts 
component. Recognizing the growing impor- 
tance of the interaction between technology 
and society, the WPI faculty developed the 
idea of the IQP in the early 1970s. 

Today WPI is providing opportunities for 
students to complete their IQPs at project 
centers around the world. In addition to the 
center I helped establish in Washington, 
D.C., we now have residential programs in 
London, San Francisco, and San Juan, 

WPI Journal 


Christina G. Correia '92 worked on basic research in 
genetics for her MQP, one of a wide range of ways 
undergraduates can complete this versatile project. 

Puerto Rico. We have project programs in 
Bangkok, Hong Kong, Taipei and Venice. WPI 
has also established foreign exchange pro- 
gram agreements with technical universities 
in Belgium, Canada, Ecuador, France, Ger- 
many, Ireland, Italy, Russia, Sweden and 
Switzerland. The learning opportunities 
in these countries create an atmosphere in 
which students can fully appreciate the glo- 
bal scope of the interactions between social 
and technical forces. 

As you might imagine, topics for IQPs 
cover a broad spectrum. For example, one 
IQP group, working with the National Asso- 
ciation of Manufacturers at the Washington, 
D.C., Project Center, reviewed federal policy 
on Superfund cleanups and its likely impact 
on corporate decision making. Several years 
ago a student analyzed the potential envi- 
ronmental impacts of mining on the moon. 
He recently received his Ph.D. in chemical 
engineering at WPI, completing his doctoral 
thesis on the feasibility of mining ilmenite 
on the moon to extract oxygen for a lunar 
base. I think Robert Goddard, a member of 
WPI's Class of 1908, would be proud. 

Interactive Qualifying Projects like these 
have reinforced in the minds of the faculty 
the notion that integration is a powerful 
educational concept. At WPI that notion is 
particularly true in the humanities. A few de- 
cades ago, dissatisfied with the superficial 
approach to the humanities traditionally 
taken here and at other colleges and univer- 
sities of science and engineering, the Insti- 
tute created the Humanities Sufficiency. It 
has become the core of the college's com- 
mitment to the humanities as an integral 

part of the education of 
scientists and engineers. 

Perhaps the best way to 
illustrate the nature of the 
Sufficiency is to provide two 
examples. To complete this 
degree requirement, students 
must take a thematically re- 
lated sequence of five humani- 
ties courses and complete a 
culminating research project. 

Here are the courses one 
student took: 

• History of Technology 

• European Technological 

• American Science and 
Technology to 1859 

• American Science and 
Technology from 1859 

• Science, Technology 
and Society 

His Sufficiency was called 
Yorktown and Gettysburg: A 
Comparative Study of Strategy, 
Tactics and Technology. 
Another student took these courses: 

• History of Technology 

• Concepts in Philosophy and Religion 

• Religion and Social Ethics 

• Religions of the World 

• Religions of the East 

The Sufficiency was titled The Engineer 
as a Whistle Blower. 

You may not have given much thought to 
how the humanities can make you a better 
electrical engineer; please give it consider- 
able thought. 

I've said the WPI Plan will prepare you 
for the future. But what will that future hold 
for you? Well, the engineer of the third mil- 
lennium will probably have to make more 
out of less, designing to conserve already 
severely depleted resources. She will work 
with machines so complex that design ad- 
justments will be made to "words" in com- 
puter programs, rather than to actual bolts 
or nuts. 

Her education must give her a breadth 
of vision sufficient to see real social needs, 
as well as a depth of technical competence 
that will enable her to design more than just 
"gadgets of gratification." In short, it must 
be an education that is professional in con- 
tent and liberal in scope. 

What else will your future hold, and how 
will your world differ from mine and that of 
your parents? My generation saw the con- 
struction of the Berlin Wall; it also saw John 
Kennedy predict its demise with the simple 
but powerful declaration, "Ich bin ein Ber- 
liner." Most of you were alive for neither 
event, but in typically unpredictable fash- 
ion, you saw the wall come tumbling down. 

No matter how encouraging, the changes 
we are observing in Russia and Eastern 
Europe are a beginning, not an end. What 
we are seeing is the consequence of man's 

Many students, including Beth A. Buscher '89 and Michael J. Carroll '89, standing, 
complete their IQPs by helping improve science education in the public schools. 


Summer 1992 

From left, Daniel J. Smith '91 , Tony M. Yee '91 and James C. Wilkinson '91 completed 
an IQP at WPI's London Project Center, one of several international project programs. 

desire for freedom. These events hint at a 
more hopeful time than we've known before, 
but putting in place the economic infra- 
structures of a free enterprise system in 
those regions will be an arduous task, re- 
quiring truly educated leadership. I chal- 
lenge you to make your contributions, and 
to take your places among those leaders. 

When the European Economic Commu- 
nity unites at the end of 1992, it will mount 
an extraordinary challenge to America's 
economic future; that challenge will also be 
an extraordinary opportunity for the begin- 
ning of the third millennium. It is an oppor- 
tunity for which you will be well-prepared. 

You will also be well-prepared to appreci- 
ate the plight of the children of Hong Kong 
in 1997, and perhaps to lend them a hand. 
Last year a group of WPI students com- 
pleted an IQP there in cooperation with the 
Office of the Registrar General. They sat 
over strong tea and discussed the implica- 
tions of changes to Hong Kong's Basic Law. 
Other WPI students with equally important 
projects to undertake will assume their 
places in Hong Kong, in Washington D.C., 
in San Francisco, in Venice, in London, in 
Bangkok, in Taipei, and in San Juan. Where 
will your place be? 

Alvin Toeffler's Future Shock of two de- 
cades ago brings to mind our inability to re- 

spond to rapid change. We at WPI must, as a 
recognized world leader of innovation in un- 
dergraduate education, be comfortable with 
change and encourage change relevant to 
the professions to which our students aspire. 

For example, we have a special obliga- 
tion to help improve precollege education 
in America. The parents here today should 
realize that their sons' and daughters' gen- 
eration includes shocking numbers of indi- 
viduals who will never acquire even the 
basic skills of literacy. They will be the core 
of America's work force, the men and women 
with whom your children — our students — 
will work to produce the world's goods and 

We must take our obligation to improve 
precollege learning quite seriously. In that 
vein, I ask every student here today to con- 
sider volunteer service during your college 
career. Think of how you might contribute to 
the learning process for someone less fortu- 
nate than yourself— a youngster struggling 
with concepts you've already mastered. De- 
velop a pattern of giving of yourself. 

Feeling comfortable with change requires 
dialogue, thoughtful reflection and rational 
debate— that's what we do well here at WPI. 
Our curriculum is designed to develop these 
critical thinking skills, to make you aware of 
your responsibilities to society, and to help 

you apply your technical abilities and know- 
ledge to the solutions of significant problems. 

Without doubt, given enough resources, 
time and effort, today's technology can solve 
many problems, and can advance our collec- 
tive understanding and social accomplish- 
ment significantly. Already during my lifetime, 
I've seen the development of a polio vaccine, 
the untold promises of recombinant DNA 
technology, the Apollo program's giant leap, 
satellite communications, and the explora- 
tion of the solar system. But technology can 
bring unanticipated problems as well as ben- 
efits. The challenge to today's generation is 
to answer the question of which technology 
should be brought to bear on which of 
society's problems. 

WPI is much more than an academic 
community of high intellectual standards. It 
is also an environment carefully crafted to 
allow each student to meet those standards 
in his or her own way. College is many things 
to many people: it's the making of lifelong 
friendships; it's the process of learning to 
learn; it's a passage to scholarship; it's a com- 
munity of traditions and common values; and 
it's a spirit of respect for intellectual inquiry. 

At WPI, the college experience includes 
feeling Alumni Gymnasium shake from the 
roar of the crowd at a home wrestling match; 
walking through Alden Memorial on a rainy 
day and sharing thoughts with the portraits 
of the Institute's founders; and walking in 
the footsteps of former students like Robert 

It's remarkable that WPI's faculty has 
remained true to the commitment to educa- 
tional innovation that Rossiter Raymond ad- 
mired in his Commencement address more 
than a century ago. The consequence of that 
commitment is that the WPI curriculum is an 
innovative, substantive response to the need 
to lead. 

It's a preparation for those who have the 
potential to recognize their deeper responsi- 
bilities to society, and to accept a leadership 
role, helping to set the direction of techno- 
logical advancement for the country. It's a 
preparation that results in scientific and 
quantitative competence, a humanist's under- 
standing of the applications of science and 
technology, and an appreciation for the social 
and cultural influences of the world in which 
we live. In Mark Twain's view, it leads one to 
appreciate all we have yet to learn. 

I hope your time at WPI will prepare you 
well to seek that undiscovered knowledge. I 
hope you will find as you receive your degrees 
four years from now that we have met our 
obligation to you and to Plutarch, to fire your 
imaginations, to kindle your creative spirit 
and to ignite your hunger to learn. And once 
lit, I hope your flames burn brightly and truly 
illuminate the world. 

WPI Journal 



Karen Berka: 
The Nancy Drew of the Crime Lab 

As a young girl, Karen M. Berka '86 
was addicted to Nancy Drew mys- 
tery novels. Today, like the young 
heroine of those stories, Berka also helps 
track down criminals and solve mysteries. 
But as a forensic chemist at the Indiana 
State Police Laboratory in Indianapolis, 
she uses tools and techniques that Nancy 
Drew might have found quite remarkable. 

"I detect crime not with a badge and a 
gun, but by applying natural science to 
matters of law," Berka says. The daughter 
of Ladislav H. Berka, professor of chemis- 
try at WP1, and Barbara Berka, a science 
teacher at the Bancroft School in Worces- 
ter, she majored in chemistry at the Insti- 
tute and received her bachelor's degree 
with distinction. Inspired by a television 
interview she had seen as a seventh-grader 
with a woman chemist in the Boston Crime 
Lab, she went on to earn a master's degree 
in forensic science with a concentration 
in criminalistics at the University of New 
Haven in Connecticut. 

Criminalistics is the branch of forensic 
science concerned with the examination of 
evidence, such as blood, body fluids, hair, 
fibers, drugs and arson accelerants. While 
at the University of New Haven, Berka did 
a summer internship in the criminalistics, 
fingerprint and firearms sections of the 
Maine State Police Crime Laboratory. She 
says observing actual casework and help- 
ing chemists and state police officers 
proved to be a valuable experience. "It 
was interesting to see how evidence was 
received and examined in the real world." 

As a graduate student, Berka worked 
as a teaching assistant in the chemistry 
department and as a research assistant 
in the University of New Haven's forensic 
science department. In 1988, through a 
grant from the National Institute of Jus- 
tice, she began working for the forensic 
science department full time as a principal 
research associate. 

Before joining the Indiana State Police 

Laboratory, Berka conducted research at 
the Connecticut State Police Crime Labora- 
tory, where she helped develop reliable 
methods for identifying human skeletal 
remains. "The work was based on the fact 
that human bone contains red and white 
blood cells," she says, "These cells contain 
genetic material, such as blood-group sub- 

"I detect crime 
not with a badge 

and a gun, 

but by applying 

natural science 

to matters of law." 

stances and DNA. We used the genetic in- 
formation we obtained from the bones to 
individualize them." 

This technique should prove useful in 
identifying victims of airplane crashes or 
explosions, when forensic scientists may 
have only bone remains to work with. In 
cases where only bone fragments are 
found, it will be possible to determine if 
they come from more than one person. 
The method may also help in the identifi- 
cation of the remains of soldiers missing 
in action in Vietnam and other wars. 

From 1988 to 1990, Berka and her col- 
leagues worked to refine the method used 
to identify victims' ABO blood types from 
genetic material found in the bones. Start- 
ing in 1990, they concentrated their efforts 
on recovering sufficient amounts of DNA 

to further narrow the identification of 
bone samples. 

Berka and her research group pub- 
lished their findings in several national and 
international forensic science journals and 
made presentations at FBI symposia and at 
professional meetings around the world. 
Last year she attended the International 
Association of Forensic Scientists' triennial 
meeting in Adelaide, Australia, where she 
presented the data in a poster session. 
Delegates to the meeting came from all 
over the world, including Australia, En- 
gland, France, Germany, Japan and Russia. 

"I made valuable contacts with many 
scientists and police investigators," 
Berka says. After the meeting she toured 
Australia and visited the forensic labs in 
Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. She says 
she found it fascinating to see how another 
country deals with the analysis of crime 
scene evidence. She says she hopes to 
visit European forensic labs when she 
travels to the next international meeting 
in Germany in 1993. 

In addition to performing research, 
Berka has taught an introductory course 
on forensic science for undergraduates at 
the University of New Haven. She belongs 
to Phi Lambda Upsilon, the chemistry 
honor society, and the chemistry and law 
section of the American Chemical Society. 
She is a trainee-affiliate of the American 
Academy of Forensic Science. 

Berka, who worked in blood and body- 
fluid analysis during a six-month training 
period at the Indianapolis crime labora- 
tory, says she is enjoying her new job. 
"I'm looking forward to eventually giving 
testimony in the courtroom," she says. 

She adds that she still enjoys reading 
mystery novels and hopes to write her 
own mystery story based on her knowl- 
edge of and experience in forensic science. 
Several of her poems have already been 
published in local literary magazines. 

—Ruth Trask 


Summer 1992 


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WPI Journal 





':■ . . .' 

Walking the Talk Diane Benison 

Everybody's talking about total quality management these days, but it takes 

more than talk to adopt this hot new approach to managing enterprises. 

Xerox Rises from the Ashes of Failure Diane Benison 

Plagued by arrogance and lackluster products, Xerox seemed doomed to failure. 

Then it discovered TQM. What followed was a remarkable corporate turnaround. 

Midwives to Change Diane Benison 

At Motorola, Bausch & Lomb, Hamilton Standard and Polaroid, WPI alumni 

are helping give birth to highly successful TQM programs. 

Fall Madness 

In just a few, frenetic days each fall, life at WPI is utterly transformed as 
the students return and make the campus theirs, once more. 

A Stellar Achievement Michael Dorsey 

It seemed an impossible dream: build a major crystal growth experiment for a 

NASA space lab in just 18 months. Here's how a team from WPI beat the odds. 

Court of Honor Ruth Trask 

His compassion and fairness on the bench and his efforts on behalf of the rights 

of victims earned Ernest Hayeck '47 the title of America's top judge. 


2 Advance Word: Not so Wild a Dream. Michael Dorsey 

3 Letters: Here's Where the Money Goes at WPI; 

Big Numbers and "Wet Paint" Signs; Perspectives on Technology and Society. 

6 Communique: What Does Quality Mean at WPI? Diran Apelian 
40 Final Word: Bob Sinicrope 71 Finds Joy and Fulfillment in All That Jazz. Ruth Trask 

Front Cover: Paul Allaire at Xerox headquarters in Stamford, Conn. Story on page 13. Photo by 
Ted Kawalerski. Opposite: Ernest Hayeck '47 in his Worcester courtroom. Story on page 36. Photo by 
Janet Woodcock. Back Coven Astronauts Dick Richards and Bonnie Dunbar float before WPI's Zeolite 
Crystal Growth Experiment aboard the space shuttle Columbia in June. A photograph of Albert Sacco, 
head of WPI's Chemical Engineering Department, can be seen by Richard's left hand. Story on page 26. 
Photo courtesy of NASA. 

Staff of the WPI Journal: Editor, Michael W. Dorsey • Alumni News Editor, Ruth S. Trask • Writers, Bonnie Gelbwasser and Neil Norum • Designer, Carol Hoyle Ballard 

• Photographer, Janet Woodcock • Alumni Publications Committee: Samuel Mencow '37, chairman • Paul J. Cleary '71 • James S. Demetry '58 • Judith Donahue SIM '82 

• William J. Firla Jr. '60 • William R. Grogan '46 • Carl A. Keyser '39 • Robert C. Labonte '54 • Roger N. Perry Jr. '45 • Harlan B. Williams '50 • The WPI Journal (ISSN 0148-6128) 
is published quarterly for the WPI Alumni Association by the Office of University Relations. Second class postage paid at Worcester, MA, and additional mailing offices. 
Printed by The Lane Press, Burlington, Vt. 

Diverse views presented in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or official WPI policies. We welcome letters to the editor. Address correspondence 
to the Editor, WPIJournal, WPI, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609-2280. Phone: (508) 831-5609, FAX: (508) 831-5604, Electronic mail (Internet): 
Postmaster: If undeliverable, please send form 3579 to the address above. Do not return publication. Entire contents ®1992, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. 


Not So Wild a Dream 

On a cold, sunny day early in 1991, a 
group of restless elementary school 
students files into the gymnasium of 
their school in central Massachusetts and 
the students sit in rows on the floor. They 
quickly settle down when the principal 
stands to introduce a tall, muscular man 
dressed in the familiar blue jumpsuit worn 
by U.S. astronauts. The speaker switches 
on a slide projector and instantly trans- 
ports his young audience to a dreamlike 
world where people float gracefully 
through the air and gaze down on the 
brilliant blue-green planet below them. 

As an alternate payload specialist for 
the first United States Microgravity Labora- 
tory (USML-1), one of the most ambitious 
missions ever flown aboard a NASA space 
shuttle, Albert Sacco Jr. has already visited 
nearly 3,000 children in schools like this 
around the country, explaining how astro- 
nauts live and work in space and trying to 
get the next generation excited about the 
prospect of someday traveling into the fi- 
nal frontier as scientists and engineers. 

For Sacco, head of WPI's Chemical 
Engineering Department, talking to young 
students about space is truly a labor of 
love, for it was as a youngster growing up 
in Belmont, Mass., that he himself caught 
the space bug. He was in second grade 
when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. 
Later, as a sixth-grader, he thrilled to the 
exploits of Gagarin, Shepard and Grissom. 
In those early days of manned spaceflight, 
he decided that he, too, would one day 
know the thrill of riding a pillar of flame 
into orbit. 

Over the years, when he was not work- 
ing at Mario's, the Boston restaurant and 
bar owned by his former-prizefighter 
father, or making touchdown passes as 
the quarterback on the Belmont High 
School football team, he watched the 
launches and splashdowns on TV and 
filled a scrapbook with news clippings 
about the men who rode the rockets of 
Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. 

He graduated from high school in 1968, 
just a year before Neil Armstrong took his 
giant leap for mankind. Though his father 
had hoped he might become a professional 
football player, Sacco's sights 
were still set on space. 

Knowing NASA would need 
chemical engineers to design 
waste recycling systems for space- 
craft, he enrolled as a chemical en- 
gineering major at Northeastern 
University. In 1973 he was ac- 
cepted into MIT's Ph.D. program 
in chemical engineering. With a 
scholarship from NASA, he found 
a way to use the Bosch process, 
which converts carbon dioxide 
and hydrogen into water and car- 
bon, in regenerative life-support 

In 1976, married and the father 
of two daughters, he applied to 
become an astronaut. One year 
before, three U.S. astronauts had 
docked their Apollo capsule to a 
Soviet Soyuz, bringing to an end 
the first great era of American space explo- 
ration. That era included Skylab, the first 
U.S. space station, which had proven that 
astronauts can perform worthwhile scien- 
tific research in the microgravity environ- 
ment of low Earth orbit. Sacco knew that 
the space shuttle would build on that suc- 
cess, initiating a new era of space explora- 
tion that would demand a new breed of 
astronauts — space travelers drawn not 
from the ranks of military pilots, but from 
the cadre of university researchers. 

After NASA turned him down, Sacco 
became convinced his chances of follow- 
ing his heroes into space had evaporated. 
But, as you'll read in the article beginning 

on page 26, 14 years later, having forged 
a successful career as an educator and re- 
searcher at WP1, he got a second chance. 

While he is a step closer to realizing his 
dream, his role as an alternate payload 
specialist did not prove his ticket into 
space. Having completed NASA's rigorous 
astronaut training and flown a successful 
experiment aboard USML-1, Sacco says 
his chances of flying on a future mission 
should be good, providing he is willing to 
go through all over again the more than 
two years of intensive preparation re- 
quired for the USML-1 mission. 

As a NASA payload specialist, Chemical 
Engineering Department Head Albert 
Sacco Jr. has talked to nearly 3,000 
schoolchildren around the nation. 

"I didn't have a vacation or a holiday 
during those two years," he says. "I didn't 
see my family but maybe 10 or 20 times 
during that whole period. That was a big 
sacrifice. Was it worth it? I think so." 

Sacco won't say whether he will grab 
the chance to be part of another shuttle 
mission in a few years, should NASA ex- 
tend the offer. It's just too soon to know 
how he will feel then, he explains. But in 
the end, his quest to be a space traveler 
may simply be too big a dream to set 
aside. As he told a writer for a Boston 
newspaper last year, "It's what could 
be that matters, not what is." 

—Michael Dorsey 

Fall 1992 


Here's Where the Money Goes at WPI 

To the Editor: 

Ever since reading the letter by Peter 
Schoonmaker '80 (Letters, Summer 1992), 
I have been troubled about how to re- 
spond. This is not because I disagree with 
Peter's facts, and certainly not because 1 
disagree with the priorities he advances 
for WPI. It is the case, however, that we 
have been implementing the very priori- 
ties he outlines: "(1) student financial aid 
or tuition reduction, (2) faculty compensa- 
tion, and (3) direct impact facilities such 
as classrooms, laboratories and student 
housing." That is, in fact, exactly where 
the money has been going! 

Interestingly, the numbers Peter quotes 
from the 1990-91 annual report support 
this assertion. Table 2 from the Spring 
1992 WPI Journal has been reprinted here, 
once again; I've augmented it with several 
additional numbers and have changed the 
FY 1991 figures to include institutional 
work study as financial aid, as it was in 
the FY 1985 numbers. 

Table 2 (augmented) shows that total 
expenditures for financial aid were in- 
creased by 69.2 percent (9.2 percent aver- 
age annual compounded) in constant 
dollars between FY 1985 and FY 1991. This 
is significantly more than other expendi- 
ture increases during that period. More- 



FY 1985* 
(in millions 
of dollars) 

(in millions 
of dollars) 

In percent) 

Avg. Ann. 
Change (%) 


Tuition/Fees Revenue 









Total Revenues 




Instruction & Library 7.8 

Financial Aid 3.9 

(including institutional work study) 
Institutional Financial Aid 1.2 .... 







Operations and 

Plant Maintenance 

2.2 .... 




Student Services 

1.02 .. 




General Administration 

and Institutional 

1.32 .. 




WPI Tuition and Fees 

(in thousands of 1978 $s) 

4.8 .... 




'Constant Dollars, Basis: 1978 (Source: 1990-91 WPI Annual Report) 

over, the average annual percent changes 
in expenditures in constant dollars for the 
components of financial aid from institu- 
tional, endowment and external funds 
during that period were 22.7, 3.1 and -2.4, 

In other words, during that six-year pe- 
riod, when we increased total revenues (in 

WPI President Jon Strauss talks to alumni at Reunion in a renovated Alden Memorial. 

constant dollars) at an average annual rate 
of 3.0 percent, tuition and fees revenue at 
an average annual rate of 6.7 percent, and 
tuition and fees themselves at an average 
annual rate of 5.5 percent, we increased 
financial aid expenditures from institu- 
tional funds at an average annual rate of 
22.7 percent— nearly 3.5 times faster than 
tuition and fees revenue. During this pe- 
riod, undergraduate institutional financial 
aid grew from 10 percent to 23.5 percent 
of undergraduate tuition revenue. That 
sounds like a priority to me! 

Also, as that period ended, we elected 
not to increase tuition rates for 1991-92 
and have increased rates for 1992-93 by 
only 3 percent — essentially zero growth in 
constant dollars and about half the in- 
creases implemented by most of our peer 
institutions. That, too, sounds like a prior- 
ity! Moreover, with our need-blind admis- 
sions policy, we work quite hard to make 
it possible, financially, for any qualified 
applicant to attend WPI. 

Our priority on faculty compensation 
is more difficult to demonstrate from 
these data. Table 2 (augmented) shows 
that average annual expenditure increases 
(in constant dollars) were greater for in- 

WPI Journal 

struction and library (4.1 percent) than 
for student services (4.0 percent), gen- 
eral administrative and institutional 
(2.5 percent), or operations and plant 
maintenance (0 percent). Much of the 
real increase in instructional expenses 
was directed to a 10 percent increase in 
tenure-track positions over the period, 
undertaken both to accommodate a 7 
percent increase in enrollment and to 
provide faculty more time for scholarly 

In recent years, we have kept our 
average salaries for assistant profes- 
sors at the top of our comparison 
group in the Association of Indepen- 
dent Technological Universities in or- 
der to be able to attract and retain the 
very best young faculty. Unfortunately, 
the pressures of financial aid and our 
efforts to moderate our tuition in- 
creases have caused the average sala- 
ries of associate and full professors to 
slip to about the median of this com- 
parison group. Providing competitive 
compensation to our productive fac- 
ulty and staff is one of our highest 
priorities for the future. 

The priorities expressed in our capital 
improvements in recent years (Founders 
Hall, Fuller Laboratories, Institute Hall, the 
new Biosensor, Bioprocessing and Ceram- 
ics laboratories, the communications net- 
work, and classroom, laboratory and 
residence hall improvements throughout 
the campus) conform well to Peter's 
stated priorities: "direct-impact facilities 
such as classrooms, laboratories and stu- 
dent housing." And, while Peter refers to 
the renovation of Alden Memorial (funded 
totally from external sources) as "a fringe 
benefit," the hundreds of students involved 
in our various performing arts programs 
and the many students, alumni and friends 
who benefit from the new meeting facilities 
in Alden would disagree vehemently. 

Our latest physical improvement 
project, the new Fitness Center in Alumni 
Gymnasium (funded by gifts from the anni- 
versary classes of 1952, 1953, 1967 and 
1968) might also be questioned for how 
"it contributes to engineering and science 
education." But the more than 1,500 stu- 
dents and faculty who signed up to use it 
in its first week of operation would prob- 
ably argue that this facility will help pro- 
duce more of the "satisfied alumni" to 
which Peter alludes. 

Moreover, this past year our students 
(customers, in our new jargon borrowed 

Fuller Laboratories is an example of a recent 
capital improvement that has had a direct 
impact on educational excellence. 

from industry) and faculty have recom- 
mended very strongly that a new campus 
center be given the highest priority in our 
capital project planning. 

Peter faults our $450,000 landscaping 
budget without noting that it includes all 
costs for maintaining more than 60 acres 
of campus — including personnel, equip- 
ment, materials, snow removal, athletic 
field maintenance and, yes, even new flow- 
ers. That aside, it should also be noted 
that the total real expenditures for main- 
taining the physical plant did not grow 
during this six-year period, while new and 
renovated facilities added significantly to 
the underlying costs. Despite Peter's sug- 
gestion to the contrary, we find that our 
alumni, faculty, staff and students — and 
particularly prospective students and 
their parents — place a great deal of em- 
phasis on the quality and attractiveness of 
our campus, both buildings and grounds. 

Peter makes a clarion call for greater 
efficiency and more tough-mindedness on 
the part of WPI administrators and sug- 
gests, "WPI is not being managed responsi- 
bly." Without meaning to sound defensive, 
1 suggest that WPI has been mindful of the 
changes in the society around it and quick 
to adopt those industrial practices that 
will improve its effectiveness as well as 
its efficiency. 

While serving as an aide to former 
Education Secretary William J. 
Bennett, Chester E. Finn Jr., a profes- 
sor at Vanderbilt University, received 
a lot of press attention for advocating 
the "no-frills university." We at WPI 
are quite mindful of the best implica- 
tions of this concept, as evidenced by 
our success at continuing to improve 
quality while restraining prices. 

We are not, however, about to 
sacrifice the very things that make 
WPI so special to us all in a mindless 
race to a generic engineering school 
model. And, our alumni, our students 
and our prospective students have 
made it clear that many things 
Chester Finn and Peter Schoonmaker 
would consider "frills" are important 
to their decisions to matriculate at — 
and their continuing enthusiasm 
for— WPI. 

This past year has seen any num- 
ber of significant accomplishments at 
WPI that have been chronicled in the 
pages of the Journal and the WPI Wire, 
including the retention of our No. 1 
ranking among comprehensive univer- 
sities in the North by U.S. News and World 
Report, the reaffirmation of our institu- 
tional accreditation by the New England 
Association of Schools and Colleges, the 
continued enhancement of our Global 
Perspectives Program, the establishment 
of the Center for High-Performance 
Computing, and the initiation of the 
Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics 
and Science at Worcester. 

These notable accomplishments, to 
say nothing of the extraordinary quality 
of the education we offer our students, 
the scholarly contributions of our aca- 
demic programs, and the many services 
performed in support of our society, were 
made possible, in large measure, by the 
dedication and hard work of almost every 
member of the WPI family and by the fiscal 
responsibility that is a watchword of this 
distinctive institution. And, most of these 
contributions would not continue without 
the strong advocacy and generous finan- 
cial support of alumni and friends. 

Having said all this, I certainly do 
agree with Peter's concluding notion that 
readers of the Journal should make them- 
selves heard. If one measure of that is 
more giving designated for financial aid, 
there could not be a better outcome. 
Jon C. Strauss 
President of WPI 

Fall 1992 

Perspectives on Technology and Society 

To the Editor: 

I was particularly interested in Diane 
Benison's piece on Thomas Shannon's 
work and thoughts on bioethics ("First, Do 
No Harm," Summer 1992). It is interesting 
that a research group such as the Center 
for Theology and Natural Sciences has 
been founded to attempt to bridge the gap 
between the underlying traditions of soci- 
ety and their perceived conflicts with sci- 
ence. However, it is somewhat frightening 
that many researchers (and society itself) 
seem to place such confidence in the abil- 
ity of technology to lead us into the future 
through projects like the Human Genome 
Initiative. It reminds me of the old story 
about a man who could solve almost any- 
thing, if he could only figure out what the 
problem was. 

In his 1985 book, The Closing of the 
American Mind, Allan Bloom asked many 
penetrating questions about the historical 
position of the natural sciences in Western 
traditions. He urged us to reexamine why 
"natural" science has become so estranged 
from philosophy and the humanities. This 
question is worth more than the lip ser- 
vice it is so often given, and I believe its 
examination is part of the key to resolv- 
ing many of the agonizing issues we face, 
when, as Shannon suggests, "technology 
continues to outpace ethics and the law." 
One need only attend a public hearing on 
health risks from "hazardous" waste, and 
to observe the predictably emotional re- 
sponse often given to a dry presentation 
of toxicological data, to appreciate the in- 
herent cross-cultural mismatch, suspicion 
and distrust that can so easily occur. 

In the last 25 to 30 years we have wit- 
nessed the ostensible decline (for better 
or for worse) of many of the underpin- 
nings of our traditional models of social 
guidance (i.e. religion and family). What 
is the relationship (if any) between these 
events and our increasing distance, as a 
society, from the complex world of special- 
ized technology? The distrust in many 
traditional forms, including technology — 
especially by the young — and the simulta- 
neous emergence of a myriad of "growth 
centers" seeking spiritual or psychological 
renewal (and not, incidentally, rejecting 
much that is material and technical), seem 
to be obvious manifestations of a society 
searching for a more balanced approach 
to living. 

At the same time, few would disagree 
that the awe-inspiring discoveries of this 
period have evoked an almost religious 
sense that science is "truth," on the one 
hand, while on the other hand eliciting an 
intuitive feeling that this is not all of the 
truth — that somehow we must examine 
and appreciate things in a more humane 
context if true understanding and the best 
use of these discoveries is to be achieved. 

In a second glance at several of the ar- 
ticles in the Summer Journal, I was struck 
by the use of spiritual metaphor. In "The 
Soul of a New Center," the Holy Grail is 
equated to new supercomputing systems; 
in "Genetics and the Great Shrimp Deficit," 
we learn we can now engineer domestic 
animals; and in "A Trillion Here, A Trillion 
There," there is an expressed sense of 
amazement at the incomprehensible, end- 

Big Numbers and "Wet Paint" Signs 

To the Editor: 

Re: "A Trillion Here, A Trillion There" 
(Advance Word, Summer 1992). I agree, 
the proliferation of large number usage 
by scientists, government agencies and 
politicians has numbed the mind of the 
general public to their real significance 
and meaning. 

The largest numbers the average per- 
son will encounter in day-to-day activities 
relate to insurance, mortgage balance and 
miles shown on an automobile odometer. 
We can still relate to some degree when 
we hear of millions, but when we get to 

billions, trillions and light years our under- 
standing goes off-track. 

That is why it is comforting to see a 
"Wet Paint" sign. Now, here is something 
we can relate to; we can even test its valid- 
ity with a single finger. Perhaps what the 
world needs are more "Wet Paint" signs to 
reassure us that there is still something in 
this high-tech world we can take comfort 
in being able to understand. 

Richard C. Olson '50 
Shrewsbury, Mass. 

ing with a wonderful quote by the play- 
wright Eugene Ionesco. Perhaps this comes 
a little closer to the practical man's ac- 
knowledgment that there is an increasingly 
important necessity to question the rela- 
tionship between relatively abstract tech- 
nological concepts and the everyday world 
in which we live. Perhaps we must even de- 
vote more than "three percent of the bud- 
get" to those profoundly human questions 
— including those that arise from our mysti- 
cal and poetic sides — that are essential av- 
enues for balancing our lives and culture. 

Albert Einstein was able to see far be- 
yond his own arena, as in these remarks 
quoted in The New York Times in 1952: "It 
is not enough to teach a man a speciality. 
Through it he may become a kind of useful 
machine, but not a harmoniously devel- 
oped personality. It is essential that the 
student acquire an understanding of and a 
lively feeling for values. He must acquire a 
vivid sense of the beautiful and of the mor- 
ally good. Otherwise he — with his special- 
ized knowledge — more closely resembles a 
trained dog than a harmoniously developed 
person. He must learn to understand the 
motives of human beings, their illusions, 
and their sufferings in order to acquire a 
proper relationship to the individual man 
and to the community." 

In the end, the quality of the work of our 
era is likely to be judged in relation to the 
service rendered to society by craftsmen 
from all trades striving toward more holis- 
tic goals. Enlightened self-interest requires 
another look at our approach to the ques- 
tion, "what should these goals be?" 

Peter F. Kuniholm '61 
Pound Ridge, New York 

P.S. As a practicing consulting engineer 
who shares many of the concerns ex- 
pressed in Peter Schoonmaker's letter 
(Letters, Summer 1992), I nevertheless 
find myself hoping that WPI, while main- 
taining the New England practicality that 
so many of us have benefited from, will all 
the same resist the call to become too nar- 
rowly focused on financial matters for their 
own sake. Surely we must be prudent, but 
1 would urge emphasis on the seemingly 
abstract but critically important human 
questions of the sort being raised by 
Shannon. However, as with the concept 
of total quality management, the commit- 
ment to do so must come from the top if 
it is to be effective. 

WPI Journal 


What Does Quality Mean at WPI? 

It was a beautiful New England spring 
day. Corporate recruiters were on 
campus and the seniors were anxious, 
as their futures were beginning to take 
shape. Returning to Boynton Hall with just 
a few minutes to pick up some documents 
before heading out to yet another meeting, 
I bounded up the stairs to find that every 
available space in the second-floor recep- 
tion area — from the chairs in the confer- 
ence room to couches in the sitting 
area — was occupied by a student stooping 
over some papers. 

I also noticed Joan Szkutak 79 of 
Procter & Gamble Co., whom I had visited 
just a few weeks before in Cincinnati. We 
greeted each other and I asked what was 
going on. She said the students were being 
tested — our students, who were being re- 
cruited by Procter & Gamble, were being 
evaluated by a company test! 

1 vividly remember that experience, 
because it made me think about an impor- 
tant question, one that I have been asking 
as a matter of course since then: who are 
WPl's customers? Certainly, our students 
are our primary customers, but they are 
by no means our only customers. As my 
experience that spring day reminded me, 
the industries that hire our graduates are 
also our customers. The parents of our 
students are customers, as are their 
friends. Our customer base also includes 
our alumni, our neighbors, the companies 
and agencies that support research at WPI, 
and the people who read about that re- 
search in academic journals. In a sense, 
the whole of society is a customer of WPI. 

We also have internal customers. 
For example, faculty members who teach 
upperclass courses are, to a large extent, 
the customers of those faculty members 
who teach the freshman courses. Assess- 
ing the needs of all of our customers — 
external and internal— and ensuring 
that those needs are not only met, but 
exceeded — that is what quality should 
mean at WPI. 

In my address before the 1990 Aca- 
demic Convocation, I noted that Xerox 
Corp., under its CEO, Paul Allaire '60, had 
recently won industry's most coveted 
prize: the Malcolm Baldrige National 
Quality Award. I proposed that WPI 
strive to achieve a similar level of excel- 
lence. But the question left unanswered 
was how does one implement a quality 
program — one aimed at meeting customer 
needs — within higher education? One can 
start by looking at the criteria for the 
Baldrige Award. They are: 
Leadership, the sustaining of a clear and 
visible value system that guides the activi- 
ties of the institution, 

Information and Analysis, a quality- 
related database supporting a system 
that insists upon management by fact, 

Strategic Quality Planning, the integration 
of quality improvement efforts into the 
overall short- and long-term planning 

Human Resource Utilization, the provid- 
ing of quality education and training, and 
the tying of performance measurements to 
quality objectives, 

Quality Assurance of Services, the sys- 
tematic and continuous improvement of 
critical processes within the organization, 

Quality Results, the examination of quality 
indices (internal and external to the insti- 
tution) based on analyses of customer re- 
quirements and expectations, and 

Customer Satisfaction, being able to deter- 
mine customer requirements and expecta- 
tions, measure customer satisfaction, and 
improve the relationship/process once 
problems are identified. 

These are laudable and appropriate 
criteria, and we in higher education need 
to adapt them to the management of our 
institutions. But where do we begin? For 
the members of WPI's Blue Ribbon Task 
Force, a committee of faculty, staff, stu- 
dents and trustees that has been charged 

by the trustees and WPI President Jon C. 
Strauss to recommend measures to bring 
about financial stability at the Institute, 
based on a new vision for WPI and work- 
ing within the framework of its strategic 
plan, that starting point was a training 
session at Xerox — at the invitation 
of Paul Allaire — on the principles and 
tenets of quality management. 

The time we spent at Xerox was 
meaningful. But as we left corporate 
headquarters that day, we knew the 
challenge before us was to adapt the 
principles Xerox has used so successfully 
to our own business — higher education. 
As we thought about that challenge, a 
number of paradoxes kept creeping up. 
For example: 

Student learning is difficult to measure. 

We do teaching evaluations in which 
students answer such questions as "Was 
the teacher well-prepared?" and "Does 
he or she present the material in an orga- 
nized and clear manner?" But teaching 
evaluations are not exactly learning 

Student grades may be misleading 
indicators. The WPI Competency Exam 
seems like a better system than grades 
to assess learning. This terminal degree 
requirement, adopted and implemented 
by the WPI faculty as part of the WPI 
Plan, but later phased out in favor of dis- 
tribution requirements, asked students 
to marshal all they had learned at the 
Institute to solve a real problem. 

Academic freedom of the faculty and 
student satisfaction cannot and should 
not be in conflict. The faculty and the 
students should be partners in the learn- 
ing process, each striving for the same 
goal: a challenging experience for stu- 
dents that stretches them intellectually 
and creates in them a passion for learn- 
ing that will stay with them for life. In 
that endeavor, the faculty's need for 
freedom and the students' demand for 

Fall 1992 

a satisfying educational experience should 
be consonant. 

These paradoxes are not impediments; 
rather they point out that we need a new 
model for higher education — a new para- 
digm based on quality principles. There 
are compelling reasons to consider adopt- 
ing such an approach. Here are four: 

• A significant portion of what many of us 
at WPI do could be classified as rework. 
We fix problems that keep repeating. 

• Miscommunication seems to abound 
among the members of our community. 

• Shared governance on campus seems to 
mean shared authority and not shared 
responsibility. Authority and responsibil- 
ity ought to be inseparable. 

• There is a great deal of "talking about 
each other," rather than "talking with 
each other." 

WPI is a special place. The intellectual 
vibrancy and the commitment of the fac- 
ulty and the staff to the Institute's mission 
is genuine. Institutional pride is abundant. 
Adopting quality principles will alleviate 
the process problems we've experienced 
and take us to a higher level of satisfaction 
about all we do. 

So far I've addressed quality principles 
in a general way. Quite specific to our cul- 

WPI, like all 
institutions of 
higher education, 
can benefit from 
the quality princi- 
ples being adopted 
successfully by 
major corporations 
like Xerox, notes 
WPI's provost, 
Diran Apelian. 

ture in higher educa- 
tion, I am proposing 
that we consider the 
following imperatives: 

1. Synergisms and 
consonance of goals 
are required at all lev- 
els — from the presi- 
dent, to the provost, to 
the department heads, 
to the faculty, and to 
every member of the 
staff. Shared gover- 
nance (shared respon- 
sibility, not just shared 
authority) between the faculty and the ad- 
ministration needs to be reinforced. 

2. Decisions must be based on facts. This 
applies to policy and operational decisions 
and requires that every one of us be knowl- 
edgeable in assessing, evaluating, measur- 
ing and distilling the facts out of the data. 

3. We must concentrate on fixing the 
process, not the problem. That means 
getting to the root cause of problems and 
fixing the underlying processes that give 
rise to them. 

4. We need to benchmark at all levels. 
We must measure our strengths, our vul- 
nerabilities and our opportunities against 
those of our competitors. 

5. Training — at all levels — should be a 
high priority. In general, universities do 
not do a good job in this arena. We need 
to infuse much of our energies and re- 
sources into training and educating our 
staff. In addition, recognition, reward and 
performance evaluation should be aligned 
with the institution's quality objectives, 
which in turn should be based on its value 
system and its vision. 

Benchmarking is an interesting case 
in point. It is crucial, for example, that the 
faculty be cognizant of the needs of indus- 
try. They should know what the industries 

that hire our graduates look for. They 
should also know the reasons why some 
industries don't hire our graduates. 

But it is not enough to benchmark; we 
must work together to use the information 
we gather. It is important, for example, that 
our "production team" (the faculty) and 
our "marketing team" (our Career Develop- 
ment Office) work together to meet the 
needs of our industrial customers. Perhaps 
5 percent of the faculty (on a rotational 
basis) should be involved with the 
Institute's placement function. 

Similarly, the production team and 
the "sales team" (the Admissions Office) 
should be better aligned, perhaps by hav- 
ing 5 percent of the faculty be involved 
with the admissions function of the Insti- 
tute. The way we run our "business" will 
dramatically change if we develop such 
cross-functional relationships. 

The five imperatives I outlined above 
call for change. Such change will bring 
about total empowerment, a united com- 
munity and an environment in which 
every person in the organization knows 
how crucial his or her job or function is 
to the institution's well-being. 

It will bring an inner satisfaction to 
every member of the community to know 
that his or her contributions make a sig- 
nificant difference. But change is not easy; 
more accurately, it is very difficult. It re- 
quires shedding old views and rethinking 
anew. As John Kenneth Galbraith ob- 
served, "Faced with the choice between 
changing one's mind and proving that 
there is no need to do so, almost every- 
body gets busy on the proof." 

At WPI we have committed ourselves to 
opening minds. We have worked to create 
an environment in our classrooms and 
laboratories that encourages students to 
question, to analyze and to synthesize. 
Now it is time for us to consider how qual- 
ity initiatives can help us do these jobs 
even better. As I noted in my 1990 Convo- 
cation address, "Let us be recognized for 
our total quality program in everything 
we do. We will be the only college in the 
nation that will have implemented such 
a philosophy. Let us be the envy of our 
peers, and the college of choice for all po- 
tential students. 1 know we can do it; there 
are no limits to what we can do together." 
— Diran Apelian 

Apelian is WPI's provost and vice president 
for academic affairs. 

WPI Journal 

Walking the Talk: 

Managements New Philosophy of Quality 

By Diane Benison 

Before too long, there may be 
just two kinds of companies in 
the world: those that follow 
the philosophy of total quality 
management and those that 
go out of business. Here is the 
story behind this powerful 
technique and a look at how 
it's turned the tide for several 
major American corporations. 

Editor's Note: It's hard to pick up 
a professional publication in any 
discipline these days without 
reading something about total 
quality management (TQM), or 
continuous improvement, as it is 
also called. This approach to man- 
aging organizations first took 
hold in industry but is now finding 
advocates in all sorts of institu- 
tions (see Communique, page 6, 
for a look at how TQM may find a 
home at WPI). In the pages that 
follow, the Journal explains how 
TQM works, how it can help 
make a corporation more com- 
petitive, and the steps an organi- 
zation must take—and the 
commitment it must make — to 
adopt it. Then, starting on page 13, 
you'll find out how five major 
American corporations — and 
WPTs own Management Depart- 
ment — are putting the principles 
of TQM to good use. 


1 otal quality management isn't for 
I! everyone. Most certainly, it's not 
1 for the faint of heart, the impatient, 
■ the autocratic, or those who feel 
^L they've paid their dues and want to 
maintain the status quo until death or retire- 
ment, whichever comes first. 

But establishing a corporate culture 
based on a philosophy of continuous im- 
provement may be the single most impor- 
tant step a company can take to gain and 
maintain an edge in today's highly competi- 
tive marketplace. Some TQM proponents 
will go so far as to say that companies that 
don't institutionalize the philosophy of con- 
tinuous improvement will simply not sur- 
vive as global competition intensifies. 

Xerox Corp., which was humbled in the 
1980s as customers judged its products and 
services inadequate, credits its turnaround 
to a decision to adopt TQM (see page 13). 
Company representatives candidly explain 
that making the shift took more time and 
was far more difficult than expected. They 
also say the process of change was filled 
with setbacks. 

But by sticking with TQM through these 
ups and downs, Xerox engineered a highly 
celebrated comeback. Its products are once 
again held in high esteem in the market- 
place — something clearly reflected in its 
bottom line. And, as a result of adopting 
quality programs, the company won the 
Department of Commerce's prestigious 
Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award 
in 1989 (see story, page 11). 

Most consumers would agree that 
when they say a product has quality 
they mean it works well and doesn't break 
right away. But in the last decade the word 
has come to stand for much more than that. 
As defined by companies that espouse 


Understand customers' needs 

Evaluate & improve processes 
to meet needs 

Develop measurement systems to 
track progress 

Educate, reward, communicate 

Set reach-out goals 

continuous improvement, quality products 
and services are those that satisfy customer 
expectations for function, performance and 
price. In the world of TQM, they note, it is 
the customer who defines quality, not the 
designer, the engineer, the assembler or the 
accounting office. 

But the organizational model that still 
prevails in much of the U.S. workplace is an 
autocratic, hierarchical one where workers 
are told what to do by the layers of manage- 
ment above them. For this reason, imple- 
menting continuous improvement takes 
top-to-bottom change. First and foremost, 
it requires workers and managers to change 
their attitudes about each other, and to 
examine how they think about work. 

Implementing a TQM program also 
means learning to use complex statistical 
and analytical tools. It means abandoning 
turf wars and politics-as-usual. It means 
replacing serial, segmented product devel- 

Fall 1992 

opment and design with the principles 
of concurrent engineering. And it means 
learning to work cooperatively, listening to 
others, and empowering subordinates to act 
in the best interests of the customer. 

Change of this magnitude is difficult, but 
the rewards are great, say those who've 
made the change, for a philosophy of con- 
tinuous improvement can make a company 
more effective, efficient and profitable. 
Among other benefits reported by TQM 
companies: the time needed to move from 
conception to market with a new product 
is significantly shortened; scrap is reduced, 
saving money on raw materials and pollu- 
tion control; fewer errors are made, saving 
employees time and customers aggravation; 
the cost of manufacturing is lowered; and 
customer satisfaction and loyalty are in- 

There is another benefit, one not often 
stated explicitly. While innovation can give 
a company a big boost in market share, and 
even create new markets (Xerox's 914 plain- 
paper copier and Polaroid's first instant 
camera are good examples), it is continuous 
improvement over time that truly gives a 
company an incremental advantage over 
its competitors. To survive and prosper, 
companies need innovation and continuous 

Whether it's called total quality man- 
agement or continuous improvement, 
the goal of this new management approach 
is simple, to deliver a consistent product or 
service that does exactly what the customer 
wants. But how does a company go about 
turning that austere philosophy into a con- 
crete approach to running a real organization? 

What follows are 1 1 practical rules for 
doing just that. They are based on ideas 
culled from interviews with alumni at five 
major corporations and with researchers 
in WPI's Management Department. 

1. Use Fewer Vendors and Make 
Them Part of the Quest for Quality 

Companies that adhere to the principles 
of continuous improvement treat their ven- 
dors as partners. They tend to have fewer 
suppliers than most other companies and 
they hold them to the same standards of 
quality they apply to their own products. 

They also bring suppliers into the design 
process as new products are being devel- 
oped. This allows suppliers to enhance new 
products with their own technological ex- 
pertise. Many TQM companies also have 
vendor certification programs that require 
suppliers and prospective suppliers to dem- 
onstrate that they can adhere to the firm's 
quality standards. 



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But What do They Actually Do? 

The Problem Solving Process is very 

flexible, with application to a wide variety of 
District concerns. You will want to use this 
process when: 

•There is a gap between what is happening 
and what you want to happen 
•You want to move from a vague dissatisfac- 
tion to a solvable, clearly defined problem 
•You're not sure how to approach an issue 
The Problem-Solving Process (PSP) has six 
basic steps. Often they are shown in the 
familiar wheel: 

Like most companies that adopt total quality programs, Xerox has developed 
formal quality procedures and tools for its employees. Two key tools em- 
ployed at Xerox are a nine-step quality improvement process, left, and a 
six-step approach to solving problems. 

As it moved along the quality path, 
Xerox cut the number of vendors from 
which it purchases parts from more than 
5,000 to about 450. At the same time, it in- 
creased the quality of the material and 
components it buys. TQM companies often 
open their training classes to their vendors, 
teaching them right along with their own em- 
ployees to use the statistical and procedural 
tools needed to identify problems, reduce 
variation and produce consistent quality. 

2. Let the Voice of the Customer 
Drive the Quality Process 

Just as TQM companies must treat their 
vendors differently, they also change the 
way they interact with their customers. 
They listen to customers and gather data 
about them by observation. They find out 
how well their products are meeting the 
needs of their customers, and how those 
needs may change in the future. 

When customer surveys uncover dis- 
satisfaction, TQM companies find out what 
went wrong and work to fix it right away. 
More important, they delegate to the lowest 
possible level of the corporation the author- 
ity to make those fixes, and give workers 
the information they need to make the best 
possible business judgments. 

These companies make sure the field 
reports filed by sales and service people 
about their products — and the problems 
customers have with them — quickly get into 
the hands of designers, marketers and fac- 
tory technicians, who just as quickly find 
solutions to those problems. This feedback 

loop assures that changes appear in a 
matter of days, instead of the months often 
required under the old, top-heavy system. 

3. Fix the Process, Not the Problem 

One of the underlying principles of TQM 
is that to create defect-free products and 
services — known as zero variation — you 
have to fix the process, not the problem, 
whether that process involves manufactur- 
ing, service or administration. Any company 
can fix a problem that crops up in its copier, 
computer, avionics component or contact 
lens, but by finding the cause of the problem 
and fixing it at its source, one can eliminate 
the chance that similar problems will arise 
in the future. 

While the idea is simplicity itself, imple- 
menting it is not. Sometimes the problem in 
a process involves people, sometimes it 
stems from a poor work flow, sometimes it's 
due to inadequate measurement or statisti- 
cal process control — sometimes it's every- 
thing. To fix a process one must use solid 
data and careful analysis. The bottom line in 
process improvement is reducing variation, 
which helps curtail the need for inspection 
— and correcting defects — at the end of the 

Richard W. Anderson, a general manager 
at Hewlett-Packard, is often quoted in corpo- 
rate training materials because he expresses 
this principle so succinctly. "The earlier you 
detect and prevent a defect," Anderson 
says, "the more you can save. If you catch 
a two-cent resistor before you use it and 
throw it away, you lose two cents. If you 

WPI Journal 























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Cpk> 1.5 





Semiconductor Products Sector 

don't find it until it has been soldered into 
a computer component, it may cost $10 to 
repair the part. If you don't catch the com- 
ponent until it is in the computer user's 
hands, the repair will cost hundreds of 
dollars. Indeed, if a $5,000 computer has 
to be repaired in the field, the expense 
may exceed the manufacturing cost." 

4. Design Quality Into Products 

TQM principles hold that many quality 
problems are the product of faulty design. 
Robust design is one way to overcome the 
limitations of traditional design methods. 
A robust design is one that takes into ac- 
count the inherent limitations of a particular 
manufacturing process, but still produces a 
reliable product time after time. 

But quality designs are worthless if it 
takes so long to produce them that the com- 
petition gets its product to market faster. 
Concurrent engineering is a way of stream- 
lining the design process and making it less 
wasteful of human energy. 

Lew Veraldi, vice president of Ford 

Motor Co., who led the team that brought 
the Taurus to market, defined the problems 
of the traditional, serial design process: 
"What someone designs and styles may be 

Companies like Motorola 
have developed formalized 
procedures, left, for 
achieving continuous 
improvement. At Motorola, 
the ultimate objective is 
reducing variation in its 
products to the level of six 
sigma, below, or 3.4 defects 
per million opportunities. 

quite another matter to engineering. And 
by the time it reaches manufacturing, there 
may be some practical problems inherent in 
the design that make manufacturing a night- 
mare. The people who actually build the 
vehicle haven't been consulted at all. And, 
marketing may well discover two or three rea- 
sons why the consumer doesn't like the prod- 
uct, and it is too late to make any changes." 

In concurrent engineering, everyone who 
will make decisions about a new product 
gets involved from the start. Potential prob- 
lems in engineering, manufacturing and mar- 
keting are identified at the beginning of the 
design stage, when it is less expensive — 
and time consuming — to correct them. And, 
by carrying on the processes of design, engi- 
neering, manufacturing engineering and 
marketing simultaneously, the whole thing 
goes much faster and products get into 
customers' hands in a fraction of the time 
needed under the old model. 

5. Use the Right Statistical Tools to 
Reduce Defects and Boost Quality 

To statisticians and industrial engineers, 
sigma (O), the 18th letter of the Greek 
alphabet, means standard deviation, a 
measurement of the range of variation in 
an object or process. In the world of TQM, 
sigma — preceded by a number — has come 
to connote the concept of quality. 




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Fall 1992 

The higher the sigma number, the fewer 
the variations from specification and, there- 
fore, the greater the quality. As William 
Wiggenhorn explained in a 1990 article in 
Harvard Business Review, "In plain English, 
six sigma translates into 3.4 defects per mil- 
lion opportunities, or production that is 
99.99966 percent defect free. By contrast... 
five sigma is 233 defects per million, and four 
sigma is 6,210 per million opportunities." 

Eliminating defects calls for some detec- 
tive work. The first step is to make variation 
visible by gathering and analyzing data as- 
sociated with the process. Then, through 
experimentation and careful tracking, one 
must find out what's causing the manufac- 
turing process to produce too great a range 
of variation. Accomplishing these tasks 
requires sophisticated measurement and 
statistical tools and a work force trained 
to use them. 

In fact, the ability to understand and use 
the tools of measurement and statistics is 
fundamental to total quality management. 
There are hundreds of statistical methods — 
commonly lumped together under the 
rubric of statistical process control (SPC) — 
that can be used in designing and optimiz- 
ing processes and products. Millions of 
words have been written about these tools. 
For example, Motorola University, an educa- 
tional subsidiary of Motorola, is compiling 
what will ultimately be an 18-volume, 7,000- 
page collection of statistical tools, case 
studies and literature called the Six Sigma 
Owner's Manual. 

Once a company has realized a quality 
gain through the use of SPC, it is important 
that that accomplishment be codified in the 
form of a new standard, and that the road 
that led to the quality boost be carefully 
documented. If similar processes are used 
in other areas of the company, managers 
there must be told how they can realize 
similar gains in quality by conforming to 
the new standard. 

6. Don't Limit the Pursuit of Quality 
to the Manufacturing Floor 

The concepts that make it possible to 
better control the manufacturing process 
can also be employed to improve adminis- 
trative functions like accounting, service, 
sales and shipping. Just as with manufactur- 
ing, one must collect data about how the 
process works, analyze the causes of the 
most significant problems and design a new 
system that offers less opportunity for error. 

Is it worth it? Imagine an accounting of- 
fice that typically records a million entries 
for its month-end closing. If the data it re- 
ceives is 95 percent accurate, that means 
there will be 50,000 errors. Correcting those 
errors will cost money and lower morale. 

Competing for Quality's 
Biggest Prize 


I he Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award 

I was established by Congress in 1987 to promote 

JL quality awareness and encourage the develop- 
ment of successful quality strategies by recognizing 
the achievements of U.S. companies. Named for the 
late secretary of commerce, the award is adminis- 
tered by the Department of Commerce and the Na- 
tional Institute of Standards and Technology, with 
help and financial support from the private sector. 

A company that believes itself to be a leader in 
total quality management may apply for the award in 
one of three categories: manufacturing companies or 
subsidiaries, service companies or subsidiaries, and 
small businesses. Up to two awards may be given 
each year in each category. Award winners agree to 
share their successful quality strategies with other 
U.S. organizations. 

Applicants are judged on their performance in 
seven categories (see Communique, page 6), each of 
which is worth a specified number of points. A perfect 
score is 1,000. Written applications are evaluated by members of a board of examiners, and 
high-scoring applicants are selected for site visits. Award recipients are recommended to the 
secretary of commerce by a panel of judges from among the applicants who receive site 
visits. All applicants receive written assessments that summarize strengths and identify 
areas that can be improved. The American Society for Quality Control helps administer the 
examination process. 

Instead of waiting to catch thousands of 
errors at the end of the process, a company 
can use SPC to seek out and eliminate the 
root cause of those errors, saving time, 
money and materials — and improving em- 
ployee morale and customer satisfaction. 

7. Make Sure the Commitment to 
Quality Starts at the Top 

The alumni interviewed for this article 
agree that the person at the top must lead 
the TQM movement in his or her company; 
that responsibility cannot be delegated. Part 
of the struggle for senior management, they 
say, especially in the early stages of change, 
is balancing long-term quality goals against 
the short-term need for financial perfor- 
mance. If the company's top person doesn't 
make continuous improvement the highest 
priority, it simply won't happen. 

Senior management must also make sure 
quality goals are linked to the strategic plan- 
ning process. The chief executive officer 
has to "walk the talk," as they say in TQM 

circles. If he or she doesn't, then in the 
words of one quality manager, "don't even 
bother; find another job." 

8. Clearly Tie Rewards and 

Recognition to Meeting Quality Goals 

As any industrial psychologist will ex- 
plain, people do what gets them rewarded. 
Many companies have found themselves 
midstream in a culture change, but still not 
making the progress they think they should. 
When senior management digs for the 
source of the problem, it often discovers 
that workers are still being rewarded for 
things that have little to do with quality. For 
example, in many companies rewards are 
tied to meeting shipping or sales quotas, 
even if that means sending out defective 
products or promising delivery dates that 
can't be met. 

TQM companies often link rewards — es- 
pecially promotions — to employees' adop- 
tion and use of quality tools and processes. 
Xerox, for example, has gone so far as to say 

WPI Journal 



















| OF | | OF | 

a DATA - a "ANALYSIS" _ 














that managers must achieve "role mode!" 
ratings in the implementation of its "Leader- 
ship Through Quality" philosophy. No role 
model rating, no promotion; it's that clear. 

Another way to reward people is through 
recognition. At least once a year, most TQM 
companies have programs similar to a trade 
show that bring together teams that have 
made quality improvements to demonstrate 
their projects. Some companies, like Xerox 
and Motorola, invite external suppliers and 
customers. The programs give public recog- 
nition to successful quality efforts and 
stimulate still more. 

9. Measure Your Performance 
Against the Best 

Benchmarking, or comparing yourself to 
the competition, has been around in various 
forms for a long time. But some bench- 
marking efforts are better than others. 

Benchmarking is more than comparing 
head counts or financial ratios. Any product 

or process can be benchmarked. The goal 
should be to benchmark one's procedures 
for making products or providing services 
against those of other companies that have 
reputations for doing an excellent job. De- 
pending on what's being benchmarked, 
the companies chosen as yardsticks need 
not be industry competitors. Xerox, for ex- 
ample, benchmarked itself against American 
Express when it wanted to reduce customer 
complaints about billing. 

It's important to remember that bench- 
marks have a limited shelf life. Markets and 
customer demands are constantly evolving, 
and a company's benchmarks must change 
with them. To be truly useful, benchmarks 
must be continuously updated. 

10. Remember That Quality has Costs, 
Though Ignoring Quality is Costlier 

There are two ways to look at the cost 
of quality: the price of conformance and the 
price of nonconformance. The price of non- 

Xerox, like all TQM 
companies, benchmarks 
its performance in a wide 
variety of areas against 
other companies known to 
be leaders in those areas. 
As step 1 in this Xerox 
procedure indicates, 
benchmarks must be 
continuously updated. 

conformance is the money a company 
spends doing things wrong. It includes the 
cost of labor and material to correct errors, 
rework defective products, process com- 
plaints and make repairs under warranty. 
It also includes opportunities lost because 
the marketplace doesn't trust you anymore. 

The price of conformance is what it 
takes to make things right the first time. 
Experts agree that conformance is signifi- 
cantly cheaper than nonconformance. 

11. Allow Enough Time for 
Quality to Take Hold 

Some companies talk about the move 
to continuous improvement as a renewal; 
others call it a revolution. But they all cau- 
tion that it takes time. Those who venture 
on this path have to be prepared for set- 
backs and failures. Some quality gurus say 
it can take 10 years to fully implement a 
TQM process in a large organization. 

The concept of continuous improvement 
is profoundly conservative at the same 
time that it is immensely revolutionary. Its 
conservativism lies in its goal of making a 
company as competitive as possible within 
its marketplace, thereby increasing profits. 
That goal is as old as business itself. 

But where TQM truly breaks new ground 
is in its rejection of the hierarchical corpo- 
rate model so pervasive in industrial his- 
tory. It replaces this entrenched concept 
with a model in which people at all levels 
of an organization have the power to make 
meaningful decisions about how best to 
serve the customer. For customers, the 
most revolutionary aspect of TQM may 
be the fact that they no longer need to 
enter the marketplace with the caution 
caveat emptor— buyer beware — foremost 
on their minds. 

Diane Benison is a former newspaper editor 
who now works as a free-lance writer and 
editor and teaches journalism in Clark 
University's College of Professional and 
Continuing Education. She wrote about the 
Center for High-Performance Computing and 
the bioethics research of Thomas Shannon 
for the Summer 1992 WPI Journal. 


Fall 1992 

Like the Phoenix, 
Xerox Rises From the Ashes of Failure 

On the Wings of Quality ^ m 

By Diane Benison 

In retrospect, Xerox Corp.'s story is 
simple. It had a technology break- 
through (the plain-paper copier) and 
cornered the copier market. It made 
enormous amounts of money and 
quickly grew to become a Fortune 500 
company. Then, because of a constellation 
of mistakes and miscues, including corpo- 
rate arrogance and denial about the threat 
of competition, it squandered its market 

In Prophets in the Dark, the book he 
wrote with management consultant David 
A. Nadler, former Xerox chairman David 
T. Kearns said that by the early 1980s he 
believed Xerox faced the real prospect of 
being a failed company sometime during the 
1990s. As early as 1980, he wrote, "there was 
beginning to be a sickening self-doubt within 
the company that we were basically living 
on borrowed time." 

Happily for Xerox stockholders and its 
more than 100,000 employees, the company 
used that time wisely. Today Xerox has 
regained some of its market share and is 
a respected player, not only in its original 
market, but in the emerging "document" 
market. So strong has that turnaround been 
that a recent story in The New York Times 
described Xerox's Model 5100 copier as a 
"case study in how to beat the Japanese." 

But few stories, particularly comeback 
stories, are simple or quick. Comebacks, 
especially on the scale achieved by Xerox, 
usually reflect painful introspection, recog- 
nition of a need to change and summoning 
of the will to make that change happen. 
Xerox needed to overhaul its corporate atti- 
tude and behavior. And, as Xerox employees 
who lived through that cultural change will 
tell anyone who'll listen, it required persis- 
tence, determination, patience, discipline 

and still more introspection. It is, they add, 
easier to say those things than to do them. 

The doing, and the resulting cultural 
growth and maturation, is the real Xerox 
story. Xerox, which today calls itself "The 
Document Company," is now known for its 
philosophy of "Leadership Through Qual- 
ity." Developing and defining that philoso- 
phy, instilling it in its employees, and training 
those men and women to make it inform 
their work each day, is what enabled Xerox 
to engineer its own turnaround. As Kearns 
proudly points out in his book, "Xerox did it 
without government subsidies, protective 
tariffs, or voluntary import quotas." 

Paul A. Allaire '60, current chairman and 
CEO, has spent more than 26 years at Xerox 
and was part of the senior management 
team responsible for salvaging the company. 
Today Allaire, a WP1 trustee, is leading 
Xerox through the next phase of its evolu- 
tion into total quality management (TQM) 
by changing the "architecture" of the com- 
pany. Having successfully spread quality 
messages and practices throughout Xerox, 
he is guiding the corporation through a new 
period of transition. 

In terms of its impact on society, many 
observers compare the invention of the 
plain-paper copier to the invention of move- 
able type. Like the latter invention, the tech- 
nology of plain-paper copying helped 
democratize the flow of information. That 
fact probably explains why the demand for 
copying machines was so great and grew so 
rapidly — much more than Xerox itself ever 
expected when its Model 914, the world's 
first plain-paper copier, was announced in 
1959. Until the commercial introduction of 
the 914, copiers required special paper much 

Now chairman and CEO, Paul Allaire 
helped engineer Xerox's turnaround. 

like that used by most fax machines today. 

The success of the 914 and the growth it 
set off caused some of Xerox's problems. By 
1972 the company controlled 60 percent of 
the overall $1.7 billion copier market and 95 
percent of the plain-paper copier market. In 
December of that year the Federal Trade 
Commission filed a complaint against Xerox 
for restraint of trade, charging, among other 
things, that Xerox illegally monopolized the 
market for copiers. As part of a settlement 
reached with the FTC in 1975, Xerox agreed 
to license its technology for plain-paper 
copying to other companies — including 
Japanese firms. 

Once Xerox was forced to license its 
technology, competitors began to nibble 
away at its business, starting at the low 
end of the market. More significantly, after 
the FTC settlement, Japanese companies 
targeted Xerox and the copier industry. 
Xerox, by then a Fortune 500 company, was 

WPI Journal 



President Bush presents the Malcolm Baldrige 
Award to former Xerox chairman David Kearns. 

earning a 19 percent return on assets, but 
that success had its price. The company 
had become arrogant. It felt unthreatened 
by the prospect of competition. Fiefdoms 
had grown up within the organization and 
their internal politics hindered cooperation. 
More serious, Xerox, in Kearns words, was 
making "inadequate products." 

Between 1976, when the FTC settlement 
was handed down, and 1982, Xerox's share 
of U.S. copier installations dropped dramati- 
cally. As market share fell, so did profits. 
The layoff of thousands of employees as a 
cost-cutting measure did nothing to address 
the deep-rooted organizational and opera- 
tional problems that beset the company 
during this period. 

So Kearns, Allaire and the rest of the 
senior management lead a year-long revo- 
lution to change the corporate culture at 
Xerox. Their goal was to make the quality 
of Xerox products so good — and so respon- 
sive to customer needs — that the company 
would regain market share, profitability 
and return on assets. That conviction fueled 
the company's revival and helped win it the 
coveted Malcolm Baldrige National Quality 
Award in 1989. 

ow did Xerox do it? 
It was, in the end, 
the result of a number 
of relatively indepen- 
dent developments that 
occurred within the 
same period of time. 

One of the first 
happened not at Xerox 
headquarters in Stam- 
ford, Conn., but in the 
countryside of Maine. 
In 1979, Robert Camp, 
an inventory control 
analyst at Xerox, de- 
cided to undertake a 
benchmarking project, 
determined to find a 
better way to handle 
distribution. He made a 
trip to L.L. Bean to find 
out how the company 
had achieved its repu- 
tation for excellence in 
wholesale distribution. 

Camp discovered 
that Bean was using bar 
codes to label every 
item in its warehouse. 
In addition, its computer 
ordering program was 
written so that when a 
customer's order was 
printed and handed to a 
warehouse employee to 
be "picked," the items were printed in the 
same sequence in which they were stored in 
the warehouse, reducing the time needed to 
fill orders. The visit 
sold Camp on the 
value of benchmarking 
and he became an ad- 
vocate for the practice 
within Xerox. Bench- 
marking was adopted 
companywide in 1981. 
Kearns, meanwhile, 
had begun making trips 
to Japan to visit Fuji 
Xerox, of which Xerox 
was a partial owner. In 
1980, when Fuji Xerox 
won the Deming Award, 
Japan's national quality 
prize, Kearns began 
to analyze the differ- 
ences he saw between 
Xerox's Japanese and 
U.S. operations. 

He also set up an 
internal team at Xerox 
to study the organiza- The success Xe rox 
tion and recommend paper copier, the 91 

changes, and in 1982 he hired consultant 
David Nadler. The following February he 
took a major step: he organized and led a 
three-day meeting of 25 senior managers 
at the company's Leesburg, Va., training 
center. It was that group, which included 
Allaire, that developed the Leadership 
Through Quality process. Kearns had 
come to believe that the company would 
not change unless that change was driven 
from the top. The Leesburg meeting was 
his starting point. The rest is history. 

Some of the things that helped bring 
about change at Xerox, including bench- 
marking and statistical process control, 
were not new when Xerox began using 
them. Xerox's most significant achievement 
was changing the way people worked to- 
gether, the way they communicated with 
each other and the way they cooperated 
to solve problems. 

Organizations, like individuals, have 
psychologies, although at the organizational 
level they are usually called corporate cul- 
tures. Until a corporate culture supports 
and encourages genuine employee involve- 
ment and communication — up and down 
the hierarchy and across functional areas — 
the use of quality tools alone will not 
achieve total quality. 

Every business or institution that 
decides to move to a TQM process must 
change the way it thinks and the way it does 
business. Xerox made quality its basic busi- 
ness principle, and it spread that principle 
and a clear definition of what it meant 
throughout the company. Its mission 

realized after it introduced the first plain- 
4, in 1959 bred arrogance and complacency. 


Fall 1992 

statement makes that clear: "Xerox is a qual- 
ity company. Quality is the basic business 
principle for Xerox. Quality means providing 
our external and internal customers with in- 
novative products and services that fully 
satisfy their requirements. Quality improve- 
ment is the job of every Xerox employee." 
Xerox tells employees that its definition 
of quality differs from the "conventional 
view" in at least four respects: 
"Whereas the conventional definition 
of quality reminds us of words like 
'goodness' and 'luxury' Xerox de- 
fines quality as conformance to 
customer requirements. 
"Whereas the conventional perfor- 
mance standard for quality is some 
acceptable level of defects or errors, 
the quality performance standard in 
Xerox is products and services that 
fully satisfy the requirements of our 

"Whereas the conventional system 
of achieving quality is to detect and 
correct products after they have 
been completed, Xerox emphasizes 
the prevention of errors. 
"Whereas the conventional system 
for measurement of quality relies on 
indices, Xerox measures quality by 
the costs we incur when we do not 
satisfy customer requirements." 
Changing the attitudes and behaviors of 
managers and workers, as well as the way 
departments interact, is fundamental to 
TQM. By the time Kearns and his senior 
managers launched Leadership Through 
Quality, Xerox employees had become 

skeptics, if not cynics, as one senior man- 
agement initiative after another quickly 
failed. Internally, Xerox employees referred 
to each new management proposal as the 
"flavor of the month." For a long time, Lead- 
ership Through Quality was seen as just 
another flavor that would soon be replaced 
by something else. 

That attitude slowly changed as manag- 
ers began to "walk the talk." It started with 
something called "cascade training." First, 
Kearns was trained in problem-solving and 
quality-improvement methods. He then led 
the training for the managers who reported 
to him— his "family group." Each member 
of that group, in turn, was responsible for 
training his or her subordinates. 

Managers were assisted by professional 
trainers, but they were expected to do the 
bulk of the work themselves. The idea was 
to avoid the pitfall of managers sending 
their subordinates off to learn how to inter- 
act in new ways, only to have them return 
to the same old environment and the same 
old ways of doing things. In time, the les- 
sons of quality cascaded through the organi- 
zation and the rhetoric began to be backed 
by new behaviors. 

Today, Xerox uses five mechanisms to 
assure that it stays on the path of continu- 
ous improvement. They are: 

Standards and measurements: These 
include statistical tools, a six-step problem- 
solving process, a nine-step quality-improve- 
ment process, competitive benchmarking, 
an emphasis on error prevention and doing 
things right the first time, and techniques 
for determining the cost of quality. 

Called a "case study in how to beat the Japanese," Xerox's new Model 5100 copier is 
a reflection of how the company has become more responsive to customer needs. 

Recognition and reward: Xerox encourages 
and motivates its employees to practice 
Leadership Through Quality by publicly 
recognizing and praising quality improve- 
ments. They range from a companywide 
quality day, where teams demonstrate their 
projects and discuss their achievements, to 
simple thank-yous and cash bonuses. 
Communications: Xerox uses formal 
vehicles, such as magazines and films, and 
informal means, such as staff meetings, to 
talk about quality and meeting customer 
requirements and expectations. 

Training: Xerox still uses the family-group 
approach to teach problem solving and 
quality improvement. That approach is 
designed to ensure that managers get in- 
volved in training their subordinates. Xerox 
calls this a "learn, use, teach, inspect" ap- 
proach to reinforcing the quality improve- 
ment objectives of training. 

Management: Xerox believes managers 
must set the example of using the quality- 
improvement process and problem-solving 
tools. Promotion at Xerox is tied to a 
manager's success at being a role model 
in the use of continuous improvement. 

Xerox, like most other companies that 
have adopted the continuous improvement 
philosophy, has developed its own language 
and formal procedures around the process. 
The six-step problem-solving process and 
the nine-step quality-improvement process 
(see page 9) are examples. 

Xerox expends a lot of effort assessing 
how well it is meeting customer expec- 
tations and determining what customer 
requirements will be in the future. It sends 
out more than 40,000 surveys a month to 
customers; with a return rate of 35 percent, 
that's a lot of feedback. The results of each 
month's survey are distributed to all areas 
and unfavorable or neutral surveys get 
follow-ups. The goal is to use the surveys 
to find and fix systemic problems. 

When asked how it is possible to make 
a company as large as Xerox more market- 
driven, Allaire cites an example of some- 
thing the company does to keep employees 
focused on customers. "We start each of 
our internal meetings, no matter who we're 
with, by going around the table and asking, 
'What have you learned from a customer 
since our last meeting?' Clearly, that sets 
an example, because it means all the senior 
people have to be out talking to customers," 
he says. 

"It is somewhat symbolic, but it is impor- 
tant," he adds. "We have as much customer 
contact as we can possibly get. I visit cus- 
tomers on a continuous basis. We measure 

WPI Journal 




Center for Training 

and Management 

Development near 

Leesburg, Va., is 

a centerpiece in 

the company's 

efforts to train its 

employees in TQM. 

customer satisfaction more effectively, and 
focus more on the metrics of market share, 
than we ever have in the past. We spend a 
lot of our training for our technical commu- 
nity on what marketing means — what it 
means to be market-driven." 

Xerox, Allaire says, has worked hard 
to change the company from a product- 
oriented focus to a real market-oriented 
focus. It has also worked to change the atti- 
tudes of engineers, who in the past have felt 
successful if they simply met the specs they 
got from the product planners. Now Xerox 
engineers understand that success is de- 
fined in terms of how well a product sells, 
how profitable it is, and how much value it 
creates for customers. "We're going to be 
a market-driven company," Allaire says. 
"We really use the customer to integrate 
everything we do." 

With the recent reorganization of 
Xerox's copier and printer busi- 
nesses, Allaire, who was named president 
of the company in 1986, CEO in 1990 and 
chairman in 1991, says he hopes to change 
the basic "architecture" of Xerox. "We have 

substantially changed the way we are orga- 
nized," he says. "We have changed the 
company from a functional, vertical, fairly 
monolithic entity to one that is organized 
by divisions and teams within divisions. 
Now we have nine business divisions; within 
those divisions are 30-plus business teams, 
which really have accountability for their 
part of the business." 

With the change, decision-making au- 
thority and responsibility have been pushed 
down to the nine new divisions. In addition, 
a new "corporate office" has been estab- 
lished, consisting of Allaire and five senior 

The reorganization should enable Xerox 
to take the kind of work that has been done 
within the company by cross-functional 
problem-solving and quality-improvement 
teams — work that helped Xerox implement 
its Leadership Through Quality process — 
and weave it into the fabric of daily opera- 
tions and decision making throughout the 
corporation, Allaire says. 

The way Xerox went about planning this 
latest change is indicative of how communi- 
cations within the company have changed 
as a result of continuous improvement. The 

company made no secret of its plan to reor- 
ganize and restructure the business. The 
two teams that labored over the course of 
15 months to develop the new structure 
did so openly. As a result, Allaire says, by 
the time the new plan was put in place, 
"there was already a lot of buy-in." 

This was more than an exercise in rear- 
ranging the boxes on an organizational 
chart, Allaire says. It was an effort to de- 
velop a team environment where business 
decisions can be made based on customer 
requirements. He stresses that the new 
organization is not designed to be static. 
"We designed it so that it can flex, so it can 
change as the market changes," he says. 

Allaire says he is optimistic that the 
company, having won the Baldrige Award 
and a new market recognition for its quality 
products, will not become complacent. "We 
have bright, capable people," he says. 
"They're well-motivated. We have no lack 
of challenges, so we have no need to be- 
come complacent. There are also enough 
of us around who know how large a price 
we paid for our complacency in the 1970s. 
Nobody from that era is ever going to 
become complacent again." 


Fall 1992 

Midwives to Change 

The story of how alumni at Motorola, Bausch & Lomb, 

Hamilton Standard and Polaroid 

Helped Bring TQM to Their Companies 

By Diane Benison 

Just as every couple with a new baby 
has a personal story to tell about its 
arrival, every firm that aspires to 
become a TQM company or makes 
the transition has its own, unique 
tale about the birth of its continuous 
improvement program. 

Many of those stories have already been 
told in books, business school case studies 
and articles in publications like the Harvard 
Business Review. What follows are brief 
glimpses into the very different experi- 
ences of four major corporations that have 
successfully implemented quality pro- 
grams or are in the process of doing so. 
These stories are told through the eyes of 
WPI alumni who have been at the center 
of those changes. 

Motorola Finds There are 
Special Challenges to Implementing 
TQM in an Administrative Area 

Motorola started its journey down 
the quality road in the late 1970s 
when Robert Galvin, then CEO, 
launched two efforts aimed at educating 
the company about new statistical tools 
and new technology. His efforts, however, 
did not produce the results he wanted. The 
basic problem, as many companies have 
learned, is that new tools and technology 
don't automatically engender new ways 
of thinking and doing, especially if they 
threaten the tribal customs that are inevi- 
tably part of every organization's culture. 

Out of Galvin's frustrations came the 
Motorola Executive Institute, a one-time 
course for 400 executives "that tried to 
give them an M.B.A. in four weeks," William 
Wiggenhorn wrote in a 1990 issue of Harvard 
Business Review. "The participants learned a 
great deal, but again, the ultimate results 
were disappointing." 

But in that disappointment were the 
seeds of fundamental cultural change. Gal- 
vin's next move was to set up the Motorola 
Training and Education Center (MTEC). It 
had its own board of directors that included 
Galvin, two of his top executives and senior 
managers from every Motorola operating 
unit. The center's goals, Wiggenhorn, the 
center's president, wrote, were "to expand 
the participative management process and 

to help improve product quality tenfold in 
five years." 

While MTEC, or Motorola University, as it 
is also known, would emphasize retraining 
workers and redefining jobs, its main goal 
was to change attitudes and behaviors. It 
did this with a five-part curriculum that in- 
cluded courses on using statistical process 
control, solving problems, presenting con- 
ceptual material, running effective meetings 
and setting goals. 

But as Motorola learned in the early 
1980s, telling employees that there is an- 
other, more effective way to work is not 
enough; they must be motivated to change. 
So the company focused its attention on 
finding ways to create that motivation. 

"In the end, we had to let people know 
that 'poor performance' included an unwill- 
ingness to change, and was grounds for dis- 
missal," Wiggenhorn wrote in that Harvard 
Business Review article. "We had to abandon 
paternalism for shared responsibility." 

As that message began to filter through 
the organization, Motorola discovered that 
workers and middle managers who were 
trying to apply the lessons they learned in 
training programs were too often frustrated 
by senior managers who failed to reinforce 
that training with a genuine new emphasis 
on quality. 

WPI Journal 


A training session under way at Motorola University. 

MTEC asked two universities to study the 
problem and evaluate the company's return 
on the money it was investing in training. 
The studies found that in those plants where 
the work force absorbed and used the statis- 
tical tools and process skills — and were 
reinforced by senior managers — Motorola 
realized a $33 return for every dollar spent. 
Plants where workers used either the statis- 
tical tools or the process skills — but not 
both — and were reinforced by their superi- 
ors, broke even. Plants that taught all or part 
of the curriculum, but did not reinforce it, 
had a negative return on investment. 

Galvin decided the best way to get the 
message across to senior management was 

to shift the emphasis 
to quality at opera- 
tions review meetings. 
Wiggenhorn reports 
that Galvin "insisted 
that quality reports 
come first, not last, on 
the agenda, and then 
he left before the 
financial results were 

Garvin's success 
in changing the focus 
and behavior of se- 
nior management 
was the catalyst that 
pulled everything 
together at Motorola. 
The company's suc- 
cess in making the 
change was confirmed when it became one 
of the first winners of the Malcolm Baldrige 
National Quality Award in 1988. 

One of the lessons Motorola has learned 
in its quest for quality is that it is easier to 
apply the tools of TQM (the company calls 
it Total Customer Satisfaction or TCS) on 
the factory floor than in an administrative 
area, according to Theodore J. Jaros '54, 
vice president and director of services and 
planning, world marketing, in Motorola's 
Semiconductor Products Sector. 

"As you get outside of the factory, one 
of the questions you face is how to measure 
quality," says the 25-year Motorola veteran, 
who supervises a 1 75-person work force 

that is split evenly between serving internal 
and external customers. "First, you have to de- 
fine the best metrics that will contribute, in a 
meaningful way, to continuous improvement." 

Asked how progress is measured in his 
area, Jaros quips, "I wish I had the final an- 
swer to that. We're still in the process of evolv- 
ing." But he says he does have some progress 
to report. One of the groups that reports to 
Jaros is responsible for distributing literature 
about Motorola products and parts via an 
electronic network. To measure the sigma 
level of its performance (see page 10), the 
group established goals for the time it should 
take to respond to requests for information. 

Another group works with customers to 
design application-specific integrated cir- 
cuits. After it has completed a project, the 
group asks the customers to evaluate various 
aspects of its performance, including their 
satisfaction with the technical aspects of the 
work and with the group's response time. 
The answers are then translated into num- 
bers that can be analyzed and used to evalu- 
ate the group's response to customer needs. 

For those who work in administrative 
areas, Jaros says one of the most useful 
applications of continuous improvement is 
called process mapping. In this technique, 
employees are trained to use quality tools 
to map a work process, figuring out each 
step needed to complete a task. They then 
determine which of those steps add no 
value to their work and eliminate them, re- 
ducing opportunities for error and shorten- 
ing the time needed to complete projects. 

How Bausch & Lomb's International 
Division Meets the Demands of 
Customers in More Than 100 Countries 

Bausch & Lomb's International Division 
has 5,000 employees who speak more 
than 15 languages and work in 30 
countries. They man 15 manufacturing 
plants around the world, making products 
that are sold to some 200,000 customers in 
more than 100 nations. Trying to make qual- 
ity part of the corporate culture in an orga- 
nization with that structural breadth and 
complexity presents significant challenges, 
according to division president Ronald L. 
Zarrella 71, a WPI trustee. 

Zarrella, who holds the additional title of 
executive vice president of Bausch & Lomb, 

says the concept of TQM, or Total 
Customer Responsiveness (TCR), 
as it's known within the corpora- 
tion, is not well-developed in many 
of the countries where his division 
does business. In particular, he 
says he and his senior managers 
must do basic "missionary work" 
to explain TCR to customers and 
employees in some of the lesser- 
developed countries where 
Bausch & Lomb operates. "To 
make this successful you have to 
(Continued on Page 20) 

TQM has helped Bausch & Lomb be more 
responsive to customer needs worldwide, 
says Ronald Zarrella. 


Fall 1992 

How WPFs Management Department 
Practices What It Teaches 

There's an old saying that those who 
can't do, teach. The men and women 
who constitute WPI's Management 
Department are working hard these days 
to show that when it comes to total quality 
management, they can teach and do. Hav- 
ing already developed courses that intro- 
duce students to the latest approaches to 
organizational management, the depart- 
ment is now putting those techniques to 
work to better manage its own efforts. 

Assistant Professor Enio E. Velazco is 
one faculty member who has managed to 
not only teach the tools of TQM, but to use 
those tools to become a better teacher. In 
particular, Velazco, who has been teaching 
TQM for five years, says he applies the 
principles of continuous improvement and 
focusing on customer needs to his work in 
the classroom. 

For example, after teaching a course on 
quality planning and control for the first 
time, he changed the emphasis and im- 
posed stricter math prerequisites based 
on feedback from his on-campus custom- 
ers (students) and off-campus customers 
(prospective employers of WPI graduates). 
Since then he has expanded his continuous 
improvement efforts by talking to recent 
graduates about how well the course pre- 
pared them for the world of industry. 

Velazco says the department is also try- 
ing to benefit from the concept of cross- 
functional management, an element of 
TQM that emphasizes cooperation among 
departments within a company to the ben- 
efit of the entire organization. As an ex- 
ample, he cites a recent $10,000 grant from 
General Electric Co.'s Continuous Improve- 
ment Education Fund, which will support 
the development of a new graduate course 
in total quality management. 

The researchers on the project repre- 
sent two academic departments. Along 
with Velazco, who is the principal investi- 
gator, they include Assistant Professor 
Michael B. Elmes from management, and 
Professor and Associate Department Head 
Richard D. Sisson and Assistant Professor 
David C. Zenger from mechanical engineer- 
ing. Velazco has also formed an informal 
advisory board of 22 quality professionals 

from business and 
industry. Their role, he 
says, is to provide "peer 
review" of the syllabus. 

Because of its mis- 
sion of teaching the 
latest techniques in 
organizational manage- 
ment, the Management 
Department often finds 
itself at the center of 
campus discussions 
about TQM, notes Helen 
G. Vassallo, professor 
and department head. 
She says those discus- 
sions have "been a 
bridge for us to colla- 
borate on research and 
teaching efforts across 
departmental lines." 

One development 
that helped make that 
bridge stronger, Velazco adds, was the 
creation within the Management Depart- 
ment of the Center for Productivity and 
Quality Improvement. Launched in March 
1991, the center is part of the department's 
pilot program for implementing TQM in an 
academic environment. The center's mis- 
sion, he says, is "to provide a focus for 
faculty activities in management involving 
teaching innovation, scholarship and spon- 
sored research." 

One of the most basic questions 
Vassallo and her colleagues have had to 
grapple with is just what quality means 
in an academic setting. The management 
faculty have tackled that question, as well 
as how to apply the principles of TQM 
within the department, at annual retreats. 

"At the 1990 retreat," Vassallo says, "we 
decided to focus on the issues of innova- 
tion, entrepreneurship, productivity and 
quality improvement. Afterward, people 
began to have brown bag lunches to talk 
about how to deal with these issues." One 
of the results was an increased emphasis 
on interdepartmental teaching and re- 
search. Velazco's General Electric grant is 
one outgrowth of that emphasis. 

After a retreat in 1991, the department 

Helen Vassallo and Enio Velazco are helping the 
Management Department adopt a total quality program. 

began to consider its own goals in the 
context of the six goals of the Institute's 
strategic plan. The product of those dis- 
cussions is a "road map," still under devel- 
opment, that will guide the department in 
its quality efforts. The map begins with the 
department's mission statement, from 
which stem several specific goals. Strate- 
gies are being developed for achieving 
each goal. From these will arise lists of 
concrete actions that must be taken to 
implement the strategies. The final step 
will be assigning those actions to indi- 
vidual faculty members and determining 
how many new resources, if any, will be 
needed to carry them out. 

Vassallo says she knows the road map 
is only a start. Like many of the companies 
that have implemented TQM programs, 
the department will likely revise this plan 
many times as it is put into action. But 
Vassallo says she hopes that the ideas in 
the map will become a model for a true 
culture change at WPI. In fact, the depart- 
ment has developed a similar road map 
concept for the entire college that will 
help guide the efforts of the new Blue 
Ribbon Task Force as it plots out new 
directions and goals for the Institute. 

WPI Journal 


Employees share successful ideas 
at a Bausch & Lomb quality day. 

(Continued from Page 18) 

keep a high level of corporate involvement 

— that's me," he says. 

One of the competitive advantages TCR 
has given Bausch & Lomb is a reputation for 
paying attention to customer needs. "We 
were always known for high-quality prod- 
ucts and technological leadership," Zarrella 
says, "but we weren't so good at listening 
to customers." 

Listening to customers is especially im- 
portant for Bausch & Lomb, as its product 
line includes sunglasses and contact lenses. 
Since ideas of beauty and fashion vary from 
country to country, products designed and 
made for customers in the U.S. won't neces- 
sarily meet the cosmetic or functional needs 
of consumers in other countries. TCR helped 
Bausch & Lomb begin to recognize the im- 
portance of those differences, Zarrella says. 

The International Division has done con- 
siderable training on the principles of un- 
derstanding and responding to customer 
needs. As a result, the division, which won 
the Bausch & Lomb President's Quality 
Award in 1990, has been able to document 
significant increases in customer satisfac- 
tion with its products and services. But 
Zarrella says he thinks his division will get 
its best leads on how to respond to custom- 
ers by asking noncustomers why they don't 
buy Bausch & Lomb products, something it 
started to do this year. 

"The underlying premise of TCR is that 
only the customer can provide the direction 
for enduring success," he adds. And for 
Bausch & Lomb, which posted revenues 
in 1991 of more than $1.5 billion — of which 
more than 45 percent came from regions 
outside the United States — keeping its 
worldwide customers satisfied adds up 
to a significant competitive advantage. 

Hamilton Standard Embraces Quality to 
Bolster its Competitive Stance in a Changini 

Like many other companies, Hamilton 
Standard, a division of United Tech- 
nologies Corp., turned to TQM after a 
painful experience. By late 1986 it had lost 
more than $100 million and was the focus of 
a comprehensive government audit that 
identified many quality- and system-related 
problems at the maker of aerospace sys- 
tems, components and services. The audit 
would eventually show that problems in the 
areas of product quality, cost control, timely 
deliveries and customer satisfaction needed 
immediate attention. 

In early 1988 the company's senior man- 
agers, sobered by the red ink and the fed- 
eral audit, decided to act. They began by 
looking at companies like Xerox, Motorola 
and IBM that had successfully adopted the 
total quality philosophy. They came to the 
conclusion that Hamilton Standard needed 
a major culture change; by September 1988 
they had hired a consulting firm to help 
them achieve it. 

Early in the process, these 15 executives 
went through eight days of training to learn 
about continuous improvement and how 

Hamilton Standard's Gordon Sigman Jr. 

Hamilton Standard might implement it. 
During that 1988 training session the 
company's first vision statement was de- 
veloped and the firm committed itself to 
emphasizing teamwork, consensus build- 

For Polaroid Corp., Implementing a Continuoi 
Has Meant Top-to-Bottom Change 

In some ways it's not surprising that 
Joseph J. Kasabula '68 is in his present 
position. He says he first began to think 
about the nature of quality when he was 
a student at WP1. Those thoughts were 
aroused one day in chemistry class when 
the professor read a quote by noted 19th 
century English art critic John Ruskin. 
"Quality is never an accident," Ruskin said. 
"It is always the result of intelligent effort. 
There must be the will to produce a supe- 
rior thing." 

Kasabula says those words have stuck 
with him. Today he puts that philosophy to 
work as quality strategy manager for prod- 
uct development and worldwide manufac- 
turing at Polaroid Corp. in Cambridge, Mass. 
He is one of several quality ownership ex- 
ecutives working to bring Polaroid's man- 
agement process, which combines total 
quality concepts and tools with its own 

employee ownership concept (Polaroid is 
20 percent owned by its employees), to the 
company that is most famous for its inven- 
tion of instant photography. 

As far back as 1982, Polaroid had begun 
to gain experience with statistical engineer- 
ing and process-control tools. By 1990, when 
the company was aligned around four busi- 
ness units (Family Imaging, Business Imag- 
ing, Technical and Industrial Imaging, and 
Electronic Imaging), it was also beginning 
to develop a companywide process called 
Total Quality Ownership or TQO. 

The original TQO design team was 
formed in September 1989; Kasabula joined 
it three months later. The team began by 
looking at 1 1 large companies that had al- 
ready started continuous improvement pro- 
grams. In September 1990 training in what 
Polaroid has called Quality Strategy started 
at the top when Polaroid CEO I. MacAllister 


Fall 1992 

erospace Industry 

ing, process improvement, employee own- 
ership, employee development and cus- 
tomer focus. 

Like other companies, Hamilton Stan- 
dard has found that it takes considerable 
time just to complete the initial training of 
its employees. By mid-1992, though, more 
than half of its 9,500-member work force 
had been taught to put the tools of con- 
tinuous improvement to work in their jobs. 
All manufacturing and factory employees 
are also being trained to achieve a basic 
competency in statistics and manufactur- 
ing process analysis. 

One of the major goals of the culture 
change set in motion by Hamilton Standard 
is to develop a more proactive way of oper- 
ating. "We value solving problems; what we 
need to value more is solving problems 
before they occur," the company tells em- 
ployees in an internal publication. "Con- 
tinuous improvement requires a culture 
change away from autocratic to participa- 
tory management. If we really desire to 
value people, then we must practice par- 
ticipatory management. People closest to 

the work must have the authority to make 
decisions based on a shared understanding 
of the company vision." 

According to Gordon H. Sigman Jr. '59, 
vice president and general manager at 
Hamilton Standard and a WP1 trustee, U.S. 
companies still dominate the world's aero- 
space business. "But you can see the Euro- 
peans and the Japanese are working hard 
and these guys are going to be capable com- 
petitors. If you go back to the early 1980s, 
you had a technology discriminator, but 
things have a way of equalizing." Sigman 
says the competitive battlegrounds of the 
future will be quality, reliability, price and 
the ability of companies to support their 

Hamilton Standard, Sigman says, is now 
committed to a "total understanding of cus- 
tomer needs." The company, which hopes 
to be a serious contender for the Malcolm 
Baldrige Award in 1994, has conducted 
Baldrige-like assessments of its progress to 
date. The results of those assessments — the 
good and the bad — are shared with employ- 
ees through regular newsletters. 

While there are still pockets of autocratic 
management within Hamilton Standard, 
more than three years of effort has paid off, 
Sigman says. Despite the fact that the com- 
pany is still training its work force, it has 
realized documentable improvements in 
customer service. These include greatly 
reduced turnaround times for repairs and 
service (from an average of 1 1 7 days to 
eight) and equally dramatic reductions in 
products returned due to defects. 

Hamilton Standard's road to total quality 
has been especially challenging, given the 
fact that its efforts have coincided with a 
downturn in the U.S. and world economies. 
Tough economic conditions and related job 
instability can be serious obstacles to con- 
tinuous improvement. 

To compensate for these added chal- 
lenges, Sigman says the company is working 
harder to make sure recognition for quality 
is consistent and public. Sometime next 
year that effort will get a boost when the 
performance and merit review systems are 
changed to reward managers and employ- 
ees who focus on continuous improvement. 

lprovement Program 

Booth and several senior managers 
attended a four-day seminar developed and 
arranged by Kasabula. The three-ring binder 
that held the reading materials for that 
seminar weighed more than seven pounds. 

Led by a team of quality strategy ex- 
perts that included Bradley T Gale '64, 
managing director of the Strategic Planning 
Institute at MIT and a member of the board 
of overseers for the Malcolm Baldrige 
Award, David A. Garvin of the Harvard 
Business School and Don 0. Clausing of MIT, 
that group of senior executives covered a 
lot of ground. They started with the basics 
— the philosophies and approaches of 
three of America's original quality experts, 
W. Edwards Deming, Joseph M. Juran and 
Philip B. Crosby — and moved on to the 
elements of Quality Strategy. 

Polaroid's TQO program was formally 
launched in the winter of 1991 when Booth 

Joseph Kasabula of Polaroid Corp. 

held a series of 1 1 meetings with the 
company's top 200 executives. By the end 
of 1991 nearly all 8,000 U.S. employees had 
participated in initial training in the con- 
cepts of TQO. This year the initial training 
was adapted and given to employees of 

international subsidiaries, as well. 

Also this year, Polaroid began pilot 
programs for an effort called TQO Action, 
which is aimed at helping business improve- 
ment teams select, analyze and solve prob- 
lems in their work areas. Having studied 
how other companies have implemented 
total quality and ownership programs, 
Polaroid is using a pilot approach — blending 
work and learning processes, testing them 
on small groups, revising them based on 
feedback, and then using them on a 
companywide basis. 

One of the characteristics of a company 
beginning to make the change to a total 
quality environment is that information 
about what's happening around the organi- 
zation begins to flow in ways it never has 
before. For some managers that can be 
unsettling. As Kasabula observes, "As Total 
Quality Ownership moves into the organiza- 
tion, you have to relax. Things seem to get 
worse, but really what's happening is you're 
getting far more information than you ever 
have before. I think this has been the learn- 
ing experience of 1992 for us." 

WPI Journal 


Fall Madness 

Each spring after classes have ended and Commencement is a pleasant memory, the WPI campus 
settles into a quiet but purposeful calm, not unlike the tranquility parents experience after sending 

their young children off to school for the day. 

With the pace of day-to-day life slowed, there 
is time to make repairs, update records, paint 
walls, mow lawns, attend conferences, and 
spend more time in the lab doing research. 

But then, one day in late August, the sum- 
mer calm is shattered in a flurry of vans, 
trucks and U-Hauls bringing a new crop of 
freshmen and their parents to town for the 
start of another school year. It's the begin- 
ning of Fall Arrival, a weeklong marathon in 
which hundreds of undergraduates move into 
the residence halls, more than 600 freshmen 
get a thorough orientation to the campus and 
to the challenges and rewards of college life, 


WPI Journal 23 

anxious students flock to Harrington Auditorium to 
sign up for courses or make course revisions, smiling 
faces appear before cameras to be recorded on ID 
cards, and young men and women — course schedules 
in hand— scout the bookstore for the latest tomes on 
electrodynamics, fluid mechanics, calculus and the 
modern American novel. 

It is a time that reminds every member of the WPI 
community— should they have forgotten— just why it 
is they come to work each day. For it is the students 
and their hunger for a superior education that form 
the motive force that drives the Institute's well-oiled 
machinery. So integral are these young men and 
women to the life and cadence of the college that, 
once the annual fall madness is over and the class- 
rooms hum once more with the electricity of learning, 
and the dining halls ring with the clatter of plates and 
the chatter of young voices, and the athletic fields 
come alive again with the raw energy of competition, 
it is hard to believe they were ever really gone. 

24 Fall 1992 

WPI Journal 25 


The mission was simple: 
grow large crystals in space. 
But achieving that goal would 
require two years of hard work by a 
dedicated team of WPI researchers 
who beat the odds and the clock to build 
an experiment for a NASA space laboratory. For 
one of those researchers, the Zeolite Crystal 
Growth Experiment would nearly prove the 
answer to a childhood dream— to fly in space. 

A Stellar 

By Michael Dorsey 


hey're barely one-hundredth of a millimeter on a side, 
these perfect little cubes; to get a good look at one you 
need an electron microscope. They're made from a 
simple combination of three of the most common 
elements on Earth. Yet to a team of researchers in 
WPI's Chemical Engineering Department, these tiny 
objects are more precious than gold. 

This rare booty is a collection of zeolite crystals manu- 
factured in space, where the absence of gravity enabled 
them to grow much larger and more perfect than zeolites 
typically grown on Earth. They are the product of an 
experiment conceived and designed by WPI researchers 
and built by engineers and technicians from two major 
American engineering firms. 

The experiment was part of one of the most extensive 
and successful science missions ever flown aboard an 
American spacecraft, the first United States Microgravity 
Laboratory (USML-1), which was carried into orbit by the 
space shuttle Columbia this past June. For the WPI team, 
the flight culminated two years of hard work that would 
ultimately bring national recognition to the Institute. They 
were years that would also lead one of those researchers 
to the brink of space itself. 

For WPI, the road to USML-1 began one evening in 1983 in a 
small restaurant near the WPI campus. Over pizza 
and beer, Albert Sacco Jr. and the late Leonard B. Sand, 
colleagues from the Chemical Engineering Department, 
chatted in the easygoing manner of co-workers who have 
also become good friends. 

At 61, Sand was one of the world's most respected 
researchers in the field of zeolites. Educated as a geologist 
and mineralogist, he had worked for Standard Oil and 
taught at the University of Utah before taking a position at 
Norton Co. as chief of a research and development unit 
creating synthetic zeolites. Made of alumina and silica, 

zeolites have a highly uniform network of microscopic 
pores that make them useful as molecular sieves and cata- 
lysts in a variety of chemical industries — especially petro- 
leum refining. About 40 varieties of zeolites occur naturally; 
most now used in industry are synthetic varieties. 

In 1967 Sand left Norton to join WPI, where his enthusi- 
asm for the seemingly mundane zeolites convinced other 
faculty members to join him in learning more about how 
they work and how to make them better. In time the 
Institute developed the largest zeolite research program of 
any U.S. university. 

On that evening in 1983, Sand hoped to get Sacco 
excited about zeolites. Then as now, Sacco's research 
focused on catalysis and solid-gas reactions. But growing 
up in the 1960s, he had also developed a keen interest in 
space (see Advance Word, page 2). Sacco made a deal with 
Sand: if they could find a way to combine Sand's research 
with Sacco's fascination with space, he'd join the team. 

That intersection would be a student project to design 
and build a zeolite crystal growth experiment that flew 
on a space shuttle in June 1991 as part of a package of 
student-built hardware sponsored by MITRE Corp. The 
experiment was designed to test the hypothesis that, free 
from the pull of gravity, zeolite crystals will grow to un- 
precedented sizes. 

Checking the literature, Sand and Sacco had learned 
that the largest natural zeolites are found in ancient lake 
beds. These irregular, impure crystals grew gradually over 
the course of centuries while chemical nutrients slowly 
diffused around them. In the laboratory, zeolites grow in 
thick, milky "gels" formed by mixing alumina and silica 
solutions. Heated in metal autoclaves, the crystals grow 
rapidly, reaching their maximum size in a matter of days. 

"On Earth, the zeolites settle out of solution and you 
get a cake of crystals at the bottom and an essentially 
clear liquid at the top," says Robert W Thompson, pro- 
fessor of chemical engineering. As the crystals settle, he 

WPI Journal 


WPI's first venture into growing 
zeolites in space was this student- 
designed experiment, which flew on 
a space shuttle in 1991. But the 
experiment sat on the ground too 
long, yielding poor results. 

notes, growth subsides and then stops. By 
using techniques that control nucleation 
(the process by which crystal growth begins), 
Sacco and other WPl researchers have pro- 
duced crystals substantially larger than those 
typically used in industry. But no matter how 
careful, every zeolite grower eventually runs 
up against the effects of gravity. 

"Len and I knew that if you could sus- 
pend a crystal indefinitely and bring a nutri- 
ent stream past it, it would continue to 
grow," Sacco says. What better way to do 
that, they reasoned, than by moving the 
whole process into space. 

Len Sand died in 1985, just two years af- 
ter that conversation over pizza and beer. 
When Sacco looks back over what's tran- 
spired in the intervening years, he is quick 
to credit Sand with many of the insights that 
made those achievements possible. As a re- 
minder of those contributions and of the 
friendship they shared, Sacco, who became 
head of the Chemical Engineering Depart- 
ment in 1989, keeps Sand's photograph in a 
prominent spot on his office wall. 

While advising the students developing the 
space-based crystal-growth experiment, 
Sacco began giving talks at professional 
meetings on growing zeolites in space. One 
such talk, before a conference of the Society 
for the Advancement of Material and Pro- 
cess Engineering, brought him to Seattle in 
1985. In the audience that day was William 
Jameson, an engineer from Grumman Corp. 
who had been hired by NASA to evaluate 
potential research focuses for the agency's 
efforts to exploit the commercial potential 
of space. 

"He thought zeolites had a lot of promise 
and believed NASA should push ahead with 
that area," Sacco says. "As a result of that 
lecture and a meeting we had with Jameson, 
NASA chose zeolites as one focus." 

Because of its reputation in the zeolite 
community, WPI was chosen by NASA as a 
founding member of the Clarkson University 
Center for Commercial Crystal Growth in 
Space, one of several centers formed 
around the country in 1986 to lay the 
groundwork for space commercialization. 
Later, WPl was also invited to join the NASA- 
funded Battelle Advanced Materials Center 
in Columbus, Ohio, where researchers were 
interested in finding ways to process cata- 
lysts in space. 

As a member of the Clarkson and 
Battelle centers, WPI has received more 
than $3 million over the past five years from 
NASA and commercial sponsors to develop 
a zeolite growth experiment for the first 
United States Microgravity Laboratory, a 
23-foot-long cylinder designed to fly in the 
cargo bay of the space shuttle. USML-1 
was expected to be a showcase for Amer- 
ican microgravity research in crystal 
growth, fluid dynamics, combustion, 
biotechnology, "astroculture" and 
space medicine. 

Before designing the Zeolite Crys- 
tal Growth Experiment (ZCG), the WPI 
research team, which included Sacco, 
the principal investigator, and chemi- 
cal engineering professors Thompson 
and Anthony G. Dixon, had to solve a 
number of problems, most of which 
revolved around the challenge of tak- 
ing a process developed over many 
decades to work well in gravity, and 
making it succeed when gravity was 
no longer a dominant force. 

"In space, secondary forces be- 
come dominant," Sacco says. "Instead 
of gravity-driven convection, you get 
concentration- or temperature-driven 
convection. You also get situations in 
which one liquid phase pulls away 
from another due to differences in 
surface tension." 

These secondary forces threatened to 
thwart a fundamental requirement of zeolite 
synthesis — the need to start with a uniform, 
well-mixed gel. "The makeup of the gel de- 
termines which zeolites you get," Sacco 
says. "If you don't mix the solutions homo- 
geneously before the gel sets up, you get the 
wrong silica/alumina ratios — which means 
you get an uncontrolled mess." 

To overcome these problems, one can 
mix the solutions on the ground before 
launch. This is what Russian and European 
scientists have done; it was also the tech- 
nique chosen for the WPI student experi- 
ment. Unfortunately, zeolite crystals begin 
forming soon after the two solutions are 
mixed. Chemicals can be added to delay 
crystal formation until after the experiment 
is in orbit, but these don't always work. And 
if the launch is delayed, the experiment can 
be ruined, as the WPI team well knew. While 
the mixture used in the student experiment 
was stabilized for about three weeks, the 
experiment sat on the ground for more than 
three times that long. "We knew we were in 
trouble right from the start," Sacco says. 
"The hardware worked fine, but the crystals 
were garbage." 

The WPI team decided its solutions 
would have to be mixed in orbit, but learn- 
ing how to do this would prove no small 
task. The Space Projects Laboratory on the 
second floor of Goddard Hall became a hot- 
bed of fluid dynamics research as Sacco, 
Dixon, Thompson and a team of graduate 
students and postdoctoral fellows devel- 
oped techniques to overcome secondary 
forces and produce a uniform gel. To fine- 
tune the techniques, Sacco took test auto- 
claves aboard NASA's KC-135. Nicknamed 

Sacco, right, and fellow APS Joseph Prahl 
test zeolite autoclaves on a KC-135 flight. 


Fall 1992 

the "vomit comet," the 
plane provides brief pe- 
riods of microgravity as 
it flies through a roller- 
coaster-like sequence 
of parabolas. 

As a final check of 
their ideas, Sacco con- 
vinced NASA to add 
an experiment to the 
tightly structured time- 
line for USMM. In it an 
astronaut would mani- 
pulate 12 clear-plastic 
autoclaves inside a 
glove box, testing sev- 
eral mixing schemes to 
see which produced the 
most uniform solution. 

In 1989, NASA put out a 
call for candidates to fill 
four payload specialist 
positions for USML-1. 
Unlike full-time mission 
specialists, who are ca- 
reer astronauts, payload specialists are sci- 
entists chosen to carry out particularly 
complicated experiments or to take charge 
of highly specialized payloads on specific 
shuttle missions. 

Two of the payload specialists for USML-1 
would actually fly on the shuttle; the others 
would be backups who would undergo the 
same training and be prepared to join the 
mission in the event that one of the primary 
specialist was unable to fly. One mission and 
one backup slot each would go to experts 
in fluid dynamics; the other positions were 

The crew of USML-1 pose before the space shuttle Columbia. Front row, left to right, payload comman- 
der Bonnie J. Dunbar, mission commander Richard (Dick) N. Richards and pilot Kenneth D. Bowersox. 
Back row, left to right, Sacco, mission specialist Dr. Ellen S. Baker, payload specialist Eugene H. Trinh, 
mission specialist Carl J. Meade, payload specialist Lawrence J. DeLucas and Prahl. 

Sacco and fellow crystal growth expert DeLucas 
train in the spacelab mock-up in Huntsville, Ala. 

reserved for specialists in crystal growth. 
The announcement rekindled Sacco's 
childhood space dreams; almost instantly, 
he was on the phone to a colleague, who 
agreed to nominate him. Remembering 
an earlier, unsuccessful application to the 
astronaut corps, he waited anxiously for 
word from NASA. This time, he was not dis- 
appointed; he had made the semifinals and 
would compete along with seven other 
scientists for the four positions. 

The culling process included a grueling, 
week-long physical and psychological exami- 
nation. "We were then given an enor- 
mous amount of material to read — a 
whole file cabinet full of technical 
information," Sacco says, "and were 
quizzed on various aspects of it by 
members of NASA's Investigators 
Working Group." 

On Aug. 6, 1990, Sacco received 
word that he had made the cut. To 
reach space, though, he still had to 
convince NASA to pick him over his 
competitor, Lawrence J. DeLucas, an 
expert in protein crystalization at 
the University of Alabama, whose 
experiments had flown on several 
previous shuttle missions. 

The road to the final decision 
started later that summer, when 
Sacco, DeLucas and the two other 
payload specialists began traveling 
two weeks each month to the uni- 
versities, corporations and NASA 
centers preparing more than 30 ex- 
periments to be flown on USML-1. 

"Once we were thoroughly familiar with 
the experiments," Sacco says, "we started 
working in the Payload Crew Training Com- 
plex at the Marshall Space Flight Center in 
Huntsville, Ala., where they had a complete, 
working mock-up of the spacelab. The only 
thing it lacked was microgravity." 

Working 12-hour days, the payload spe- 
cialists and the five-person USML-1 crew 
(commander Dick Richards, pilot Ken 
Bowersox, payload commander Bonnie 
Dunbar, and mission specialists Ellen Baker 
and Carl Meade) ran through the mission 
timeline again and again, evaluating and 
fine-tuning the planned activities. The time- 
line mapped out the crew's actions over the 
13-day mission in excruciating detail. Every 
activity — from running experiments to eat- 
ing and sleeping — was broken down into 
five-minute intervals. 

The crew's training also prepared them 
for daily life in the space shuttle, the world's 
most sophisticated spacecraft. They learned 
how to handle materials in an environment 
where a tiny drop of water floating free can 
be disastrous. They were taught to survive 
emergencies, to communicate with people 
on the ground, and to do the most mundane 
things — from moving about to going to the 
bathroom — in the absence of gravity. 

To experience the sensation of riding 
a rocket into orbit, Sacco was spun in a 
centrifuge at more than three times the 
acceleration of gravity and wisked through 
high-speed aerobatics in a T-38 jet high 
over the Gulf of Mexico. To learn to sur- 
vive a water landing, he donned a 90-pound 

WPI Journal 


spacesuit and was dropped 30 feet into a 
swimming pool, where he had to swim out 
from under a waterlogged parachute and 
tumble backward into a life raft. 

He scrambled through escape drills in 
a shuttle mock-up and jumped out of air- 
planes to prepare for a launch disaster. He 
practiced crawling through the spaceplane's 
top windows and rappeling down its sides 
so he could flee a crash-landed shuttle. He 
learned to use a fire hose to create a curtain 
of water so he could survive a launchpad 
fire. And, he studied everything from emer- 
gency medicine to using the many shuttle 
and spacelab computer systems. 

To prepare physically, Sacco followed 
an aerobic exercise and weight-training pro- 
gram custom tailored to his body, submit- 
ting to frequent physical exams that charted 
his progress. And he let a NASA dentist drill 
out and replace his fillings to eliminate air 
pockets that could cause painful swelling in 
the reduced atmospheric pressure inside 
the shuttle. 

Near the end of the first year of train- 
ing, NASA made its final selection: barring 
unforeseen circumstances, Sacco would re- 
main on the ground. "As you can well imag- 
ine, this was not the news I wanted to hear," 
he wrote in a memo to the chemical engi- 
neering faculty. "I will continue to do my 

best to help USML-1 
be a successful mis- 
sion for this nation." 

While training con- 
tinued, Sacco did his 
best to carry out his 
duties as Chemical 
Engineering Depart- 
ment head, conduct- 
ing business during 
daily phone calls to 
Worcester. He also 
supervised the devel- 
opment of the Zeolite 
Crystal Growth Ex- 
periment, the work of 
a design team consist 
ing of Sacco, Thomp- 
son, Dixon, Giacomo P. Ferraro Jr., the 
department's principal lab machinist, and 
Nurcan Bac, a visiting professor from Middle 
East Technical University in Turkey. 

The ZCG comprised two primary pieces 
of hardware: the autoclaves in which the 
alumina and silica solutions would be mixed 
and in which the crystals would grow, and 
a furnace in which to heat the autoclaves. 
Sacco sketched out the basic design for the 
furnace, a 70-pound cylinder roughly the 

Below, Sacco inserts an autoclave in the back-up ZCG 
furnace, which was used in the control experiment at 
WPI. Above, he undergoes NASA water survival training. 

size of a small microwave oven. Running 
the length of the cylinder were 19 aluminum 
tubes into which 38 autoclaves (19 primary 
units and 19 backups) would be placed. 
The tubes were arranged into three zones: 
a center tube surrounded by a circle of six 
tubes surrounded, in turn, by a circle of 12. 

The three zones would provide ideal 
growth environments for the three zeolites 
WPI planned to grow during the mission. 
Since each zeolite grows best at a different 
temperature, it would be necessary for 
each zone to be maintained at a distinct 
temperature setting, ranging from 1 75° C 
at the center to 95° C in the outer ring. To 
confirm that the furnace could accomplish 
this using the 100 watts of power NASA had 
allocated the experiment, Dixon developed 
a computer program to model the device's 
thermal behavior. 

With just a year and a half remaining 
to develop flight-ready hardware, Sacco, 
Ferraro, Bac and Douglas White, the depart- 
ment's electronics technician, spent two 
weeks turning Sacco's sketch into a working 
prototype. "We called on WPI alumni who 
gave us bargain basement prices on some 
of the components we needed," Sacco says. 
"As a result, we built it for just $40,000." 

With actual hardware in hand, the team 
fine-tuned the design. At the same time, 
Dixon used the prototype to test the pre- 
dictions of his computer model. "Since the 
predictions and the real data didn't always 
agree," he says, "I used my best judgement 
to develop the temperature profiles that ul- 
timately appeared in the crew procedures. 
During the mission, the temperatures we 
saw agreed very well with those profiles, 
which made a good impression at NASA." 

While work progressed on the furnace, 
Bac and Ferraro designed the autoclaves. 
Machined from aluminum, steel and tita- 
nium, these tubes contained separate 


Fall 1992 

chambers for the alumina and silica solu- 
tions. When turned with an electric screw- 
driver, a teflon paddle inside the autoclaves 
pressurized one chamber, forcing its con- 
tents into the other. Running the screw- 
driver in reverse pulled the mixture back 
into the empty chamber. Several complete 
cycles — called activations — were needed 
to thoroughly mix the gel. 

The task of building prototype auto- 
claves fell to Ferraro. "His expertise as a 
precision machinist made it possible," 
Sacco says. "He was so good, NASA machin- 
ists wanted to fly out here to learn how to 
build these things to such tight tolerances." 

After it had received NASA approval (the 
documentation to satisfy the agency's safety 
and design requirements would ultimately 
fill two file cabinets), the furnace design was 
turned over to Teledyne Brown Engineering 
in Huntsville, Ala., and Intech Inc. in Santa 
Clara, Calif., which produced a flight-ready 
furnace and a duplicate unit to be used in a 
control experiment at WPI. The autoclaves 
were built by a precision machine shop in 

Teledyne Brown also built the electric 
screwdriver and an attachment to fit the 
socket in the autoclaves. As the WPI team 
prepared for a critical NASA readiness re- 
view just a few weeks before launch, it 
became apparent to Ferraro that the attach- 
ment was not strong enough and might fail 
in use. With too little time to design and test 
a new part, he found a solution at a local 
hardware store. 

"During the review, NASA pointed out 
the problem," Ferraro says, "and asked how 
we could solve it. From my pocket I pulled 
a $3.80 part I had modified and said we 
should make something like that. The NASA 
guys looked it over and said, 'why don't we 
just use this one.' So we replaced an $8,000 
device with a $3.80 part from the hardware 

Perfecting the hardware was just half of 

The flight autoclaves packed in their stowage box. 

the battle. Without a thorough 
understanding of the chemistry 
of the zeolites the team had cho- 
sen to grow, it would be difficult 
to later interpret the results of 
the ZCG. Under the direction of 
Thompson, a team of graduate 
students ran countless samples 
under a wide range of condi- 
tions and studied the results. 

"One problem with process- 
ing in space is that you have 
to know what you get on the 
ground," Sacco says. "You have 
to know everything that affects 
it, otherwise you won't be able 
to tell what was due to micro- 
gravity and what was caused by 
something else. That's an evolv- 
ing problem, because zeolites 
are so complicated in solution 
you never know exactly what's 
going on. But we've probably 
done more experiments on this 
than anyone else in the country." 

Finally, working against the 
odds, WPI delivered completed hardware to 
NASA on schedule and within its assigned 
budget. "It often takes seven to eight years 
to develop a space experiment," Sacco says. 
"NASA didn't think we could do it in 18 
months. Fortunately, they were flexible. 
They allowed us to miss a few critical design 
reviews early on. And a few times when we 
got stuck, mission manager Charlie Sprinkle 
had his people help us write documentation. 
In the end, though, we came through." 

For nearly two years, the ZCG team had 
labored as a group. But as the launch date 
for USML-1 approached, the team members 
prepared to split up, for their jobs would 
now take them far afield. 

As an alternate payload specialist, Sacco 
would spend the mission working 12-hour 
shifts at a console at 
the Marshall Space 
Flight Center in 
Huntsville, Ala., 
where he would 
serve as the primary 
communications link 
between the astro- 
nauts and the more 
than 140 scientists on 
the ground anxiously 
watching their ex- 
periments unfold. 
It would be the most 
grueling work he had 
ever done. 

"Being an APS is 
the toughest job in 

Nurcan Bac, left, and Giacomo Ferraro with the truck 
they used to transport their supplies to Florida. 

the world," he says. "You have to be emo- 
tionally ready to fly on a mission where your 
life is at stake. You have to be functionally 
literate in all the orbiter systems. But you 
also have to know more about the mission 
science than the flight crew, because it's 
your job to talk with the scientists on the 
ground and translate their needs into lan- 
guage the crew can understand." 

Dixon and Thompson would also find 
themselves at Marshall. Working eight- 
hour shifts alongside representatives from 
Teledyne Brown and Intech, they monitored 
the ZCG's status and stood by to come up 
with solutions should anything go wrong. 

If Sacco, Dixon and Thompson were the 
actors in the ZCG drama, it fell to Bac and 
Ferraro to set the stage. In mid-June 1992 
they loaded a complete chemistry labora- 
tory and the better part of a machine shop 
into a rental truck and headed south. On 
June 18 they arrived at the Kennedy Space 
Center in Florida, where, along with post- 
doctoral research associates Eric Coker and 
Juliusz Warzywoda and graduate student 
Ipek Guray, they spent 16 hours unloading 
the truck under the watchful eyes of NASA 
quality-control engineers. 

Over the next few days, they would pre- 
pare alumina and silica solutions and load 
them into more than 80 autoclaves (includ- 
ing 38 for the shuttle experiment and 38 for 
the duplicate experiment in Worcester). 
Early on, it became apparent that the toler- 
ances on the internal parts of some of the 
autoclaves made by the firm in Alabama 
were off by a few thousandths of an inch — 
just enough to create friction when the 

WPI Journal 


Working in an assembly line, WPI's Kennedy Space Center team prepare the autoclaves for USML-1. They are, from 
left, Robert Whitmore from the Battelle Advanced Materials Center, graduate student Ipek Guray, postdoctoral fellow 
Juliusz Warzywoda, Bac, postdoctoral fellow Eric Coker and Ferraro. The team's work earned praise from NASA. 

parts were turned by the electric screw- 
driver. That friction, they knew, could pre- 
vent the solutions from mixing thoroughly. 
Ferraro set up the tools he'd brought from 
Worcester and, racing the clock, spent 
12 hours remachining the parts. 

Ultimately, the autoclaves were loaded, 
packed into labeled bags, placed in a box, 
and turned over to NASA on June 23. At 
the same time, Teledyne Brown representa- 
tives handed over the screwdriver and a 
tool the astronauts would use to remove 
the autoclaves from the furnace. As that 
tool changed hands, a strip of Velcro fell 
off its handle. 

Without that strip, the astronauts would 
be unable to secure the tool to Velcro strips 
in the shuttle. If it could not be so secured, 
the tool could not fly, according to NASA 
safety rules. If the tool didn't fly, the experi- 
ment couldn't be run. Suddenly, two years 
of work was in jeopardy because of a tiny 
strip of plastic. Without blinking an eye, 
Ferraro reached into a bag of equipment 

he'd brought from Worcester and produced 
the prototype tool — with its Velcro strip 
securely fastened. Though it was not flight 
certified, NASA inspectors gave it their 
blessing. Once again, Ferraro had saved 
the experiment. 

For Bac, Ferraro and the graduate stu- 
dents, it had been an exhausting five days. 
As they prepared to pack up, mission man- 
ager Sprinkle and his assistant, Paul Gilbert, 
stopped by to compliment the WPI team on 
a job well done. Similar compliments would 
soon reach Sacco, Dixon and Thompson in 
Huntsville. "Two people who were at Ken- 
nedy took it upon themselves to tell us what 
a wonderfully professional and dedicated 
group we had and how smoothly the opera- 
tion had gone," Thompson says. "They 
didn't have to do that." 

On the morning of June 25, Bac and 
Ferraro watched the USML-1 crew board 
a van for the launchpad, then took their 
seats in the VIP viewing area to see Colum- 
bia rise on a massive column of flame and 

smoke, roll gracefully, and begin its journey 
into space. 

With mixed emotions, Sacco watched the 
launch on television at his console in Hunts- 
ville. "People often ask me whether I felt bad 
about not being up there," he says. "I did, 
but not for the reason they think. I had lived 
with those guys for two years; they had be- 
come like family. Suddenly they were going 
off to do something 1 knew was dangerous, 
and I felt 1 should be with them. 1 felt almost 
like a traitor, because I was no longer put- 
ting my ass on the line like they were." 

Sacco quickly learned that his job would 
be as challenging — if not more so — than 
those of the seven men and women orbiting 
overhead. Pulling on his headset, he felt as 
though he had landed in a simultaneous 
translator's nightmare. Into his ears flowed 
a constant stream of voices — up to 14 con- 
versations at once: scientists, engineers, 
spacecraft operations people, and dozens 
of other men and women talking to Sacco 
and to each other. 


Fall 1992 

He says he quickly became adept at pick- 
ing out of this cacophony the information he 
needed. As a scientist and an astronaut who 
had trained with the spacelab crew, he was 
in a unique position to work with the rest 
of the mission scientists to fix the problems 
the astronauts would encounter and to relay 
the solutions back up to the crew. 

"An astronaut's on-orbit time costs about 
$23,000 a minute," he says. "When they have 
a problem, they don't waste time looking up 
the answer — that's done on the ground. So 
I had to be able to focus everyone on the 
problem at hand." In addition to solving 
problems, Sacco worked with timeline engi- 
neers, crew procedure engineers and others 
to continually revamp the mission sched- 
ule — often several days into the future — and 
to make sure that valuable time on data and 
television downlink channels would be avail- 
able to scientists who needed them. 

"The researchers were always afraid 
they were going to lose their science," Sacco 
says. "Every one of those guys was a world- 
class scientist, and if they thought you were 
trying to take away a minute of their time, 
they'd get big-time upset." In the end, Sacco 
says, careful rearranging of the timeline al- 
lowed the USML-1 crew to actually get more 
work done on the science experiments than 
was planned, an extraordinary achievement. 

Once, when a potential leak in a seal on a 
glovebox attached to a large crystal growth 
furnace placed a portion of the mission sci- 
ence in jeopardy, Sacco devoted one of his 
12-hour shifts to working with hardware ex- 
perts to come up with a solution. His efforts 
earned him a special recognition award from 
NASA administrator Daniel S. Goldin. But 
most of Sacco's time in Huntsville was spent 
in the pressure-cooker environment of the 
APS console. 

"As an APS, I had to be prepared for emer- 

Wearing protective goggles, Bonnie Dunbar prepares a ZCG autoclave in 
Columbia's mid-deck. When friction due to a machining problem drained 
the batteries in an electric screwdriver she was using to activate the 
autoclaves, she finished the job with a ratchet wrench. 

gencies," he says. "If something went seri- 
ously wrong with an experiment, it could re- 
quire a split-second decision. I had a lot of 
people backing me up, but I was the crunch 
point; I had to focus it and voice it up to the 
crew. I was also given the authority to ques- 
tion a command and stop it from going up." 
At the end of each shift, Sacco spent an 
hour with the scientists he'd worked with 
that day to ask how he might better serve 
them on his next shift. After taking time for 
dinner, he'd return to his room, utterly ex- 
hausted, and try to grab some sleep before 
returning to the control room an hour early 
to confer with fellow APS Joseph M. Prahl, 
professor of engineering at Case Western 
Reserve University, 
who worked compli- 
mentary 12-hour shifts 
on the console. 

"Al was a real as- 
set to the flight," says 
payload commander 
Dunbar. "When we are 
flying flights like this, 
which are a combina- 
tion of science and 
operations, it's impor- 
tant to have a good 
mix of the two [in an 
APS], because he has 
to make real-time 
decisions — and make 
sound ones. He has 
to interpret a lot of 
information in a few 

Ferraro works against the clock to remachine the autoclaves. 

words. Al was an 

indispensable contributor to the success 
of the mission." 

Early on the first day of the mission, 
Dunbar started the glove box experiment 
for the zeolite crystal growth team. As she 
worked, she noticed something odd about 
one of the clear-plastic autoclaves and 
asked Sacco for his opinion. What Sacco 
saw on the television screen looked like 
some sort of seepage inside the autoclave. 
But he didn't say seepage; without thinking, 
he called the phenomenon a leak. 

"Immediately," Dixon says, "I had a bunch 
of people on my headset saying, "Leak? 
What leak? Tell me about this leak. Is there 
any danger? Can anything get out?' So I had 
to tell them, 'In this case, leak means it's 
contained.' You learn that the first thing you 
say is, 'it's contained — it's not coming out.'" 

Bac, Ferraro and Coker, who were also 
watching the experiment on TV, knew ex- 
actly what was happening. Because of the 
machining problem, which Ferraro had not 
been able to correct completely, capillary 
action was causing the alumina and silica 
solutions to "wick" harmlessly to the inside 
wall of the autoclave. Within minutes, they 
called Dixon, who relayed the information 
to Sacco. As quickly as it arose, the furor 
over the "leak" subsided. 

Later that day, Dunbar began activating 
the ZCG's autoclaves and loading them into 
the furnace, which, because it would need 
little attention once fired up, had been 
placed in the shuttle mid-deck rather than 

WPI Journal 


After a record-setting 14-day mission, Columbia touched down at the Kennedy 
Space Center on July 8, 1992. On board was a precious cargo: a box loaded 
with 38 autoclaves containing zeolite crystals grown in microgravity. 

in the spacelab module. But before she 
could finish, the electric screwdriver gave 
out. Due to the machining problem, "there 
was a little more resistance than we'd anti- 
cipated," she says, "which used up the bat- 
teries. So we went to a manual activation. 
We had to be a little creative with our tool- 
kit. We got a ratchet wrench out, made the 
attachment, and went from there." 

After about two hours, the furnace was 
loaded; Dunbar screwed on the faceplate 
and turned on the circuitry. In about eight 
hours, the furnace would reach its operating 
temperature. For Dixon and Thompson, the 
excitement was over. "Because the planning 
had been so successful, there was little for 
us to do," Thompson says. Dixon puts it this 
way: "We said all through the practice runs 
that we'd be bored stupid, and we were." 

But one person's boredom is another's 
delight. Up in Columbia, Dunbar could not 
have been happier about the ZCG's success. 
"We always go into working a new piece of 
hardware in zero-G with the assumption that 
it's a research and development environ- 
ment, because you can't simulate zero-G 
for any significant time on the ground," she 
says. "You give it your best engineering and 
science judgement, but you provide for the 
fact that there may be problems. So I was 
very pleased that they got up there, they 
held the temperature the way they wanted 
to, and they controlled it the way they 
wanted. We never had to intervene. I think 
they get an A+ for operations." 

For Bac and Ferraro, there was little time 
for boredom. Having loaded the truck, they 
returned to Worcester to prepare to run the 

duplicate ZCG along with Coker, Warzywoda 
and Guray. Using information relayed by 
Dixon and Thompson, they prepared the 
autoclaves exactly as Dunbar had done, 
then monitored the furnace to make sure 
its temperature profile matched that of the 
space unit. Later, by comparing the results 
of the two experiments, the researchers 
would be able to determine whether micro- 
gravity really made a difference in the size 
of the zeolites they grew in orbit. 

Nearly nine days after it was activated, 
the ZCG was shut down and allowed to cool. 
Dunbar then retrieved the autoclaves and 
returned them to their stowage box. In Wor- 
cester, Bac boarded a plane and headed for 
Edwards Air Force Base in California to 
collect the box. He awoke the morning of 
Columbia's scheduled landing to find that, 
due to bad weather at Edwards, the mission 
was being extended to a record 14th day. He 
also learned that the landing site had been 
changed to Florida. 

Hopping another plane, he arrived at 
Kennedy Space Center just in time to re- 
trieve the autoclaves and head for the 
airport once more. The return of the auto- 
claves to Worcester brought down the 
curtain on the Zeolite Crystal Growth Ex- 
periment. But ahead of the WP1 team lay 
the task of examining and learning from 
the crystals they had grown. 

For Sacco, the end of the mission 
brought his first real chance to rest after 
more than two years of working in high gear 
and two weeks of 14-hour days. "I didn't feel 
it right away," he says. "The excitement and 
adrenaline kept me going. But two days after 

I got off console, I was sleeping 12 hours 
straight, and during the 12 hours I was 
awake I wasn't worth anything." 

With the help of Ronald R. Biederman, pro- 
fessor of mechanical engineering, the WPI 
team put their space-grown crystals under 
the electron microscope. They also studied 
them with x-ray diffraction, x-ray photo- 
spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic reso- 
nance. What they saw was encouraging. 

"We got enhanced size, which is what we 
had predicted," Sacco says. "Compared to 
the best crystals we've ever grown in our 
labs here at WPI, which are about 50 to 90 
microns (millionths of a meter) on a edge, 
the space crystals were 40 percent larger 
in linear dimensions, 96 percent larger in 
area and 200 percent larger in volume." 
They also appear to be far more perfect 
than Earth-grown crystals, he adds. 

(It's important to note, Sacco says, that 
WPI's best Earth-grown crystals, which were 
produced under carefully controlled condi- 
tions, are significantly larger than the crys- 
tals typically used in industry. The crystals 
produced in space are many times larger 
than those tiny zeolites.) 

While the experiment was a success, 
Sacco says it didn't accomplish everything 

The space zeolites proved significantly 
larger and more perfect than those 
grown in the control furnace back at WPI. 


Fall 1992 

During the USML-1 mission, Sacco, as an alternate payload specialist, served as the primary communications 
link between the astronauts and the scientists and engineers on the ground. Working at this console at the 
Marshall Space Flight Center, he helped solve problems the spacelab crew encountered and continually re- 
worked the mission timeline. Sacco is shown here with, left to right, Anna Bathew, NASA data management 
coordinator, Alan Johnston, crew interface coordinator, and Karla Kochevar, a timeline engineer. 

the ZCG team had hoped. In particular, the 
mixing problem probably prevented the 
crystals from growing as large as they might 
have. "We got a scientific gold star," he says, 
"but for what we eventually want to accom- 
plish, we have to go much further." 

NASA, pleased with the results of the 
first run of the ZCG, has already booked the 
experiment on Spacehab 1, a small spacelab 
set to fly on a five-day shuttle mission in the 
spring of 1993. Pending the results of that 
flight, the experiment should also be aboard 
a second Spacehab mission in 1994 and on 
USML-2 in 1995. The WPI researchers have 
even been given space on the proposed 
space station Freedom. 

"The idea of this preliminary experiment 
was to demonstrate that microgravity either 
does or does not have something to do with 
the growth of zeolites," Thompson says. "It 
appears at this time that it does, so the ob- 
jective was met. What we have to do in the 
next several months is to interpret the data 
on some firm scientific basis and see what 
the next logical step will be." 

Sacco says the next run of the ZCG will 
benefit from better machining of the auto- 

claves, resulting in better mixing. In addi- 
tion, the results from the first experiment 
demonstrated clearly which mixing strate- 
gies work best, so only those will be used 
next time. Because of the short duration of 
the Spacehab mission, the team will not be 
looking to grow larger crystals — that will 
have to wait for longer missions later on. 

Ultimately, though, Sacco says the WPI 
team expects to grow crystals significantly 
larger than those produced on USML-1 — 
perhaps as big as half a millimeter to a 
millimeter on a side. Crystals that big, if 
produced in sufficient quantities, could 
revolutionize the chemical processing in- 
dustry, he notes. In particular, large crys- 
tals will greatly enhance the purification 
of chemicals and drugs. Since separations 
account for 65 percent of the cost of most 
chemical products, enhancing purification 
will significantly lower production costs. 

Large crystals will also make it easier for 
chemical engineers to study what makes 
zeolites tick. With this new knowledge, they 
can custom design new zeolite catalysts 
that will increase the yields of many high- 
volume chemical industries and reduce 

waste products at the same time. Will such 
applications justify the significant cost of 
manufacturing zeolites in space? "If I can 
spend $1 million to grow crystals that 
improve the yield of gasoline refining — a 
multibillion-dollar business — by 1 percent," 
Sacco says, "then that $1 million will yield 
billions in savings." 

For the moment, though, Sacco and the 
rest of the ZCG team are thinking about a dif- 
ferent sort of payoff— the recognition their 
work has helped bring to the Institute. "WPI's 
name is solid gold at NASA now," Sacco says. 
"We're considered almost a miracle school. 
People don't know what to make of us. A 
lot of the university people involved with 
USML-1 had never heard of us, because we 
are primarily an undergraduate school. 

"1 think we really showed them, and it 
will pay dividends beyond everyone's imagi- 
nation. We came together in a moment in 
time and decided that this experiment was 
bigger than everybody's ego, professional 
development or leisure time. We decided 
we were going to do it. And we did it as 
good as, if not better than, anybody else 
could have." 

WPI Journal 



Court of 

By Ruth Trask 

As America's 

Top Judge, 



Metes Out 

Justice With 



and Humor 


I his is beyond my wildest dreams," says Worcester 
I Central District Court Judge Ernest Hayeck '47, who 
I received one of the American Bar Association's highest 
m. honors at the organization's annual awards ceremony 
in July. "Only in America could such a thing come true. 
1 happened to be in the right place at the right time. I 
was lucky." 

As the recipient of the ABA's Franklin N. Flaschner Award, 
Hayeck was recognized as the top judge in the nation. While 
Judge Hayeck may modestly attribute this, the latest and 
most prestigious in a long list of honors he has won, to luck, 
his colleagues — and even some of the convicts he has 
imprisoned— tell another story. In a nutshell, they say he 
bends over backward to be fair to all who come before 
him — not only defendants, but victims, as well. 

In fact, Hayeck's concern for the welfare of victims has 
brought him to national prominence. When he was chair- 
man of the National Conference of Special Court Judges of 
the ABA, he helped write a Statement of Recommended 
Judicial Practices that has been used as a model for victims' 
rights legislation across the country. 

His leadership, along with his role in securing a $250,000 
grant from the U.S. Justice Department, resulted in the Na- 
tional Conference of the Judiciary on the Rights of Victims. 
At that conference, held in 1983, judges from every state in 
the nation were brought together at The National Judicial 
College to discuss the problems and rights of victims. 

While acknowledging the importance of the rights of 
defendants, which are carefully defined in American law, 
Hayeck says victims of crime often receive serious physical, 



Fall 1992 

Judge Ernest Hayeck's dedication to the rights of victims 
has earned him the respect of his peers. 

psychological and financial injuries as a result of crimes 
committed against them. Before the National Conference of 
the Judiciary promulgated its recommendations, victims' 
rights had never been clearly defined, he notes. 

"Victims of and witnesses to crime frequently must take 
time off from work and make other personal sacrifices, pos- 
sibly subjecting themselves to risk of intimidation and in- 
jury," he says. "The criminal justice system depends on the 
willing cooperation of victims and witnesses in order to 
perform its primary function of protecting all citizens in this 

To give victims and witnesses fairer treatment in crimi- 
nal cases, Hayeck proposed that they be provided essential 
information about court procedures and courthouse facili- 
ties; be allowed to participate, and where appropriate, give 
input through the prosecutor to testify in all stages of judi- 
cial proceedings; and be protected from harassment, threats, 
intimidation and harm. He also recommended that judges at 
the trial and appellate levels be encouraged to participate in 
training programs dealing with the rights, problems, needs 
and legal interests of crime victims. 

Victims of crime, he says, should not be victims of the 
criminal justice system, as well. By virtue of their position of 
authority in the American judicial system and their promi- 
nence in their communities, judges can play a critical role in 
making sure that doesn't happen. He says judges can take 
an important step toward improving the lot of victims by 
simply evaluating their own attitudes and the attitudes of 
their staffs toward these individuals. 

With the national spotlight focused on the rights of vic- 
tims, a number of victims' rights groups, including the Na- 
tional Victim Center, have been organized over the past 
decade. "Incidentally," Hayeck says, "1 met Christine Edmunds, 
director of program development for the National Victim 
Center, at The National Judicial College in August. I was 
pleased to learn she is the niece of Professor Emeritus Albert 
Schwieger, one of my favorite former WP1 professors." 

Hayeck is noted for running a simple, straightforward 
court, where justice is meted out with compassion, firmness 
and humor. "I want the prisoners to know why they must go 
to jail," he says. "I want them to feel the seriousness of what 
they have done. I don't believe in simply slapping wrists." 

For example, when a gang of youths desecrated a cem- 
etery, Hayeck sent them to jail rather than giving them the 
option of community service, as other judges have done in 
similar cases. "Most of those tombstones belonged to poor, 
elderly families who couldn't easily replace them," he says. 
"They were heartbroken and devastated by what those boys 
did. The culprits deserved to go to jail." 

Over the years, a surprising number of prisoners have 
thanked Hayeck for his brand of justice, saying it helped 
deter them from returning to familiar patterns when they 
were released from jail. But Hayeck is no "hanging judge." 
His kindnesses on the bench are legendary. 

Once, when one of the parties in a lawsuit would accept 
nothing less than $350 and the other party would pay only 
$300 and not a penny more, Hayeck opened his wallet and 
made up the $50 difference on the spot. "Fifty bucks made 

In his Worcester courtroom, Hayeck is known for his compassion 
and fairness, and for his uncanny ability to put people at ease. 

all the difference in the world to the kid in question," he said in a 
newspaper interview at the time. "It seemed like the right thing to do." 

Hayeck says he cares about the people in his courtroom as indi- 
viduals. To put the men and women who come before him at ease, he 
sometimes gives a brief discourse on the etymology of their sur- 
names, drawing on his working knowledge of several languages. "For 
the average person, an appearance in court is a traumatic, frightening 
experience," he says. "1 feel that to the extent he can do so, a judge 
should put people at ease, but without demeaning the dignity or the 
solemnity of the proceedings." 

During his 22 years on the bench, Hayeck has heard a wide variety 
of cases — civil and criminal — ranging from the simplest to the most 
complicated and serious. He can lay claim to having presided over the 
largest medical malpractice jury verdict ever handed down in Massa- 
chusetts. In November 1986 a jury awarded a plaintiff $9.72 million in 
Harlow v. Chin and Massachusetts General Hospital. 

As he hears the cases that come before him, Hayeck says he is ever 
mindful of his role as a public servant. "The court belongs to the 
people," he explains. "A judge or a judge and jury hear the evidence, 
determine the verdict, and the sentence is decided by the judge. I 
never forget for one moment that mine is an awesome responsibility. 
What I do can have a great and sometimes irreversible impact. But 
1 don't have any problem making up my mind. None whatsoever. If I 
did, 1 think I'd belong in another business." 

America's foremost judge says he is perfectly happy with his court- 
house digs, although they are not luxurious by any means. In fact, he is 
unabashedly proud of having made it in Worcester rather than in New 

York City or Los Angeles. He says the gilt trappings of 
big-city success mean little to him. "I'm a living example 
of how you can succeed in your own backyard," he 
says. "The grass isn't always greener somewhere else." 
No matter what his location, Hayeck is sought out 
by those in high places from coast to coast. His col- 
leagues hail him as a national leader in judicial educa- 
tion. Milford (Mass.) District Court Judge Francis J. 
Larkin, who nominated Hayeck for the Flaschner Award, 
says "he has compiled an enviable reputation as a judi- 
cial-educator who combines broad erudition with pow- 
ers of clear exposition and eloquent, pungent writing." 
Hayeck is a faculty member at the only college for 
judges in America. The National Judicial College in 
Reno, Nev., where all of the students and most of the 
faculty are judges, was established many years ago at 
the University of Nevada under the aegis of the U.S. 
Supreme Court. Private funds were sought for the 
creation of the college, which is affiliated with the 
ABA. Since the Fleischman Foundation of Reno pro- 
vided the most substantial initial funding and 
continuing support, the college was located in the 
foundation's hometown. 

Judges from all over the country and all over the 
world attend the college. Many states require their 
judges to attend. In the near future, 100 judges from 
Russia will enroll. Tuition is substantial and the train- 
ing rigorous. Classes start promptly at 8 a.m. and run 
until 5 p.m., seven days a week. The faculty serves pro 
bono publico — on a voluntary basis. 
It is an honor to be chosen to teach at the college, Hayeck says. 
Faculty members are anonymously evaluated by all the students for 
every lecture they give, in every course they teach. If his evaluations 
drop, an instructor is not invited to return. Hayeck started teaching at 
the college in 1974 and he has been invited back every year since. His 
evaluations have been remarkable. For the most recent session, during 
which he taught advanced evidence, among other subjects, his mean 
rating was 6.8 out of a possible 7. 

In postcourse reviews his students have said, "Judge Hayeck's 
lectures are clear, concise and practical," and "he is a brilliant man 
who has a flair for teaching." One student noted, "He should be 
teaching law school students. They'd love him." 

In addition to serving on the faculty at The National Judicial Col- 
lege, Hayeck served the maximum allowable six years on the college's 
board of directors and was vice chairman of the board when U.S. 
Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger was chairman. 

Also, long concerned with the rights of prisoners and minorities, 
Hayeck helped spearhead the first National Conference of the Judi- 
ciary on Jail and Prison Crowding. He is a longtime member of the ABA 
Commission on Opportunities for Minorities in the Profession. While 
he was chairman of the Judicial Administration Division (JAD) of the 
ABA, he created the Judicial Administration Division Task Force on 
Minorities in the Judiciary. 

Francis S. Moran Jr., executive director of the Boston Bar Associa- 
tion, says, "Few if any lawyers in the country have done as much to 
further the cause of broadening opportunities for minorities in the 
legal profession as Judge Hayeck. In his years on the bench, he has 


Fall 1992 

also made a profound impact on the improvement of judicial educa- 
tion, not only in Massachusetts but in the nation as a whole." 

Moran, chairman of the ABA awards board, had good documenta- 
tion to back up Hayeck's nomination, as Hayeck has served as chair- 
man of the Massachusetts District Court Committee on Judicial 

Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Dennis Archer was the 
keynote speaker at Hayeck's ABA award presentation in San Francisco 
in July. Anthony Lewis, a columnist for The New York Times and two- 
time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, also attended the ceremony. As 
the keynote speaker at the opening assembly of the ABA, Lewis 
commended Hayeck and quoted him in his speech. 

In recommending Hayeck for the award, Justice Archer cited 
Hayeck's hard work in the ABA Minor- 
ity Counsel Demonstration Program. 
He noted that he was also impressed 
that Hayeck was instrumental in get- 
ting the JAD to form a task force that 
has increased the number of minority 
judges who belong to the ABA and the 
JAD, and encouraged more judges to 
hire minority law clerks. Of Hayeck, he 
wrote, "A person who thinks of others 
first, who uses his intellectual skills to 
demonstrate fairness and to benefit 
mankind while wearing his heart on 
his sleeve and providing service to 
our profession is more than worthy of 

As a teenager, Hayeck never saw 
himself in the legal profession. He grew 
up on Grafton Hill in Worcester, where 
he used to get in trouble for taking 
mechanical things apart and putting 
them back together, making his 
own batteries of copper, zinc and 
sulfuric acid, and devising his own 

"Justice at home was always swift," 
he recalls. "Sometimes it was 

a whack. 1 had two brothers, and we were always getting into 
scrapes. Ironically, my parents' favorite caution was, 'Judge not, lest 
ye be judged.' 

"As I grew older, I knew I wanted to study at WPI and teach," he 
says. After graduating with his B.S. in chemistry from the Institute, he 
taught at Boston University, where he received his M.A. in chemistry. 
He then taught at Stonehill College in North Easton, Mass., where he 
established the chemistry department. 

"In 1952, after my younger brother, Albert, a lawyer, was killed in a 
private plane crash, I decided at his funeral to change careers and go 
into law," he says. "That was the trigger mechanism that caused me to 
go to law school." 

After receiving his law degree from BU, Hayeck was in private 
practice in Worcester from 1955 to 1970. In 1970, Francis Sargent, then 
the governor of Massachusetts, named him a judge. Over the years, in 
addition to judging and teaching, Hayeck has done a great deal of 
writing on the law of evidence, on trusts and various other subjects. 

His accomplishments have earned him several honorary graduate 
degrees and other professional honors. 

Hayeck says what he has found most rewarding about his career is 
the opportunity to serve society. "Service itself is its own reward," he 
notes. "The beauty of the U.S. judicial system is that it is the backbone 
of our free society. We have no armies to back up court decisions. 
People, in general, respect our court decisions and abide by them, 
which is not always the case in other countries." 

Currently, he says, the courts are on the verge of being over- 
whelmed. But it's still important to give people the attention they 
deserve. "Too many judges don't exercise as much latitude in resolv- 
ing cases as they might," he said in a recent interview with the Massa- 
chusetts Lawyer's Weekly. He says he's found it effective to help litigants 

resolve their disputes without the 
need for a full adversarial trial. 

A judge, he says, must never 
become an advocate for either side, 
but he or she can make a meaningful 
contribution to the resolution of 
a case by being involved in an im- 
partial way. "I think a judge, if he has 
a knack for it, can move a tremen- 
dous amount of work," he said in 
the Lawyer's Weekly interview. "It's 
much easier to sit there with your 
mouth shut and try to look learned. 
But I don't think we can afford that 

Although cognizant of the many 
problems facing America today, both 
inside and outside the courtroom 
("It's scary everywhere" he says), 
Hayeck admits to being a red, white 
and blue patriot, believing in the 
basic strengths and ideals of our 
democratic society. 

He says he is aghast at the changes 
that have taken place since he first 
started practice in the 1950s. Back 
then he was rarely, if ever, concerned 
with drug or drug-related cases. Today, he says, his calendar is over- 
flowing with them. 

Hayeck attributes his own balanced view of the world to his broad- 
based education and to his wide-ranging interests. (They include scuba 
diving, which he has done all over the world, fishing for marlin 
in Hawaii and the Caribbean, and catching salmon in the Pacific 
Northwest and Alaska.) 

He says he strongly advocates that prospective lawyers broaden 
their own horizons by taking science and humanities courses along 
with their studies in law. "I have many engineer friends who never 
read anything but professional literature," he says. "They wouldn't 
dream of reading a poem or a novel." An avid reader, Hayeck says he 
finds this sad. 

To those considering law careers, Hayeck has another piece of 
advice: "Be fair minded." As for himself, he says, "I think I've been 
totally and irreversibly ruined for the art of advocacy, because as a 
judge, I see at least two sides to every question." 



WPI Journal 



Bob Sinicrope Shows Students There's 
Joy and Fulfillment in "All That Jazz" 


I he original pied piper in the classic children's story led 

I youngsters out of town playing pan pipes. Bob Sinicrope 71, 
X on the other hand, leads his kids out of the country playing 
the trombone and the string bass. On his resume, Sinicrope is 
listed as a mathematics teacher at Milton Academy, a well-known 
preparatory school in Milton, Mass. While he says he enjoys teach- 
ing math, it is his love of jazz, which he also teaches, that has taken 
him and his young charges around the world. 

Thanks to Sinicrope, jazz is big-time at Milton. The school offers 
full-credit courses in the subject and gives students the opportu- 
nity to learn about musical self-expression by playing in the Milton 
Jazz Combo, which Sinicrope directs. No run-of-the-mill kids' group, 
the combo has performed from coast to coast, opened for the likes 
of James Taylor, and received numerous music awards. 

"We just won our most important honor ever," reports a beam- 
ing Sinicrope. "Down Beat magazine named the Milton Jazz Combo 
the winner in the North American high school small group cat- 
egory in its 15th Annual Student Music Award Competition." 

As pleased as Sinicrope and his combo are with this prestigious 
prize, the highlight of the group's career to date was a February 
1992 tour of South Africa, where they performed at the invitation 
of Abdullah Ibrahim, one of the world's most outstanding jazz 
composers and pianists. 

That remarkable opportunity followed Ibrahim's perfor- 
mance at Milton Academy last year at a benefit for the school's 
South African Scholarship Fund. Ibrahim was so impressed 
with Sinicrope's combo that he invited the students to appear 
at concerts in his native land. "I want the spirit of the Milton 
Jazz Combo shared with my South African homeland," he said, 
following his standing-room-only concert at the school. 

To earn enough for the trip, Sinicrope and his group under- 
took a dizzying concert schedule — performing anywhere they 
were asked. Within one two-week period they performed three 
times in Boston: at the Museum of Science, in Copley Place (an 
upscale shopping mall in the downtown area), and at Aquinas 
Junior College. "We had to raise money the best way we could," 
Sinicrope says. 

In addition to their own efforts, the combo received gener- 
ous support from families and friends of Milton Academy. Ulti- 
mately, their financial goals were met and, in early February, 
Sinicrope and the combo, accompanied by Sinicrope's daugh- 
ter, Alicia, and two other academy representatives, arrived in 
South Africa. 

Highlights of the trip included a concert for the mayor of 
Johannesburg in City Hall, a performance at a local boys' 
school, a special performance for Dave Brubeck's son Darius, 

Bob Sinicrope '71 
leads the Milton 
Academy Jazz 
Combo, named 
best in its category 
in a Down Beat 
magazine student 
music competition. 


Fall 1992 

Sinicrope chats with South African jazz great Abdullah Ibrahim, 
who invited the Milton group to perform in his country. 

a jazz musician who lives in Durban, and four days spent studying 
and performing at three township schools. There was also plenty 
of time for getting a taste of local culture and sightseeing, with the 
African game preserves being an especially popular attraction. 

"We all agreed that the trip was a great honor and a privilege," 
says Sinicrope. "We were truly touched by Ibrahim's talent and 
spirit. The trip was fantasy come to life." 

A story in the Milton Academy newspaper noted that Sinicrope, 
who had invited Ibrahim to the scholarship benefit, was the prime 
force in turning the dream into reality. "It is impossible," noted the 
young reporter, "not to see that Mr. Sinicrope has worked beyond 
belief.. ..the trip would not have been possible without him." 

So successful were Sinicrope's international efforts in South 
Africa, he was selected to spend more than six weeks teaching 
math and English last summer at Milton Academy's sister school 
in Beijing, China. It goes without saying that somewhere along 
the line he introduced the best of jazz to his Chinese students. 

Sinicrope has been teaching courses in math and jazz improvi- 
sation at Milton Academy for 19 years; in fact, he founded the 
school's highly acclaimed jazz program. He has been a staff 
member at Jamey Aebersold's summer jazz camps in Chicago and 
Louisville for 12 years (Aebersold is the world's best-known jazz 
educator) and he has directed jazz combos at the John Payne 
Music Center in Brookline, Mass., for 13 years. 

In addition, he has conducted jazz clinics in Australia, China, 
Jamaica, South Africa and Thailand, as well as in California, Florida 
and the greater Boston area. Sinicrope, who formerly played the 
trombone in the WPI Brass Choir, now plays string bass exclusively 
in his professional gigs. He has played with jazz greats Billy Eck- 
stine, Ernestine Anderson, Bob Wilber, Tiny Grimes, Vic Dickenson, 
Jo Jones and Warren Vache. In 1987 he was featured at the Worces- 
ter Jazz Festival with guitarist Gary Sargent. More recently, he 
accompanied Shirley Bassey at Symphony Hall in Boston. 

Sinicrope used to perform with his good friend, Richard Falco, 
who is director of jazz studies at the Institute. Today he is the bass- 
ist in Dick Johnson's Swing Shift, one of the outstanding jazz 
groups in the Northeast. He also plays regularly with the John 
Payne Sax Choir, which back on Sept. 25 performed with guest 
soloist and then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton. 

He says playing off campus helps him immeasurably in the 
classroom and on the podium. "Teaching and performing are art 

When he is not teaching, Sinicrope performs professionally 
on the string bass and conducts jazz clinics around the world. 

forms," he says. "The more you do of one, the sharper your skills 
become in the other. 

"I've been a professional musician for 30 years. In fact, playing 
music helped pay my way through WPI," Sinicrope says, explaining 
another important benefit of performing. But more important to 
him, he says, is the self-expression he finds in performing and the 
fulfillment he finds in helping others discover jazz. 

"I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity I've had to reach 
others through my teaching and playing. I've had many remarkable 
experiences in what I do and I am continually learning and growing." 

— Ruth Trask 


1 & 









The Humanitie 
and Arts at WPI 

The Art 


WPI Journal 



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Enriching Life.. .And Making a Living 

Bonnie Gelbwasser 
and Michael Dorsey 

Two decades ago, WPI invented a radical new way of incorporating the humanities 
into a technical education. Today, with a range of innovative humanities programs, 
the Institute is still preparing students for rewarding careers... and lives. 

Alden Reborn Michael Dorsey 

It's been called the jewel of the WPI campus and one of the most beautiful aca- 
demic buildings in the Northeast. After a thorough restoration, Alden Memorial 
has emerged as an elegant and functional home for the performing arts. 

Restoring a Legend Ruth Trask 

Tony Leketa '69 is no stranger to huge construction projects. Now, as program 
manager for the $1.4 billion Pentagon Renovation Program, he's overseeing one 
of the biggest projects ever undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

Investing the Future Diane Benison 

Far more than a huge savings account, WPI's $118 million endowment is a vehicle 
for ensuring the Institute's future vitality and success. Here's how the college is 
working to better protect this vital asset and foster its growth. 


L Advance Word: Celebrating Alden..The Man and the Building. 
35 Input: Cold, Hard Facts About the Endowment. Donald F. Berth '57 
00 Final Word: The Rewards of Town Management. Ruth Trask 

Front Coven Music professor David P. McKay, who will retire this year after a 37-year career at WPI. 
lectures students in the new music classroom in the fully restored Alden Memorial. Story on page 14. 
Photo by Janet Woodcock. Opposite: The Pentagon is also benefiting from a complete renovation, 
under the direction of Anthony F. Leketa '69. Story on page 22. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps 
of Engineers. Back Cover In the shadow of the Washburn Shops, students trudge through the 
aftermath of a record-setting snowfall last December. Photo by Janet Woodcock. 

Staff of the WPI Journal: Editor, Michael W. Dorsey • Alumni News Editor, Ruth S. Trask • Writers, Bonnie Gelbwasser and Neil Norum • Designer, Carol Hoyle Ballard 

• Photographer, Janet Woodcock • Alumni Publications Committee: Samuel Mencow '37, chairman • Paul J. Geary '71 • James S. Demetry '58 • Judith Donahue SIM '82 

• William J. Firla Jr. '60 • William R. Grogan '46 • Carl A. Keyser '39 • Robert C. Labonte '54 • Roger N. Perry Jr. '45 • Harlan B. Williams '50 • The WPIJoumal OSSN 0148-6128) 
is published quarterly for the WPI Alumni Association by the Office of University Relations. Second class postage paid at Worcester, MA, and additional mailing offices. 
Printed by The Lane Press, Burlington, Vt. Printed in the U.S.A. 

Diverse views presented in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or official WPI policies. We welcome letters to the editor. Address correspondence 
to the Editor, WPIJoumal, WPI, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609-2280. Phone: (508) 831-5609, FAX: (508) 831-5604, Electronic mail (Internet): 
Postmaster: If undeliverable. please send form 3579 to the address above. Do not return publication. Entire contents ®/993, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. 


Celebrating Alden... 

The Man and 
The Building 


I eorge I. Alden was just 25 when 

1 1 he joined WPI's original faculty 
^^^ in 1868. He would go on to be- 
come one of the college's most re- 
nowned educators, a man whose vision 
not only inspired a generation of stu- 
dents, but helped change the face of 
engineering education. 

Had his achievements ended there, his 
story would have been remarkable. But 
Alden, a talented entrepreneur, also helped 
found Norton Co., one of Worcester's most 
important corporations. His success in in- 
dustry made him a wealthy man, and he 
shared his good fortune liberally with the 
college where his career began. His gener- 
osity continues today through the George 
I. Alden Trust. Over the years, his gifts to 
WPI and those of his trust have totaled 
$8.6 million, making him the Institute's 
most generous benefactor. 

Alden was born in 1843 in Templeton, 
Mass., where WPI's founder, John Boynton, 
made his fortune in tinware manufacturing. 

His mother, Priscilla Alden, was the daugh- 
ter of Silas and Mary Alden of Templeton; 
Silas was a direct descendent of John Alden 
and Priscilla Mullins, passengers on the 
Mayflower, making George Alden an eighth- 
generation descendent of a Mayflower family. 

Like many youngsters of the time, he 
was forced to work several years to raise 
the funds to enter college. He graduated 
summa cum laude from Harvard Univer- 
sity's Lawrence Scientific School in 1868 
and joined WPI shortly thereafter. In addi- 
tion to his mechanical engineering profes- 
sorship, Alden was named WPI's dean of 
the college in 1894 and twice served the 
Institute as acting president. 

In his Seventy Years of the Worcester 
Polytechnic Institute, Herbert Taylor de- 
scribed George Alden as "...a painstaking 
and thorough teacher, though sometimes 
given to sarcasm, who gave his students 
a grounding in theoretical and applied 
mechanics such as few of his generation 
could impart." 

Editor's Note: On April 22, WPI will note 
the 150th anniversary of the birth of 
George I. Alden, the Institute's first pro- 
fessor of mechanical engineering. On 
that day, it will rededicate Alden Memo- 
rial, the building given to WPI in 1940 by 
the George I. Alden Trust. 

Alden Memorial recently underwent 
a major, $2.8 million renovation; beginning 
on page 14 you'll find a photo essay on its 
rebirth as a performing arts center. Starting 
on page 4, you'll also find extensive cover- 
age of the Institute's innovative educational 

programs in the humanities and the arts. 
But before we get to the present and 
future of Alden Memorial, here's a look 
at how one of WPI's most beautiful build- 
ings came to be, and, more important, a 
look at the extraordinary man it honors. 
This article was adapted from material 
on George Alden's life written by Donald 
F. Berth '57, vice president for university 
relations, and from an essay on the his- 
tory of Alden Memorial written by Anne 
B. Littlefield, director of major gifts and 
planned giving. 

After 28 years at WPI, Alden, along with 
Milton Prince Higgins, the original superin- 
tendent of the Washburn Shops, resigned 
from the faculty as a result of a dispute 
with the Institute's third president, Tho- 
mas C. Mendenhall, over the shops' opera- 
tion. In time the action would prove a 
blessing in disguise for WPI, as Alden put 
more of his energies into the development 
of Norton Co., ultimately becoming its 
chairman and a wealthy man. 

He became a WPI trustee in March 1912 
and served in that capacity until his death 
in 1926. The Institute honored Alden, who 
was for a time vice president of the Ameri- 
can Society of Mechanical Engineers, by 
naming its hydraulics laboratory in Holden 
(to which he had been a significant con- 
tributor — both intellectually and materi- 
ally) for him, and by awarding him an 
honorary doctorate in 1926. 

When Alden began his WPI career in 
1868, engineering was still very much an 
art. The few schools that offered instruc- 
tion in engineering were groping for an 
educational model that in some manner 
blended instruction with practice. WPI's 
model, combining classroom time with 
instruction in a working shops, helped 
create what became known as the "shop 
culture," which would serve as a curricular 
model for several institutions — including 
Georgia Institute of Technology — from 
about 1870 to 1900. 

As the field of mechanical engineering 
evolved, the "shop" model gave way to the 
"school" model, in which the element of 
practice was relocated from the shop to 
the laboratory. It was this philosophical 

Winter 1993 

change that produced the rift 
between Alden and Mendenhall. 

Fourteen years before his 
death, Alden established the 
George I. Alden Trust. He speci- 
fied that the trust's funds be used 
to promote education, particu- 
larly technical and professional 
education. Alden's daughter, 
Clara, who was educated at 
Wellesley College and held a 
doctorate from the University 
of Colorado, became an Alden 
trustee upon her father's death 
and helped administer the fund 
until her own death in 1945. 

WPI has been the greatest 
beneficiary of the Alden Trust's 
generosity. The trust funded a new 
building at Alden Research Labora- 
tories, created the George I. Alden 
Chair in Engineering and, most re- 
cently, supported the construction 
of the George F. Fuller Laboratories, 
among many other projects. 

But perhaps its greatest gift 
to WPI was Alden Memorial. The 
idea for the building originated 
with WPI President Ralph Earle, 
who included an auditorium in his ambi- 
tious $1 million campus expansion plan. 
The trustees approved the idea in 1929 and 
J. Cornell Appleton of the prominent Boston 
architects Appleton & Stearns, designers of 
Sanford Riley Hall (and, later, Higgins Labo- 
ratories), was chosen to design the build- 
ing. The Depression put the plans on hold, 
but they were revived in 1937 when Earle 
asked Appleton to update the plans. 

Appleton endowed the building with 
touches of beauty and elegance. This is 
especially true in the great hall, with its oak 
paneling, iron chandeliers and eight massive 
ceiling beams. At either end of the beams are 
stone figures, each a woman with a shield 

representing religion, science, music, archi- 
tecture, knowledge, the arts, sculpture or 
drama. They were carved by Thomas Miln 
of Berlin, Mass., whose work can also be 
seen on the U.S. Treasury and National 
Archives buildings in Washington, D.C. The 
windows in the great hall and two in the 
tower are fitted with stained-glass medallions. 
The creation of Wilbur H. Burnham, who 
also worked on the National Cathedral in 
Washington, the medallions tell the story 
of American history. 

In addition to the great hall, the building 
was to house a central library with room for 
50 percent more books than the original 
facility in Boynton Hall. There was also to 
be a room that the 
Institute's new 
president, Wat 
Tyler Cluverius, 
said would be used 
"for cocktail par- 
ties, tea parties, 
and other social 
gatherings." Cluv- 
erius initially intend- 
ed that the room be 
named for Clara 
Alden, but when she 
declined, it was 
named instead for 

Alden Memorial, seen under 
construction in 1939 in the 
photo below, provided WPI 
and the Alden Trust an 
opportunity to honor the 
memory of George I. Alden, 
opposite. Until 1967, Alden 
housed the Institute's cen- 
tral campus library> left. 

President Earle's widow, Janet. 

The search for funding for the 
building ended successfully with 
the George I. Alden Trust. The 
trustees of the fund had already 
developed the idea of erecting a 
memorial to Alden, and the new 
hall at WPI seemed to fit the bill. 
In late 1938, the trust informed 
WPI it would fund the entire pro- 
ject, and the college responded 
by naming the building for Alden. 

Earle died shortly thereafter, 
but work on Alden Memorial con- 
tinued. R.L. Whipple Co. in Worces- 
ter won the bid to construct the 
building, and on June 26, 1939, 
excavation began for the founda- 
tion. (The Class of 1942, which 
recently provided funds for a new 
plaza adjacent to Alden, beat the contractor 
to it by four days with its own informal 
groundbreaking ceremony.) 

A 75-man crew worked 150 days straight 
with no time lost due to inclement weather, 
finishing the roof before winter descended. 
Work continued through the coldest months 
and the building was ready in time for the 
1940 Commencement, thus beginning its 
history as the heart of campus activity. 

From 1940 until the late 1960s, the great 
hall hosted virtually all important college 
events, including honor society pledgings, 
academic awards ceremonies, concerts, 
dances, lectures and plays. A general as- 
sembly of the entire college community 
was held there weekly, providing a forum 
for the discussion of important issues of 
the day. The Vietnam War was hotly de- 
bated there in the 1960s. 

With the start of the WPI Plan in the 
early 1970s and the concurrent growth of 
the campus population, assemblies became 
a thing of the past. The completion of Gor- 
don Library in 1967 and Harrington Audito- 
rium in 1968 freed up room in Alden for new 
uses, and the building became a home for the 
Institute's active music and drama programs. 
With its recent renovation, Alden Memorial is 
even better suited for this role, one destined 
to keep it at the center of campus life. 

WPI Journal 

Enriching Life... 
And Making a Living 

The framers of the WPI Plan knew that the humanities must be given far more 



ore than 125 
years ago, when 
John Boynton 
laid down the 
Institute's philo- 
sophical foundation, he wrote, "The aim of 
this school shall ever be the instruction of 
youth in those branches of education not 
usually taught in public schools, which are 
essential, and best adapted to train the 
young for practical life." 

Like Boynton, Ichabod Washburn, whose 
gift of the Washburn Shops helped frame 
WPI's "Two Towers" approach to education, 
insisted that the new school not be confined 
to the "theories of science, but as far as pos- 
sible to the practical application of its prin- 
ciples which will give the greatest possible 
advantages in the affairs of life." Such a bal- 
anced curriculum, Washburn noted, would 
"add to their personal independence and 
happiness, while it renders them better and 
more useful citizens." 

But in 1868, as the college began life as 
the Worcester County Free Institute of Indus- 
trial Science, it was clear that the balance of 
the theoretical and the practical that Boyn- 
ton and Washburn embraced would not, to any 
appreciable degree, include the humanities 
and the arts. In fact, for most of the Institute's 
early years, instruction in the humanities 
was limited to a smattering of classroom 
hours taught by part-time instructors. 

The picture brightened in 1872 when the 

Department of English and Modern Lan- 
guages was created, funded by a gift from 
board president Stephen Salisbury II. The 
new department offered students instruc- 
tion in English composition and French. 
Some 32 years later, the Class of 1879 Prize, 
which now honors outstanding projects in 
the humanities, was established to recog- 
nize the best essays written in composition 
class each year. 

For the most part, that is how humani- 
ties instruction at WPI would remain for de- 
cades. An optional course in the history of 
civilization and science was launched in 
1934, literature courses were added to the 
standard offerings in English composition in 
the 1940s and, in 1959, following a two-year 
study of the Institute's academic programs, 
an effort was made to broaden still further 
the humanities curriculum. 

Then came the 1960s. On campuses 
across the nation it would be a decade of 
change and growing social awareness, as 
colleges searched for ways to better prepare 
students to understand their role in — and 
responsibilities to — society. At WPI, that 
search brought on a period of curricular ex- 
perimentation. One notable experiment was 
an interdisciplinary program, begun in 1964, 
that allowed students to earn a bachelor of 
science degree in either humanities and 
technology or humanities and science. But 
for the humanities, the real shake-up was 
yet to come. 

The 1960s culminated in the WPI Plan, an 
initiative that would catapult the Institute to 
the forefront of engineering education re- 
form. In drafting the Plan, the faculty and ad- 
ministration carefully evaluated what 
worked and what didn't in a WPI education 
as it then existed. They set as their funda- 
mental purpose "to impart to students an 
understanding of a sector of science and 
technology and a mature understanding 
of themselves and the needs of the people 
around them." They envisioned "a WPI edu- 
cation that should develop in students a 
strong degree of self-confidence, an aware- 
ness of the community beyond themselves, 
and an intellectual restlessness that spurs 
them to continued learning." 

One of the major issues facing the Plan's 
framers was how great a role the humanities 
should play in a technical education. "We de- 
cided that a strong humanities component, 
coupled with the superb technological edu- 
cation our students receive, would make our 
graduates among the best prepared of any 
university to succeed in whatever careers 
they chose," says William R. Grogan, dean 
emeritus of undergraduate studies and a mem- 
ber of the committee that created the Plan. 

To meet that objective, the committee 
crafted the Humanities Sufficiency program, 
a radical new way of introducing students of 
engineering and science to scholarship in 
nontechnical disciplines (see page 9). The 
Sufficiency became one of the four pillars of 

Winter 1993 

the Plan (since then, one of those four origi- 
nal degree requirements — the Competency 
Exam— has been replaced by distribution 

But the Plan was merely a blueprint. 
To bring it to life, some quite fundamental 
changes had to take place in the organiza- 
tion of the Institute and in the way it carried 
out its mission. Few academic disciplines at 
WP1 have experienced that wave of change 
so completely — or have been so completely 
transformed by it — as the humanities. 

#1 major step along the road of change 
LX was taken in the mid-1970s with the 
I I creation of the Humanities Depart- 
ment. Until then, courses in art, English, 
French, German, history, music and philoso- 
phy were taught by the Department of En- 
glish and History and the Department of 
Foreign Languages. The Humanities Depart- 
ment united these disciplines under one um- 
brella and also provided a new home for the 
decade-old humanities major program. 

Since its inception, the department has 
received a number of program development 
grants from both public and private agen- 
cies. In particular, grants from the National 
Endowment for the Humanities, the Rocke- 
feller Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon 
Foundation have proved instrumental in 
developing and maintaining a broad and 
diverse humanities curriculum and in estab- 
lishing programs and standards for student 
work in interdisciplinary areas. 

Individual disciplines within the depart- 
ment have also benefited from outside sup- 
port. For example, in 1991 the Fred Harris 
Daniels Foundation earmarked a two-year, 
$50,000 grant to enrich the department's art 
history and architecture, foreign language, 
and music programs. The grant has already 
been used to establish an electronic music 
laboratory in Alden Memorial (see story, 
page 14) and to enlarge the department's 
slide collection in art history and architec- 
ture. The remainder of the grant is being 
used to create a modern language labora- 
tory, to be housed in Gordon Library. 

Under the direction of history professor 
JoAnn Manfra, who has served as chair 
since 1983, the Humanities Department has 
become one of WPl's largest (second only to 
Electrical and Computer Engineering). The 
highly accomplished humanities faculty in- 
cludes 25 tenured and tenure-track profes- 
sors who teach nearly 120 courses in art 
history and architecture, English (including 
literature, communications and drama/the- 
atre), history, languages, music, and phi- 
losophy and religion. 

Recognized for their scholarly accom- 
plishments in a wide variety of fields, the 

WPl's distinguished Humanities Department, the Institute's second 
largest, plays a critical role in fulfilling the goals of two of WPl's three 
undergraduate degree requirements, notes JoAnn Manfra, who has 
served as department chair for the last decade. 

humanities faculty in 1992 published six 
books and 24 scholarly articles, presented 
52 papers at professional meetings, pro- 
duced 10 creative works, and received sev- 
eral research fellowships and grants. Three 
faculty members— David P. McKay, profes- 
sor of music, Thomas A. Shannon, who 
holds the Paris Fletcher Distinguished Pro- 
fessorship in the Humanities, and Michael 
M. Sokal, professor of history and former ex- 
ecutive secretary of the History of Science 
Society — are among the recipients of WPl's 
Board of Trustees' Award for Outstanding 
Creative Scholarship. 

The size of the faculty and the large num- 
ber of humanities courses reflect the impor- 
tant role played by the department in 
meeting the goals of the WPI Plan. In par- 
ticular, the Humanities Sufficiency places a 
significant demand on the department's re- 
sources. Under the Plan, every undergradu- 
ate (there are now some 2,700 enrolled) 

must complete a Sufficiency, and every 
Sufficiency is advised by a humanities 
faculty member. 

In addition to advising Sufficiency 
projects, the humanities faculty also plays 
an important role in the Interactive Qualify- 
ing Project, another undergraduate degree 
requirement. This exercise requires stu- 
dents to explore some aspect of the rela- 
tionships between science, technology and 
society. The projects themselves often in- 
volve real-life issues that may confront stu- 
dents in their future careers or personal and 
civic lives as adults. 

"By its very nature, the interactive 
component of the IQP is flexible enough 
to afford all humanities faculty — whatever 
their areas of expertise or interest — an op- 
portunity to advise these student projects," 
Manfra says. "In fact, the faculty has worked 
with a wide variety of programs and institu- 
tions to develop IQP topics and programs." 

WPI Journal 

Bottom, David B. Dollenmayer, associate professor of German, is using part of a grant from the Daniels 
Foundation to develop a new language laboratory- Above, W.A. Bland Addison Jr. (standing), associate 
professor of history and advisor to humanities majors and double majors, meets with, from left, double 
major Bryant O'Hara '92, humanities major William L. Schongar '94 and double major Ian K. Cote '95. 

Many humanities faculty members have 
advised IQPs at the Institute's residential 
project centers in Washington, D.C., Lon- 
don and Venice, Manfra says. Others have 
worked with 1QP teams closer to home 
through the Living Museums Program. 
Among the institutions that have partici- 
pated in that program are Old Sturbridge 
Village, the Higgins Armory Museum and 
Mechanics Hall. "In one way or another," 
Manfra adds, "all of our faculty members 
have contributed to the intellectual con- 
tent of this unique degree requirement." 

The important ties between the liberal 
arts, engineering and the sciences, 
which have become evident through the 
IQP, also form the intellectual foundation for 
the humanities major and double major, 
Manfra says. Five students are currently 
enrolled as humanities majors at WPI. They 
specialize in one liberal arts discipline — 
literature, history, or philosophy and reli- 
gion — and they complete their Major Quali- 
fying Project in that discipline. Recent 
examples of humanities MQPs include a 
modern version of the legend of Faust, writ- 
ten by Kelli Sue Clark '92, who specialized in 
literature, and an examination of the politi- 
cal implications of Buddhism by Glenn W. 
Flaherty '91, whose specialty was philoso- 
phy and religion. 

To broaden the context of their chosen 
specialty, humanities majors also take a 
cluster of courses in a related area of the 
liberal arts. And like all WPI undergraduates, 
they complete an IQP and a Sufficiency pro- 
ject, the latter in one of the engineering or 
science disciplines or in management. 

A growing number of students — 15 at 
present — are pursuing double majors, 
which allows them to combine their abilities 
and interests in engineering, science or man- 
agement with a carefully planned program 
in the humanities. Double majors must sat- 
isfy the degree requirements of both 
major programs, including the 
completion of two MQPs. 

"Individual and societal concerns 
are likely to result in increasing de- 
mands for specialists equipped with 
the type of background possessed by 
a WPI major or double major," Manfra 
says. "Many fields, including medi- 
cine, law, industry, commerce and 
public service, will be open to those 
who have acquired both the tradi- 
tional skills of humanistic education 
and technical knowledge." 

While not every WPI student 
graduates with such a diverse combi- 
nation of talents and interests, each 
will have the opportunity to gain a 
rich perspective on the world and 
his or her role in it, much as the 

Institute's founders had hoped they would, 
thanks to the dramatic changes humanities 
instruction has undergone at WPI over the 
past two decades. 

Notes W.A. Bland Addison Jr., associate 
professor of history and advisor to the 
humanities majors and double majors, "At 
WPI, students can develop analytical think- 
ing, writing and expressive skills — and 
obtain the professional, scientific and tech- 
nical training to enable them to find jobs — 
at an institution celebrated for its engineer- 
ing and scientific accomplishments." 

Winter 1993 

A Delicate Balance 

I n a world where engineers 
I must understand humanistic 
| issues and nonengineers must 
m be technologically literate, 
| how well does a major or 
double major in the humanities prepare WPI 
students for future careers? Let these gradu- 
ates and current students tell the story. 
Their successes are testimony to the value 
of the humanities in engineering education. 

Testimony is something Judge Paul A. 
Fritzsche 72 knows all about. After receiv- 
ing his bachelor's degree from WPI in hu- 
manities/technology (with an emphasis on 
history), Fritzsche graduated from the Uni- 
versity of Maine School of Law, then worked 
as a legal assistance attorney. He has been a 
Superior Court judge in Maine since 1986. 

"My unusual undergraduate education 
proved particularly helpful during my five 
years as a public advocate, when I repre- 
sented consumers in public utility regula- 
tory proceedings," Fritzsche says. "The 
mathematics and science courses 1 took pro- 
vided a good background for the engineer- 
ing, technical and economic issues I dealt 
with. My humanities courses helped me bet- 
ter explain the issues and the policy choices 
to the press and to the legislature." 

The dual grounding in humanities and 
science he received at WPI continues to 
serve him well, Fritzsche says. "As a judge, I 
deal with a wide range of issues — often in- 
volving science and technology — such as 
product liability, medical malpractice, blood 
testing, and electronic monitoring of prison- 
ers. These and other issues pertaining to 
public policy and economic regulation con- 
firm that my WPI education prepared me 
well for my career." 

"Science and math without humanities 
only produces an empty technician," says 
Dr. Nancy Berube 75, assistant professor 
of medicine in the University of Massachu- 
setts Medical Center's Department of Family 
Practice. "Rather than being mutually exclu- 
sive, the sciences and the humanities feed 

and nourish one another. I think it's impor- 
tant to have a balance." 

As an undergraduate, Berube, who 
received her bachelor's degree with distinc- 
tion in humanities in 1981, was active in the- 
ater at WPI, and worked at Old Sturbridge 
Village, where she did historical interpreta- 
tion and acted in OSV's drama program. She 
drew on her experience at the village for her 
Major Qualifying Project, a dramatic inter- 
pretation of the diary of a 19th century 

"I had always intended to go to medical 
school," says Berube, who earned her M.D. 
at the University of Massachusetts Medical 
Center and now works at an inner-city fam- 
ily health center run by the university. "I'm 
a big supporter of nonscience majors going 
into medicine. In order to be a good physi- 
cian you have to be able to listen to people — 
to have them tell you what they feel is wrong. 

"I think of science as being able to ob- 
serve something and express it in your own 
terms," she adds. "The humanities teaches 
you a different way of doing that. Studying 
at a school of science and technology gives 
you a unique perspective on the humanities 
because it implies you are expected to be- 
come proficient in some aspect of the sci- 
ences; it gives students a more balanced 
approach to the humanities." 

After earning his degree in 'humanities/ 
technology with distinction in 1975, Steven 
W. Harvey worked as a district manager for 
a small record company and participated in 
a demonstration project that applied an 
HMO model to providing care for families 
covered by Medicaid. In 1981 he enrolled at 
the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton 
School, continuing his interest in the public 
sector by working for Philadelphia's finance 
director. After receiving his M.B.A. in 1983, 
he worked briefly for Standard and Poors 
rating municipal bonds. Today he is senior 
analyst for all of Fidelity Investments' mu- 
nicipal bond funds, with nearly $13 billion 
under management. 

Paul A. Fritzsche '72 says his WPI 
humanities degree helped prepare 
him for a career as a judge. 

"I continue to find my WPI background 
invaluable in my day-to-day activities," he 
says. "My work demands a pretty good 
grasp of engineering matters as it deals 
most often with the financing of large public 
construction projects. I believe, however, 
that the key to a municipal bond's credit 
quality — and to its value as an investment — 
is local or statewide politics; this is the area 
where my training in the humanities has 
been particularly useful. 

"The ability to communicate, to write 
well and to get to the point quickly and 
clearly are also essential to my daily busi- 
ness. I owe my communications skills 
largely to the individual attention I received 
from the humanities faculty at WPI." 

Like Berube, William Katzman '92 be- 
came involved in theater as an undergradu- 
ate. Before coming to WPI, Katzman had 
been active as an actor and mime with 
school or professional theater groups for 
several years. "I knew I couldn't support 
myself as an actor," he says. "I came to WPI 

WPI Journal 

Left, an interest in the theater drew double major William Katzman '92 
to WPI. Above, Kim Philipp '93 will turn her dual major in humanities and 
electrical engineering into a career in patent law. Below, dual major 
Raymond Bert '93 served a year as co-editor of the student newspaper. 

because it was a small school where I could 
have a strong major in physics and a strong 
minor in drama. When 1 realized I'd prob- 
ably end up taking almost every drama 
course the college offered, I decided my 
transcript might as well reflect that, so I 
became a double major." 

A winner of WPI's Salisbury Prize, 
Katzman was a member of Masque and MW 
Repertory Theater, Etc. and a founder of the 
improvisational group Some Assembly Re- 
quired. He also wrote three plays as an un- 
dergraduate; two were performed as part of 
New Voices, WPI's annual festival of new 
plays. For his Major Qualifying Project he 
wrote an 81 -page script for a comedy video. 
"It was a pseudo-documentary about a per- 
son trying to get a film produced," he says. 

Since last June, Katzman has been en- 
rolled in the Math, English, Science, Tech- 
nology Education Project at the University 
of Massachusetts. The intensive 15-month 
program offers paid internships in teaching 
and industry. At the conclusion of the pro- 
gram, Katzman will receive a master's de- 
gree in education and will be certified to 
teach high school physics. Graduates are 
asked to make a commitment to teach for a 
minimum of three years after they complete 
the program. 

"You benefit from coming out of an engi- 
neering school with a humanities degree," 

he says. "A lot of companies 
want humanities majors for 
business positions. At WPI, you 
get some technical elements be- 
cause the projects involve tech- 
nology. It isn't easy. You have to 
be able to do this stuff. They 
don't teach 'Calculus for Poets!'" 
While the Institute attracts a few stu- 
dents who enroll specifically to be humani- 
ties majors, most, like Nikolai A. Yurkanin 
'95, switch their major to humanities from 
engineering or science. Yurkanin, who says 
he was heavily involved in the science pro- 
gram at his high school in Holden, Mass., 
and won awards at science fairs, came to 
WPI to study engineering, but had a change 
of heart after taking introductory courses in 
science and math. 

"I really enjoyed my humanities 
courses — especially 'Light and Vision,' 
which examines the arts from the perspec- 
tive of physics, chemistry and biology. I 
thought, 'Wow, I wish 1 could do that!' " 
One of the advantages of being a hu- 
manities major at WPI is the opportunity to 
get a feel for science and technology as well 
as liberal studies, notes Yurkanin, who says 
he aspires to design exhibits for the Smith- 
sonian Institution after graduation. "You get 
a really good perspective when you take the 
kinds of courses available at a school that 
specializes in science and engineering." 
For William L. Schongar '94, the hu- 
manities proved an attractive option after 
he realized that his original career choice, 
aerospace engineering, wasn't for him. "After 
a year and a half, I knew I didn't want to 
crunch numbers the rest of my life. My 
mother is an English teacher and I like 

to write, so I decided to major in the 

Schongar, who calls himself a medieval- 
ist, completed his Interactive Qualifying 
Project at the Tower of London. After survey- 
ing visitors to gather information that will 
enable the administrators of the tower to 
improve their displays, Schongar decided 
he'd like to create exhibits for the Higgins 
Armory Museum in Worcester. "I like to teach 
people, and one of the best ways to do that 
is to write about what they are going to see, 
giving them information to work with." 

Raymond R. Bert '93 and Kimberly S. 
Philipp '93 both became double majors af- 
ter discovering the range of courses offered 
by the Humanities Department. Bert, who is 
majoring in mechanical engineering and hu- 


Winter 1993 

manities, says that while he's always had an 
interest in the humanities — particularly 
writing — he enrolled at WP1 to study engi- 

As a sophomore, he fulfilled his Suffi- 
ciency requirement with a project on 
Stephen Crane. "That's when I learned about 
the humanities major," he says. "I like the 
idea that it's somewhat free-form, with ev- 
erything leading you toward your MQP." 

His focus in the humanities being nonac- 
tion writing, he joined the staff of Newspeak, 
the student newspaper, during his junior 
year. After serving as associate editor, he 
became a co-editor in January 1992; he 
completed his term in December. 

Bert's mechanical engineering MQP 
focused on resident stress effects on the 
fracture toughness of ceramics; for his 
humanities MQP he is assembling a portfo- 
lio of his own original news articles. "People 
are surprised when they hear I'm doing a 
double major — and that one of those majors 
is in a nontechnical field," he says. "But ma- 
joring in the humanities and mechanical 
engineering doesn't pose a particular chal- 
lenge for me. It allows me to study two 
things I really enjoy." 

Though he plans to work in materials sci- 
ence after graduation, Bert says, "I'd like to 
see myself as some sort of writer someday, 
perhaps as a free-lancer for a newspaper." 
With her dual major program, Philipp is 
studying history and electrical engineering. 
The daughter of an electrical engineer, she 
enrolled at WPI with the intention of follow- 
ing in her father's footsteps. "I'd always had 
an interest in history and law and I origi- 
nally planned just to do a regular Sufficiency 
in those areas," she says. "I decided on the 
double major after I took a legal history 
course with Professor Manfra, who talked 
about the humanities major 
Alf in class." 

■ ■ML Philipp incorporated her 

™ - * growing interest in law and the 

legal aspects of history into her 
Interactive Qualifying Project. 
Working at the Washington, 
D.C., Project Center for the 
United States Patent Office, she 
and her teammates researched 
maintenance fees applied over 
a 12-year period. 

As she approaches the 
completion of her dual-degree 
program, Philipp has decided 
she won't be a second-genera- 
tion electrical engineer after all. 
After graduation she plans to 
take her law boards and apply 
to law school to become a 
patent attorney. 

— Bonnie Gelbwasser 

The Humanities: 

Up Close and Personal 

m t seems that for as long as 
H colleges and universities have 
m been preparing young men 
m and women for careers in 
m science and engineering, edu- 
cators have been discussing how best — and 
how extensively — to expose these techni- 
cally oriented students to the arts and hu- 
manities. It was a subject that stirred debate 
100 years ago when the American Society 
for Engineering Education was founded, and 
it is one that still has people talking and 
writing today. 

Despite all the debate, most educators 
agree that to be fully prepared to meet the 
demands of their professions, scientists 
and engineers need much more than an in- 
troduction to the humanities and the arts. 
"It's part of our culture, our intellectual heri- 
tage and our environment," notes Lance 
Schachterle, associate dean of undergradu- 
ate studies and professor of English. 

"It is critical for all students — regard- 
less of their professional background — to 
be well-grounded in these fields, just as it is 
critical for students in the humanities to be 
well-grounded in science, math and tech- 
nology. It's fundamentally important to in- 
tellectual development and to stimulating 
students' native curiosity to provide them 
access to all the achievements of our cul- 
ture — scientific, artistic and otherwise." 

Schachterle also notes that from a practi- 
cal view, a firm foundation in the humanities 
can give a scientist or engineer an edge 
should he or she — as many technical profes- 
sionals do during their careers — enter the 
world of management. "It is still typically 
the case that people in high government po- 
sitions and those high on the corporate lad- 
der have backgrounds in the humanities," 

he says. "If people trained in science and en- 
gineering are to rise equally high, they must 
know something about the intellectual sub- 
stance of their competition." 

Surprisingly, considering all the years of 
soul-searching about the humanities, most 
U.S. engineering programs have settled on a 
fairly standard and prosaic approach to the 
field. Most adhere to guidelines published 
by ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engi- 
neering and Technology, which stipulates 
that accredited programs require students 
to take a total of one-half year's worth of 
courses (usually selected at random) in 
both the humanities and social sciences. 

And that was how the humanities was 
handled at WPI up through the late 1960s, 
when the faculty and administration began 
a critical appraisal of the WPI curriculum 
that ultimately resulted in the WPI Plan, a 
dramatic departure from the traditional 
"boot-camp" approach to engineering edu- 
cation. One of the innovative elements of 
the Plan was a novel way of introducing 
students to the humanities and arts called 
the Humanities Sufficiency program. 

While most engineering schools have 
settled for a "Chinese menu" approach, 
in which students fulfill set distribution 
requirements by choosing one or more 
courses (usually at the introductory level) 
in several areas of the humanities, the de- 
signers of the Plan, through the Sufficiency, 
developed a different model, one that em- 
phasizes depth rather than superficial ex- 
posure to the entire range of disciplines. 

"The Sufficiency degree requirement is 
designed to offer students a 'sufficient' lib- 
eral arts experience," notes JoAnn Manfra, 
head of the Humanities Department. "Its 
goal is to provide students with a more than 

WPI Journal 

According to a study designed by James Hanlan, associate professor of history, 
the Humanities Sufficiency provides WPI students with a worthwhile intellectual 
experience that few, if any, of the Institute's competitors can match. 

passing acquaintance with a field unrelated 
to engineering or science. More profoundly, 
perhaps, the Sufficiency program attempts 
to demonstrate that being educated means 
embracing valid, intellectually vigorous 
ways of examining knowledge in which there 
is a role for ambiguity— both 'factual' and 
'moral.' In other words, the Sufficiency ex- 
perience provides a healthy dose of disci- 
plined thinking about uncertainties." 

To fulfill the Sufficiency requirement, 
students must take five thematically related 
humanities courses and then complete an 
original project that draws on the material 
in those courses. The combination equals 
about a half-year of work — the amount 
ABET requires engineering students to 
devote to both the humanities and social 
sciences. WPI students must also take two 
courses in the social sciences and complete 
the Interactive Qualifying Project — the 
equivalent of another three courses. 

Students may not work in teams on their 
Humanities Sufficiencies, which are usually 
done during the sophomore year, so every 
student must be individually advised by a 
humanities faculty member. On average, 
each humanities professor advises 26 
Sufficiencies a year. 

Since the range of topics for the Suffi- 
ciency can be as broad as the disciplines 
that make up the humanities and the arts, 
the department has endeavored to provide 
considerable diversity in its course offer- 
ings, Manfra says. Students may supplement 
the department's offerings by taking 

courses at other colleges in the Worcester 
Consortium for Higher Education, including 
such noted liberal arts institutions as Holy 
Cross College and Clark University. 

A student generally begins work on the 
Sufficiency by developing an idea of what he 
or she would like to accomplish in the final 

project. The possibilities are surprisingly 
broad. Often the final product is a paper or 
critical essay, but students may also choose 
to write an original work of fiction such as a 
short story, a collection of poems or a play, 
or create an original musical composition. 
Students may also undertake a musical or 
dramatic performance and then write an 
essay about their experiences. 

Some students complete the Sufficiency 
by taking six courses in a foreign language 
or by taking part in the American Studies 
Seminar, a series sponsored each fall by the 
American Antiquarian Society in collabora- 
tion with five Worcester colleges and univer- 
sities. Seminar topics focus on areas that let 
students make full use of the extensive hold- 
ings in American history, literature and cul- 
ture housed in the society's headquarters, 
located adjacent to the WPI campus. 

A student develops and hones his or her 
theme in consultation with a faculty advisor; 
the advisor continues to work closely with 
the student as the Sufficiency progresses. 
With a theme in mind, the student then 
chooses the five courses he or she thinks 
will provide the proper intellectual under- 
pinnings for the project. Although these 
courses may fall within a single area of the 
humanities, interdisciplinary work is en- 
couraged. The only requirement is that ma- 
terial presented in the courses be related to 
the Sufficiency theme. 

There are no hard and fast rules for mak- 

English Professor Kent P. Ljungquist, left, and Philip E. Marks '93 review a draft of 
Marks' Sufficiency project on literary impressionism in the works of Stephen Crane. 


Winter 1993 

ing these choices; often the courses chosen 
present a surprising and thoughtful tableau. 
Here are two examples from projects com- 
pleted in recent terms: 

"Childe Hassam: 

An American Impressionist" 

A look at the works and influence on the 
world of American art by Hassam, a major 
American painter. 

By Julie A. Driscoll '94 

Advisor: David M. Samson, assistant 
professor of art history/architecture 

Courses taken: 

• Introduction to Art History 

• Topics in 19th and 20th Century 

• Modern Art 
•Introduction to Painting 

• Light and Vision 

"U.S. Policy Towards Korea: 1945-1950" 

Looking at American and Soviet interests 
in Southeast Asia, this study outlines U.S. 
policies that led to the Korean conflict. 

By Won Tae Yang '94 

Advisor: James P. Hanlan, associate 
professor of history 

Courses taken: 

•Introduction to Philosophy and 

• American History: 1877-1920 

• The Shaping of Post-1920 America 

• Introduction to the Study of Foreign 
Policy and Diplomatic History 

•American Foreign Policy from 
Woodrow Wilson to the Present 

Does the Sufficiency accomplish its goals? 
To answer that question, last June six hu- 
manities faculty members sat down to 
read and critique nearly 300 Sufficiencies 
completed during the 1991-92 academic 
year. "The reviewers were generally im- 
pressed with the quality of the student 
work," says James Hanlan, who designed 
the study and analyzed the results of the 
evaluations. "While a few papers could be 
described as run-of-the-mill, most were 
clearly worthwhile intellectual experiences 
of the sort few, if any, of our competitor col- 
leges offer their students." 

The Sufficiency Review Committee made 
some recommendations for strengthening 
the program, nearly all of which have been 
implemented, Manfra says. "This is a strong 
program, but we didn't just design it and 
leave it alone. Our faculty are continually 
revisiting the Sufficiency program to find 
ways to enable it to fulfill its objectives." 

Recently, the humanities faculty devel- 
oped a new off-campus option for the 
Sufficiency program. It will allow under- 

graduates to complete work toward their 
Sufficiency during a seven-week period out- 
side the bounds of the campus. A student 
writing about the French Revolution, for ex- 
ample, might study original documents and 
visit historic sites while he is in residence at 
the University of Marne-la-Vallee in Paris, with 
which WPI runs an exchange program. A play- 
wright might travel to the Edinburgh Arts Fes- 
tival in Scotland to experience the leading 
edge of theater, or even to see her own play 

"Sufficiency projects undertaken in inter- 
national settings will encourage students to 
immerse themselves in the intellectual tradi- 
tions of other cultures," Manfra says. "Simi- 
larly, projects done at off-campus project 
centers in the United States will introduce 
students to cultural diversity here at home." 

Another measure of the success of the 
Sufficiency program is the fact that ABET, 
the major accrediting agency for all engi- 
neering colleges, has recently revised its guide- 
lines for humanities education, notes Francis 
C. Lutz, dean of undergraduate studies. 

"In the most recently published criteria 
for evaluating engineering programs, ABET 
made a point of emphasizing that the 
courses students select must provide not 
only breadth, but depth," he says, "and not 
be limited to a bunch of unrelated introduc- 
tory survey courses. It's taken more than 
20 years, but it looks like the profession 
may finally be recognizing that our ap- 
proach does a much better job of prepar- 
ing students to be solid professionals and 
competent citizens." 

— Michael Dorsey 

Helping Students 
Find the 
Right Words 

B m 

nyone who's ever 
struggled to compose 
a thank-you note or a 
thesis can appreciate 
I Fowler's words. But 
for WPI students, finding the right words has 
gotten a bit easier, thanks to the efforts of the 
Humanities Department and other educa- 
tors at the Institute, 
who've worked over 
the last five years to 
develop a variety of 
writing education and 
tutoring programs. 

The process be- 
gan in 1 988 when John 
M. Trimbur, associate 
professor of English, 

was hired to develop a writing program and 
expand the Institute's course offerings in writ- 

ing. A writing specialist with a background 
in rhetoric and composition, Trimbur asked 
William R. Grogan, now dean emeritus of un- 
dergraduate studies, to form a committee to 
oversee the writing program. 

Today, the Writing Advisory Commit- 
tee promotes the importance of oral and 
written communication and develops pro- 
grams to integrate 

"Writing is easy. 

All you do is stare at a blank 

sheet of paper until drops 

of blood form on your forehead. 

— Gene Fowler 

writing across the 
entire undergradu- 
ate curriculum. 
Trimbur chairs the 
committee, whose 
members are 
Herbert Beall, pro- 
fessor of chemis- 
try, David DiBiasio, 
associate professor of chemical engineer- 
ing, William Farr, assistant professor of 

WPI Journal 


John Trimbur, 
associate professor 
of English, discusses 
a writing assignment 
with humanities major 
Teran Sacco. A writing 
specialist, Trimbur 
directs a variety of 
programs aimed at 
preparing some WPI 
undergraduates for 
careers in writing and 
helping all students 
communicate more 


mathematical sciences, Thomas Keil, 
professor of physics, and Judith Miller, 
associate professor of biology and bio- 

Here are some of the programs that the 
committee now helps oversee: 

Writing Across the Curriculum does 
just what its name implies: it aims to make 
writing (and speaking) an important part of 
every course taught at the Institute. To date, 
the program, which was initially funded with 
a grant from the General Electric Founda- 
tion, has been implemented in lower-divi- 
sion mathematics and science courses. It 
encourages students to use writing to pro- 
mote learning and to connect writing and 
critical thinking. 

"We assumed that students in their first 
two years at WPI receive practice in writing 
in their humanities courses," Trimbur says. 
"But to prepare them to do the technical or 
scientific writing called for in WPI's required 
projects, we needed to develop more oppor- 
tunities for them to write as part of their 
math and science assignments." 

Trimbur says the Writing Across the 
Curriculum project has been successful in 
increasing the number of faculty presenta- 
tions and publications on the use of writing 
in the teaching of mathematics and science. 
For example, Beall and Trimbur have devel- 
oped a booklet of reading and writing as- 
signments called Reading and Writing in 
Chemistry and have conducted faculty work- 
shops to assist other faculty members in 

assigning writing projects to their classes and 
responding to the work their students do. 

Last spring WPI, Clark University and 
Holy Cross College sponsored the Second 
Annual Writing Across the Curriculum 
Conference, the 
theme of which 
was "Science and 
the Postmodern 
World." Also last 
year, Beall orga- 
nized WPI's Sixth 
Annual Conference 
on Chemical Edu- 
cation around the 
theme, "Writing 
as a Tool to Teach 

Tutors at WPI's 
Writing Resource 
Center offer writing 
assistance at no 
charge in any aca- 
demic area — from 
papers to project 
reports — and are 
available to help 
students with any 
other writing or 
work, such as re- 
sumes or graduate 
school and job 

The center, 

located in Salisbury Laboratories, was estab- 
lished in 1975 to assist students with project 
work; it gradually evolved into a resource 
used primarily by international students. 
Since 1991, when Barbara L. McCarthy was 

Technical writing major Renee LaFountain says her 
WPI education gave her an excellent grounding in 
both writing and science. 


Winter 1993 

named director, the center has broadened 
its scope to meet the writing needs of all 
WP1 students. 

Last spring, Trimbur and McCarthy inau- 
gurated an independent study titled "Peer 
Tutoring in Writing." Those who complete 
the course are offered jobs at the center. 
"The philosophy behind peer-tutor training 
is that students respond better to sugges- 
tions from fellow students than from fac- 
ulty," says McCarthy, who notes that tutors 
also hone their own writing skills by teach- 
ing others. "The increasing numbers of un- 
dergraduates who take advantage of our 
services appear to bear this out. 

"This is not a drop-off editorial service," 
McCarthy adds. "Although most students 
come to the center for help with a specific 
assignment, we don't just correct their writ- 
ing. We want them to become writers, and 
we encourage them to interact with us. Pro- 
fessors are demanding improved writing 
skills in the papers they assign and in the 
projects they advise. Instruction in writing 
can benefit all students, not just those for 
whom English is a second language." 

WPI's Technical Writing major is admin- 
istered by the Institute's Interdisciplinary 
Studies Division. Its current directors are 
Trimbur and Stephen J. Weininger, professor 
of chemistry. 

It was Barbara O'Toole '88 who blazed 
the trail for today's technical writing majors. 
In her third year as a mechanical engineer- 
ing major, O'Toole decided that her interests 
lay more in writing about technology than in 
developing technology. Trimbur developed 
an intensive technical writing program for 
O'Toole, who graduated as an interdiscipli- 
nary major. She is now employed as a tech- 
nical writer at Stratus Computer Inc. in 
Marlboro, Mass. 

"I document communications software 
and hardware," she says. "The manuals I 
write consist of programmers' guides, net- 
work and configuration and administration 
guides, and general product bulletins. I 
also use a lot of my computer-aided design 
course work as I produce graphics and illus- 
trations for these manuals." 

Technical writing became an official ma- 
jor in 1990; 15 undergraduates are currently 
enrolled in the program. Majors take half 
their courses in writing and half in a techni- 
cal or scientific concentration. The writing 
concentration consists of all three of WPI's 

writing courses — Ele- 
ments of Writing, 
Nonfiction Prose and 
Writing in the Profes- 
sions — plus three in- 
dependent studies — 
Composing Theory 
and Research, Rhe- 
torical Theory, and 
Peer Tutoring in 

"Because of the 
nature of the pro- 
gram, our students 
have a strong tech- 
nical and scientific 
background," Trim- 
bur says. "They are 
well-prepared to 
work in a variety of 
areas, including pub- 
lishing, science jour- 
nalism, or hospital 
or museum public 

Senior Renee 
LaFountain of 
Gansevoort, N.Y., is 
one of the new crop 
of technical writing 

majors. Like O'Toole, she didn't start out to 
be a writer. "I came to WPI for the science, 
math and engineering programs and ulti- 
mately decided to major in biology," she 
says. "By the time I realized biology was not 
where I wanted to spend the rest of my life, 1 
had become quite involved in the school. 
For me it was just a matter of finding a pro- 
gram that fit." 

LaFountain, who plays piano and trum- 
pet, is president of WPI's student jazz pro- 
gram. After completing her Humanities 
Sufficiency requirement on jazz in the 1950s 
and her IQP on transgenic animals and their 
use in research, she realized how much she 
had enjoyed writing and organizing the 
projects. When she learned she could com- 
plete the degree requirements for a techni- 
cal writing major and still graduate on time, 
she made the switch. 

Trimbur says WPI is particularly well- 
equipped to educate students like LaFoun- 
tain. "Most technical writing programs come 
out of English departments," he says. "While 
those students take the same number of 

From top, in WPI's Writing Resource Center, writing tutor 
Kathleen M. McKenna '94 reviews a paper with Ly C. Chhem 
'95 while center director Barbara L. McCarthy, instructor of 
communications, reviews a tape of a public speaking 
assignment with Alex Cardenas '96, a native of Panama. 

courses in writing as ours do, they don't 
have nearly the depth in a technical or 
scientific field. We've had a lot of positive 
feedback from employers, who tell us that 
our students are much more fluent in engi- 
neering and science than those who've been 
educated at liberal arts colleges." 

"I'm still a scientist at heart," says 
LaFountain. "When 1 learn about something 
going on in biological research, for example, 
I understand it from a scientist's perspec- 
tive. The challenge for me as a technical 
writer will be to take that highly scientific 
information and translate it into terms the 
average person can understand." 

As she starts to look for a job, LaFoun- 
tain says she feels "really marketable. I have 
a strong science background and I can write. 
I believe I can compete favorably against 
technical writers who are humanities majors 
and who've only taken introductory science 
courses, as well as against scientists who've 
never learned about writing. It's the best of 
both worlds." 

— Bonnie Gelbwasser 

WPI Journal 



WP: V : 









JM it 

JiV &'*;•'*•« 

: , 


For 50 years, Alden Memorial has served as a social and 

cultural center for the WPI community. 

After a yearlong restoration, this gem of a building has 

emerged as a modern center for the performing arts. 

Now, from early morning until late at night, 

the halls are alive with the sound of music — and drama. 

By Michael Dorsey 

WPI Journal 



- -■ imm 

, 4*- ' » 



November 19, 1992. 7:30 p.m. 

November 24, 1992. 7:00 p.m. 

December 1, 1992. 1:45 p.m. 

December 3, 1992. 7:35 p.m. 

Backstage in Alden Memorial, students line up before 
long, lighted mirrors in two new dressing rooms, putting 
on stage makeup and getting into costumes. In a half hour 
they'll be on stage, as a high-tech explosion of lights, video 
projections, music, sound effects, fog and smoke heralds 
the opening of an imaginative production of Shakespeare's 
The Tempest. 

Walking down the corridor of Alden's lower level, a visitor 
is enveloped by the sound of young voices. Lining the 
risers in the Janet Earle Room, the 50 members of the 
Men's Glee Club practice a demanding arrangement of 
Greensleeves. Across the hall in the Perreault Chamber 
Rehearsal Room, the Women's Chorale warms up with a 
medley of Christmas songs. 

In Alden's new music classroom, Professor David McKay 
is reviewing a lesson for students in his course on the 
fundamentals of music. Seated at the piano, McKay guides 
the class through the finer points of harmony. 

As late arrivals search for seats on the floor of the great 
hall and in the balcony, the Concert Band strikes up a 
festive tune, beginning the annual holiday concert that will 
showcase most of WPI's 15 musical groups. 


Winter 1993 

■ Jr ^ ome 52 years after it was built, Alden 
^ M Memorial has gotten a new lease on 

^^i S life. Designed to fill the need for a 

multipurpose auditorium on campus 
and to provide a home for a central library, the build- 
ing has been transformed into a modern and elegant 
center for the performing arts. 

The transformation, in the planning stages since 
1984, began just after Reunion in 1991 and was com- 
pleted in time for Commencement in 1992. In addition 
to these activities, the renovated building has since 
hosted numerous events and meetings, including a 
special series of concerts and plays designed to show- 
case its new spaces and facilities. The various events 
were sponsored by the Applied Music Division, 
Masque (the student dramatic arts society) and the 
Social Committee, or SocComm. 

But despite the nearly constant activity in Alden 
since it reopened, the building will not be officially 
rededicated until April 22, 1993, the 150th birthday 
of its namesake, George I. Alden (see Advance Word, 
page 2). On that day the members of the newly formed 
George I. Alden Society, a recognition group that hon- 
ors alumni and friends who have included WPI in their 
wills or estate plans for at least $25,000, will enjoy a 
dinner and an address by Richard H. Gallagher, presi- 
dent of Clarkson University, former WPI provost and 
a pioneering researcher in the field of finite element 
analysis. Donors to the restoration, special friends and 
selected members of the WPI community will also be 
invited to the event. 

The $2.7 million restoration, designed by the firm 
of Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott in Boston 
and completed by general contractor Cutler Associates 
in Worcester, was largely funded by a $1.6 million grant 
from the George I. Alden Trust, which gave the building 
to the college in 1940 as a permanent memorial to 
Alden. Other generous gifts were received from the 
Surdna Foundation, the George C. Gordon Trust, the 
Daniels Foundation, and a number of alumni and 
friends (see box, page 21). 

The Alden Memorial project combined careful restoration of what 
has been called one of the most beautiful college buildings in the 
Northeast, with the creation of new spaces and facilities for music 
and theater. Even before entering the building, one notices a major 
change: a new, spacious freight elevator that serves each of its four 
levels and the stage. A small extension was added at Alden's south- 
west corner to accommodate the elevator; due to a careful choice 
of brick and the reuse of original limestone cornices and moldings, 
the extension's facade is nearly impossible to distinguish from the 
original construction. 

Opposite, under the direction of Margaret M. Konkol, the Women's 
Chorale performs during the annual holiday concert in the fully 
restored great hall of Alden Memorial. Above, Erica A. Curran '96 
and Byung S. Yun '93 take advantage of new private rehearsal rooms. 

Adjoining the extension is a new loading dock that makes it easier 
to deliver supplies and equipment to the building, a handicapped 
access ramp, and a new plaza linking Alden to the adjacent Sanford 
Riley Hall (see photo, page 15). The Class of 1942 earmarked $100,000 
of its 50th anniversary gift for the construction of the plaza and used 
another $25,000 to set up an endowed fund that will ensure the 
plaza's maintenance in the years ahead. 

Entering Alden on the main level, a visitor might almost fail to 
notice the results of the restoration, for in many ways the foyer and 
great hall look much as they did when the building was completed in 
1940. But a more careful examination reveals the products of a loving 

WPI Journal 


Above, Susan Vick, professor of drama/theater, gives the cast and crew of The 
Tempest some final comments in the greenroom before the curtain rises on 
dress rehearsal night. Opposite, from left, graduate student Andrew L. 
Hansford, Kristi J. Henricksen '94 and Hollybeth Normandin '94 in a scene from 
The Tempest. Below, Douglas Weeks, director of applied music, directs the 
Concert Band as it performs in the new Lora E. Spaulding Recital Hall, one of 
the new performing arts facilities in Alden. 

restoration: the refinished marble staircase, the new 
hardwood floor, the plaster ceiling that replaced the old 
pressed-straw tiles, the refinished oak paneling and 
ceiling beams, and the carefully cleaned and restored 
iron chandeliers and stained glass window medallions. 

The great hall is also brighter, thanks to new lighting 
fixtures (these include new sconces that illuminate the 
stone carvings at each end of the ceiling beams). Like 
the rest of the building, the hall has also benefited from 
upgrades to the plumbing, heating and ventilation sys- 
tems. There are also new stage and window curtains, 
new seating for 600 on the floor and 100 in the balcony, 
new sound-absorbing panels at the rear of the audito- 
rium, a new acoustic shell with an adjustable ceiling, 
and a new electronic dimmer system and sophisticated 
pulley system for the stage. 

Behind and adjacent to the stage are two new dress- 
ing rooms, a room for use by caterers (the auditorium 
will continue to host dinners and other catered events), 
and a fully restored greenroom, which serves both as a 
theater classroom and a place for performers to relax 
before going on stage. 

One floor up, the offices of the music and theater 
faculty — in rooms that were originally rented to bach- 
elor professors — have also benefited from a thorough 
face-lift. But to see the most dramatic evidence of the 
building's transformation, one must travel down to the 
lower levels. 

On the ground level, a once dark, musty storage 
area has been turned into a brightly lit and well- 

— - '"»' ;lr— —— »— — ■— *Hf 


Winter 1993 

equipped scenery construction shop. This level also serves as stor- 
age space for the lighting and audio equipment used by Lens and 
Lights, a student group that provides lighting and sound services for 
the campus community. The scene shop is served by the new eleva- 
tor, making it possible to bring flats and other set pieces right to the 
stage; previously, it was necessary to either build sets on the stage 
or carry the pieces up two long flights of stairs. 

The floor just below the auditorium, long used as practice space 
by the college's musical groups, has been beautifully redecorated 
and rearranged to create a highly functional music education, re- 
hearsal and recital center. With the addition of a set of risers, the 
Janet Earle Room has become the primary choral rehearsal room. 
Nearby, what was once an unfinished storage room has been turned 
into a music classroom. 

The former Alumni Conference Room at the southeast corner of 
Alden is now the Ina Perreault Chamber Rehearsal Room. At the 
southwest corner, in a room that once served as a librarian's office, 
is a new computer-assisted music laboratory equipped with Macin- 
tosh computers, synthesizers and recording equipment. Adjacent 
to the front stairwell are an office and three new private rehearsal 
rooms, where students can practice their instruments without 
disturbing other building occupants. 

The centerpiece of this new music center is the Lora E. Spaulding 
Recital Hall, located in what was originally the college library. In addi- 
tion to a new wood floor, elegant curtains and refinished woodwork, 
the addition of risers, sound-absorbing panels and a grid of spot- 
lights make this an ideal performing space for chamber groups. 
Lora Spaulding, the daughter of Ralph Spaulding '09, left the Insti- 
tute a major unrestricted bequest in 1989, part of which was used 
to create this hall. 

With its new look and new spaces, Alden is now home to the 
college's music and drama programs— both educational and extra- 
curricular. (It has also attracted the attention of regional performing 
arts groups— the Worcester Orchestra will hold a concert in Alden 
in May.) The Institute's five full- and part-time instructors of music- 
Douglas G. Weeks, administrator of applied music, Louis J. Curran Jr., 
associate professor of music, Richard G. Falco, director of jazz stud- 
ies, Margaret M. Konkol, director of the Women's Chorale, and David 
P. McKay, professor of music— teach a wide range of courses in mu- 
sic theory and history and advise dozens of student projects each 
year, including Humanities Sufficiencies that focus on music or in- 
clude a musical composition or performance. 

Nearly all of the music faculty members also direct music groups. 
In recent years these well-traveled groups have made tours of 
Canada, Europe, Russia and Africa, in addition to their regular per- 
formances at WPI and at other colleges and universities. In 1992, for 
example, the Concert Band, Brass Ensemble, Stage Band and Jazz 
Ensemble toured Egypt, a trip that included a breakfast performance 
before the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza for the French and Ameri- 
can ambassadors, the governor of Cairo and the mayor of Giza. At 
the same time, the Men's Glee Club performed in Great Britain, sing- 
ing at Oxford University, Worcester Cathedral and before over 1,000 
people in the Bethlehem Chapel in Rhos, Wales, where they were 
the guests of the Orpheus Male Choir, one of the most outstanding 
choral organizations in Great Britain. 

A total of 215 students participate in the college's musical groups, 
Weeks notes. In addition, a number of Men's Glee Club alumni per- 
form with female singers from the WPI community and other colleges 
as the University Chorus. "WPI's music groups enjoy a long and 

Left, Louis J. Curran, 
professor of music, 
leads the Men's Glee 
Club through a rehear- 
sal in the refurbished 
Janet Earle Room, 
which now serves 
as the primary choral 
rehearsal room. Below, 
clockwise from bottom, 
Matthew J. Calistro '96, 
Jason E. Macierowski 
'96 and Theodore L. 
Dysart '94 use the 
synthesizers and 
Macintosh computers 
in the new Computer 
Music Laboratory- 

distinguished history," he says, "but I think it's safe to say that their 
popularity today is unprecedented. With the restoration of Alden, 
we now have a beautiful performing arts center that will enable us 
to further expand our programs and reach new levels of excellence." 

Equally as popular as the college's music programs are its con- 
tinually growing programs in theater. Under the direction of Susan 
Vick, professor of drama and theater, Masque, one of the oldest 
student clubs at WPI, mounts a major production each fall. 

In 1992, the Masque production of The Tempest played to record 
houses four nights running. In fact, on Friday and Saturday nights, 
after the regular seats on the stage were all taken (to create a more 
intimate experience, audience members sit on an extension of the 
stage at Masque productions), latecomers willingly filled the balcony 
to watch the play from a less than perfect vantage point. 

Enthusiasm for the dramatic arts at WPI seems to grow in inten- 
sity each year, says Vick, who notes that about 125 students were 
directly involved in the production of The Tempest, while many 
others in several student organizations served as ushers, ran a 
cafe and performed music before the show. 

Helping fuel that excitement is an annual festival of original, 
student-written and -directed plays called New Voices. Now gearing 
up for its 1 1th season, New Voices was launched by Vick as a re- 
sponse to a ground swell of interest in playwrighting among WPI 
students. Now, each January a team of five student dramaturges 
reviews some 50 scripts submitted by members of the WPI commu- 
nity (mostly students) to choose 15 or so for the April production. 
Ultimately, more than 400 students will be involved in the 1993 
New Voices as directors, actors, stage managers, crew members, 
publicists, and so on, Vick notes. 

Excitement about theater at WPI has grown to the point where 
one dramatic arts group can no longer contain it, Vick says. Since 
1989, MW Repertory Theater, etc., WPI's version of an "off-Broadway" 
theater group, has been producing two plays a year at various loca- 
tions on campus. Chain Link Fence, an improvisational theater group, 
also performs regularly. Another student group mounts productions 
during the summer months, and the members of Alpha Psi Omega, 

Winter 1993 

The Major Donors 

to the 

alden memorial restoration 

The George i. alden trust 

estate of lora e. spaulding, 

daughter of ralph e. spaulding '09 

• Recital Hall • 

The George c. Gordon '95 trust 

• Stage and Fittings • 

George w. smith jr. '15 

• Greenroom and the Janet Earle Room • 

CLASS OF 1942 
• Plaza and Plaza Endowment Fund • 

The Surdna foundation 

• Computer Music Laboratory • 

The Daniels Foundation 
• Equipment for Computer Music Lab • 

Mary Knight, 
widow of Frederick H. Knight '28 

• Music Classroom • 


late wife of Raymond J. Perreault '38 
• Chamber Rehearsal Room • 


• Performers' Dressing Rooms • 


• Practice Room • 


• Practice Room • 

Members of several WPI musical groups pose before the Sphinx and the 
Pyramids of Giza during a 1992 tour of Egypt, one of several overseas trips 
made by the Institute's music and theater groups in recent years. 

the dramatic honor society, help in all of 
these productions. 

Like the Institute's music groups, Masque 
has also developed a distinctly international 
flavor in recent years. Since 1988, the group 
has made frequent treks to the Fringe, part 
of the Edinburgh Arts Festival in Scotland, 
the largest gathering of its type in the world. 
In the summer of 1991, Vick and 30 students 
performed two plays from the annual New 
Voices festival for audiences at the Fringe. 

"This is one of the best things we've 
ever done," Vick says. "It is exciting for stu- 
dents not only to experience the best the 
world theater has to offer, but to see their 
own work with an international perspective." 

The growing interest in activities, courses 
and projects that revolve around music and 
theater has led many at the Institute to won- 
der how those interests might intersect with 
other academic programs. "As we search for 
ways to develop our curriculum to respond 
to what the real world is doing — particularly 
the downsizing of the defense industry — it 

will be increasingly important for WPI to pro- 
vide programs that combine the study of an 
appropriate technology, like electrical and 
computer engineering, with a rich immersion 
in music and theater, leading to careers in 
growing fields like the media and the arts," 
notes Lance Schachterle, associate dean of 
undergraduate studies and chairman of the 
Interdisciplinary Studies Division. 

Currently, a committee of faculty mem- 
bers from the Humanities, Electrical and 
Computer Engineering, and Computer Sci- 
ence departments is just beginning the pro- 
cess of looking into the feasibility of major 
or double major programs that combine 
music and technology. 

Notes William R. Grogan, dean emeritus 
of undergraduate studies, who is assisting 
the committee, "Music is becoming an amaz- 
ingly sophisticated field. It not only involves 
electrical engineering, which plays a role in 
audio and electronic sound reproduction, but 
computer science, since so much of music is 
now reproduced and transmitted digitally. 

"The average electrical engineer does 
not have much background in music, nor 
does the average musician have much back- 
ground in computer and electronic technol- 
ogy," Grogan adds. "Someone conversant 
with both areas could have quite an inter- 
esting career." 

At WPI, such a major or dual-major pro- 
gram would build on a great deal of existing 
student interest, notes Louis Curran. "It 
would be a natural for the Institute," he 
says. "So many students already have syn- 
thesizers or computers that reproduce mu- 
sic, and many more are highly into audio. 
And, our computer music courses are al- 
ways oversubscribed." 

"We have, through the humanities and 
arts program at WPI," Schachterle adds, 
"the opportunity to show that both sides — 
technical and humanistic — are creative, that 
both sides can be well-developed, and that a 
combination of those two can provide an in- 
creasing number of students with exciting 
career opportunities." 

WPI Journal 


Restoring a Legend 

As resident program manager 
for the Pentagon Renovation 
Program, Tony Leketa '69 is 
responsible for one of the 
largest construction projects 
ever undertaken by the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

By Ruth Trask 


LJ ifty years after it rose from the site of a 
I former military depot in Arlington, Va., 
A in one of the most massive and ambi- 
tious construction projects undertaken in 
modern times, the Pentagon is getting a 
much needed overhaul. Among the most 
easily recognized buildings in the world and 
the hub of the nation's defense programs, 
the Pentagon has 
fallen on hard times 
in recent years. 

After nearly five 
decades of neglect, 
the aging heating 
and refrigeration 
plant is no longer up 
to the task of heating 
and cooling the 
building's 6.5 million 
square feet of floor 
space. Its interior 
walls are riddled 
with holes made by 
roving utility carts. 
Even the building's 
massive reinforced 
concrete facade is 
cracking and spalling 
in places. The reno- 
vation program is 
being managed by 
the U.S. Army Corps 
of Engineers. It is one of the largest jobs 
ever undertaken by this, the largest con- 
struction organization in the world. 

The resident program manager for the 
$1.4 billion project is Anthony F. Leketa '69, 
an engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers 
Leketa is no stranger to huge construction 
projects. In the late 1980s, he headed the 
$1.3 billion Fort Drum Expansion Program 
in New York, which included the largest 
military construction contract awarded 
since World War II. 

"Fort Drum was a civil engineer's 
dream," says Leketa, whose management 
of the mammoth project earned him the 

Anthony Leketa on-site at the Pentagon 

Wheeler Award, the highest honor given by 
the Society of American Military Engineers, 
and the Army's Meritorious Civilian Service 
Award. "Now I'm working on the Pentagon. 
That's pretty exciting stuff for a former 
Worcester boy who once played with a 
$1.50 Erector set." 

Leketa describes the Pentagon project 
as his "second 
time chal- 
lenge." While 
supervising a 
staff of 165 on 
the construc- 
tion of Fort 
Drum, he had 
the opportu- 
nity to build a 
city on 7,000 
| acres of virgin 
is woodland. Like 
| the Pentagon 
5 construction 
5 program (see 

I s related story, 
|1 page 25), the 
1 8 Fort Drum 

I I effort was 
°~ marked by a 

relatively short 
but intense 
period of design and construction. Just 
three years elapsed from the start of design 
work to the time soldiers moved in in 1987. 

The army post, which can accommo- 
date 10,000 soldiers and 25,000 civilians and 
family members, contains 35 miles of new 
roads, 20 barracks, 3,950 housing units, 
child development and youth activities 
centers, a fire station, a safety and law en- 
forcement center, chapels, a heating plant, 
a bowling alley, a shopping mall and more 
than 100 other buildings. 

"Building a shopping center in the 
middle of Washington, D.C., is an everyday 
occurrence," Leketa says. "But there was 


Winter 1993 







A major challenge facing the engineers planning the Pentagon Renovation 
Program is the large quantity of asbestos used in the building's construction. 

nothing like that at Ft. Drum. We started 
from scratch." As project director, Leketa 
was required to address concerns from 
citizens in adjacent Watertown, N.Y., whose 
population doubled following completion of 
the construction program. 

He also monitored the potential environ- 
mental impact on Lake Ontario, which lies 
just 25 miles away, making changes as neces- 
sary to comply with environmental regula- 
tions. The proximity of the post to Canada 
mandated additional considerations in the 
environmental area, especially with respect 
to emissions from the facility's coal- and 
wood-burning heating plant. 

The Fort Drum "new city" project gave 
Leketa the opportunity to build something 
major from the ground up. He says he felt a 
great sense of accomplishment when it was 
over. "I loved that job," he says. "It meant 
working a zillion hours, but it was one of the 
most exciting assignments I've ever had — 
until now. The Pentagon renovation project 
tops everything." 

The renovation of the five-story Penta- 
gon, the largest low-rise office building in the 
world, is providing Leketa an entirely differ- 
ent set of challenges. Consider the magni- 
tude of the project: the Pentagon covers 
34 acres, has three times the floor space of 
the Empire State Building, and is twice the 
size of the Chicago Merchandise Mart. The 
Capitol Building could easily fit into any one 
of its five wedge-shaped sections. It contains 
more than 17 miles of corridors and has 
nearly 8,000 windows. It supports an office 
population that fluctuates around 25,000. 

It is a self-sustaining community. Besides 
its own heating and refrigeration plant, it 

has medical facilities, a shopping mall, 
dining and athletic facilities, a post office, 
a library, a police force, and easy access to 
the Metrorail and Metrobus systems. 

Recognizing the building's continuing 
decline and the need to have an efficient, 
logically arranged administration building 
for the nation's armed forces, the govern- 
ment decided to renovate the Pentagon in 
the early 1980s. In 1988 the Department of 
Defense commissioned the firm of Howard 
Needles Tammen & Bergendoff to develop a 
renovation concept. The firm evaluated nine 
possible strategies, ranging from renovating 
the entire building all at once to breaking 
the project into 150 increments of 44,000 
square feet each. Ultimately, it was decided 
to renovate the building in five approxi- 
mately equal wedges, to be completed one 
wedge at a time. The 
basement will be 
renovated separately. 

The major goals 
of the 10-year pro- 
ject are to provide 
safer working condi- 
tions (the building 
is woefully deficient 
in complying with 
current life safety 
codes), a modest 
increase in adminis- 
trative space, better 
traffic flow inside 
and outside the 
building, better or- 
ganizational align- 
ment and security, 
enhanced communi- A view of the Pentagon 

cations, and a marked increase in energy ef- 

In 1989 the Defense Department named 
the Corps of Engineers the design and con- 
struction agent for the program; the day- 
to-day activities are being managed by the 
Corps' Baltimore District, where Leketa is 
currently assigned. He says the major chal- 
lenges the Corps faces revolve around the 
fact that the building has never had a major 
face-lift. In addition, there have been few 
changes to adapt the structure to current 
codes and to the changing nature — and 
electrical demands — of office work. 

"These demands are overtaxing the origi- 
nal utility systems, resulting in increasingly 
frequent power outages," he says. "It is now 
common for 20 localized power outages to 
occur each day during the summer; this 
rises to 30 to 40 during the winter. The 
original heating and refrigeration plant is 
virtually out of service, as the boilers and 
chillers are inoperable. The distribution 
of heat and air-conditioning is equally un- 
reliable, and steam and chilled water are 
furnished by packaged rental boilers and 

In constructing the building's interior, 
the architects chose to use extensive 
amounts of asbestos-laden material. Asbes- 
tos is found in floor tiles, mechanical equip- 
ment insulation (including ductwork made 
of asbestos board to conserve metal for 
the war effort), the finish coat of all ceiling 
plaster, and some interior walls. 

Under Leketa's direction, the entire 
building will be demolished to structure 
and completely rebuilt. In addition, all 

's deteriorating heating and cooling plant. 

WPI Journal 


mechanical, electrical and communications 
systems will be replaced, a brand new HVAC 
system installed, all asbestos removed, all 
windows replaced, and the exterior given 
a face-lift. 

But the renovation won't just overhaul 
the building's physical structure. Since it 
opened at the height of World War II, the 
Pentagon has become an increasingly com- 
plicated and congested warren of offices, 
corridors and stairwells. Related offices are 
now often located at distant comers of the 
building and traffic patterns can be confus- 
ing for those not familiar with them. 

As part of the renovation, space assign- 
ments will be reorganized so tenants with 
similar functions will share the same or ad- 
jacent space. This should eliminate a great 
deal of corridor traffic, Leketa says. The sec- 
ond floor will become the primary level for 
horizontal circulation in the building; new 
passenger elevators (the building currently 
has no passenger elevator service) will in- 
troduce vertical circulation, with tenants 
being organized around their own vertical 
circulation systems. A corridor management 
plan will be developed to separate service 
and pedestrian traffic between office and 
service elevators. 

The Pentagon project also includes some 
aesthetic changes and the construction of 
an extension to the building, parts of which 
are listed on the National Registry of His- 
toric Places. The 500,000-square-foot ex- 
tension, called the Pentagon Maintenance 
Facility, will be built at the Mall Entrance. It 
will house light industrial functions such as 
the maintenance shops, the Defense Protec- 
tive Services, the three Pentagon medical 
clinics and the loading dock. 

The basement/mezzanine level will be 

completely renovated, adding about 200,000 
square feet of usable space. New two-story, 
secured access points will be built at the 
main entrances and atriums will be created 
at the five inside corners of the building. 

"The building itself appears to be basi- 
cally structurally sound," Leketa says. "But 
there is significant cracking of concrete at 
the inside light wells and along the interior 
drive, which will have to be repaired. Also, 
the athletic club and basement floor slabs 
show signs of settling." 

Improvements will also be made to the 
area around the building, including exten- 
sive site work, parking lot resurfacing and 
bridge restoration. Vehicular traffic pat- 
terns, especially in the south parking lot, 
will be updated to meet the demands cre- 
ated by the presence of nearby Interstate 
395 and the addition of Metrorail and 
Metrobus service. 

The renovation will be accomplished in 
eight phases, Leketa says. Throughout the 
process, the Pentagon, which is the center 
of the nation's military capability, must re- 
main operational. To that end, Leketa's team 
must find temporary accommodations — 
either inside the building or elsewhere — for 
occupants. Leketa is supervising all design 
and construction activities from a new 
modular office complex at the north end of 
the Pentagon's north parking lot. His staff, 
which currently numbers 30, will grow to 
about 70 before the project is done. 

Leketa's office recently awarded the first 
major construction contracts: for a new $71 
million heating and r -frigeration plant and 
a $6 million classifies waste incinerator 
upgrade at the existing heating plant. The 
heating and refrigeration plant will provide 
240,000 pounds of steam per hour and 

Leketa, far left, meets with some of the 30 staff members who currently 
report to him to review the myriad details of the complex renovation project. 

37,500 tons of chiller capacity for cooling. 
"Currently," he says, "we are overseeing 
design contracts for the Mall Terrace exten- 
sion and the basement renovation. We are 
also involved in more than 100 planning and 
development studies." 

Prior to heading the Pentagon and Fort 
Drum projects, Leketa served as area engi- 
neer with the Northeastern Area Office of 
the New York District Corps of Engineers 
located at Fort Devens in Ayer, Mass. At 
Devens he was responsible for administer- 
ing more than $100 million in construction 
contracts for the U.S. government and su- 
pervising the activities of 50 engineers dis- 
persed over nine field offices in the six New 
England states. 

The projects he oversaw included a 
major rebuilding of Loring Air Force Base 
in Caribou, Maine, and the renovation of the 
Fargo Building (now known as the Barnes 
Building) in downtown Boston. The Barnes 
project was a total renovation of a 600,000- 
square-foot, nine-story structure. 

A registered professional engineer in 
Massachusetts, Leketa didn't start out as 
a civil engineer. At WPI, he earned a bach- 
elor's degree in chemical engineering and 
later earned a master's in civil engineering 
(water resources and sanitary engineering). 

An active member of the Army Corps of 
Engineers for 10 years, he served as a cap- 
tain on tours of duty in Korea and Germany. 
He graduated from the Army Command and 
General Staff College and is currently a lieu- 
tenant colonel in the Army Reserve in com- 
mand of a military police battalion at Fort 
Eustis in Virginia. He was recently selected 
to attend the Industrial College of the Armed 
Forces at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. 

Leketa's memberships include Scabbard 
and Blade, Chi Epsilon (the civil engineering 
honor society), the American Society of Civil 
Engineers, the Society of American Military 
Engineers, the Reserve Officers Association 
and the U.S. Army Engineer Association. At 
one time he was a partner in his own busi- 
ness, Associated Building Inspectors. When 
he's not on-site at the Pentagon, he relaxes 
with photography, running, tennis and rac- 

With one of the biggest construction 
projects in recent memory in full swing, 
there's little time for recreation. But that's 
no problem for Leketa, who says he thrives 
on the huge responsibilities his work for the 
Corps of Engineers brings him. "My idea of 
hell would be sitting at a desk doing design 
calculations," he says. "If I couldn't get out 
there and see what's going on, it would 
drive me crazy. The renovation of the Pen- 
tagon represents a monumental challenge, 
and I'm tremendously excited about being 
in the thick of it." 


Winter 1993 

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day, but the Pentagon 

Nearly Was 

By Anthony F. Leketa '69 

Conceived over the course of a weekend in July 1 941 and approved by Con- 
gress a month later, the Pentagon, the world's largest low-rise office building, 
was built in just 1 6 months by construction teams working around the clock. 

The Pentagon. Mere mention of the 
name conjures up images of staff 
officers holding classified documents 
under their arms, hurrying to the offices of 
high-ranking generals. And the appearance 
of national media personalities reporting 
from the Press Room enhanced the im- 
pression of the Pentagon's power and im- 
portance during the Persian Gulf War. After 
the White House and the Capitol Building, 
the Pentagon is probably the most impor- 
tant building in the U.S. and probably the 
most easily recognized. 

When war broke out in 1939, tremendous 
demands were placed on the War Depart- 
ment, which was then housed in several 
dispersed, overcrowded locations in the 
Washington, D.C., area. Lt. Gen. Brehon B. 
Somervell, commanding general, services 
and supply, is credited with the idea of con- 
solidating the mushrooming department in 
a single building. And so, in the summer of 
1941, the Pentagon was conceived. 

Somervell called Lt. Col. Hugh J. Casey 
and George E. Bergstrom, president of the 
American Institute of Architects, into his 
office on the evening of Thursday, July 17, 
1941. He directed them to produce, by 9 
o'clock Monday morning, the basic plan and 
architectural perspective for a four-story, air- 
conditioned building to house 40,000 people. 

Somervell received his plans on-time; 
they called for a reinforced concrete struc- 

ture of 5.1 million square feet. Most interior 
space would be open, and only senior offi- 
cials would have private offices. Parking 
was provided for 10,000 cars. The building 
would solve wartime space problems for 
many government agencies competing for 
room in Washington, and it was estimated 
that War Department productivity would 
increase by 25 to 40 percent. 

The first site selected was the Washing- 
ton-Hoover Airport on the Virginia bank of 
the Potomac; it was immediately ruled out 
because it was in the Potomac's floodplain. 
The next site considered was Arlington 
Farms, a 6.7-acre plot adjacent to Arlington 
Cemetery. It was bounded by five roads, and 
when Bergstrom and Casey fitted their con- 
cept to the site, a building with five sides 
seemed best. 

The concept didn't have universal sup- 
port and there was considerable debate in 
Congress about the need and scope for such 
a building. Nevertheless, the project was 
authorized on Aug. 25, 1941. But before 
construction could begin, the location 
was changed again. President Roosevelt 
objected to the Arlington Farms site and 
directed that the new headquarters be built 
farther south in an area then used as a mili- 
tary depot. Somervell kept the design con- 
cept and directed that construction start 

The most amazing statistic of the origi- 

nal project is the time it took to be built. A 
peak labor force of 13,000 workers took 16 
months, working around the clock, from the 
date working drawings and specifications 
were started in September 1941 to comple- 
tion in January 1943. That period included 
a late change to the plans that added a 
fifth floor and extended the construction 
schedule two months. 

The chief of engineers at the time was 
Maj. Gen. Eugene Reybold, but the construc- 
tion was completed under the direction of 
the deputy chief of construction, Col. Leslie 
R. Groves, who later headed the Manhattan 
Project. The contractor was a joint venture 
of John J. McShain of Philadelphia and Doyle 
and Russell and Wise Contracting Co., both 
of Richmond, Va. The chief architect/engi- 
neer was George Edwin Bergstrom, among 
whose accomplishments was the Hollywood 
Bowl in Los Angeles. 

The Pentagon was designed for effi- 
ciency, not beauty. Roosevelt conditioned 
his approval of the project on a guarantee 
that no marble would be used in its design. 
The only significant ornament on the 
building's exterior is a commemorative 
cornerstone at the Mall Entrance — a lime- 
stone plaque listing the key participants 
in the building construction. 

The architectural style used has been 
described as "starved classicism" and "gov- 
ernment international." The Pentagon is a 
practical building. Its design and construc- 
tion emphasized the conservation of critical 
war materials, particularly copper and steel. 
The low structure allowed reinforced con- 
crete to be substituted for a steel frame; the 
mile-round perimeter wall is also made from 
reinforced concrete faced with Indiana lime- 
stone. It has been estimated that enough 
steel was saved in the construction of the 
Pentagon to build a battleship. 

(Reprinted with permission from The Mili- 
tary Engineer, Vol. 83, No. 543, July 1991; 
copyrighted material.) 

WPI Journal 



mmm 0sm 

In recent years, WPI has taken a 
long, hard look at how it manages 
one of its most vital resources. Out 
of that self-examination has come a 
comprehensive strategy for invest- 
ing the endowment, a strategy that 
reflects not only the need for greater 
endowment growth as the Institute 
plies the uncertain financial seas of 
the decade ahead, but the critical 
role endowment earnings will 
play in WPI's ability to grow and 
change as higher education — 
and society itself— evolve. 

By Diane Benison 


Winter 1993 

f they think about it at all, most people tend 
to envision an endowment as a large pool of 
money, passively invested. Until recently, that 
was largely true. 

In its simplest form, an endowment is a per- 
manent fund, the earnings from which are used to 
provide ongoing financial support to an institution. Un- 
like the reserve account a business might set up or the 
savings account an individual might establish, an endow- 
ment is not intended to be a cushion against bad times 
or a source of financial reserves. Rather, it is a perma- 
nent working asset that will continue to generate funds 
for current operations as long as the institution exists. 
In higher education, endowment is usually made up 
of two components: true endowment and various funds 
functioning as endowment. True endowment consists of 
endowed funds that donors have designated for specific 
programs or purposes. The second component, sometimes 
called board-designated or quasi-endowment, consists of 
funds placed in the endowment — usually at the election of 
the board of trustees — to be invested and used as if they 
were part of the true endowment. About 40 percent of 

Building a Successful 
Investment Program 

WPI treasurer Robert W. Gailey drafted a formal 
investment policy with the objective of enhancing 
the return on WPI's endowment assets while 
protecting the endowment's purchasing power. 

WPI's $1 18 million endowment is true endowment; the 
remainder is board-designated, according to Robert W. 
Gailey, treasurer and vice president for business affairs. 

Because they have not been restricted by a donor, quasi- 
endowment funds can be withdrawn and spent at the 
discretion of the trustees. In practice, though, boards are 
usually unwilling to treat quasi-endowment as a savings 
account because of the value of having the predictable 
income these funds generate. As RPI president Roland W. 
Schmitt said in a recent talk at WPI, "Finances cannot make 
a university great, but their lack can most assuredly keep 
one from becoming great." 

A predictable income stream from endowment is one 
of the four principal sources of revenue for most colleges 
and universities. The others are tuition, gifts and research 
funding. As many colleges struggle to rein in tuition increases, 
as a poor economy and changing national priorities put the 
squeeze on corporate and individual gifts, and as federal and 
state research funding becomes scarcer, the importance of 
predictable endowment earnings has never been greater. 

As they are at most colleges, endowment earnings are 
added to the college's general fund to be spent on current 
programs and activities. At WPI, a large and growing por- 
tion of those operating funds is spent on student financial 
aid. During the fiscal year that ended June 30, 1992, for ex- 
ample, when about $4 million in endowment earnings were 
applied to the general operating funds, the Institute pro- 
vided students with nearly $10 million in financial aid from 
its own funds. 

"Clearly," notes WPI President Jon C. Strauss, "without 
those endowment earnings — including about $1.5 million 
derived directly from endowment funds restricted to finan- 

WPI Journal 


cial aid — WPI would be hard-pressed to provide that level 
of financial assistance to its students — and far less able to 
compete for talented young men and women." 

"1 think institutions like WPI do very well to have en- 
dowment as part of their financial skeletons," notes former 
WPI treasurer Joaquim (Joe) S.S. Ribeiro '58, who is cur- 
rently principal of Jefferson Financial in Jefferson, Mass. 
"A good solid endowment is part of your balance sheet. 
But its value lies not only in the fact that it generates funds; 
it also gives the institution a sense of steadfastness and 
strength. And it gives people who are dealing with the 
institution the feeling that it is here to stay." 

The fiduciary responsibility for WPI's endowment 
has always rested with the Board of Trustees. During 
the Institute's early years, the board delegated that respon- 
sibility to various trustees or administrators. Often, the 
task of prudently managing the endowment funds fell to a 
single individual, generally the Institute's treasurer. That 
manner of handling endowments was neither uncommon 
nor unreasonable, for until recently the financial markets 
were simpler than they are today, with far fewer options 
for investing money. 

At some point, as the board began to implement a com- 
mittee system, oversight of the management of the endow- 
ment became an official function of the Budget and Finance 
Committee. In practice, however, it was still often a one- or 
two-person job. 

That was how things were in 1964, when John E. 
Hossack '46 joined the board. Like his father, Archibald 
Hossack '12, John Hossack spent his entire career with 
American Appraisal Co., the international real estate and 
asset appraisal firm headquartered in Milwaukee. And like 
Archibald Hossack, who was a WPI trustee for more than 
10 years, serving for much of that time on the Budget and 
Finance Committee. John would spend many years on the 
trustees' budget oversight committee. 

When Hossack was named to the committee in 1966, 
most of the endowment funds were being managed by local 
banks. Believing that bringing more diversity to the endow- 
ment management team would result in greater security for 
the funds and a greater likelihood of endowment growth, 
he advocated moving some of the endowment funds out of 
Worcester and into the hands of other investment manag- 
ers. His arguments were persuasive, and the board soon 
voted to do just that. 

That decision marked the start of an era of great 
change for the management of WPI's endowment, al- 
though Hossack, who became chairman of the Budget 
and Finance Committee in 1971, says he couldn't have 
foreseen then how far-reaching that change would ulti- 
mately prove. For no one, Hossack notes, could have 
predicted the extent to which the world of investment 
would evolve, nor could they have foretold the financial 
crunch that would bring the management of college and 
university endowments to prominence just a few de- 
cades down the road. 

A WPI trustee since 1964 and the first chairman 
of the board's Investment Committee, John E. 
Hossack '46 has long been an advocate of the 
need to protect the endowment principal from 
erosion by inflation. 

From the beginning of his tenure on the Budget and 
Finance Committee, Hossack was a strong proponent 
for the need to protect the endowment's principal from 
erosion by inflation. "WPI should have a goal of earnings — 
plus inflation," he says, "and the inflation portion should 
be plowed back into endowment to preserve its purchas- 
ing power. If you don't do that, you're just gradually eating 
your cake." 

At the recommendation of Hossack's committee, the 
Institute established a formal "spending rule," sometimes 
called the "spending rate." A spending rule defines exactly 
how much of the earnings from endowment may be used 
each year to meet current operating expenses. WPI's 
spending rule sets that amount at 5.5 percent of the aver- 
age market value of the endowment — and its accumulated 
income and gains — for the previous two years. 

For example, if the total endowment were valued at 
$100 million in one year and $110 million in the following 
year, its average market value for those two years would 
be $105 million. According to the spending rule, in the 
third year the Institute could remove 5.5 percent of that 
value, or $5,775,000, from the endowment and add it to the 
income side of its restricted and unrestricted budgets. The 
spending rule allows WPI to make reasonable predictions 
about how much money will be available from the endow- 
ment each year, Gailey says, making the budgeting process 
more orderly. 

WPI's 5.5 percent spending rate is slightly higher than 
the average of the rates adhered to by the country's more 


Winter 1993 

From a $100,000 Seed, 

A $118 Million Oak Has Grown 


It may not seem like a great deal of money today, but 
when John Boynton turned over his founding gift of 
$100,000 to the trustees of the new Worcester County 
Free Institute of Industrial Science in 1865, it was nearly 
everything he had amassed during a long and successful 
career as an entrepreneur and bank president. 

In accepting Boynton's fortune, the trustees took on 
a lofty responsibility, for that gift would become the 
seed for the Institute's endowment. Through prudent 
investment and the addition of many more gifts, that 
$100,000 seed has become a mighty $118 million oak. 

That growth didn't happen overnight, of course. As 
the graph on this page shows, the majority of the as- 
cent has occurred only within the last few decades. In 
fact, as recently as 1964 the fund stood at about $18 mil- 
lion, one-tenth of its current value. Four major fund-rais- 
ing campaigns since then — the Centennial Fund (1964 
to 1967), the Plan to Restore the Balance (1972 to 1977), 
the Capital Program (1980 to 1983) and the Campaign 
for Excellence (1985 to 1990) — have helped provide 

During the 1980s endowment growth was aided by a 
robust economy that yielded high returns on all types 
of investments. That positive environment plus the 
great success of the Campaign for Excellence, which ex- 
ceeded its $52.5 million goal by 21 percent, enabled the 
endowment to surge from $38 million as the decade 
opened to more than $100 million as it closed. 

The success of recent years is in sharp contrast to 
the endowment's first few decades. In those early years, 
persistent debt and frequent deficits plagued the col- 
lege. A treasurer's report from the early 1880s notes a 
$15,100 shortage in the endowed funds due to heavy 
drafts made upon them. 

Generous gifts from Ichabod Washburn, Stephen 
Salisbury, David Whitcomb and George Hoar, along with 
an appropriation from the state, helped the endowment 
grow to just over $379,000 by the end of 1882. The fol- 
lowing year the Institute launched a $110,000 campaign 
to build the fund; in the end, half that much was raised, 
largely through a few major gifts. 

For many years the Institute depended on regular state 
grants to fund its operations and enlarge its endowment. But 
in 1917 the state legislature passed the "Anti-Aid Amend- 
ment," which called for the end to general state grants to pri- 
vate educational institutions. By the time these allocations 
ended in 1921, the Institute had benefited from more than 
$800,000 in state funds. 

To replace the state money, WPI needed to increase its 
$1.1 million endowment by $1 million. But that would just 
maintain the status quo; to pull itself out of a period of 
stagnation and prepare for the future, the college would 
need an additional $1 million. 

A fund-raising campaign was launched, which drew 
support from nearly 90 percent of alumni. A major incen- 
tive was a challenge grant of $350,000 from the General 
Education Fund, created by John D. Rockefeller with the 
intention of increasing teachers' salaries across the 
country. To receive the funds, the college had to raise 
$650,000 — a goal it ultimately achieved. 

About $375,000 was accrued via a novel fund-raising 
vehicle called the industrial sustaining scholarship. 
Through this program, a company, with a gift of 
$10,000, could create a scholarship that gave it the 
right to name an employee or the child of an em- 
ployee on a yearly basis to attend WPI tuition free. 

In all, more than $1.5 million was raised in the 
brief campaign. While well short of the $2 million 
goal, the drive got the Institute out of trouble, 
bridged the gap created by the loss of the state 
grants, and brought the value of the endowment 
to more than $2 million by 1922. 

But more important, the campaign highlighted 
the vital importance of the endowment to the on- 
going success and continuing growth of the Insti- 
tute. It also set a new standard for financial 
support for alumni and friends of the half- 
century-old institution at the same time it 
laid the groundwork for the next 75 years 
and the next $116 million of endow- 
ment growth. 

— Michael Dorsey 

WPI's Endowment: 1865 to 1992 (in millions) 

Methods for reporting the value of the WPI endowment have varied over the years. 
The values used in this graph for the years 1953 to 1992 are market values. The 
figures for the years 1936 to 1952 are book values. The values for the years prior 
to 1936 were taken from a graph in Herbert Taylor's Seventy Years of the 
Worcester Polytechnic Institute and are most likely book values. 










1865 1870 1875 1880 1885 1890 1895 1900 1905 1910 1915 1920 1925 1930 1935 1940 1945 1950 1955 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1992 

WPI Journal 


William F. McCarron, 
left, and James R. 
Buchholz of Prime, 
Buchholz & Associates 
Inc., which serves the 
Institute as an inde- 
pendent endowment 

than 3,000 institutions of higher education. Like other col- 
leges and university divisions that specialize in science and 
engineering, WPI has higher operating expenses than most 
liberal arts colleges due to the high cost of buying and 
maintaining the state-of-the-art laboratory and computer 
equipment needed to teach students and conduct research 
in technical disciplines. 

Until recently, the spending rule was applied only to 
board-designated endowment. But in 1992 the administra- 
tion recommended — and the trustees approved — applying 
the rule also to the true endowment, where it can legally 
do so. When donors stipulate that all income from their 
gifts be spent for specified purposes, the trustees have 
no choice but to comply. Only about 2 percent of the re- 
stricted endowment is covered by such stipulations, Gailey 
says. Over time, he notes, inflation eats away at those 
funds, diminishing their purchasing power. Because it is 
based on the need to account first for inflation, the spend- 
ing rule will now help preserve the real value of the remain- 
der of the true endowment over time. 

Formalizing the spending rule and diversifying the 
management of the endowment were important first 
steps toward a comprehensive strategy for growing the 
endowment in a sound and secure manner. The stage for 
the next move down that path was set in the late 1970s and 
early 1980s. As the endowment enjoyed a steady rate of 
growth, consideration was given to the idea of separating 
its management from the other duties of the Budget and 
Finance Committee. With the increasing size of the endow- 
ment (see graph, page 29) and the growing complexity of 
the field of financial management, it was becoming clear 
that the endowment required more time, attention and in- 
put — and from a wider circle of people. 

For while the creation of the Budget and Finance Com- 
mittee had, in theory, spread the responsibility for super- 

vising the endowment management over a reasonably 
large team, in reality that oversight responsibility still 
generally defaulted to just two people: Hossack and David 
E. Lloyd (then the Institute's treasurer), the two men who 
had the greatest interest in — and accountability for — the 

By the mid-1980s, when the Campaign for Excellence, 
the Institute's most recent fund-raising drive, was 
launched, the idea of creating a separate entity to over- 
see the investment of endowment funds had earned the 
general support of the board, of the Institute's new presi- 
dent, Jon C. Strauss, and of Ribeiro, its newly installed 
treasurer and vice president for business affairs. 

Strauss had been a chief financial officer at the Univer- 
sity of Pennsylvania and at the University of Southern Cali- 
fornia at Los Angeles. When he came to WPI in 1985 he had 
a deep understanding of the role endowment plays in the 
long-term welfare of a college or university. Ribeiro, who 
had worked with endowment-like funds at several non- 
profit organizations in Worcester, also held strong views 
on the importance of managing the investment process. 
While Hossack, Strauss and Ribeiro were not always in 
accord concerning technical aspects of investing, they 
shared a passionate belief in the importance of protecting 
the endowment from erosion by inflation. 

In 1986 the Board of Trustees created the Investment 
Committee — separate from Budget and Finance — to have 
fiduciary oversight over the management of endowment 
funds. Hossack served as its chairman until September 
1992, when he turned the reins over to F. William Marshall 
Jr. and assumed the post of vice chairman. 

As the Campaign for Excellence concluded on Nov. 11, 
1990, adding about $15.4 million of its $63.7 million total 
to the endowment, Gailey, in consultation with the Invest- 
ment Committee and Strauss, was deeply engrossed in the 


Winter 1993 



g 90 

9 80 

SS 70 


work of writing a policy that established clear investment 
objectives and goals for WPI. 

In separate interviews, Hossack, Strauss, Ribeiro and 
Gailey expressed similar sentiments about endowment 
management, sentiments that are reflected in the policy 
Gailey drafted. All noted that preserving the endowment's 
purchasing power is essential. But they also stressed the 
need to take more risks to produce a better return on 
endowment investments. 

Strauss, who calls a strategy that encompasses both 
objectives "prudently aggressive," believes that the signifi- 
cant growth of the endowment during the 1980s (see graph 
below) may have created a false sense of security. "If you 
see that we've got a $1 18 million endowment today and 
compare it to the $50 million endowment we had just 10 
years ago it looks pretty dramatic," he says. "But when you 
look at it in the context of an operation of our size, with a 
$75 million operating budget and a $150 million physical 
plant, it doesn't seem all that large." It is also important, 
Strauss notes, to compare WPI's endowment to those of 
other high-quality colleges and universities (see table). 

A fundamental issue that faced Gailey and the Invest- 
ment Committee as the policy was being drafted was how 
much of the endowment should be invested in three broad 
classes of assets: equities (stocks), fixed-income instru- 
ments (bonds and U.S. treasuries, for example), and spe- 
cialized investments (such as real estate and venture 
capital). The resulting investment equation, they knew, 
would have to meet Strauss' prudently aggressive test. 

The members of the Investment Committee decided 
the Institute would need a disinterested advisor if it were 
to effectively monitor and hone this and other investment 
practices and strategies. They realized that for the most 
part, the outside managers then employed to manage en- 
dowment assets could not act in that capacity, since some 
were also responsible for investing part of the WPI portfo- 
lio, while others were hired solely to provide comparative 
reports on the performance of the various managers. 

Growth of WPI's Endowment, 
Decade by Decade: 1953 to 1992 






Endowment Growth 

1975 to 1990 

for WPI and 12 Other Private Colleges and Universities 

Market Value of Endowment 

(in millions) 

1975 1980 1985 1990 

Liberal Arts Colleges 

Bowdoin 39.1 49.9 94.8 151.7 

Bucknell 28.0 37.5 62.2 98.2 

Colgate 23.8 34.5 69.8 136.0 

Middlebury 31.0 62.0 128.4 227.8 

Mt. Holyoke 41.4 58.2 96.8 180.0 

Trinity 29.7 43.0 74.1 137.4 

Engineering and Science Institutions 

Caltech 142.1 ....198.4 275.9. 

Carnegie-Mellon ...103.4 ....119.2 193.5. 

Lehigh 53.2 61.9 130.1 . 

Rensselaer 78.2 93.6 144.6. 

Rochester Institute 

of Technology 63.1 59.5 91.2 165.8 

Rice 187.1 ... 342.1 609.3 ..1,068.6 

WPI 25.2 ....38.1 64.9 ....98.3 

Source: Council for Financial Aid to Education 


One exception was the firm of Prime, Buchholz & Asso- 
ciates Inc. of Portsmouth, N.H. Prime, Buchholz was then 
providing quarterly reports to the Institute on the perfor- 
mance of its endowment investments. Because of the 
company's expertise and experience with college endow- 
ments, WPI in the spring of 1991 chose the firm to act as 
its independent endowment management consultant. 

With a staff of six professionals, Prime, Buchholz is a 
small, highly focused specialist. Now in its fifth year, the 
firm is a consultant to 48 nonprofit institutions that col- 
lectively hold more than $3 billion in assets; 60 percent of 
the firm's revenue is derived from its work for colleges and 
universities. Founders Jon L. Prime and James R. Buchholz 
are former university chief financial officers; each, in fact, 
once served as the CFO at Rochester Institute of Technol- 
ogy. Prime was also vice president of Swarthmore College 
and St. Louis University, while Buchholz is former vice 
chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis and vice 
president of the University of Missouri System. 

"There's been an evolution in the history of the way 
boards have managed endowments," Buchholz says. "Many 
years ago they were primarily focused on the maintenance 
of nominal value. But as inflation started ravaging institu- 
tions in the '60s, '70s and '80s, they became more and more 
interested in the maintenance of the real dollar values." 

Buchholz says there wasn't much known about the per- 
formance of endowment funds in higher education until the 
mid-1980s when the first substantive report on the subject, 
Improving Endowment Management, was published by the 
Association of Governing Boards. Jon Prime was a principal 
contributor to that study, which measured the endowment 
performance, over five years, of 23 sample institutions and 

WPI Journal 


then compared those figures with national averages for col- 
leges and universities. 

The study found considerable variation in performance 
among the institutions studied. When the authors dug 
deeper to find the causes of that variation, they discovered 
that the better-performing endowments were "more disci- 
plined, more systematic — they worked harder at it," 
Buchholz says. The authors listed six major characteristics 
that distinguished the more successful funds. At those in- 
stitutions, the fiduciaries had 

• articulated what they were trying to accomplish and writ- 
ten down their objectives. 

• set a spending rate that took into account the need to 
maintain the purchasing power of the fund. 

• decided how much volatility they were comfortable with. 

• looked at historic rates of return for different classes of 
assets and decided how much of their funds would be al- 
located to each. 

• chosen managers only after they'd decided on asset allo- 
cation, and selected those managers based on excellence, 
not on historic affiliation or proximity to the institution. 

• and measured progress toward their own objectives and 
compared their performance to that of other institutions 
doing similar things with their investments. 

An endowment says an institution "is here to stay," 
says former WPI treasurer Joaquim Ribeiro '58. 

Providing a Framework for Investing 

Editor's Note: On May 15, 1991, the Board of Trustees approved a formal policy to guide the In- 
stitute in investing the assets that collectively make up the endowment. The board had previ- 
ously passed a separate policy providing guidance on considering social concerns in making 
investments. Both policies are reprinted here in their entirety. 

Investment Policy 

By resolution, the Board of Trustees of 
Worcester Polytechnic Institute, on recom- 
mendation of the Investment Committee, 
has adopted the following investment objec- 
tives for the Institute's endowment: 

Investment Objective 

Recognizing the significance of the Insti- 
tute's endowment in providing a critical 
margin of financial support for its long-term 
academic programs and general operation, 
the Board of Trustees assigns a high priority 
to the productive management of endow- 
ment assets. As a minimum, it is the objec- 
tive of the Institute to preserve the real 
principal value of its endowment. It is hoped 
that prudent investment management and 
continuing development efforts will enhance 
growth beyond this minimum objective. 
The endowment is to be managed for 

total return, with a stated percentage of to- 
tal market value used annually towards the 
Institute's budget. Such a policy will allow 
for the greatest investment flexibility, and 
for growth over the long term of the endow- 
ment's contribution to the Institute's operations. 

Asset Allocation and Spending Policy 

As the maintenance of the endowment value 
in both real and nominal terms is best ac- 
complished by a significant equity alloca- 
tion in the overall portfolio, it is expected 
that the long-term asset allocation of the en- 
dowment will be approximately 60 percent 
equity, 35 percent fixed-income, and 5 per- 
cent specialized investments. The Invest- 
ment Committee may authorize asset allo- 
cation as deemed prudent. It is recognized, 
however, that variation from the long-term 
policy reducing equity exposure can be det- 
rimental to the university's long-term objec- 

tives of spending and endowment growth. 

The spending level from endowment 
assets is critical to the long-term mainte- 
nance of real endowment value. Therefore, 
the Institute adopted a policy of spending 
5.5 percent of the average unit market 
value at close (June 30) for the previous 
two fiscal years. Such a policy allows for 
reasonable predictability of income avail- 
able for current operations; allows for a 
gradual, steady growth of the endowment's 
support of the Institute's operation; and 
minimizes the probability of invading en- 
dowment principal over the long term. 

As a general objective, the Investment 
Committee expects this spending rule to 
be funded by no less than 85 percent from 
earnings. Therefore, the sale of securities 
will not be necessary for more than 15 per- 
cent of the spending rule. 


Winter 1993 

Investment Committee chair William F. Marshall is 
helping chart a course for the endowment's future. 

That was precisely the kind of methodical approach 
Gailey had outlined in the Institute's new policy statement 
(see box below). The statement was adopted by the trust- 
ees in May 1991, shortly before Prime, Buchholz came on 
board as an independent consultant. Since then, the firm, 
along with the Investment Committee and the administra- 
tion, has been working to implement the policy. 

Over the long term, the policy calls for the allocation of 
60 percent of the endowment assets in equities, 35 percent 
in fixed-income vehicles and 5 percent in specialized in- 
vestments. The Investment Committee has been working 
to realign existing endowment investments to meet those 
goals. At the end of 1992, the endowment was about 54 per- 
cent invested in the equity sector, 40 percent in the fixed- 
income sector and 6 percent in specialized investments. 

Each broad asset class can be further divided into a 
number of investment categories, all of which have associ- 
ated risks and potential for return. "There's no single for- 
mula for spreading assets among different classes — one 
guaranteed to eliminate risk and produce high returns," 
Gailey says. "But like any investor, WPI, by understanding 
its own tolerance for risk, applying judgment and paying 
attention to historic performance trends, can make in- 
formed decisions." 

Investment Management Evaluation 

The Investment Committee is authorized to 
engage investment managers for the direct 
management of the Institute's endowment 
assets. By such action, the board expects 
to acquire expertise in investment manage- 
ment, which will benefit the Institute's long- 
term endowment growth. Secondarily, such 
delegation will provide for continuity in en- 
dowment management despite periodic 
personnel changes in board or Investment 
Committee composition, which will enable 
emphasis upon long-term objectives rather 
than short-term or ad-hoc decisions. 

The investment managers will have dis- 
cretion with regard to individual asset se- 
lection, although portfolio variability of 
return should be minimized through pru- 
dent diversification, both among individual 
assets and by asset class. The Investment 
Committee will review the investment 
manager's time-weighted returns vs. stock 
and investment style. Over a typical market 
cycle of three to five years, the investment 
manager is expected to outperform the 
broad market indices (i.e., S&P 500, Shear- 
son Lehman Government/Corporate Bond 
Index, etc.) and exceed the median of com- 
parable investment universes. Investment 

performance data will be provided to the 
Investment Committee through quarterly 
reports and meetings with the invest- 
ment manager as deemed necessary. 

Policy on Investments 
and Social Concerns 

The investment of institutional funds to 
reflect social, moral or political interests 
has become an issue of widespread con- 
cern throughout the United States. Uni- 
versities, in particular, have struggled 
with the question of what is appropriate 
in this regard while still recognizing their 
basic long-term responsibilities as educa- 
tional institutions. Answers are not easy; 
the whole subject is complex and highly 
controversial. Summarized below is a 
statement of policy on this issue: 

1. Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 
through its Board of Trustees, has fidu- 
ciary responsibility for the assets of the 
Institute and the investment of Institute 
funds. It has been, and remains, policy 
that this fiduciary responsibility is best 
satisfied by investing funds to maximize 
their total return and then employing this 
return to promote the primary purposes 

of the Institute. This policy recognizes the 
Institute's basic responsibility to its pri- 
mary functions of teaching and research; 
it also respects the special fiduciary and 
ethical responsibility of the Board of Trust- 
ees for prudent investment of Institute 
funds for the educational purposes of the 

2. The Institute, as an investor and 
shareholder, supports affirmative action, 
equal opportunity and similar policies re- 
flecting societal values. The Institute recog- 
nizes that, as an institution in society 
devoted to the search for and teaching of 
truth, it bears a responsibility in its invest- 
ments to attempt to influence corporations 
engaged in practices contrary to the self- 
evident truths of individual human liberty 
and/or the good of mankind. 

3. Ownership of investments and action 
on shareholder resolutions will be consid- 
ered case by case by the President's Advi- 
sory Committee on Investments and Social 
Responsibilities to encourage corporate re- 
sponsibility to employees, customers and 
society in general. The recommendation of 
the advisory committee will be transmitted 
to the trustee Budget and Finance Commit- 
tee for review and possible action. 

WPI Journal 


a tomorrow. 

In 1992 the Investment Committee focused a good deal 
of its energies on the equity category, studying different 
models for selecting the best mix of stock classifications 
for WP1. One characteristic they chose for sorting out po- 
tential stocks is called "market cap," or the dollar value 
(capitalization) of each stock. The market cap is calculated 
by multiplying the number of outstanding shares by the cur- 
rent market price of a single share. 

Large-cap stocks — those issued by big companies — 
tend to pay regular dividends and exhibit less volatility in 
price. Small-cap stocks, issued by smaller "growth compa- 
nies," offer investors the 
greatest potential for price 
appreciation, but tend to 

Nplow their profits back into 
the business rather than 
act to the students and paying div idends. For inves- 
the faculty, the endow- tors who wish t0 shield 
. ,, , their money from the ups 

ment is the college s most and downs o{ the vs 

important asset because economy— and benefit from 

., . , , . , , growth in other countries — 

it provides for today and r . .. , . , „ 
r J international stocks offer a 

ensures that there will be good alternative. 

With those categories in 
mind, the committee, under 
chairman Marshall's direc- 
tion, began a review of cur- 
rent fund managers and a 
search for new managers 
with specialized skills in each asset class. "Historically, the 
cocktail wisdom among fiduciaries was that manager selec- 
tion was where 90 percent of the value was added," 
Buchholz says. "But the research now is rather conclusive 
that the majority of the return is driven by asset allocation. 
Of course, you have to be properly represented by invest- 
ment managers capable of making the best possible day-to- 
day buy-and-sell decisions, but asset allocation is going to 
determine the outcome. 

"The highest and best service a board can give an insti- 
tution is making policy decisions — about what they're try- 
ing to accomplish and which assets are going to do that for 
them," Buchholz adds. "So, in a way, this kind of discipline, 
which colleges have increasingly been following, enhances 
the board's role and its effectiveness by getting the board 
members focused on policy." 

Buchholz says his firm believes that any investor's best 
opportunity for long-term capital appreciation lies in hav- 
ing a substantial portion of its assets invested in diversified 
stocks. "Years ago diversification meant that rather than 
having 10 equities in the account, you had maybe 20, 30 or 
40, and that instead of 10 bonds, you had maybe 20 or 30. 
Now we're talking about multiple asset classes that move 
across time at different tempos, and about having multiple 
economies represented in a portfolio." 

Two decades ago, the U.S. economy represented about 
two-thirds of the world's capitalization; now it's one-third, 
he says. That change reflects the growth in other econo- 

mies around the world, rather than the shrinking of the 
U.S. economy. Because of that shift, American investors 
are no longer insulated, as they once might have been — or 
thought they were — from the impacts of world events, a 
strong argument for "enhancing our concept of diversifica- 
tion," Buchholz says. 

"With diversification, you're seeking to put dissimilar 
ingredients into an overall structure, so that when volatil- 
ity strikes one asset class, it won't necessarily hit the oth- 
ers. You don't want asset classes moving in the same 
direction at once. If one is heading south, you want to 
have another one headed north." 

Investment Committee chairman Marshall, who has 
been a bank president and a chief executive officer, says 
he shares Buchholz's views on the importance of sound 
policy and discipline. "Next to the students and the fac- 
ulty," he says, "the endowment is the college's most impor- 
tant asset because it provides for today and ensures that 
there will be a tomorrow. People and organizations that 
have contributed their money to WPI have a right to know 
that it's going to be managed wisely and carefully." 

The product of that wise and careful investing should 
be a "performance that is considerably superior to the 
major indexes," Marshall says. [WPI uses the Standard & 
Poor's 500 Index to measure the performance of its equity 
managers and the Lehman Brothers' Government Corporate 
Intermediate Bond Index as a yardstick for its fixed-income 
managers.] "I am purposely setting a high standard of per- 
formance. And I know the committee is excited about the 
prospect of what that standard can mean for WPI." 

Marshall has scheduled six meetings in 1993 for the 
Investment Committee, though the group may well try to 
squeeze in a few more, he notes. Since each meeting runs 
about three hours, that represents a major commitment 
of time and energy for trustees who sit on the committee, 
especially those who must travel to Worcester from some 
distance. It also represents a financial commitment, since 
WPI does not reimburse its trustees for their time and 
travel expenses. 

Marshall, an alumnus of Washington University who 
became involved with WPI when he was president and 
chief executive officer of Shawmut Worcester County 
Bank, says, "I believe strongly that education is our future. 
So this is an opportunity for me to make a contribution by 
helping an outstanding educational institution." 

That's a common sentiment among the trustees with 
which he works, Buchholz says. "The intent of these 
boards is to do good — to add value," he notes. "What has 
become evident in the last 15 or 20 years is that those that 
are successful in the area of investments rely on some- 
thing more than just the intent to do good. It's increasingly 
apparent that there's a discipline they can follow that will 
enhance the probability of long-term success. That's the 
track WPI is on." 

A former newspaper editor, Diane Benison has written sev- 
eral articles for the Journal. Her most recent stories explored 
the world of total quality management. 


Winter 1993 


The Endowment: Some Cold, Hard Facts 

While it is gratifying to see the 
rapid growth of the WPI endow- 
ment — particularly in the past 
two decades — and to have played a role in 
that success during the most recent decade, 
there are several points I'd encourage read- 
ers of this magazine to keep in mind: 
First: It's dangerous to measure one's 
progress against oneself. For example, our 
$118 million endowment, compared solely 
to its value in times past, might suggest 
that WPI is rich. But it is essential that we 
index that value against the endowments 
of peer institutions with whom we com- 
pete for students (see table). 

Prospective students — and their par- 
ents — have become considerably more 
discerning over the years. There was a 
time when most colleges, including WPI, 
attracted students from within a relatively 
small radius of their campuses. Transpor- 
tation was a more important limiting crite- 
rion than creature comforts (read campus 
center, athletic/exercise facilities, modern 
residence halls, and so on). 

Today, what most people educated in 
that era would call "frills" figure more 
prominently in the attractiveness equa- 
tion. And for all but a relative handful of 
students, WPI is, in fact, a "home away 
from home." (Something on the order of 5 
percent of our students commute these 
days.) Building and operating such facili- 
ties places a growing burden on our oper- 
ating budget and depends mightily on in- 
come earned through endowment — espe- 
cially unrestricted endowment. 
Second: It is common knowledge that his- 
torically, most engineering and science 
students have come from families with 
modest financial resources. In generations 
past, this often meant children of indus- 
trial workers— skilled and unskilled. More 
often than not, many of those parents had 
little or no college education. 

While the level of formal education 
possessed by our WPI parents is far 
greater today than it was a generation ago 
(virtually all are college educated; nearly a 
fifth of WPI's current freshmen have par- 

ents who are school 
teachers), their relative 
financial position is un- 
changed. What all this 
translates into is that 
today's students must 
acquire increasing levels 
of "outside" financial 
support if they are to 
come here — or to an 
institution like WPI. 

Indeed, virtually all 
private engineering and 
science institutions 
(Cooper Union and Rice 
University are notable 
exceptions, with both 
offering "free" or sub- 
stantially reduced tuition 
due to the scale of their 
endowments) find that 
about seven out of every 10 of their stu- 
dents require aid — and lots of it! To put this 
issue in a context we can all understand, it 
costs WPI on the order of $10 million in 
financial aid to support its current under- 
graduate population. 

If that cost were to be met strictly with 
earned endowment income (while still 
protecting the endowment principle from 
erosion by inflation), we would need an 
endowment on the order of $150 million 
right now. But that, of course, would also 
mean that anything else we did — building 
or substantially modifying facilities, start- 
ing new programs, enhancing maintenance 
allocations (much needed) — would have to 
come from on-going, pervasive fund rais- 
ing. So, unless there is a marked change in 
the mix of high-need to no- or little-need 
candidates seeking a science and engineer- 
ing education and who could be attracted 
to WPI, our resource base is going to be 
pressed to more than its limit. 

Third: The maintenance of currency in 
science and engineering programs is a very 
expensive business. And while the same 
can be said for medical education, a will- 
ingness to pay for a high-quality private 
undergraduate education is invariably bal- 

The WPI Endowment 

A Comparison to Representative, 

Principally Science and Technology Institutions 

(in millions} 


Per Student 

(in thousands) 









Harvey Mudd 




























Source: Voluntary Support for Higher Education 199 
Council for Aid to Education 


anced against the debt one must acquire 
to obtain it and one's ability to pay that 
debt back with undue pain. It is clear that 
the realized (or perceived) material gains 
from careers in science and technology do 
not match those of careers in medicine. 

The way we go about the business of 
educating scientists and engineers must be 
examined with an eye to cost containment. 
Like the overwhelming majority of our 
nation's hospitals, too many technical col- 
leges and engineering and science colleges 
within universities are headed for financial 
ruin. We must apply far more ingenuity to 
tackling this issue than has been demon- 
strated in the last 20 years. 

How we deliver our science and engi- 
neering programs must become as impor- 
tant an exercise as fund raising for them 
has been these past several years. The 
question is how to do it in a way that will 
leave these programs as the world's 
pacesetters — a position they've enjoyed 
for four decades. 

Believe me — WPI has a long way to go 
before it can claim to be "rich." 

— Donald F. Berth '57 

Berth is vice president for university relations. 

WPI Journal 35 


The Rewards are Great— 

and Immediate— 
for Town Manager Norton Bonaparte 

I like the idea of 
being able to 
make things hap- 
pen for the public 
good," says Norton 
N. Bonaparte Jr. 75, 
town manager in 
Glenarden, Md., who 
says he discovered 

his passion for public administration while 
a civil engineering student at WPI. "My 
studies were focused on urban planning," 
he says. "But 1 soon discovered it was the 
urban environment — not planning — that 
piqued my interest." 

Deciding to follow a career in public 
administration, Bonaparte earned his 
M.RA. at the Cornell University School of 
Business. Early on he worked in Washing- 
ton, D.C., on an internship at the Interna- 
tional City Management Association. For 
four years he was an administrative assis- 
tant in the office of the city manager in 
Grand Rapids, Mich. And in 1988 he was 
named town manager in Glenarden. He 
says it was the right move. "Every morning 
when 1 wake up, I can hardly wait to get to 
the office." 

Bonaparte says it is the duty of a 
town manager to make sure politicians' 

As town manager of Glenarden, Md., Norton Bonaparte tries to take the politics 
out of local government and see that the promises of elected officials are kept. 

promises are kept. He says the counsel- 
manager form of government evolved in 
the early part of the 20th century in re- 
sponse to widespread corruption at the 
local government level. Today, he adds, 
city or town managers are seen as people 
who can take the politics out of the man- 
agement of government. 

"When you look at what gets a person 
elected," he says, "it's everything from 
giving good speeches to kissing babies 
to having a firm handshake. But those 
things have nothing to do with running 
a government." 

In Glenarden, as in many towns and 
cities, the government is set up similar to 
a business, Bonaparte notes. In a business, 
the stockholders elect a board of directors 
which, in turn, appoints a president to run 
the company. In government, the elected 
officials set policy and establish an agenda; 

they then hire some- 
one to manage the 
day-to-day operations 
of the government. 

As town manager, 
Bonaparte says he is 
the chief administra- 
tor of the govern- 
ment. Most govern- 
ment departments, including the police 
and the public works department, report 
to him, and it is his responsibility to pre- 
pare a budget for the council's approval 
and then to implement that budget 
through his administration of the various 
departments. In essence, he add, he is 
the practical arm of local government, 
and Bonaparte says he thrives on being 
the muscle, helping to turn political rheto- 
ric into practical reality. 

Bonaparte starts flexing his muscles 
daily at 8 a.m., a half hour before the 
town offices open. Always on a tight 
schedule, he meets frequently with 
city and business leaders and citizens' 
groups to address their concerns, and 
attends meetings aimed at facilitating 
action within the community by combin- 
ing the efforts of businesses, schools and 
neighborhood groups. 


Winter 1993 

Bonaparte, shown here at a town meeting with Glenarden Police Chief M.A. Lewis, left, and Mayor Marvin 
Wilson, says he enjoys the opportunity his job affords him to make a real difference at the local level. 

"At WPI," Bonaparte says, "I was chief 
justice of the Campus Hearing Board. That 
was a valuable experience, because it 
taught me to listen to and take into con- 
sideration the various sides of each case. 
That's a lesson 1 use all the time in my job 

Part of his job involves overseeing the 
operation of 10 town departments that are 
responsible for everything from filling pot- 
holes to supervising major renovations in 
community buildings to maintaining town 
equipment. While he spends most of his 
time helping his department heads solve 
problems and set goals, he also takes re- 
sponsibility for seeing that the local popu- 
lation is served as efficiently as possible. 

"I note trends in population and try to 
make certain we have enough resources 
for the young and the elderly, as well as 
other groups," he says. "Finding the best 
ways to adjust and anticipating changes 

in demographics and social trends are im- 
portant concerns for a town manager." 

Because much of his time is spent 
speaking and writing, Bonaparte says the 
most important skills a town manager can 
have are the ability to get along with 
people and to communicate well through 
the spoken and the written word. An un- 
derstanding of mathematics is also use- 
ful for deciphering computer data, and 
a knowledge of politics can be helpful, 
although the post, itself, he notes, is tech- 
nically nonpolitical. 

Bonaparte says he likes to believe what 
he does each day makes a difference. The 
advantage of working at the local level, he 
notes, is that results can be seen right 
away. If the streets get plowed, a town 
manager is a hero. If they don't, he or she 
must have a thick skin, because the phone 
will ring off the hook. "Unfortunately," he 
says, "people may not tell you you're doing 

a good job, but they'll let you know right 
off the bat if they think you aren't." 

Although his decisions may, on occa- 
sion, invite criticism, Bonaparte enjoys 
working in local government because it 
is the closest a public servant can get to 
the people. "It's my goal to make things 
better," he says. "I've worked on the state 
and federal levels and the local level is the 
most immediately rewarding." 

Bonaparte unabashedly infects his staff 
with his enthusiasm for professionalism. "I 
tell them our role is to serve, but not as 
servants," he says. "I explain that while it 
is said residents pay our salaries, I prefer 
to focus on the fact that they pay us to 
perform services. Our residents are our 
customers, and they want things to work 

Before deciding to accept the town 
manager's post, Bonaparte drove around 
Glenarden on weekends assessing the resi- 
dents' attitudes about their town. "I could 
tell people took great pride in the area 
by the way they kept up their yards and 
houses. It made me want to become a 
part of it," he says. 

Glenarden, once strictly residential, 
now has several commercial areas. "We 
stand for quality of service to the resi- 
dents, no matter how the character of the 
town changes," Bonaparte says. "Glen- 
arden is small, but has the same problems 
as larger municipalities because it is part 
of the Washington metropolitan area. So 
far, the town has met change well. I take 
great pride in that." 

— Ruth Trask 

v ; ?-4 

- fS'S' 


■m ^* K& 

' • -. ■::■> .: 




WPI Journal 






The Whole World in Their Hands Diane Benison 

In an increasingly seamless world, it's no longer enough to be 
a competent professional; one must also be a true citizen of 
the world. Here's how WPI is giving tomorrow's engineers, 
scientists and managers a global perspective. 

The United Nations of WPI 

While the Institute's students travel the globe to learn about other 
cultures, special programs on campus are bringing the world to 
WPI. So check your passport and fasten your seat belt as we tour 
the Cultural Festival and the African Marketplace. 

The Law of the Frontier Michael Dorsey 

Patent law is dull, right? Not according to WPI alumni who work 
in what's been called the hottest area of legal practice today. 
What's more, an engineering or science degree is the ideal start 
for this challenging and creative profession. 


2 Input: Globalization: The Next Big Wave. Ronald L. Zarrella 71 

39 Investigations: Playing Matchmaker to Methane. Michael Dorsey 

40 Final Word: Powering Up the Developing World. Ruth Trash 

Front Coven Global Program Officer Hossein Hakim, second from left, with, from left, 
Naomi E. Carnegie '93, Jennifer L. Greenhalgh '94 and Michael A. Kaliski '93. Carnegie 
completed an Interactive Qualifying Project in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Greenhalgh did an 
IQP in Bangkok; Kaliski did his IQP in Venice. The photo was taken inside the Mapparium, 
a 30-foot stained glass globe at the Boston headquarters of the Christian Science Publish- 
ing Society. The globe was completed in 1935 and shows the world as it looked then. Story 
on page 5. Photo by Janet Woodcock. Opposite: Pakamas Tongcharoensirikul, a graduate 
student in chemistry, performs a traditional Thai dance known as the Srinual during WPI's 
1993 Cultural Festival. More photos begin on page 19. Photo by Janet Woodcock. Back 
Cover More than 5,000 graduates and their guests gathered on the Quadrangle for WPI's 
125th Commencement on May 22. The theme of this year's ceremony was "Engineering and 
Science Education; A Future Agenda." Photo by Michael Dorsey. 

. Dorsey • Alumni News Editor, Ruth S. Trask • Writers, Diane Benison, Bonnie Gelbwasser and Neil Norum • Designer, Carol Hoyle Ballard 
ini Publications Committee: Samuel Mencow '37, chairman • Paul J. Cleary 71 • James S. Demetry '58 • Judith Donahue SIM '82 

Staff of the WPI Journal: Editor, Michael W. I 

• Photographer, Janet Woodcock • Alumni 1 

• William J. Firla Jr. '60 • William R. Grogan '46 • Carl A. Keyser '39 • Robert C. Labonte '54 • Roger N. Perry Jr. '45 • Harlan B. Williams '50 • The WPIJoumal GSSN 0148-6128) 
is published quarterly for the WPI Alumni Association by the Office of University Relations. Second class postage paid at Worcester, MA, and additional mailing offices. 
Printed by The Lane Press, Burlington, Vt. Printed in the U.S.A. 

Diverse views presented in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or official WPI policies. We welcome letters to the editor. Address correspondence 
to the Editor, WPI Journal, WPI, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609-2280. Phone: (508) 831-5609, FAX: (508) 831-5604, Electronic mail (Internet): 
Postmaster: If undeliverable, please send form 3579 to the address above. Do not return publication. Entire contents ®1993, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. 


Globalization: The Next Big Wave 

By Ronald L. Zarrella 71 

It's difficult to pick up a busi- 
ness or economic journal 
these days without reading 
something about the manage- 
ment of global marketing, global 
technology, global manufacturing 
or global finance. Globalization 
has joined total quality manage- 
ment as one of the most written 
about and talked about subjects 
in American business and indus- 
try. And as with TQM, successful 
globalization of business activi- 
ties will be a fundamental ele- 
ment of competitive survival 
for the world's major industrial 
companies in the 1990s. 

To appreciate why this is so, 
one need only look at America's 
changing economic role in the 
world. In constant dollar terms, 
the world's economy, expressed 
as total Gross Domestic Product, 
was $2 trillion in 1970; 20 years later, it was 
$15.7 trillion. In 1970, the U.S. economy 
was $1 trillion, fully half of the world's 
Gross Domestic Product. By 1990 
it had dropped to a third of the world 
economy, or $5.4 trillion — still an enor- 
mous number, but with considerably less 
impact than it had two decades ago. 

What has happened to Japan, our larg- 
est economic competitor? In 1970 its $200 
billion economy made up 10 percent of 
world GDP. But by 1990, it had grown to 
$3.2 trillion, exceeding 20 percent of world 
GDP and doubling its economic influence. 
The world's third largest economy belongs 
to Germany. Somewhat surprisingly, its 
relative economic strength remained 
fairly constant over that same 20-year 
period, constituting around 10 percent 
of world GDP. 

Another measure of relative economic 
strength is exports. This has been an area 
of strength for the U.S., where exports 
grew from 4 percent of GDP in 1970 to over 
7 percent of GDP ($400 billion) in 1990. 
Japan's exports remained fairly constant at 
around 9 percent of GDP over that 20-year 
period (though they actually dropped from 
a high of 11 percent of GDP in 1980); they 
reached about $300 billion in 1990. Ger- 
many is the champion exporter, with 25 
percent of GDP ($410 million) in 1990. Of 
course, net exports paint a much different 
picture, with the U.S. running a significant 
negative balance of trade over the last 
decade, and Japan and Germany running 
large, positive balances. 

The last measure of relative economic 
strength I'd like to talk about is productiv- 
ity. If we use Gross Domestic Product per 

worker as our measure, the 
U.S. is still the most productive 
nation in the world. In 1990 we 
produced $50,000 of GDP for 
every worker, compared to 
$30,000 in Japan and only 
$15,000 in Germany. But our 
enormously productive farming 
industry and our large financial 
and retail institutions distort 
this measure in our favor. If we 
look just at manufacturing pro- 
ductivity, the Germans are 10 
percent more productive than 
we are and the Japanese are 20 
percent more productive. In fact, 
the Japanese rate of productivity 
improvement is three times what 
ours is per year, although that 
gap is narrowing. 

America is still the world's 
largest economic force and the 
world's largest market. We're an 
enormously productive people; we just 
don't have the dominance we had 20 years 
ago. We have to learn to play on equal 
terms with our economic competitors. 
We're no longer the only game in town. 
Many of us don't like that, but those of us 
who learn to do business in this new inter- 
national economic environment will be the 
winners of the next decade. 

Perhaps the most telling measure of 
industrial globalization is the percentage 
of revenue derived from outside the home 
country. For America's 100 largest indus- 
trial companies, the percentage of non- 
U.S. revenues grew from 14 percent in 
1970 to almost 40 percent in 1990. For 
Japan's largest companies, the percentage 
is 57 percent; for Germany's, it is 69 per- 
cent. Furthermore, for U.S. companies, 
those revenues have shifted from being 

SPRING 1993 

derived largely from exports to being de- 
rived largely from products manufactured 
outside the country. 

This last phenomenon is supported by 
a 15-fold increase in investment by U.S. 
companies manufacturing outside the U.S. 
In the same period, however, there has 
been a 30-fold increase in foreign manu- 
facturing investment in the U.S. Both mea- 
sures accelerated dramatically in the last 
half of the 1980s. 

Consider Bausch & Lomb. As late as 
1985, less than 20 percent of our revenues 
were derived from businesses outside the 
U.S. In 1992, 51 percent of our $1.8 billion 
in revenues came from outside the U.S. In 
1985, 7 percent of our profit was derived 
outside the U.S.; in 1992, more than 60 per- 
cent was. In 1985, more than 80 percent of 
our products sold outside the U.S. were 
exported from the U.S.; in 1992, 80 percent 
of our products sold outside the U.S. were 
made outside the U.S. 

This shift in the center of gravity of U.S. 
corporations has had significant implica- 
tions for the way those corporations are 
organized and operated and for the kind of 
people who operate them. "Think globally, 
act locally" is today's catch phrase for or- 
ganizational theory, but how to do that 
effectively is the subject of much debate 
and research. It is dependent on many fac- 
tors, like the uniformity of products, the 
nature and cost of technology develop- 
ment, the location of core competencies 
and, probably most important, the corpo- 
rate cultures involved. 

A few traditional models define both 
ends of the organizational spectrum. On 
one end, there is the "global company." In 
the global company, functions — finance, 
marketing, manufacturing, product devel- 
opment and so on — are managed on a 
worldwide basis. Sales is the only real local 
function. Communications are simple: they 
flow out from the center and back into the 
center. The decision chain is also simple, 
with all key strategic decisions being made 
at the center. Companies organize this way 
because it is efficient. 

Companies that have traditionally orga- 
nized globally are those that have a high 
technology content, that are very capital 
intensive, or that have strong global brand 
names. Japanese companies are typically 
organized globally, as are the giant U.S. 
pharmaceutical companies. Coca-Cola is 
organized globally. 

The other end of the organizational 
spectrum is the multinational. A multina- 
tional is organized around strong, indepen- 

dent, self-contained country units. The 
country general manager is the strongest 
executive in the corporation. Marketing, 
manufacturing, product development and 
finance are all done at the country level. 
The role of the corporate center is, simplis- 
tically, to collect the money and change 
the country management when there's no 
money to collect. 

Companies organize this way because it 
puts decisions closest to the customer and 
best meets the needs of the local market. 
Many of America's great consumer pack- 
aged-goods companies and food compa- 
nies are organized as multinationals. 
Unilever is a good example. 

Harvard Business School professors 
Christopher Bartlet and Sumantra Ghoshol 
have developed the concept of the "trans- 
national company," which they described 
in an important book called Managing 
Across Borders. In a transnational com- 
pany, there is no real home country men- 
tality. A transnational tries to achieve all 
the efficiency and synergy of a global com- 
pany, with all the local responsiveness of 
a multinational. The structure fits with the 
corporate culture, but in a transnational, 
structure is less important than the operat- 
ing mechanisms put into place to make the 
organization run. 

A transnational makes the best use of 
its core competencies regardless of where 
in the world they are located. In a trans- 
national, employees recognize that, while 
they are paid to perform a spe- 
cific job in a specific location, 
they are part of a global enter- 
prise. They have an obligation 
to learn from and contribute to 
that global enterprise, so they 
are better able to perform their 
specific jobs in their specific 
locations. The transnational 
creates an environment of 
continuous global learning. 
It creates a series of networks 
within the organization that do 
the work of the organization. 

Advances in communica- 
tions have made transnational 
companies possible; in fact, 
advanced communications are 
a critical requirement for them 
to work effectively. Today, 
relevant information is being 
made available on a real-time 
basis — and deeper into these 
organizations than ever before 
possible. Teleconferencing, 
videoconferencing and local- 

area networks interconnected on a world- 
wide basis are now being used widely, 
avoiding the need for large groups of 
people to jump on planes in order to meet 
face to face. 

Networks of functional managers have 
worldwide information available to them. 
Product managers have market research 
on new and existing products from a num- 
ber of different countries; marketing man- 
agers have competitive information avail- 
able on global competitors; financial man- 
agers can coordinate currency hedges in 
multiple locations to protect a corporate 
balance sheet line item. 

The strength of these communication 
technologies really comes into play in glo- 
bal product development. Television ad- 
vertisements for the Ford Escort trumpet 
it as the "world car." Parts of it are manu- 
factured and assembled in countries 
around the world, with final assembly in 
the U.S. At Bausch & Lomb, we've devel- 
oped similar "world products" by learning 
to meet local market needs from a com- 
mon technical platform. 

We make a product called Interplak. 
The electromechanical design for this 
home plaque-removal device is done in 
the U.S.; the ergonomic design is done 
in Japan. The batteries are supplied from 
Japan, the motors are built in the People's 
Republic of China, the charging base is 
made in Hong Kong, the precision-molded 
plastic pieces are manufactured in Atlanta, 

Bausch & Lomb's Interplak is a true world product, 
built from parts made around the world and modified 
to meet the needs of customers in 30 countries. 


the brush head is made in Ohio, and the 
final assembly is done in Mexico. 

To meet local, retail and consumer 
needs in 30 countries around the world, 
there are 50 variations of the same basic 
Interplak design. There are marketing man- 
agers, product design engineers, cost ana- 
lysts and manufacturing managers in nine 
locations, all of whom work on product 
development for these products. Design 
and specifications are computerized at the 
design locations and electronically trans- 
mitted to the manufacturing sites for the 
various parts and assemblies around the 
world. When it is necessary to change a 
specification, the worldwide file can be 
updated on a real-time basis. 

There is a network of 20 people who 
bring new products in this category to 
market, managing the process from idea 
generation to product launch. They meet 
face to face maybe twice per year. All the 
work gets done on an interconnected in- 
formation network with regular use of 
video conferencing. 

Here's another example. Ten years ago 
Bausch & Lomb's primary business was 
the manufacture of contact lenses, and 
that is still an important business for us 
today. The typical age profile of a contact 
lens wearer is 18 to 35. In the 35 to 40 age 
range, presbyopia starts to set in and a 
contact lens wearer needs bifocals. There 
really is no effective mass-market bifocal 
contact lens; the known technology simply 
doesn't work. As a result, a percentage of 
our market every year switches to wearing 
spectacle bifocals. 

The technology does exist to individu- 
ally manufacture a bifocal contact lens for 
a specific eye. On the surface, this is not a 
particularly interesting business for a com- 
pany that makes millions of contact lenses 
at very low cost. The many design param- 
eters that need to be taken into account in 
an individually manufactured bifocal con- 
tact lens result in hundreds of thousands 
of variations. 

But an engineer in Holland came up 
with a concept that could manufacture 
these individually designed lenses at a 
very low cost. A doctor in Europe or the 
Middle East could call an 800 number in 
Ireland and access a voice-activated pro- 
gram. He would then input the specific 
values for the design parameters, which 
he would have measured on his patient. 

The digitized information would be fed 
into a computer-controlled laser, a system 
developed by a U.S. company working in 
concert with engineers in the U.K., who, in 

Making contact lenses for people ages 
18 to 35 is an important part of Bausch 
& Lomb's business. A way of making 
individually designed bifocal contact 
lenses at a reasonable cost may open 
up the over 35 market for the company. 

turn, worked with scientists from the Uni- 
versity of Manchester. The laser would cut 
the digitized design into a special polymer; 
within a minute of the information being 
taken from the doctor, a finished bifocal 
lens would be in a package ready to be 
mailed for delivery within 48 hours. 

The production unit I've just described 
could manufacture up to 5,000 individually 
designed bifocal contact lenses a day at a 
cost well within the range of financial rea- 
sonableness. Four of these units, located 
strategically throughout the world, could 
supply worldwide market needs. 

The skills required to succeed in this 
kind of environment have definite implica- 
tions for scientific and engineering educa- 
tion. The hardware — the core science and 
engineering curricula and the way it is 
taught — is in place and is effective. Uni- 
versity-level education in science and 
engineering in this country is widely re- 
garded as the best in the world. The only 
criticism I have of the hardware is the lack 
of appropriate attention to the concepts 
and application of total quality manage- 
ment, although a groundswell is beginning 
to develop for additions to the curricula in 
this area. 

The software — the nonscience-based 
classroom work and the experience out- 
side the classroom — is a different matter. 
The fostering of acceptance and awareness 
of cultural diversity (further than that, the 
development of an intense, intellectual 

curiosity about cultural diversity) is a 
necessity in the educational program. But 
it is not really evident on college campuses 
today; in fact, the reverse seems to be true. 

There has to be a recognition that 
because something is different, it's not 
necessarily better or worse — it's simply 
different. This skill doesn't come as natu- 
rally to us as it does to Europeans, nor do 
we work as hard at it as the Japanese. A 
Japanese company wouldn't think of send- 
ing executives to America to negotiate a 
business deal if they didn't speak English. 
Nor would those executives ask to have 
dinner at a sushi bar if they were with their 
American counterparts. 

Yet American language capability is 
notoriously bad. We too often try to sell 
products designed only for U.S. markets, 
and we try to force our values and life- 
styles onto our international counterparts. 

There are many ways a college or uni- 
versity can encourage cultural diversity 
and perspective: language studies, specific 
cultural studies, increasing the number of 
foreign students, hiring international schol- 
ars, serving international food and creating 
diverse cultural support systems. All of 
these can work with the support and com- 
mitment of the leadership and the faculty. 

WPI is uniquely positioned to provide 
national leadership in global science and 
engineering education. I was a senior when 
the faculty approved the WPI Plan. The 
guiding objective of the Plan is simple: 
to educate humane technologists. 

By pursuing that objective, WPI has 
already put in place most of what is 
needed to create successful global tech- 
nologists, including the requirement that 
students work on cross-functional teams 
to solve problems; the requirement that 
they supplement scientific studies with 
studies in the humanities and social sci- 
ence, including, for many, work at global 
project centers; and the courses and 
projects that give them the ability to 
work on real problems in different cul- 
tural environments. 

The Plan puts WPI on the leading edge 
of the wave. And I firmly believe it will be 
a very big wave. 

Zarrella is president of Bausch & Lomb Inc., 
a leading worldwide manufacturer of health- 
care and optics products. This essay was 
adapted from Zarrella's address to the WPI 
Workshop on Internationalizing Science and 
Engineering Education held in Waterville 
Valley, N.H., in October 1992. 

Spring 1993 




in Tkei^ Hand 


By Diane Benison 

hrough WPI's Global Perspective Program, 
students have traveled the world to complete 
professional-level projects. The program 
is also building a growing base of globalization 
programs and curricula here on campus. 
The goal is to help students better understand 
their roles as working professionals and citizens 
on an ever shrinking world. 

Marshall McLuhan's 1967 book, 
The Medium is the Message, became 
famous for its observation that, 
._./ electronic interdependence recre- 
ates the world in the image of a global vil- 
lage." That easy to grasp word-picture had 
a vividness that resonated instantly for his 
readers. But more than two decades ago, 
the interdependence McLuhan described 
was still an abstraction for most people. 

Today, the global village no longer refers 
merely to the real-time connection of people 
via phone, fax, modem and satellite. Now, 
human society around the world is being 
transformed by the melding of hundreds 
of national economies into a single world 
market (see Input, page 2). 

Volumes have been written about the 
globalization of business, technology, man- 
ufacturing and finance. In 1992, Business 
Week marshaled the efforts of nearly 200 
reporters, editors and other staffers to pro- 
duce a special issue on the global economy 
and its impact on the United States. If the 
U.S. is to retain its vitality as a nation and 
a world-class economy, the editors con- 
cluded, new ways of thinking and acting 
are needed. 

Part of the responsibility for changing 
our ways of thinking and acting will fall to 
educators. From elementary school to 
graduate school, educational institutions 
are grappling with the need to develop cur- 
riculums and classroom experiences that 
prepare students to function effectively in 
a future that promises greater contact be- 
tween cultures and more diversity in all 
aspects of life. 

Those young men and women will find 
a world waiting for their skills. A recent sur- 
vey by McKinsey & Co. found that most 
corporate CEOs recognize the increasing 
importance of international markets to the 
success of their companies. These firms will 
be looking for employees with the experi- 
ence, skills and cultural awareness to help 
them succeed internationally. 

That means being able to design and 
build products that will sell in diverse mar- 
kets around the world and to work effec- 
tively with fellow employees, consultants 
and customers who live in other nations. 
And it may well mean being ready to relo- 
cate to corporate offices, divisions and sub- 
sidiaries outside the U.S. In short, it means 
that the professionals of tomorrow must be 

WPI Students 
Travel the Globe 

WPI currently operates project centers, 
project programs and exchange pro- 
grams in 15 countries on four conti- 
nents; new programs are added 
frequently. Project centers are staffed 
by full-time WPI faculty members 
throughout the seven-week periods 
that students are in residence. 

While project programs do not have 
resident WPI faculty advisors, the Insti- 
tute hires local advisors and coordina- 
tors to work with students. On-campus 
advisors often visit project programs 
briefly while students are on site. 

Some project programs, such as 
the one in Ireland, are conducted in 
conjunction with universities with which 
WPI maintains exchange programs. 
Students may also do traditional year- 
or semester-long exchanges with these 
universities, taking courses in English 
or in the language of the host country. 
Some students complete a project 
during their exchange. 

1 Worcester Polytechnic Institute 

2 Washington, D.C., Project Center 

3 Ecole Polytechnique Exchange, 
Montreal, Canada 

4 San Francisco Project Center 

more than competent engineers, scientists 
and managers. They must be true citizens 
of the world. 

Worcester Polytechnic Institute has 
been on the cutting edge of the 
globalization of technological edu- 
cation for two decades. Among experts 
familiar with WPI and with science and engi- 
neering education in the United States, the 
Institute is considered the national leader. 

In 1992, Maurice Harari, a nationally 
known leader in international education, 
was asked to evaluate the Institute's global 
programs. Harari, dean emeritus at the 
Center for International Education, Califor- 
nia State University at Long Beach, deliv- 

ered his report in January. "I have no hesita- 
tion in asserting that WPI is way above the 
national average for its type of institution in 
terms of what it has already accomplished 
in the field of global education," he wrote. 

"The flexibility and innovative character 
of its curriculum through the IQP, MQP, and 
Humanities Sufficiency, and the flexible WPI 
calendar arrangements, have contributed 
greatly to the achievements of WPI to date. 
Yet, its potential in global education is con- 
siderable and because of its rather unique 
institutional character and high quality, 
WPI is very well-positioned to aspire to a 
national and international leadership role 
in higher education. Its interest and experi- 
ence in working at the intersection of 

Spring 1993 

c ^b 






5 Puerto Rico Project Center 

6 Ecuador Project Center 

7 University of Limerick Exchange, 
Limerick, Ireland 

8 London Project Center 

9 Ecole des Mines and 

The University Marne-La-Vallee Exchange, 
Paris, France 

10 Catholic University Exchange, 
Leuven, Belgium 

11 Technical University of Darmstadt Exchange, 
Darmstadt, Germany 


12 Technical College of Munich Exchange, 
Munich, Germany 

13 Federal Technical University Exchange, 
Zurich, Switzerland 

14 Venice Project Center 

15 Moscow Institute of Engineering Physics Exchange, 
Moscow, Russia 

16 Royal Institute of Technology Exchange, 
Stockholm, Sweden 

17 Bangkok Project Center 

18 Hong Kong Project Center 

19 Taipei Project Program 



technology, the sciences and social issues, 
represent a sound and invaluable base for 
yet another quantum leap forward in qual- 
ity, service, innovation and international 

WPI's leadership can be measured in sev- 
eral ways. For example, a recent Institute of 
International Education survey of study- 
abroad programs at colleges and universi- 
ties, found that about 71,000 students en- 
rolled in accredited U.S. institutions studied 
overseas in 1989-90. Of that number, only 
1.3 percent were engineering majors. During 
that same period, 1 1 1 WPI students com- 
pleted project work abroad. Among those 
1 1 1 students were 86 engineering majors. 
They represented nearly 10 percent of all 

U.S. engineering students who studied over- 
seas that year. 

Currently, about a third of all WPI under- 
graduates participate in an off-campus aca- 
demic experience by the time they graduate. 
The Institute's strategic plan calls for in- 
creasing that to half of all undergraduates 
by 1995. "I don't think that's an unrealistic 
goal," says Susan Vernon-Gerstenfeld, ad- 
junct associate professor of interdiscipli- 
nary studies. "So far, the quality of the 
students who participate has been quite 
high. This is a selective program, but we're 
not just taking the superstars. We're also 
taking the steady, hard workers who show 
real promise. 

"This is not a junior year abroad pro- 

gram of the kind that are common at liberal 
arts colleges. It is also not an internship. 
These students are not pouring coffee and 
running errands. They're working on ap- 
plied research that is substantive and im- 
portant to the sponsoring organizations. 
And, those organizations use the results of 
the students' work; I think that's a critical 
thing to understand." 

The Institute laid the groundwork for 
national leadership in global educa- 
tion when it created the WPI Plan in 
the early 1970s. Two elements of the Plan 
have been key to the evolution of the 
Institute's global program. The first is the 
Interactive Qualifying Project GQP)- One of 

WPI Journal 

Hossein Hakim, left, and Lance Schachterle have played pivotal roles in launching 
and sustaining WPI's Global Perspective Program. Schachterle helped establish the 
Institute's first overseas academic endeavors. Hakim helped start the Center for 
International Studies and is now WPI's Global Program Officer. 

three projects required of all undergradu- 
ates, the 1QP requires students to look at the 
intersection of science, technology and soci- 
ety. The second critical element is an aca- 
demic calendar based on seven-week terms. 
Lance Schachterle, associate dean of un- 
dergraduate studies and chairman of the 
Interdisciplinary Studies Division, says 
WPI's globalization efforts occurred as a 
natural, though unanticipated, outgrowth 
of the Plan. "When the Plan shifted the focus 
of learning at WPI from a traditional pure 
course work approach to a project-based 
model, the integration of learning into real- 
world experiences became the basis for 
earning an undergraduate degree," he says. 
"It occurred first to the faculty and then 
to the students that the IQP offered us an 
opportunity unavailable at all other univer- 
sities. Students have to complete this de- 
gree requirement in any case; why couldn't 
they carry it out beyond the bounds of the 
campus? In fact, there seemed no reason 
why this requirement couldn't be met any- 
where in the world. It made a lot of sense 
for students who were looking for an 
opportunity to gain international experience 
within their four years to do so through a 
project abroad, rather than through an extra 
summer or semester." 

Making that idea even more attractive 
was WPI's seven-week term system. In seven 
weeks, a student can do significant project 
work off campus without losing ground in 
meeting the rigorous and extensive course 
requirements typical of colleges of engineer- 
ing and science. The semester system com- 
mon at other engineering and science 
institutions can pose more of a barrier, 
Schachterle says. 

Schachterle, who joined WPI in 1970 to 
teach modern British literature, played a 
pivotal role in launching the Institute's 
globalization program more than two de- 
cades ago. Though he had done his doc- 
toral dissertation on Charles Dickens, 
Schachterle had never been to England. 
When he made plans to travel there in the 
summer of 1971, WPI, which had made con- 
tact with a university in London, asked him 
to help pursue an exchange program with 
that institution. 

"That led directly to the first WPI stu- 
dents carrying out any kind of academic 
work overseas," he says. In addition to the 
London exchange, an exchange program 
was also established in Zurich during the 
1973-74 academic year. The first overseas 
IQPs were completed through these pro- 
grams. The Institute's first resident project 
center was founded in Washington, D.C., 
in 1974; a project program was launched 
in San Francisco a few years later. 


Spring 1993 

Studying Culture and Computers in Switzerland 


I hange is inevitable in a progressive 
1 society. Change is constant." Ben- 
^^ jamin Disraeli was referring to the 
society of 1860s Britain when he wrote 
those words, but most leaders in our 
technological society would agree they 
seem more true today. 

Paul M. Szymkiewicz '93 and Steven P. 
Vassallo '93 spent their junior year as ex- 
change students in Switzerland, where 
they took courses and completed an In- 
teractive Qualifying Project titled "The 
Cultural Implications of Computerization 
in Swiss Banking." The students' project 
explored the reciprocal relationship be- 
tween culture and the implementation 
of new technology. 

Through personal interviews and a 
survey (both completed in German), as 
well as personal observations, the stu- 
dents analyzed the impact of culture and 
technology on the organizational and 
work processes within Swiss banks. Rob- 
ert E. Kinicki, associate professor and 
head of the Computer Science Depart- 
ment, and Lyle E. Wimmergren, associate 
professor of management, were the 
project advisors. 

While in Switzerland, Szymkiewicz 
studied computer science at the Engi- 
neering School HTL in Brugge-Windisch; 
Vassallo studied mechanical engineering 
at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technol- 
ogy in Zurich. 

Vassallo prepared for the exchange by 
completing a six-course Humanities Suffi- 
ciency (the equivalent of a humanities mi- 
nor) in German at WPI. He then continued 
his studies in Germany for two months 
before traveling to Zurich in August 1991. 
Szymkiewicz emigrated with his family 
from Warsaw to West Germany in 1986 
and completed high school there. The 
family moved to Worcester in 1989. 

The idea for the IQP came from 
Kinicki, who spent a year as a visiting pro- 
fessor at the Business School in St. Gallen, 
Switzerland. He observed that the Swiss 
were still in the process of scrambling to 
implement information technology in 
their everyday lives, and that the diffi- 

Paul Szymkiewicz, left, and Steven Vassallo pose before the backdrop of the Swiss 
Alps. The students completed an IQP that looked at how Switzerland's unique 
culture affects the way people react to new computer technology. 

culties seemed rooted in Swiss culture. 

"We recognized that introducing new 
technology into an organization can affect 
the values, norms and assumptions of the 
members," says Vassallo. "We were aware 
that because Switzerland has been geo- 
graphically, economically and, perhaps, 
emotionally isolated, the country has tradi- 
tions and a culture all its own." 

"We knew that Swiss banks were some of 
the most technologically advanced in the 
world," adds Szymkiewicz. "But we hypoth- 
esized that, because of workers' cultural re- 
sistance to change and the inherent differ- 
ences between banking and computer sub- 
cultures, the Swiss might have been reluc- 
tant to accept the new computer technology. 
We called this phenomenon 'cultural inertia.' " 

The students created a survey geared to 
the average Swiss citizen; additional ques- 
tions were added for those who interact 
with computers and banking as profession- 
als. They found that younger respondents 
were most likely to recognize the need for 

technological change. Nonetheless, re- 
gardless of the bankers' ages, efficiency 
triumphed over tradition and technol- 
ogy was accepted. 

But just as important as the project's 
ultimate outcome, was the profound im- 
pact it had on its two designers, Vassallo 
says. "As exchange students in Zurich, 
we had an incredible opportunity to gen- 
tly open a very closed culture and have 
a look inside. Most impressive, however, 
was not what we saw, but rather how 
we now see." 

"As Americans, as engineers, as stu- 
dents—most generally speaking, as hu- 
mans — we see the world in a certain 
way," adds Szymkiewicz. "We evaluate 
the world without ever evaluating the 
lens through which we are looking. It is 
only when we leave behind our old per- 
ceptions and try looking through a dif- 
ferent lens that we really make a shift in 
the way we see the world." 

—Bonne Gelbwasser 

WPI Journal 

Ireland became a regular destination 
for student project teams in 1983 and the 
first overseas project center, in London, was 
inaugurated in 1987. More recently, project 
programs have been established in Venice 
and Bangkok (1988), Hong Kong (1989), 
Taipei (1990), Puerto Rico (1991) and Ecua- 
dor (1992). Today about 200 students each 
year work at project centers and programs 
in 18 locations in Europe, Asia, North 
America and Latin America (see map, 
pages 6 and 7). 

The international projects program fed 
on its own success, and succeeding years 
saw a growing demand among students for 
overseas project opportunities. At the same 

time, there was a groundswell of interest in 
cross-cultural issues among the faculty and 
administration. In 1988, that interest culmi- 
nated in the creation of the Center for Inter- 
national Studies on campus. The center 
sought to expand opportunities for inter- 
national studies at WPI by arranging study 
groups and lectures, organizing tours 
abroad, and encouraging faculty to develop 
and advise on-campus projects with an 
international orientation. Hossein Hakim, 
associate professor of electrical engineer- 
ing, led the efforts to establish that center. 

"Historically, international education has 
meant study abroad," he says. "We now real- 
ize that, at least for the U.S., study abroad 

is not just a route to understanding people 
in other countries. It is also a way of under- 
standing and learning to cooperate with 
other Americans who have come from other 
parts of the world — people like myself." 

An Iranian native who is now a natural- 
ized U.S. citizen, Hakim had long believed 
in the benefits of globalizing education. He 
says he saw the center as one more way to 
encourage a world perspective at WPI. But 
he says he and others at WPI didn't feel it 
was enough. They believed that interna- 
tional issues and cross-cultural perspectives 
needed to be interwoven into on-campus 
courses and activities, as well. 

By 1990 it was clear that WPI had the in- 
terest and the capacity to take the next step 
on the road to global education by making 
a concerted effort to make global issues an 
integral part of all aspects of a WPI educa- 
tion. Hakim, Schachterle and several other 
faculty members and administrators per- 
suaded the Institute to establish the Global 
Perspective Program. The program was 
launched in 1991 with Hakim assuming 
the additional responsibilities of Global 
Program Officer. 

"The goal of the program is to extend 
WPI's commitment to global education far 
beyond the international exchange and 
project programs," Hakim says. "It calls for 
globalizing all aspects of WPI programs — 
on campus and off — by incorporating global 
perspectives throughout every discipline 
on campus, as well as within nonacademic 

By 1991, when the Global Perspective 
Program was started, WPI had a 
small cadre of faculty members and 
administrators who were dedicated to the 
globalization of engineering and science 
education. To help spread the word and 
build enthusiasm among the rest of the WPI 
community, Hakim organized an off-campus 
workshop on internationalizing science and 
engineering education in October 1992. 
Forty-five faculty members, administrators, 
trustees and friends attended the weekend 
seminar in Waterville Valley, N.H. 

An additional seminar was held on 
campus in February 1993. Both meetings 
examined the changing nature of national 
economies, the history and present state 
of "internationalization" in higher education, 
and most important, the history and future 

Professor John Zeugner, left, and 
Phanjar Ngamtrakulpanit '93 of 
Thailand look over a map of South- 
east Asia. Zeugner, who directs 
WPI's project programs in Asia, 
helped get the first Asian program 
started in Bangkok, Thailand, in 1988. 

Breaking Down Barriers in Russia 

In August 1992, Ronald Passerini '94, 
a computer science major, turned a 
nearly lifelong affection for all things 
Russian into a four-month exchange in 
the former Soviet Union. He was the first 
WPI student to fulfill some of his degree 
requirements in Russia; he was also the 
first foreigner to study at the Moscow 
Engineering Physics Institute (MIFT), a 
prestigious, 3,500-student university. 
Until recently, the institution was closed 
to outsiders because its curriculum fo- 
cused on fields of special interest to the 
government, including atomic power 
and space research. 

"My interest in Russian history, lan- 
guage and literature started when 1 was 
about 6 and became close friends with 
a boy whose family had emigrated from 
Russia," Passerini says. "I became close 
to his family, who invited me to share 
many of their traditions and celebrations." 
Passerini studied Russian for four years at 
Austin Preparatory School in Reading, 
Mass., and another three years at Holy 
Cross College after enrolling at WPI. 

Valentin Boriakoff, associate professor 
of electrical and computer engineering, 
was Passerini's faculty advisor. Boriakoff, 
who was born and educated in Argentina 
but maintains close ties to Russia, his 
parents' homeland, traveled to Moscow 
during the summers of 1991 and 1992 to 
set up the exchange. 

"Interest in computer science in Rus- 
sia is very high," Passerini says. "Unfortu- 
nately, there aren't that many computers 
available. About 10 years ago Russia 
stopped producing computers and now it 
is difficult to buy them from the West be- 
cause of the exchange rate." 

In his IQP, titled "From the Abacus 
Bead to the Photon: A History of Com- 
puter Technology in Russia," Passerini in- 

Back from a four-month exchange in Russia, Ronald Passerini, right, reviews 
his experiences with his faculty advisor, Professor Valentin Boriakoff. 

vestigated the causes of the decline in the 
use of computers. "He determined that a 
wrong government decision derailed a cred- 
itable native computer industry," Boriakoff 
says. "MIFI faculty were interested in his 
project because they are studying the same 
problem. Ron researched aspects of Russian 
computing history completely unknown in 
the West. 

"Because Ron has made such a fine im- 
pression on the people he worked with, we 
expect to offer more WPI students opportu- 
nities to study and complete IQPs and MQPs 
in Russia in the future. Ten students have al- 
ready expressed interest in these projects." 

In addition to his IQP work, Passerini 
took two courses in Russian. "When I first 
got to Moscow I thought, Tm 5,000 miles 
from home, I don't know anyone, and I'm not 
fluent enough in the language to get through 
this.' But everything worked out fine." 

An unexpected opportunity presented 
itself to Passerini during his Russian visit. 
"One day I was feeling homesick and crav- 
ing American food, so I walked downtown 
to the Pizza Hut on Tverskaya Street," he 
says. "I was wearing a WPI sweatshirt and 
when I took off my jacket, a guy sitting 
across from me jumped up and said, 'I 
don't believe it. I graduated from WPI 
in 1963!'" 

It was Harold Taylor, manager of inter- 
national programs for United Technolo- 
gies Corp., who travels frequently 
between Moscow and company head- 
quarters in Windsor Locks, Conn. "We 
became friends and he invited me to 
send him my resume before I graduate," 
Passerini says.'Td love to work there for 
a few years, but not forever. America will 
always be home." 

—Bonnie Gelbwasser 

of WPl's own Global Perspective Program. 

The program has also gained momentum 
through a two-year, $123,000 grant from the 
U.S. Department of Education. Hakim is us- 
ing the grant in a variety of ways to further 
the infusion of globalization at WPI. Some 
of the money is helping faculty members 
revise course content and further their 
development and interest in globalization. 

One of those faculty members is Karen 

Ruhleder, assistant professor of manage- 
ment, whose research focuses on manage- 
ment information systems, social and 
organizational aspects of computing, and 
computer-supported cooperative and col- 
laborative work. Ruhleder is developing a 
teaching case study based on the formal 
unification of the East and West German 

Although Berlin is once again the seat of 

government for the unified Germany, some 
critical work is still done in Bonn. The two 
cities will be connected with modern infor- 
mation and communication technologies, 
Ruhleder says. She will investigate a govern- 
ment-sponsored project called POLIKOM, "a 
multiphase, multiparty effort to design and 
implement the technological and organiza- 
tional changes required to support work 
across such physical distance," she says. 

WPI Journal 


Probing Environmental Issues in Ecuador 

In December 1992, John P. Coyle '94, 
Daniel R. Dibiase '95 and James A. 
Watson '94 comprised one of two 
project teams that inaugurated WPI's new 
project center in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The 
students completed an Interactive Quali- 
fying Project that has already had an im- 
pact on the future of the center and WPI's 
work with ESPOL, a technological univer- 
sity in Guayaquil. 

The students first prioritized 
Ecuador's major environmental issues 

and developed a plan for future projects 
by WPI students. They next analyzed the 
environmental and socioeconomic impacts 
of the new Esmeraldas-Santo Domingo 
Poliduct, a 160-kilometer pipeline that 
transports oil and gas to Ecuador's coastal 
region. They determined that the country's 
poliducts have had negative consequences, 
including land scarring, erosion, and dam- 
age to vegetation and wildlife caused by 
leaks or ruptures in the pipeline. 

"The good news," they note, "is that 

because of heightened social 
concerns about the poliducts 
in recent years, the Ecua- 
doran government has felt 
pressure to enforce environ- 
mental protection laws. While 
the laws can sometimes be 
contradictory, they can ulti- 
mately be used effectively 
to reduce the impact of the 

An Ecuadoran student 
(center, without shirt) 
poses with, clockwise from 
left, John Coyle '94, Joshua 
Dobbelaar '94 and Daniel 
Dibiase '95. In late 1992, 
Coyle, Dobbelaar and 
Dibiase were part of the 
first group of WPI students 
to complete projects at the 
new Ecuador Project Center. 

James E. Rollings, associate professor 
of chemical engineering, served as the first 
director of the Ecuador center. He is also di- 
rector of the Latin American Project Pro- 
grams at WPI and a WK. Kellogg National 
Leadership Fellow. Along with Guillermo 
Salazar, associate professor of civil engineer- 
ing, and Daniel Tapia Falconi, co-project 
director at ESPOL, Rollings served as advi- 
sor for this initial project. 

"It was important for the students to 
see the relationship between technology 
and society," Rollings says. "By looking at 
one example — the new poliduct — they could 
see the interrelationships that develop with 
other sectors of society. The insights they 
gained enabled them to identify six areas 
of environmental concern specifically re- 
lated to the poliduct: the impact of the oil 
industry on the Amazon River, reforest- 
ation, low-technology projects, the pollu- 
tion of the Guayas River, the impact of the 
mining industry, and ecotourism. These 
will be considered as potential topics for 
future IQPs." 

Francis C. Lutz, dean of undergraduate 
studies at WPI, Carlos Becerra, ESPOL's vice 
rector, Frederick L. Hart, associate professor 
of civil engineering at WPI, and Salazar have 
applied for funding to promote the ex- 
change of faculty between the two institu- 
tions and to initiate the development of joint 
research by establishing a database system 
to be used in identifying and addressing 

"The participants see POLIKOM as a testbed 
for other members of the European Commu- 
nity and for international corporations." 

Ruhleder says she believes a case study 
based on POLIKOM can be used in courses 
in management information systems, tele- 
communications, international business and 
public policy. "To consider non-U. S. scena- 
rios, students must relinquish their ideas 
and expectations about how things work 
and refine their own understanding of the 
cultural factors that contribute to organiza- 
tional decision-making and the mobilization 
of support for potentially controversial 
projects," she says. 

"She's going to learn something that will 
help in her research," Hakim says, "but her 
experiences will also help her revise her 

courses on management information sys- 
tems. She'll bring something back to the col- 
lege that will help students." Hakim says he 
is using the Education Department grant in 
a similar manner to help other faculty mem- 
bers infuse global issues into many other 
areas of the WPI curriculum. 

Hakim is also using the grant to provide 
seed funding for international student pro- 
gramming, cultural festivals and similar ac- 
tivities. The grant also brought SCOLA 
(Satellite Communications for Learning) to 
campus. SCOLA delivers TV news from more 
than 30 countries in 20 languages to televi- 
sion sets across campus, providing a non- 
U.S. view of world events and allowing 
students to hear other languages spoken 
by native speakers. 

And, the grant is being used to support 
the WPI-Worcester Public Schools Alliance 
for Global Education. Through the alliance, 
WPI faculty are working with public school 
teachers to develop a global education 
program for grades K through 8. 

Hakim recently completed a cost analy- 
sis of the Global Perspective Program. "The 
results were quite interesting," he says. 
"One might think that maintaining programs 
at 18 sites around the world would require a 
huge investment. But the analysis indicated 
that the academic work done off campus 
would actually cost more if it were done 
on campus." 

Hakim says there are several reasons 
for this. One is the support the program re- 
ceives from alumni and friends around the 


Spring 1993 

James Watson '94 stands beneath a section of the 160-kilometer Esmeraldas- 
Santo Domingo Poliduct, an oil and gas pipeline in Ecuador. Watson, Coyle and 
Dibiase looked at the potential environmental impacts of the poliduct. 

environmental issues for the Guayaquil region. 
The proposed research includes a provi- 
sion for an ESPOL faculty member to spend 
two years at WPI studying for a master's 
degree; the plan of study would include 
courses in environmental engineering, con- 
struction management and computer infor- 
mation systems. "The faculty member 
would also work with a WPI research assis- 
tant on the database project, lecture and 
assist with our ongoing projects at the 

Ecuador Project Center," Salazar says. 
"The database we propose will help 
us address issues that relate to the pollu- 
tion of the Guayas River," he says. "The 
students' work complements what we 
are proposing. They did a first-class job 
of organizing and classifying areas for 
major future research and have given us 
a strong foundation upon which to build 
this and future proposals." 

—Bonnie Gelbwasser 

world, all of whom volunteer their services. 
Another is that, for the most part students 
pay their own transportation and housing 
costs when they travel overseas. (WPI sub- 
sidizes housing costs in Washington, D.C., 
where living expenses are quite high, and 
some students receive additional financial 
aid when they are abroad to partially offset 
their expenses.) 

Some economies result from the fact 
that the average size of an overseas project 
team is three students, versus two students 
for a typical IQP team on campus. In addi- 
tion, resident faculty advisors at project 
centers work with an average of 15 students 
at a time, a project advising load that would 
be difficult to handle back on campus. And, 
since one-third of students who go abroad 

to do projects do so during the summer, 
when they must pay additional summer- 
session tuition, the program actually brings 
in extra revenue for the college. 

"Although the financial analysis of the 
program looks quite positive," Hakim says, 
"we should not limit our analysis to cost 
comparisons. There's no way to put a dollar 
value on what the experience does for WPI's 
graduates. In letters and conversations, 
alumni have told me and other faculty mem- 
bers how their experiences abroad have 
given them a competitive edge in their jobs. 
We plan to do a survey of alumni this sum- 
mer to better understand this impact. 

"It's also difficult to quantify the value 
of diversity. If you want a more diverse 
campus, you have to have people who think 

differently. I think the Global Perspective 
Program helps create a more tolerant envi- 
ronment on campus. And, it's also difficult 
to measure the important role the program 
plays in attracting — and retaining — students, 
something not to be overlooked in the 
fiercely competitive environment for higher 
education today. 

"Many of our competitors look at their 
global programs as a way to make them- 
selves more attractive to students. There is 
a growing interest among students in such 
programs, and these schools are increasing 
their investments in them. We must be care- 
ful not to lose our lead." 

As he looks to the future of the Global 
Perspective Program, Schachterle says he is 
pleased that several faculty members are ex- 
panding the global projects program beyond 
the IQP by developing programs through 
which students will complete their Major 
Qualifying Projects — the capstone project in 
a student's major field of study — in England, 
Germany and several other countries. Op- 
portunities are also growing for completing 
cooperative education abroad, he says, and 
the globalization program may well play a 
significant role in the development of the 
Institute's graduate programs and research 

Earlier this year, the faculty voted to 
modify the humanities requirements to en- 
able students to cap their humanities 
course work with a full term of project work 
abroad. "This is a wonderful chance for WPI 
students to study theater in London, for ex- 
ample, or the arts in Venice," he says. 

"Through initiatives like these, WPI is 
poised to achieve the role of national leader 
in global education within the community of 
engineering and science institutions. Com- 
panies that need technically able profession- 
als who can live and work effectively in 
cultures new to them increasingly will look 
to WPI graduates to fill that need, because 
our students, among all graduates of engi- 
neering and science colleges and universi- 
ties, will be uniquely qualified to help their 
employers compete successfully in the 
global village." 

Faculty members who have advised 
[QPs abroad or helped launch over- 
seas project programs and centers 
recount similar tales about what can some- 
times be a difficult process. All say one must 
first educate potential sponsors about the 
WPI project orientation and its seven-week 
terms and then convince them that WPI 
undergraduates can indeed function as 
professional consultants. 

Veterans of the process, like Schachterle, 

WPI Journal 


From left, Mary A. Burke '93 and Matthew R. Boutell '93 discuss their Interactive 
Qualifying Project with Susan Vernon-Gerstenfeld, director of the Puerto Rico and 
Washington, D.C., project centers. Working for the Conditio de Diseno y Technologia 
in Puerto Rico, Burke and Boutell developed strategies to help Puerto Rican apparel 
manufacturers market their products in the U.S. 

Vernon-Gerstenfeld and history professor 
John Zeugner say foreign-born alumni have 
often lent their reputations and support to 
help WPI gain a toehold in their home coun- 
tries. Once the college, with the help of 
these graduates, has laid the groundwork 
with an inaugural student project, other pro- 
spective project sponsors are often signifi- 
cantly more receptive to the idea of working 
with WPl's undergraduates. 

Zeugner is director of the International 
Scholars Program and the Asian Projects 
Program. The International Scholar designa- 
tion is a special notation on a graduate's di- 
ploma and academic record indicating he or 
she has completed a Humanities Sufficiency 
involving a foreign language or culture, and 
either completed an IQP or MQP at a foreign 
project site or spent at least a half year as 

an exchange student at a foreign university. 
Twenty-four graduates have earned the des- 
ignation since the program was started in 
1989; 19 candidates are enrolled in the 
Class of 1994. 

Zeugner taught in Japan for four years, 
first as a Fulbright Senior Lecturer between 
1976 and 1978, then as a visiting professor 
of American culture in Tokyo between 1981 
and 1983. Next year he will return to Japan 
as the Bryan Drake Guest Professor at Kobe 
University. He has also lectured in Manilla, 
Bangkok and Taipei for the United States 
Information Agency. At WPI, it's his job to 
make sure the college has projects in Asia, 
and that students have housing, on-site ad- 
visors, WPI advisors, and any other assis- 
tance and guidance they need. 

His story about launching the first pro- 

ject in Thailand illustrates the role cultural 
differences can play in the process. "WPI has 
a lot of good contacts in Asia," he says, attri- 
buting many of them to Yi Hua Ma, professor 
of chemical engineering, Roy A. Seaberg Jr., 
director of special admissions, and WPI's 
active network of alumni in Thailand. "Mak- 
ing initial contacts was relatively easy. But 
Thais prefer face-to-face contact for con- 
ducting new business, and that meant the 
usual WPI preparation process had to be 
altered as the first Thai project was getting 

"Normally, the preparatory work in- 
cludes doing background stuff on the coun- 
try and its culture, completing a preliminary 
bibliographic assessment for the project, 
and writing a full project proposal that is 
sent to the sponsor. The sponsor reacts to 
the proposal and gives you feedback before 
you arrive, so everybody agrees what 
they're doing." 

To ensure a successful start in Thailand, 
Zeugner traveled there with the first team 
of students to get them set up, to make sure 
the sponsor and the team had the same un- 
derstanding of the project's goals, and to be 
sure the sponsor was comfortable working 
with undergraduates. 

"The biggest hurdle we have in Asia is 
similar to the hurdle we face in London," he 
says. "There is a profound cultural assump- 
tion that undergraduates are children and 
not suitable for any kind of serious intellec- 
tual endeavor or rigorous academic inquiry. 
In London and in Bangkok, the assumption 
is that they're just not mature, that they can- 
not do serious, competent work. These are 
societies that value age. 

"It's important for our undergraduates 
to learn things and be taken care of, but 
when we go to Bangkok and say, 'our stu- 
dents can perform work and do analysis for 
you that you will find helpful,' it's like me 
saying to an American, 'I've got these fourth- 
graders who will help you.'" 

To overcome this cultural bias, WPI has 
allied itself with universities where the fac- 
ulty believe undergraduates — especially 
WPI students — can do useful work. Another 
strategy WPI employs in countries where 
the cultural imperative works against taking 
undergraduates seriously, is to do the first 
projects with nonprofit organizations, as 
they are usually quite receptive to the idea 
of free help. 

"In Taipei, for example," Zeugner says, 
"I could get 100 projects in the area of tech- 
nology to assist disabled children. In fact, 
we've had a wonderful series of projects 


Spring 1993 

Improving Commercial 
Fishing Safety in Washington 

Being a commercial fisherman 
involves more than just casting a 
line or hauling in a net full of cod. 
Studies indicate that many boats are un- 
safe and crew members often unprepared 
to deal with the complexities of trawling 
for seafood. 

One of the U.S. Coast Guard's main re- 
sponsibilities is maritime safety. The pas- 
sage of the Commercial Fishing Industry 
Vessel Safety Act of 1988 established a 
comprehensive set of safety regulations 
for the industry and gave the Coast Guard 
the authority to enforce them. The prob- 
lem is that there is no effective, cost-effi- 
cient way to reach owners of vessels to 
inform them of the regulations, making 
enforcement a hit-or-miss proposition. 

Trevor G. Hebert '94, Shannon M. 
Willems '94 and Stephen J. Lanczycki '94 
worked at Coast Guard Headquarters dur- 
ing a seven-week stay at WPl's Washing- 
ton, D.C., Project Center in 1992. While 

there, they created a database that will 
enable the Coast Guard to provide detailed 
demographic information on the owners of 
state-numbered commercial fishing vessels, 
which represent 76 percent of the commer- 
cial fishing fleet. 

The students also created The Commer- 
cial Fishing Safety Communication Manual. It 
includes detailed descriptions of how Coast 
Guard personnel can obtain a list of state- 
numbered commercial fishing vessel owners 
from the 30 coastal and Great Lakes states. 
It provides the name and address of the per- 
son or office in each state to whom inquiries 
should be sent, the name and address of 
each state's boating law administrator, the 
cost of obtaining the information, the num- 
ber of state-numbered commercial fishing 
vessels operating in each state, and any 
special procedures required by individual 
states to obtain information. 

"The project filled a void the Coast 
Guard wasn't able to address because of 




M'- 1 


limited resources and time," says Tim Farley, 
a civilian fishing safety specialist for the 
Coast Guard's Fishing Vessel and Offshore 
Safety Branch. "They determined how best 
to disseminate information to the many 
diverse fishing communities nationwide." 

Hebert, Lanczycki and Willems recom- 
mended that a coordinated effort by the 
Fishing and Offshore Safety Branch, the 
Auxiliary, Boating and Consumer Affairs Di- 
vision of the Office of Navigation Safety and 
Waterway Services, and the Management 
Division in the Office of Marine Safety, Se- 
curity and Environmental Protection be es- 
tablished. These divisions could collect the 
new data and combine it with information 
on documented vessels that is contained in 
an existing database known as the Marine 
Safety Information System. 

They also recommended that the Coast 
Guard create and use the database to dis- 
tribute safety information nationwide, pref- 
erably in the off-season, and to distribute 
information and advertise local regional 
safety programs. "A coordinated effort to 
distribute safety information could have a 
major impact on improving safety in the in- 
dustry," they concluded in their report to 
the Coast Guard. "Direct mailing will prob- 
ably be the most effective method of com- 
munication. With a complete and accurate 
database of all commercial fishing vessel 
owners, nearly all can be contacted." 

"Our officers have discussed and evalu- 
ated the students' recommendations and 
will ultimately coordinate implementation 
with Coast Guard programs having exper- 
tise in data processing and communica- 
tions," Farley says. "These programs will 
then assume responsibility for carrying out 
the steps necessary to achieve the desired 
results — better communication with all 
fishermen working in the United States." 

— Bonnie Gelbwasser 

To help it fulfill its mission of pro- 
tecting the safety of the nation's 
commercial fishing fleet, the U.S. 
Coast Guard sponsored a team of 
WPI students who compiled inform- 
ation that will help the agency 
reach fishing boat owners. 

WPI Journal 


in that area, which is an important issue 
in Taiwanese culture." The project that won 
WPl's 1992 President's IQP Award was done 
in Thailand with a nonprofit agency (see 
story, this page). 

After the Bangkok project program 
was established, Zeugner hired Prapaipit 
Chamsuksai as the on-site advisor for IQP 
projects in Thailand and also made contact 
with Supawan Tantayanon. Among more 
than 60 WPI alumni in Bangkok, both 
women received their doctorates at WPI 
and are professors at Chulalongkorn Uni- 
versity. Chamsuksai won WPI's outstanding 
teaching assistant award in 1988, the year 
she received her doctorate in chemistry. 
"They have been absolute gems in terms of 
advising projects, getting projects and mak- 
ing the connection between WPI and Chula- 
longkorn," he says. 

Zeugner says he believes the projects 
completed over the last few years have be- 
gun to change people's perspective about 
WPI students. "I think we're also getting 
more sophisticated in making contacts," 
he says. "We now have many more projects 
than we can staff in Bangkok. We recently 
turned down a major corporation because 
the students weren't interested in that 

WPl's new emphasis on Latin 
America began in 1991 when the 
college received a $150,000 grant 
from the Xerox Foundation to establish a 
project center in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 
"Puerto Rico is interesting," says Vernon- 
Gerstenfeld, who directs the Puerto Rico 
and Washington project centers and the 
Ireland project program. "While it is part 
of the United States, it is also part of Latin 
America. The island acts as a bridge. We 
conceived of it as a place where our stu- 
dents would get good training in multi- 
cultural issues and gain intercultural 
experience by working in an environment 
that is Latin, and yet still quite familiar. 

"Puerto Rico looks a bit like Miami and 
has the same stores you see in Worcester 
or Boston. But when you're working in an 
office, the environment is much more Latin. 
Also, people from elsewhere in Latin Amer- 
ica come to Puerto Rico to live and work, 
so you learn about Cubans, Ecuadorans and 
so on. It's a tremendous place to learn about 
other cultures. 

"One of our explicit goals in San Juan 
is to help correct misperceptions about 
Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans. We want 
to help students understand that their 
stereotypes are just that and don't have 

Reaching Out to Slum Dwellers in 

Last year Jason D. Herrick '93, 
Michael R. Passe '93 and Gunther 
Schrappe '94 completed their Inter- 
active Qualifying Project with the Duang 
Prateep Foundation (DPF), a nonprofit 
organization in Bangkok, Thailand. The 
students studied the chemical storage 
policies of the Port Authority of Thailand 
(PAT). The foundation was interested in 
this information because in March 1991 a 
chemical explosion leveled three ware- 
houses at the PAT facility in Klong Toey, a 
heavily populated Bangkok slum. The ex- 
plosion killed five people and injured 
countless others. 

DPF, which is devoted to improving 
life for residents (especially children) of 
the Klong Toey community, asked the WPI 
students for help in educating slum dwell- 
ers about the chemicals involved in the 
explosion and in preventing future acci- 
dents. The team analyzed the effects of 
the explosion and did a series of chemical 
investigations to find out how the explo- 
sion might have occurred. 

PAT, which stores chemicals adjacent to 
the slum, never released a full listing of the 
chemicals kept there. "PAT put out a list of 
10 chemicals," notes John F. Zeugner, pro- 
fessor of history and the students' advisor. 
"The students, through their investigation, 
drove that list up to 53 chemicals. Using soil 
and water residues, they did their analysis 
with the help of Professor Prapaipit 
Chamsuksai at Chulalongkorn University. 
They also interviewed slum dwellers about 
the symptoms they experienced. The stu- 
dents noted that many unidentified chemi- 
cals had been stored at the warehouses." 

Team members reviewed international 
storage procedures and studied chemical 
explosions. They designed and wrote a pam- 
phlet for DPF to distribute to doctors, com- 
munity leaders and residents and a poster 
for distribution within Klong Toey. They 
were interviewed by local television and 
they wrote a commentary for the op-ed 
page of The National, a major English- 
language newspaper in Bangkok. 

Although PAT had not announced any 


Spring 1993 


intention to modify its storage facilities 
or practices by the time the students left 
Thailand, the team's work prompted a 
public outcry over the policies of the 
Port Authority and a consensus that the 
government needed to do more for the 
victims of the explosion. 

Prateep Ungsongtham Hata, the 
founder and president of the foundation, 
grew up in Klong Toey. Her work to im- 
prove life for residents of the slum has 
been recognized locally and internation- 
ally. In Thailand, when she was awarded 
the Magsaysay Award, the King commis- 
sioned 100 commemorative coins to 
honor her. She was so pleased with the 
WPI team's work that she gave each mem- 
ber one of those coins. The judges for the 
1992 competition for WPI's President's 
IQP Award were also pleased. They 
awarded the honor to Herrick, Passe 
and Schrappe. 

—Diane Benison 

Gunther Schrappe '94 (far left, back row), Michael Passe '93 and Jason Herrick '93 
(third and fourth from left, back row) pose with staff of the Duang Prateep Foundation 
in Bangkok. Foundation founder Prateep Ungsongtham Hata is in the front row, second 
from right. Working with the foundation, the students analyzed the aftermath of a 
chemical explosion in the Klong Toey slum and developed programs to educate resi- 
dents about the effects of the chemicals. Below, the Flats, part of Klong Toey, sits 
next to the remains of a residential area destroyed in the explosion. The foundation 
is dedicated to improving life for slum residents, especially children, opposite. 

WPI Journal 


a whole lot to do with 
reality. When our stu- 
dents come back, their 
views are very much al- 
tered. For many, the ex- 
perience helps them 
understand that stereo- 
types don't hold true 
for individuals. That's 
part of our intercultural 
training that we hope to 
impart to students." 

That process cuts 
both ways, she says, be- 
cause for some Latin 
Americans, WP1 stu- 
dents help dispel the 
stereotype of the gringo 
from North America: 
"brash, loud, unknow- 
ing about other cultures 
and thinking the only 
place worthwhile is the 
United States. Stereo- 
types like that come 
from tourists who've 
seen inconveniences — 
or what they perceive 
as inconveniences — as 
negative aspects of an- 
other culture." 

Vernon-Gerstenfeld's background in clini- 
cal psychology makes her keenly aware of 
the emotional impact immersion in a foreign 
culture can have. She talks to students about 
it before they go, while they're away and af- 
ter they get back. "We want to teach stu- 
dents to ask themselves, 'What are you 
feeling; what are you acting on?,'" she says. 
"Instead of their colonizing and becoming 
defensive, we hope they'll explore the issues 
and then, perhaps, give up the colonizing." 

She recalls one student who went to 
Ecuador and spent most of his free time 
watching television in his hotel room. As he 
began to realize that his television habit was 
a way of dealing with his discomfort with the 
culture, he relied on it less and less. "As we 
prepare these kids to go abroad, we need to 
teach them about the variety of feelings they 
may have and suggest strategies for han- 
dling the ones that make them uncomfort- 

After students return from a project site, 
they meet with the next set of teams sched- 
uled to travel there. The returning teams dis- 
cuss their experiences and offer tips on 
everything from how to use public transpor- 
tation to how to do laundry. "I think it works," 

Vernon-Gerstenfeld says. "The vast majority 
of our kids end up being tremendously in- 
trigued by what happens to them." 

5ames E. Rollings, associate professor 
of chemical engineering and director 
of the Latin American Project Pro- 
gram, is himself evidence of the transform- 
ing power of living and working in a culture 
other than one's own. Rollings, who has 
served as the resident faculty advisor at 
WPI's newest project center in Guayaquil, 
Ecuador, created in 1992 with a five-year, 
$500,000 grant from the U.S. Agency for In- 
ternational Development, joined the Peace 
Corps after getting his bachelor's degree in 
biochemistry. He taught chemistry and biol- 
ogy from 1972 to 1975 in Mombasa, Kenya. 

When he returned to the states he 
earned a second bachelor's degree in 
chemical engineering before going to gradu- 
ate school and studying for a doctorate in 
biochemical engineering. He'd come back 
from Africa with the thought that he wanted 
to make an impact on some of the social 
problems he'd seen while he was in the 
Peace Corps. He says WPI's project-based 
curriculum and the Global Perspective Pro- 

Professor James Rollings 
directs WPI's project 
programs in Latin America. 
He's seen here with items 
from Ecuador, where he 
served as one of the first 
resident advisors of WPI's 
new Ecuador Project Center 
in Guayaquil. 

gram have enormous appeal to him as ways 
to combine his views about the importance 
of expanding cultural horizons with his 
work as a teacher and scientist. 

Rollings says he believes that despite 
the useful work achieved through IQPs, 
MQPs and Humanities Sufficiencies done 
abroad, the greatest benefit is the way the 
Global Perspective Program changes WPI 
students. "In reality," he says, "by going 
away you'll make a greater change in your 
own society than you will in the society you 
visit. By providing students with that exter- 
nal moment, we're giving them a view of the 
world they would never have had except 
by leaving home and seeing how another 
culture functions. 

"The culture shock is greater when you 
return than when you leave, because some 
of your assumptions may have been ex- 
posed. The experience of having been in 
another culture makes it possible to more 
clearly see — and perhaps question — one's 
own cultural assumptions." 

Zeugner says he is "absolutely convinced 
that the most educational thing anybody 
can do is to sit in an alien culture for an ex- 
tended period of time — not as a tourist, but 
as someone trying to function the way 
people in that culture function. That exper- 
ience calls into question all your assump- 
tions about how the world works. All the 
unconscious assessments you make to get 
through the day suddenly become con- 
scious. I'm absolutely, passionately con- 
vinced that nothing else we do will have 
as profound an impact on students. 

"Is that experience really worth it? From 
an educational point of view, absolutely. It 
will transform people and open them up. 
Studying the aftermath of a chemical explo- 
sion in a Bangkok slum is going to make 
someone a different kind of engineer. Some- 
body like that will understand that cultural 
assumptions have a terrific impact on the 
kinds of technological interactions that be- 
come the life circumstance of engineers. 
They're not going to think about them in 
the same way again." 


Spring 1993 

'""• ftiEjS& 

i LS 

Through the Cultural Festival, the African Mar 
and a host of other events, students of many < 

and nationalities are bringing the world to WPI. 

Photos by Janet Woodcock 

This spring, the Lower Wedge was filled 

with the sights and sounds of Africa, as the In- 
stitute enjoyed the first African Marketplace. 
The event, sponsored by the Black Student 
Union and the Black History Month Committee, 
brought a number of vendors to campus to dis- 
play "their wares and show off African artifacts, 
including crafts from Kenya supplied by a 
Worcester business, bottom, left. 

The New York City dance and drum troupe 
"Message From Our Ancestors," opposite page 
and page 19, performed for an appreciative au- 
dience that included Lachelle R. Hatten '94, 
right. Yvonne V. Harrison, director of the Career 
Development Center, bottom, right, read a poem 
by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, one of several 
readings during the day. 

The Marketplace was just one of a host of 
events held on campus during the year by WPFs 
international students, who make up about 10 
percent of the undergraduate student population 
and about half of the college's full-time graduate 
students, in concert with other students from a 
variety of backgrounds and cultures. The events 



l -c? 

were designed to let the students share their traditions, 
crafts, cuisines and arts with the WPI and Greater 
Worcester communities. 

A major annual event aimed at achieving that goal 
is the Cultural Festival, which observed its eighth anni- 
versary this spring. Sponsored by WPI's International 
Student Council, the festival offers visitors the chance 
to sample arts, crafts and food from the cultures of 
WPI's international students. Performances and dem- 
onstrations, planned and mounted by the students 
themselves, run continuously on stage throughout the 
four-hour event. 

At this year's festival, visitors were treated to Latin 
dances by a troupe that included Carlos A. Zapata '95, 
a native of Venezuela, and Leila J. Carvajal '96 from 
Ecuador, opposite. The dancers were members of the 
Hispanic Student Association. The Chinese Student 
Association purchased a 1 10-foot ceremonial dragon, top of 
page, which they paraded around Alden Memorial in a high- 
light of the festival. In China, the dragon dance is a traditional 
part of the New Year's festivities. 

Students also shared dishes from their homelands, prepared 
by WPI's food service, and displayed crafts and artifacts from 
their cultures (see bottom photo, next page). These included an 
assortment of Islamic items provided by the Muslim Student 
Association, above. Richard H. Kim '95, in midair, next page, 

was part of a team that put on a demonstration of Tae Kwon Do, 
a form of Korean martial arts. 

The annual festival is open to the entire Worcester commu- 
nity, and each year many students from Worcester-area schools 
stop by to enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes. A snowstorm kept 
most schoolchildren from enjoying the 1993 festival, but more 
than 1,500 students came in 1992. In 1991, the City Council 
declared the day of the Cultural Festival "International Student 
Day" in Worcester. 


Spring 1993 



I -■ 



..... m^ 

Outreach to the public schools has 
become an important mission of the In- 
stitute's international students. This year 
some 40 students visited Worcester public 
schools to talk about their cultures. Their 
efforts are part of a project called Globali- 
zing the Curriculum, being undertaken by 
WPI and the Worcester School System. 
Funded in part by a U.S. Department of 
Education grant, the project seeks to help 
young students understand and appreciate 
other cultures. 

Tom H. Thomsen, associate dean of 
student life and international student ad- 
visor, says he hopes WPI students can 
share many elements of their cultures with 
Worcester schoolchildren, as they did this 
year with the WPI community through 
a Chinese film series, an Asian Dinner that 
featured food from Indonesia, Korea, Thai- 
land and Vietnam, and Hispanic Aware- 
ness Week, complete with a speaker, a 
band and movies. 

Thomsen says these many activities are clear evidence 
that at WPI, globalization is a two-way street. He says that just 
as spending seven weeks in another country can broaden a 
student's horizons, interacting with students from other nations 
and backgrounds on campus can be a powerful and effective 
way to learn about other cultures. 

"Living with an international roommate, for example," he 
says, "can be just as effective an introduction to another culture 
as traveling to an overseas project center. We want all students, 
including those who for whatever reason can't leave campus, to 
be able to say they have truly been exposed to people from 
other cultures before they graduate." 


Spring 1993 

The La 


of the Frontier 

Once thought of as stodgy, patent law 

today is anything but. Patent attorneys 

are helping shape the leading edges 

of science and technology, trying 

cases where millions of dollars hang 

in the balance, and working to bring 

greater harmony to patent systems 

around the world. The best part? 

Opportunities abound for technically 

trained men and women. 

By Michael W. Dorsey 

t is, to be sure, a quiet revolution. But in law firms across 
the country, attorneys are noticing a striking trend. After 
decades of relative obscurity, the law of intellectual property 
— patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and unfair 
competition — is emerging as one of the hottest areas of legal 
practice. As a recent article in the ABA Journal, the magazine 
of the American Bar Association, put it, "Forget the trendy law practice 
areas of the 1980s, such as mergers and acquisitions, real estate and 
antitrust. Intellectual property is where the action will be in the 1990s." 

If intellectual property is hot, patent law is truly incandescent. "A 
good demonstration of that is the fact that many of the major general 
law firms around the country are attempting to purchase or acquire 
smaller patent law firms," notes Paul N. Kokulis '45, senior partner at 
Cushman, Darby & Cushman, one of the largest intellectual property 
firms in Washington, D.C. "These firms all have real estate sections, 
banking sections, antitrust sections, environmental sections and so 
on. Now they want to have intellectual property sections, as well." 

Kokulis, whose areas of expertise include biotechnology and bio- 
chemistry, says the explosive growth of new technology around the 
world is one factor in the renewed interest in patents and patent 
law. "In addition," he says, "of all the areas of legal practice, intellec- 
tual property is probably the most resistant to economic downturns. 
It's certainly not recession-proof, but in tough times, when corpor- 
ations aren't doing as much research and development, they want 
to protect their existing business areas more vigorously. And that 
creates more activity in the patent field." 

All this translates into growing opportunities for young lawyers in 
a field that has rarely — if ever — been oversaturated, notes Lawrence 
F. Scinto '51, partner with Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto in New 
York City, among the largest intellectual property firms in the nation. 
"This field is just beginning to realize its potential," he says. "With the 
growing demand by corporations for protection for their intellectual 
property and the rising awareness of the importance of intellectual 
property assets, people entering the profession today will find they 
are joining a truly growing field." 

WPI Journal 




I he American patent system, authorized by Article I of the 
Jl U.S. Constitution, was the invention of Thomas Jefferson, 
who also served as the first commissioner of patents. As 
conceived by Jefferson and formally codified in the federal 
patent statutes (the first patent act was signed into law by 
George Washington in 1790), a patent is a legal monopoly 
granted to an inventor. 

A patent gives an inventor the right to exclude others from 
using his or her invention for 17 years from the date the 
patent is granted. A patent holder can license the patented 
technology to others, who pay royalties for the privilege of 
using it. Patents can also be bought and sold like other per- 
sonal property. Patent protection is designed to encourage the 
kind of innovation and technical progress that can benefit the 
nation as a whole. 

Not every invention is patentable. The task of deciding 
what "process, machine, manufacture or composition of mat- 
ter, or any new and useful improve- 
ments thereof," is worthy of patent 
protection falls to the more than 1,400 
patent examiners who work in the 
modern facilities of the U.S. Patent and 
Trademark Office in Crystal City, Va. 
In making their decisions, they are 
guided by several key principles. 

First and foremost, an invention 
must truly be new. Examiners will 
search through the millions of patents 
on file in Crystal City to make sure a 
patent has not already been granted 
for the invention. In addition, they'll 
want to be sure the device or process 
was not already in use or described in 
print before the inventor supposedly 
thought of it. 

While it is possible to get a patent 
for an improvement on an existing de- 
vice, process or composition of mat- 
ter, if the examiner determines that 
the improvement would have been 
"obvious" to anyone skilled in the art to which the invention 
relates, the patent will be denied. 

The invention must also be useful. In other words, the 
inventor must be able to demonstrate that what he or she has 
created has practical value. Finally, the examiners must decide 
if the inventor has adequately disclosed the details of the 
invention in a manner that will allow others skilled in the art 
of the field to reproduce it. 

"The real reason for patents — the reason the government 
gives you this right to exclude — is that you are telling the 
world about your invention," says C. Marshall Dann '35, former 
U.S. commissioner of patents and trademarks who is now 
largely retired from the firm of Dann, Dorfman, Herrell and 
Skillman in Philadelphia. "Once your patent runs out, every- 
one else will be free to use it. So it's important that the 
invention be disclosed in a sound, technical manner." 

While most of the early patents granted in the U.S. went to 

If you have something 
good, you can keep it out of 
your competitor's hands by 
protecting it with a patent. . . . 

individual inventors, today a large share are owned by corpo- 
rations. In fact, patents have become a cornerstone of our 
modern industrial society, since they help companies maintain a 
technical edge over their domestic and foreign competitors. Cor- 
porations are, of course, under no obligation to patent their 
inventions, and some decide instead to keep their technology 
trade secrets. But that route has its risks, Dann says. 

"There aren't many things you can keep secret for long. 
You might be able to conceal some little process wrinkle. But if 
it's anything a competitor can tell from your product — or 
something he can discover independently — it's fair game. And 
employees move about a great deal today. Even if they don't 
intentionally steal your secrets, they can transmit a good deal 
of information to their new employers. And, of course, there's 
a certain amount of commercial espionage. 

"If you have something good, you can keep it out of your 
competitor's hands by protecting it with a patent — assuming 
it's a good patent. Or you can make 
some money licensing it. The bottom 
line is that most companies simply 
can't afford to ignore patents." 

The bottom line is that most 
companies simply can 't afford 


to ignore patents: 

atent attorneys beginning their 
careers today will find a legal sys- 
tem far more friendly to their work 
than the system Dann, Kokulis, Scinto 
and most of the more than 40 WPI 
alumni who work as patent 
attorneys discovered when they 
entered the field. 

In the 1930s, the tradition of pro- 
tecting the rights of American inven- 
tors ran afoul of growing antitrust 
sentiment. "The Temporary National 
Economic Committee, a joint execu- 
tive-legislative body established in 
1938 to curb monopolies, made a 
lot of noise about corporate abuse 
of patents," Dann notes. "They 
started out to prove a preconceived notion and in the process 
painted the whole patent system pretty blackly." 

According to Paul M. Craig Jr. '45, consulting attorney at 
Dow, Lohnes & Albertson in Washington, D.C., at least some of 
the antitrust fever was justified. "In the 1920s and 1930s, some 
companies were pooling patents to fix prices or to keep out- 
siders out," he says. "That helped give the patent system a 
bad name." 

The anti-patent sentiment that emerged in the courts in 
the 1930s and 1940s persisted for decades and came to play 
an important role in how attorneys approached patent- 
related court cases, says Scinto, whose specialty is patent 
litigation. Until recently, patent cases were tried in 10 federal 
circuit courts that had disparate records on patent litigation. 
"Some circuits didn't hold a patent valid for 10 to 15 years," 
Scinto says. "Others were more hospitable. It was a common 

(Continued on Page 28) 


Spring 1993 


C. Marshall Dann '35 

After he graduated from WPI in 
1935 with his degree in chem- 
istry, C. Marshall Dann settled 
down at DuPont for what seemed like 
the start of a long career in chemistry. 
But in 1945, Dann was assigned to a 
patent liaison group in DuPont 's Pig- 
ments Department. "I thought patent 
law seemed like a pretty good field," 
he says. "I decided if I was going to 
be in it, I'd rather be all the way in 
rather than halfway." 

For four years, Dann worked in 
DuPont's Washington, D.C., office as a 
patent agent while attending 
Georgetown University at night. In 
1 949, with his bachelor of laws degree 
in hand, he returned to the company's 
Wilmington, Del., headquarters as a patent attorney. One of his 
first assignments was to help out with a major antitrust case the 
federal government had filed against DuPont and Imperial 
Chemical Industries of Great Britain. (That case would also 
figure prominently in the start of Paul Kokulis' career as a 
patent attorney; see page 30.) 

When the antitrust case was over, Dann worked on patent 
cases involving new organic chemicals, including polyurethanes, 
which were just then being introduced. In 1954, he was promoted 
to assistant manager of DuPont's Patent Department. At that time, 
Dann says, DuPont was filing about 800 patent applications a year 
and receiving about 500 new patents. 

"During those years, I was concerned with patent matters 
across the board, rather than specific cases," he says. "But 
there were a few lawsuits I was directly involved in." In one 
case, DuPont sued Phillips Petroleum Co., alleging the corpora- 
tion had infringed its patent for linear polyethylene, a plastic 
used in containers, electrical insulation and packaging. After 
three years, the case was settled out of court, with Phillips 
receiving a license to make the compound in return for financial 
and other considerations. 

Dann was named DuPont's chief patent counsel in 1968. 
Six years later, after nearly 30 years with the company, he 
received a job offer. "I got a call from a gentleman who said, 'I'm 
from the White House,'" Dann says. "I sat up a little straighter. 
He said, 'Have you ever thought about taking early retire- 
ment and becoming commissioner of patents?'" 

At first reluctant to leave Wilmington, Dann finally ac- 
cepted. "I had been sitting in the same corner office for quite a 
number of years and a change began to seem attractive," he 

says. One of the major challenges he 
faced during his three years in Wash- 
ington was resolving a conflict between 
the Commerce Department, which 
includes the Patent and Trademark 
Office, and the Justice Department over 
a proposed patent reform bill. 

The bill, which grew out of a set of 
far-reaching recommendations of a 
Johnson administration commission 
on patent reform, was amended to 
include a troublesome provision that 
would have made it easier for corp- 
orations to avoid antitrust action when 
they granted licenses on their patents. 
"That had the effect of getting the 
Justice Department involved," Dann says. 
Justice prepared its own reform 
bill that would have greatly complicated the process of pros- 
ecuting patents. "It seemed to me, as it did to a lot of other 
people, that the bill as it stood would have discouraged many 
inventors who wanted to protect their property," Dann says. 
One of the duties of the commissioner of patents is to revise 
or expand the formal rules governing the operation of the 
Patent Office, as needed. Dann put in place new rules that 
incorporated the better parts of the Justice Department bill, 
but which were less burdensome to potential patentees. "Jus- 
tice backed off and lost interest after that," Dann says. "The 
rules had the desired effect of stopping all the activity 
aimed at radically remaking the patent laws." 

In 1977, after the election of Jimmy Carter, Dann joined the 
intellectual property firm of Dann, Dorfman, Herrell and 
Skillman in Philadelphia. Over the next 10 years he served as 
an expert witness in numerous interference and infringe- 
ment cases around the country, including 45 that made it to 
the courtroom. "I testified about patent procedure 
and about the meaning of the claims in a patent," he says. 
"Claims define the patentee's right to exclude others, and 
they must always be interpreted by the court." 

While he testified on behalf of all manner of plaintiffs 
and defendants— from major corporations like Dow, American 
Can, Pfizer and 3M, to individual inventors — one case was 
especially rewarding, Dann says. "An Illinois farmer named 
Billy Watkins had invented a device used in tractor-pull 
contests. It slowly increased the weight on the tractor as it 
pulled forward, so the tractor would eventually stop. He sued 
the National Tractor Pull Association, which had ignored his 
patent. He eventually won an injunction." 

WPI Journal 


(Continued from Page 26) 

tactic in those days to bring an action in a circuit you believed 

would look more favorably on patents." 

In the early 1980s, alarmed at the apparent lack of unifor- 
mity of the country's patent system, which resulted in this so- 
called "forum-shopping," the U.S. Congress decided the time 
had come for change. "One thing that pushed Congress to act 
was concern about the trade deficit and foreign competition," 
Dann says. "Fifty years ago, 90 percent of all U.S. patents were 
obtained by U.S. citizens. Now it's about 50 percent. If you 
destroy the incentives for U.S. inventors to file patent applica- 
tions, you're giving the competition an edge." 

In 1982, Congress created the Court of Appeals for the 
Federal Circuit. Formed by combining the Court of Customs 
and Patent Appeals and the Court of Claims, the new body 
became the sole jurisdiction for appealing patent cases from 
any federal district court around the country. The Federal 
Circuit Court removed much of the preexisting regional 
anti-patent bias and "put a lot of vitality back into the 
patent system," Craig says. 

While the new court has raised the value of patents in all 
industries, it's had a particularly profound effect on makers of 
computers, notes high-technology specialist William L. 
Anthony Jr. '61, a partner with Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison in 
Palo Alto, Calif. "Before the creation of the Federal Circuit 
Court, patents were virtually unenforceable in California, the 
home of a substantial portion of America's high-technology 
industry," he says. 

Before 1982, Anthony notes, high-technology companies 
were more likely to license their technology for meager fees 
than to attempt to enforce their patents. And companies came 
to rely on trade secrets, rather than patents, to protect their 
inventions. Even so, 
technology moved rela- 
tively freely from com- 
pany to company as 
engineers changed jobs 
or started their own 
firms. In fact, he notes, 
the explosive growth of 
the high-technology in- 
dustry in the 1970s is at- 
tributable, in part, to 
"the peculiar mores of 
Silicon Valley (com- 
monly referred to as 'pi- 
racy' in other parts of 
the world)." 

Today, most high- 
technology companies have beefed up their patent depart- 
ments and their patents are garnering respectable royalties. 
Companies like Texas Instruments and Motorola, which bucked 
the trend in the 1970s and stockpiled patents on their in- 
ventions, are now reaping the rewards of those higher royal- 
ties. In fact, insiders say, these and some other major 
companies now earn more from their patents than from sales 
of their products. 

William L. Anthony '61, a partner with Brobeck, 
Phleger & Harrison in Palo Alto, has made a 
specialty of high-technology patent litigation. 


eople often think a patent gives them some property," 
1 Dann says. "But it really doesn't give them anything until a 



Fifty years ago, 90 percent of all U.S. patents 
were obtained by U.S. citizens. Now it's about 

50 percent. If you destroy the incentive for 
U.S. inventors to file patent applications, you're 
giving the competition an edge. 

court says it's a good 
patent." The truth of that 
statement is illustrated 
by the marked increase 
in patent-related court 
cases that followed the 
creation of the Federal 
Circuit Court. In addition 
to increasing the value 
of patents — and the 
incentive to fight for 
them — the court raised 
the stakes in patent 

When federal courts 
were as likely to rule a 
patent invalid as to sanc- 
tion an infringer, corporations were less inhibited about help- 
ing themselves to patented technology. But the Federal Circuit 
Court is far more prone than earlier courts to come down 
hard on infringers, imposing damages and fees that make 
those levied by those earlier courts seem tame. 

"At one time it was the norm for a damage recovery in 
a patent case to be limited to a reasonable royalty," Scinto 

(Continued on Page 31) 


Spring 1993 

Protecting Intellectual 
Property on Campus 

With their mission to pursue and disseminate new 
knowledge, it's not surprising that colleges and 
universities have long been hotbeds of intellectual 
property. But it has only been in recent years that many 
research institutions have become aggressive about pro- 
tecting the inventions and other creations of their faculty 
members and students and putting that property to use 
to generate revenue. 

WPI developed its first intellectual property policy in 
the early 1970s. Among other things, the policy specifies 
when the Institute is entitled to the rights to patents, 
copyrights and trademarks for intellectual property 
created by its faculty and students and spells out how 
royalties generated by that property will be shared by 
the college and the inventors or authors. 

During the last year, a committee of faculty members 
has been at work updating that policy. One of the key 
changes they plan to recommend will require the college 
to determine whether a faculty or student invention has 
commercial potential before deciding whether to pursue 
a patent for it. 

"These days, with the competitive pressures of a 
global economy, it is often wise to apply for patents in 
several nations, not just in the U.S.," notes Kevin A. 
Clements, dean of graduate studies and research. "It 
costs a lot of money— perhaps $20,000 to $30,000— to 
go through that process. So we have to decide early on 
whether an invention is commercially viable and, there- 
fore, worth patenting." 

To help it make that decision, WPI recently joined 
with six other Worcester-area research institutions in 
creating the Unified Office of Technology Transfer at 
the Massachusetts Biotechnology Research Institute in 
Worcester. Heading that office is Skip Irving, whose jobs 
include helping the institutions identify commercially 
viable inventions, monitoring the process of patenting 
those inventions, brokering licensing agreements with 
companies and other partners, and providing assistance 
to faculty and students who may wish to license their 
own inventions from the Institute to start new companies. 

Currently, WPI owns about a dozen patents and has 
applications pending on several more. Several other in- 
ventions are being evaluated, including at least a few that 
have been developed as part of undergraduate student 
projects. In fact, Irving says, one student project is now 
the subject of negotiations with a major medical products 
manufacturer and the prospects for licensing look good. 

Skip Irving of the Unified Office of Technology 
Transfer helps WPI decide what's worth patenting. 

In addition to these, a few faculty members have patented 
their own inventions. At least one company has been 
founded based on faculty inventions and more are cur- 
rently in the works. 

Irving says he hopes to see these numbers rise as 
more faculty and students become aware of the advan- 
tages of protecting their inventions. "There are some 
misconceptions we have to overcome," he says. "Some 
concern the conflict between patenting and publishing 
and how patenting fits into the mission and culture of 
an academic institution." 

Irving says patenting and publishing should not be in 
conflict. With a little lead time, a U.S. patent can be ap- 
plied for prior to publication, preserving the right to 
patent on a worldwide basis. "I want people to publish," 
he says. "That's my best advertising. That paper will be 
read by peers and by people at corporations. There's no 
conflict at all; in fact, the two should work in synergy." 

Irving says that while the Institute will ultimately 
receive some income from its investment in intellectual 
property, the most important benefits will not be mea- 
sured in dollars and cents. "For faculty members, patent- 
ing is an opportunity to get their research into the hands 
of people who can turn it into commercial products or 
processes," he says. "For students, it helps them develop 
an entrepreneurial spirit and teaches them something 
about the commercialization of technology. That experi- 
ence will serve them well when they leave academia." 

WPI Journal 



Paul N. Kokulis '45 

Paul Kokulis has made a specialty 
of patent interferences, pro- 
ceedings that seek to determine 
the rightful holder of a patent when 
two or more companies or individual 
inventors claim that right. "I would 
guess that most patent attorneys have 
one or two interferences in a lifetime," he says. "I juggle 15 to 20 
such cases in a typical year." 

Kokulis says patent law was the farthest thing from his mind 
when he received his degree in chemical engineering from WP1 
in 1944. He went to work for the Naval Research Laboratory as 
part of the Manhattan Project team, but left engineering after 
World War II. He left, in part, he says, because he felt other 
members of his research group, most of whom had advanced 
degrees, "were way ahead of me in their thinking. I didn't feel 
creative enough to make a contribution." 

For a time he considered taking a job as a science teacher 
and a baseball and basketball coach in the Springfield, Mass., 
school system. But one day classmate Philip H. Sheridan, who 
is now a partner with Sheridan, Ross & Mcintosh in Denver, 
urged him to apply for a post at the law firm of Cushman, Darby 
& Cushman in Washington, D.C., which was looking for some- 
one with experience in chemistry. 

"They offered me the position and paid my way through law 
school," says Kokulis, who earned his bachelor of laws degree 
at George Washington University by taking classes at night. "It 
was exactly what I needed. It has been a wonderful combination 
of science and the law. And it has allowed me to work with 
people at the frontiers of science." 

Shortly after he joined the firm, a federal judge, in a major 
antitrust decision, ordered DuPont and the British company 
Imperial Chemical Industries (ICO to terminate an agreement 
under which each company had filed for patents on the other's 

inventions in its own country. Faced 
with the need to pursue its own Ameri- 
can patents, ICI turned to Cushman, 
Darby & Cushman. 

"I was one of just two chemistry 

people at the firm then," Kokulis says. 

"One day an ICI man walked into my 

office with 400 pending patent applications, one or two appeals 

and some interferences. It was a wonderful opportunity for 

someone who was just beginning law school." 

ICI has remained a principal client. In the 1950s, Kokulis 
worked with ICI and other companies on patents involving 
the highly competitive field of fibers and fabrics for clothing. 
He handled several interferences involving new reactive 
dyes, permanent press finishes and stretch fabrics. 

The 1950s and 1960s also saw the growth of the pharma- 
ceutical industry, and Kokulis found himself handling patents 
on major new drugs, including Halothane (an ICI invention 
that replaced ether as the anesthetic of choice in surgery), 
beta blockers (drugs used to treat angina and other heart 
ailments) and tamoxifen (the treatment of choice for 
breast cancer). 

In the early 1980s, a significant amount of Kokulis' focus 
shifted to the emerging field of biotechnology. Today this 
discipline constitutes much of the work he does for clients that 
include major U.S. and foreign companies, universities and 
research institutions. The technologies he has been involved 
with range from blood growth factors to AIDS test kits to 
DNA fingerprinting. 

"My involvement has been right there at the forefront of 
biochemistry," he says. "It's certainly been an exciting field to 
work in. If I were a young man starting out in patent law, 
I'd concentrate my efforts on this field, because there are 
some tremendously satisfying opportunities out there." 


Spring 1993 


(Continued from Page 28) 

says. "It was rare that a successful patentee could receive 
an award of lost profits. Of late, with more imagination going into 
damage calculations, awards are getting more significant and com- 
panies are looking at their patent portfolios as profit centers." 

"Patent damage awards have become so substantial that 
many major corporations factor litigation-driven settlements 
and damages into their revenue projections as if they were 
expected income," Anthony says. "Texas Instruments, for 
example, has generated more than $600 million in royalties in 
recent years as a result of zealous patent litigation." 

Anthony notes that the Federal Circuit Court is also more 
likely to invoke a provision for granting treble damages in 
cases where a defendant knowingly infringes a patent. All 
this has resulted in some staggering awards: $56 million for an 
antibiotic patent in Pfizer v. International Rectifier; $125 mil- 
lion for a patented cookie recipe in Procter & Gamble v. 
Nabisco; and $205 million for a patent 
covering the design of a rock drill bit 
in Smith Industries v. Hughes Tools. 

In the most celebrated outcome, a 
judge awarded Polaroid more than 
$900 million after ruling that Kodak 
had infringed its instant photography 
patents. But Anthony says a new pre- 
cedent may be in the wings: in a cur- 
rent case, Hughes Aircraft Co. is 
accusing the U.S. government of in- 
fringing its patents for satellite atti- 
tude-control systems. "Hughes has 
requested $3.3 billion," he says. "It is 
considered by many to be a reason- 
able estimate." 

While most companies can absorb 
"reasonable royalties" into their bot- 
tom lines, the consequences of today's 
larger damage awards can be more 
severe. "Companies are being put out 
of business," Dann says. "That's why 
any company in any business where 
there might be inventions must pay 
attention to patents. Not only is it im- 
portant to protect their own intellec- 
tual property, but they better make sure what they're doing 
doesn't infringe someone else's patents." 

While the change in the judicial landscape has made cor- 
porations more cautious — and emboldened individual inven- 
tors, who in the past might not have taken on large corporate 
infringers — the escalating costs of bringing a patent case to 
trial can still tip the balance in favor of larger companies, 
Craig says. "Litigation has become terribly expensive," he 
says. "We are pricing it out of the reach of most individual 

Last year, the firm of Morrison & Foster estimated that a 
patent trial can easily cost between $1 million and $4 million. 
"It can take $50,000 to $100,000 just to get a case on file," Craig 
notes. "More and more, small companies just can't 
afford to enforce their patents. And because litigation costs 

More and more, small 

companies just can 't afford to 

enforce their patents. And 

because litigation costs are 

deductible, the company with 

the deepest pockets has an 

advantage that enhances its 

chances of prevailing. 

are deductible, the company with the deepest pockets has an 
advantage that enhances its chances of prevailing." 

With so much at stake, strategy has become critical in 
patent litigation. One key strategic decision that must be 
made early on is whether to bring a case before a judge or a 
jury, Scinto says. "When I started in patent litigation, attor- 
neys were more likely to try cases before the court, rather 
than a jury. There is an active trend today for exercising the 
constitutional right to a jury trial. 

"Patentees often feel that juries will be more favorably 
inclined to a patent that has survived the scrutiny of a govern- 
ment review than to a challenger who says everything in the 
patent was obvious from the prior art." In addition, individual 
inventors involved in actions with corporations often choose 
juries because they feel jurors will be more likely to feel 
empathy with the little guy, Craig says. 

"Patent litigators discovered juries about 10 years ago," 
Anthony says. "While the early indi- 
cations of a jury's propensity to hold 
patents valid were impressive (with 
about 80 percent of patents being up- 
held), it appears over the long term 
that juries are not quite as much of a 
blessing to patent owners, but they're 
a blessing nonetheless." 

In fact, Anthony says, judges are 
nearly as likely as juries to uphold 
patents. That's an important consid- 
eration, given the fact that jury trials 
are more expensive, time-consuming 
and difficult to schedule than non- 
jury trials. "The demand for a jury 
should not be a knee-jerk reaction 
of patent plaintiffs," he says. 

Regardless of whether a case goes 
before a judge or a jury, the complex- 
ity of the issues involved in patent 
disputes, the intricacies of modern 
technology, and the increasingly 
crowded federal dockets (which may 
make judges less generous with the 
time they allow attorneys to present 
their cases) place a premium on 
preparation. "Preparation is the key in any kind of litigation," 
Craig says. "You can't leave a stone unturned." 

An important part of preparing is finding the most effec- 
tive way to present the details of a patent case. More and 
more, that means using television, computers and other mod- 
ern communication technologies, Scinto says. "You make your 
case in a more rapid fashion, but you use computer anima- 
tion, simulation— that sort of thing— to distill it down and 
make it understandable to the judge, who may have no techni- 
cal training, and to the jurors, who may have no education 
beyond high school." 

"Effective trial aids will not convert bad facts into good 
facts," Anthony adds. "But they can tip the balance in close 
cases. And by removing the cloud of confusion from a high- 
technology case, you demonstrate that you are doing your 

WPI Journal 


best to impart an understanding of the facts to the judge 
or jury." 

Two "clouds of confusion" that often surround patent suits 
are the issue of obviousness and something called the doc- 
trine of equivalents, Scinto says. "Sometimes you can avoid 
the literal language of the claims of a patent and end up with 
the same results," he says. 

"But the Supreme Court says that if you've reached that 
result by doing substantially the same thing in substantially 
the same way, you have not really avoided the patent and 
are guilty of infringement. That issue is the subject of a great 
deal of litigation." 

Defendants in patent suits often claim that the patent in 
question is invalid because the invention would have been 
obvious to others skilled in the prior art. "Sometimes, you 
can arrive at a pretty reasoned opinion as to whether some- 
thing was obvious, but often it will depend on the nature of the 
evidence produced at the trial, and you 
never know what that will be in ad- 
vance. In the end, you are relying on 
the experience and knowledge of the 
person rendering the opinion." 


/i I were advising young people 
considerng careers in patent law 
about what fields to get preparation 
in, I'd say computers, semiconductor 
technologies, bioengineering, biotech- 
nology and genetic engineering," Craig 
says. In fact, the computer and bio- 
technology industries have proven 
hotbeds of patent activity in recent 

Makers of computer software have 
traditionally turned to copyright law 
to protect their products (copyrights 
protect expressions of ideas — like 
books, plays and musical scores 
— rather than the ideas themselves), but patents have been 
granted to fundamental advances in software design. Patents 
are, perhaps, more critical for advances in computer technol- 
ogy, where such fundamental advances as the integrated circuit 
and memory design can be worth billions of dollars in royalties. 

The rapidly changing nature of computer technology has 
given rise to a myth that patents — which can take several 
years to be granted once an application is filed — are not 
worth pursuing when a new chip might be obsolete a year 
or two after it goes on the market. 

"In truth," Anthony says, "basic technologies are retained, 
albeit in a much improved form, as a product evolves into 
more advanced designs. For example, a patent basic to 
a dynamic random access memory (DRAM) disclosed in a 
one-kilobyte context, may be equally applicable to a one- 
megabyte design." 

The explosion of patent work in biotechnology can be 
traced to the invention of genetic engineering in the early 

Sometimes you can avoid 

the literal language of the 

claims of a patent and 

end up with the same results.... 

That is the subject of a great 

deal of litigation: 

1970s and to a pivotal Supreme Court decision in 1980. In 
Diamond v. Chakrabarty, the court ruled for the first time 
that manmade microorganisms can be patented. Later court 
rulings extended that protection to genetically engineered 
plants and multicellular animals, and patents have also been 
granted for individual genes and proteins — both natural and 

Patents have proven especially important in biotechnol- 
ogy for a number of reasons. One of the most compelling is 
the high cost of the research, development and testing needed 
to bring a genetically engineered product to market. In 1991, 
biotech companies spent $3.2 billion on R&D — an average 
of 47 percent of their incomes. Pharmaceutical companies, 
in contrast, spend about 15 percent of their incomes on 
research and development. 

If that investment were not enough reason for protecting 
biological and biochemical inventions with patents, the 
relative ease with which such inven- 
tions can be copied or "reinvented" 
should be. For example, once a com- 
pany has begun clinical trials for a 
new genetically engineered protein, a 
competitor may find it easy to get a 
sample of the compound, analyze it, 
and determine the sequence of the 
gene needed to make it. 

But outright piracy is only one of 
many ways a company can try to 
wrest control of a new market from 
its competitors or steer around its 
rivals' patents in the brave new world 
of biotechnology. Kokulis has been 
involved in some of the most written- 
about and closely studied interfer- 
ence cases in this emerging and 
challenging field. 

Some of those cases concern 
Amgen Inc. in Thousand Oaks, Calif., 
one of the world's largest biotechnol- 
ogy companies. Amgen has focused much of its efforts on a 
group of biological compounds called blood cell growth fac- 
tors, chemicals made by the body that stimulate the growth 
of the various cells that constitute human blood. One of its 
first targets was erythropoietin (EPO), which boosts the pro- 
duction of red blood cells. The compound can benefit pa- 
tients on kidney dialysis, who often suffer from anemia brought 
on by the destruction of red blood cells. 

EPO is produced by the kidneys in very small amounts, 
but isolating enough of the natural compound for commercial 
production would be prohibitively expensive. Therefore, 
Amgen and other companies — most notably, Genetics Insti- 
tute in Cambridge, Mass.— set out to isolate the gene that 
codes for the protein. It was an arduous search; at times, both 
companies came close to giving it up. But in the end, Fu-Kuen 
Lin at Amgen isolated the gene and Amgen obtained patents for 
it and a host cell for manufacturing EPO using the isolated gene. 

(Continued on Page 34) 


Spring 1993 


Paul ML Craig '45 

Paul Craig, a German native, ar- 
rived in the U.S. as a young man 
and entered WPI as a classified 
freshman with the Class of 1945. Due 
to a lack of a deferment, he had to 
interrupt his studies during his 
senior year. He served in the U.S. 
Navy from 1944 to 1946 and returned 
to WPI to complete his bachelor's 
degree in electrical engineering a 
short time later. 

His entry into the field of patent 
law, he says, was purely accidental. "I was invited by RCA to 
come to Camden, N.J., for a job interview in the fall of 1946. On 
the advice of a neighbor, who worked with a Worcester patent 
law firm, I extended my trip so I could visit Washington. I was 
immediately hired as a patent examiner in an electrical division 
of the U.S. Patent Office." 

Craig started work in December 1946 and enrolled at 
Georgetown University to work toward his law degree at night. 
After receiving his bachelor of laws degree in 1950, he became 
a patent advisor for the U.S. Army's Office of Chief of Ordnance. 
"All of the Army's arsenals reported to that office," Craig says. 
"Some of the work I handled came from the Redstone Arsenal, 
where German scientists under Wernher von Braun were 
working on rocket technology. 1 handled claims, filed patent 
applications and worked on infringements." 

While working for the Army, Craig earned a master's degree 
in law at George Washington University. He left the Army in 
1952 and went into private practice, where his knowledge of 
foreign languages would prove to be a major asset with 
future European clients. 

While most of the work he did over the next several decades 
was in his area of specialization, patent litigation, he spent a 
good part of the 1950s and 1960s in general law practice with 
his father, also Paul Craig (both Paul Craigs were admitted to 
the bar on the same day in 1950). 

In 1983, he split off from the Washington, D.C., intellectual 
property firm of Craig & Antonelli, which he had founded, and 
started the firm of Craig & Burns. Three years later that firm 
merged with a law firm in Indiana. "The Indiana firm had a 

policy that required partners to retire 
at 67," he says. "I was worried that the 
policy might keep me from continuing 
to serve a longstanding client who in- 
sisted on my representation, so I left 
the firm in January 1 989 and since then 
have been associated with Dow, Lohnes 
& Albertson, a large general practice 
law firm in Washington." 

When Craig began his patent law 
practice in the 1950s, the leading- 
edge technologies included nuclear 
energy and electronics. In the electronics area, corporations 
were working to develop and commercialize technologies de- 
veloped during World War II. In his last year at the Patent Office, 
he became involved in major interferences that involved all the 
major U.S. firms that had access to the MIT Radiation Labora- 
tory in a fight for the rights to an important development in 
radar, the "Magic T" antenna, which could send and receive 
microwave signals. 

Over the years, he has done a great deal of work for 
electronics and automobile manufacturers. He has handled a 
broad range of work in the intellectual property area, including 
litigation, for European automotive clients such as Damiler- 
Benz, BMW and Porsche, and several Japanese companies, 
including Hitachi. He was involved for more than a decade in 
the Kearns litigation, in which David Kearns sued many 
automakers for alleged infringement of his intermittent wind- 
shield wiper patents. 

Craig says he has enjoyed his career in patent law, but he 
notes that the profession has its pluses and minuses. On the 
plus side are salaries that are generally higher than those most 
engineers or research scientists can expect, as well as the 
opportunity to use one's technical education in an exciting 
and creative field, he says. 

"But this is also a time-consuming and time- 
demanding profession," he says. "That can be a detriment. 
1 remember when my daughter was 12, 1 asked her what she 
wanted to be when she grew up. She said she wasn't sure, but 
she knew she wasn't going to be a lawyer, because she 
wanted to spend time with her kids." 

WPI Journal 


..... :_,'_ 

(Continued from Page 32) 

In theory, that should have concluded the race, but Gene- 
tics Institute had a surprise in store for Amgen. Just before 
the awarding of Amgen 's patent, GI had obtained a patent for 
a purified sample of EPO the company isolated from human 
urine. Genetics Institute argued that its patent also covered 
the synthetic form of EPO Amgen planned to make with its 
patented gene and process. 

A lower court agreed with GI, but the decision was over- 
turned on appeal to the Federal Circuit Court. Both the lower 
court and the appeals court found Amgen's patent valid and 
infringed by GI. Kokulis says the story of EPO also involved 
several interferences (special proceedings to determine who 
was the first inventor of something, and therefore the rightful 
patent holder) over Amgen's gene and process. 

The interferences, in which Kokulis was involved, were 
determined favorably to Amgen by the U.S. Patent Office, 
although appeals are pending. An important ruling 
in the litigation and the interferences, 
Kokulis says, is the finding that, with 
gene inventions, conception of the in- 
vention and its reduction to practice 
occur simultaneously. 

Kokulis says there is an important 
weakness in current patent coverage 
for biotechnology. "To illustrate this," 
he says, "let's say you are the first to 
isolate the gene for a protein that ex- 
ists naturally in the body and that 
has been known about for some time. 
The protein is old, but your method 
for making it is new and you get a 
patent in the U.S. on the gene, and not 
on the protein it codes for. 

"A company in Japan uses your 
gene to make the protein and then 
exports it to the U.S. As things stand 
now, that company will have no 
infringement problems, because it 
has not used your gene in the U.S. 
And since you hold no patent on the 
protein itself, it can be exported to 
this country. 

"An apparently easy answer to the problem is to obtain 
patent coverage for the process for making the protein using 
the gene, since current law specifies that the importation 
of a product made by a process that would infringe a U.S. 
patent if made in the U.S., is itself infringement. But such 
process coverage is not always available." 

That was the issue at the heart of litigation filed a few 
years ago by Amgen against Chugai Pharmaceutical, a major 
Japanese biotechnology company. Before the award of the 
Amgen gene patent, Genetics Institute had given Chugai the 
gene and host cell needed to make EPO and entered into a 
joint venture with the Japanese company to sell the protein in 
the U.S. Amgen protested the arrangement to the U.S. Trade 
Commission, but lost. "There have been proposals 

The interference.. ..was to 
determine who developed the 
[AIDS] test kit first. As far as I 
am concerned, Gallo and his 
people were the first to do that, 
as they discovered the way to 
produce enough of the virus 

to make useful kits. 

for legislation that would remedy this type of situation," Kokulis 
says, "but to date none have passed." 

Perhaps the most publicized interference Kokulis has been 
involved in concerned the isolation of the virus that causes 
AIDS and the development of the first AIDS test kit. The case 
pitted Robert Gallo, discoverer of interleukin-2 and the first 
human retrovirus, HTLV-1, against French virologist Luc 
Montagnier and the Pasteur Institute. 

In 1983, while Gallo's lab raced with the French lab to be 
the first to find the virus responsible for AIDS, Montagnier 
sent Gallo a sample of LAV, which he believed to be the 
culprit. A short time later, Gallo announced the isolation of 
what he called HTLV-III, as well as an AIDS test kit based upon 
it. The NIH was later granted a patent for the kit. 

Montagnier claimed HTLV-III was really the Pasteur 
Institute's LAV and charged misconduct in the creation of the 
test kit. The institute, in the meantime, had developed its own 
test kit and an interference was begun to determine which one 
deserved the right to patent protec- 
tion. After numerous meetings in 
Washington and Paris, a settlement 
was reached. 

"Both sides agreed that they had 
benefited from information the other 
had shared with them," says Kokulis, 
who was asked by the federal govern- 
ment to handle the Gallo case in what 
was seen as an unusual move (the 
Justice Department normally defends 
the government in interferences, he 
says). "In a settlement disclosed in a 
historic announcement in Washington 
by the presidents of France and the U.S., 
Gallo and Montagnier agreed that they 
were joint inventors of the test kit. 

"The newspapers tended to over- 
look an important point in that case," 
Kokulis adds. "The interference was 
not about who isolated the virus first. 
It was to determine who developed 
the test kit first. As far as I am con- 
cerned, Gallo and his people were the 
first to do that, particularly as they 
discovered the way to produce enough of the virus to make 
useful kits. To do that they had to find an immortallized cell line 
that the virus would not kill. That was a great contribution." 

Since the Gallo case, Kokulis and his firm have handled a 
number of patent-related cases for the NIH. One in particular 
has been the subject of controversy. That case began in Au- 
gust 1992 when the agency filed for patents on the research of 
former NIH scientist J. Craig Venter. Venter isolated more than 
3,000 partial human genes known as expressed-sequence tags. 
The sequences can be used as probes to isolate the exact 
position of useful genes. The NIH says it wants to secure the 
intellectual property rights to the sequences so they will be 
available to anyone who needs them for research. 

(Continued on Page 36) 


Spring 1993 


Lawrence F. Scinto '51 

Like many patent attorneys, 
Lawrence Scinto didn't set out 
to pursue a career in law. A 
native of New York City, he enrolled at 
Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute after 
high school, and then served in the 
U.S. Army in the Pacific Theater for 
two years at the end of World War II. 

"When I got out of the service, I decided to take advantage 
of the G.I. Bill and began looking for a college outside of New 
York," Scinto says. "I had relatives in Worcester who told me 
about WPI." Scinto was admitted and earned a bachelor's 
degree in civil engineering in 1951. 

In his senior year, he took a course in engineering and the 
law and became intrigued. When he returned to New York, he 
enrolled at St. John's University and pursued a bachelor of laws 
degree at night while working at various engineering jobs 
during the day. He received his degree in 1956 and went on to 
earn a master's degree in law at New York University in 1959. 

Still, he didn't intend to work as a patent attorney; he says 
he thought a knowledge of the legal field would be helpful in his 
work as an engineer. But after spending a year as a contract 
administrator at an engineering firm, he took a job as a patent 
attorney for American Machine and Foundry Co. and has never 
looked back. 

For American Machine, he prosecuted patents on technol- 
ogy used in such devices as bowling pin-spotting machines, 
cigarette-making and -packaging machines, and bread- 
wrapping machinery. In 1960 he joined the New York firm of 
Morgan, Finnegan, Durham & Pine. Three years later he joined 
Ward, Haselton, McElhannon, Orme, Brooks & Fitzpatrick, 
where he eventually became a partner. 

In 1971 , he joined with other attorneys in forming Fitzpatrick, 
Cella, Harper & Scinto, where he is a senior partner today. 
With 65 attorneys in the main office on Park Avenue, another 
22 in an office in Washington, D.C., and three lawyers in a 

Los Angeles office, the firm is one of 
the largest intellectual property prac- 
tices in the country. 

Over the years, Scinto, who was 
recently elected to membership in the 
American College of Trial Lawyers, 
has focused more and more of his 
energies on patent litigation, which he 
has pursued for such clients as Exxon, DuPont, Merck, Monsanto, 
S.C. Johnson & Son, and Emerson Electric. The cases he has 
handled have run the gamut of technical disciplines and industries. 
Early in his career, he worked on cases involving the high- 
speed manufacture of replacement radiator hoses for cars. He 
brought suit for DuPont against Hercules Chemical Co. over a 
patent for the photosensitive material used in making printed 
circuit boards. And he successfully defended Merck in a suit 
over its patents for crystalline and highly refined forms of 
vitamin B12. 

More recently, he worked on a case for DuPont and its 
licensees involving a patent for a plastic material used to make 
the expandable balloons for aortic catheters. Also working 
for DuPont, he was able to prove that a patent granted to 
another manufacturer for the use of the space-age plastic 
Kevlar in brake linings was invalid because previous DuPont 
publications already covered that application. Currently in 
litigation is a case that pits client Emerson Electric against 
General Electric in a fight dealing with brushless permanent- 
magnet motors. 

"Everyday it's something new," says Scinto, who notes that 
working as a patent attorney has dispelled a myth he once 
had about the field. "I had the misconception that patent law 
was a very dull, stodgy area of legal practice. I could not have 
been more wrong. To me, it's among the most exciting and 
challenging areas. It's not always exciting, of course, but by 
and large it's the kind of thing I look forward to coming to 
work for every day." 

WPI Journal 


(Continued from Page 34) 

While the agency says it will be willing to transfer the 
rights to these sequences to biotechnology companies that 
can put them to good use, those same companies fear that 
granting the NIH patents on the gene segments will make it 
harder for them to get patents on the full genes, since knowl- 
edge of the sequences may make the genes obvious. "It will be 
interesting to see what the future holds for patenting efforts 
of this type," Kokulis says. 

| f there was only one patent system in the world, life — 
_ _ while not easy — would be a great deal simpler for patent 
attorneys. In fact, nearly every nation maintains its own patent 
system and within those many systems are a host of 
conflicting requirements and rules. 

As global competition in business and industry has inten- 
sified in recent decades, the need for companies and indi- 
vidual inventors to protect their intellectual property outside 
of their home countries has grown. One indication of this is 
the changing nature of the clientele of the U.S. Patent Office. 

"Foreign companies are getting about one of every two 

patents granted by our patent office today," Scinto notes. "In 
1992, four of the top five companies getting patents issued in 
their names were non-U.S. firms. The Japanese, in particular, 
are quite sophisticated about using, not only our system, but 
patent systems around the world." 

With the growth of international patenting, has come a 
rising interest in "harmonizing" the rules governing the many 
national patent offices. The goal is to make the process of 
applying for patents in multiple countries easier and fairer. In 
the long term, such efforts may someday bring about a truly 
international patent, which would provide access to patent pro- 
tection in many — if not all — countries with a single application. 

An important step along this road was taken more than a 
century ago when a number of countries signed the Paris 
Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. About 
100 nations now adhere to the Paris Convention, which re- 
quires a signatory country to treat applicants from other 
countries exactly as it does those within its own borders. It 
also grants inventors one full year from the time they first file 
an application in any member country to file applications in 
other nations. During that year, the inventor can preserve his 
right of priority, should priority of invention become an issue. 

Students Pursue Patent Careers and Project: 

While the majority of WPI's graduates go on to careers in 
the disciplines in which they major, a growing number 
are using their engineering and science degrees as 
stepping-stones to other types of professional occupations. Each 
year, about six of those students go on to study law, according to 
Kent J. Rissmiller, assistant professor of social science and policy 
studies and one of two advisors for WPI's pre-Iaw program. 

"For the first time this year, most of those students are inter- 
ested in patent law," Rissmiller says. "They are selecting law 
schools because of their patent law programs and expect that the 
field is the best way for them to combine their education in engi- 
neering or science and their interest in law. 

"I think it shows, in part, that students are a little nervous 
about the availability of engineering jobs and about what kinds 
of jobs they'll be qualified for if they have only a bachelor's de- 
gree. They don't want to ignore or set aside their four years at 
WPI; they just want to find other ways to use that education." 

Rissmiller says students with a technical background often 
have an advantage in applying to graduate programs that special- 
ize in technical areas of law, like the law of intellectual property, 
utility regulation and the environment. "In general," he says, "I 
tell students that having an engineering or science degree is no 
handicap whatsoever in getting into law school. These schools 
don't put a lot of weight on an applicant's major. They're looking 
for someone who can handle graduate education." 

Through WPI's pre-law program, students receive special 
advising about career opportunities, preparing for law school ex- 
ams, and applying to law school. In addition, students can take a 
sequence of law courses in the areas of management, history and 
social science. 

"These courses expose students to the kinds of problems, the 
kinds of cases, and the kinds of materials they will encounter as 
law students," Rissmiller says. "We want them to see if they find 
it interesting and if they can adapt to learning through the case 
format used in law courses." 

Patent law has also played an important role in WPI's under- 
graduate project program. For nearly two decades, students have 
been completing Interactive Qualifying Projects (IQPs) with the 
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office while in residence at the 
Institute's Washington, D.C., Project Center. 

The relationship with the Patent Office began in 1974 with 
the assistance of C. Marshall Dann '35, who was then commis- 
sioner of patents and trademarks. It has continued since then, 
making it WPI's longest relationship with an off-campus project 
sponsor. Over the years, more than 20 projects have been com- 
pleted with the office. 

The projects have focused on such areas as the classification 
system used by the Patent Office and the use of modern automa- 
tion technology in patent searches and other patent-related func- 
tions. Many have used data about patenting activity to learn about 


Spring 1993 

:..-.. . . .'./■■...:■ 

There are currently a few regional patent offices that 
enable inventors to file a single application and be granted 
patents in multiple countries. The European Patent Office 
covers 14 nations on that continent. Other such arrange- 
ments cover the English- and French-speaking nations of 
Africa and the Benelux nations. 

In the early 1980s, a movement began to bring even 
greater uniformity to the international patent community. 
Since then, the World Intellec- . . 

tual Property Organization 
(W1PO), a special agency of 
the United Nations, has 
drafted a treaty aimed at har- 
monizing international patent 
procedures. Marshall Dann, 

who attended meetings of the W1PO when he was U.S. patent 
commissioner in the 1970s, says that if the U.S. is to ultimately 
sign this treaty (as several nations have already done), it will 
have to make a fundamental change in its patent system. 

"Everywhere else in the world, with the exception of the 
Philippines, they have a first-to-file system," he says. "We've 
stayed with our first-to-invent system." A first-to-file system 

The U.S. will have to abandon 

the first-to-invent rule sooner or later. 

grants a patent to the first inventor to get his application into 
the patent office. The U.S. system is careful to award a patent to 
the first person to actually realize a new technology. 

"There are virtues to a first-to-invent system," Dann says. 
"Because he doesn't have to worry about somebody stealing 
his idea, an inventor has time to develop and perfect it before 
running to the patent office. In theory, that results in higher 
quality patents. 

"The great virtue of the 
first-to-file system is its sim- 
plicity. It also eliminates the 
need for interferences, which 
can be burdensome. One key 
argument against the system 
is that it might encourage 
sloppy and incomplete patent applications, which could re- 
sult in more rejections and more vulnerable patents." 

Dann says a first-to-file system may also favor large com- 
panies, which have the resources to file patent applications 
quickly. He says because most large U.S. companies patent 
their inventions overseas, they already operate as if the U.S. 
had a first-to-file system. 


the process of creating and using new technology in the U.S. and 
about the social and economic implications of technology. 

Jane Meyers, the Institute's primary contact in the Patent Of- 
fice, says one project that particularly impressed her examined 
the impact of maintenance fees on patent holders. The fees, first 
assessed in the early 1980s, must be paid by inventors every four 
years to keep a patent valid. 

"This project alerted us to the fact that we weren't notifying 
inventors adequately about the fact that these maintenance fees 
were due," she says. "As a result, the office instituted new proce- 
dures to notify inventors. We took the students' report, condensed it 
and published it. We distributed that publication to a lot of people." 

A 1985 project looked at how placing the Patent Office's vast 
collection of patents on CD ROM affected the way people use 
those patents to do searches. The project was advised by Susan 
Vernon-Gerstenfeld, adjunct associate professor and director of 
the Washington Project Center. She used the data the students 
gathered under her direction to complete a Ph.D. dissertation 
that predicted how comfortable Patent Office employees would be 
adopting the new technology. "The male patent examiners who had 
been there the longest were the most reluctant users," she says. 

"Projects like these can be of real value to the Patent Office," 
Vernon-Gerstenfeld says. "They don't have enough personnel to 
do this work or enough resources. So sponsoring a project is a 
good way to get a lot of talented labor. And our track record with 
them is very good, or they wouldn't have kept coming back for 
nearly 20 years." 

That assessment is confirmed by Meyers: "The students have 
often planted seeds for further research on our part and in many 

cases we have followed through. I've got all the reports here in 
my office and we do use them — even the ones with older data— 
for reference." 

When WPI opened the London Project Center in 1985, the 
Institute's track record with the U.S. Patent Office opened the 
door to the British Patent Office, where projects have been con- 
ducted regularly since then. Later, the British connection would 
help lay the groundwork for a series of projects with the Office of 
Registrar General in Hong Kong, which is responsible for all areas 
of commercial law on the island. 

In Britain, many patent-related projects have focused on the 
satisfaction users feel with the services they receive from the 
British Patent Office. "The patent office perceived the enormous 
value of having WPI students, who are disarming and nonthreat- 
ening, gathering impartial responses from users," says Lance 
Schachterle, associate dean of undergraduate studies and direc- 
tor of the London Project Center. 

The first project done with the British office looked at whether 
the creation of the European Patent Office might make the ser- 
vices of the British office obsolete. "The students came up with 
what we were told was a better, more accurate report than one 
the patent office had commissioned from a professional consult- 
ing firm," Schachterle says. 

The report found that many British inventors would prefer to 
use their own patent office over the European office because it of- 
fers the services they need at a lower cost. "The patent search 
arm of the British Patent Office had thought it might go out of 
business," Schachterle says. "The students' report convinced 
them they had a future." 

WPI Journal 


Morgan D. Rosenberg '95 has been looking into these ques- 
tions for his Interactive Qualifying Project, which will examine 
how the transition to a first-to-file system might affect inven- 
tors in the U.S. He says he has concluded from his research 
that many of the fears about first-to-file may be unfounded. 

"People who are for the first-to-file system say that while, 
in theory, small inventors could be hurt, it doesn't seem to 
happen in the real world," he notes. "And the level of quality 
of patents really depends on what individual countries re- 
quire in the way of disclosure, rather than on whether or not 
they have a first-to-file system. Right now the U.S. has the 
strictest level of disclosure requirements of any country. If 
we switch to a first-to-file system, we'd probably retain those." 

"The U.S. will have to abandon the first-to-invent rule sooner 
or later," Craig says. But he notes that many nations are more 
concerned about other provisions in U.S. law they consider 
discriminatory. "For example," he notes, "the patent system 
now favors U.S. inventors, because you cannot establish the 
date of your invention by activities abroad, such as conception 
of the invention or reduction to practice." 

"Some say this gives U.S. companies a big advantage in 
interferences," Dann says. "It's true that we say that our law 
treats everybody the same — if you develop something in the 
U.S., you are on a par with us. That sticks in the craw of 
foreign companies. 

"I don't know how the U.S. is going to come out on this," 
Dann adds. "There are a great many people — including, I think, 
the current administration — who favor the U.S. becoming like 
everybody else. A great many other people cherish the first- 
to-invent system. They note that the U.S. will get little in return 
for giving it up. We'll just have to wait and see." 

r^atent law is an interesting field," Dann says. "It's a nice 
x. combination of law and technology. You can use what you 
know of science and engineering and you'll always find your- 
self at the leading edge of technology, because every applica- 
tion that you get into is, by definition, new." 

How does a young man or woman get into the field? To 
begin with, Kokulis says, a technical degree is a must, because 
of the complex nature of the material a patent attorney must 
deal with. "All but a few of the people in our firm have a 
scientific background, and many started out by working 
in a scientific area," he says. "The few who do not have 
technical degrees work in trademarks and copyrights." 

Once a prospective attorney has earned a law degree, 
what is the next step? "There are three common ways to 
break into the field," Craig says. "You can go to work for the 
Patent Office as a patent examiner and attend law school at 
night. This way you learn the rules and the thinking of the 
Patent Office, which is valuable. You can work for a firm. In 
Washington, people are hired right out of college; they do 
searches at first while they earn their law degrees at, night. 

"Or you can work for a company, especially one that has a 
Washington office for training patent attorneys. To take ad- 
vantage of the opportunity to choose from among a wider 
range of law schools, however, companies are cutting back on 

Morgan Rosenberg '95 says his research for an IQP 
on patent harmonization convinced him that many 
objections to the first-to-file system are unfounded. 

their Washington training offices." 

Each option has advantages and disadvantages, Kokulis 
says. "At the Patent Office you'll gain a lot of experience 
quickly and probably have more responsibility. At a firm you'll 
progress more slowly, but you'll have greater variety in the 
work you do. At a corporation you'll have a narrower expo- 
sure, because your cases will concern whatever technology 
the company specializes in." 

Craig says there is a fourth alternative not often consid- 
ered — serving as a clerk to a judge, especially a judge of the 
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. "This will give you 
exposure to all sorts of cases," he says. "Many law firms pay a 
premium for attorneys who have had such experience." 

What are the prospects for a new patent attorney? Cur- 
rently, the demand for young men and women in this field is 
so great many firms are "growing" their own patent attorneys, 
the Boston Globe recently reported. One Boston firm 
is sending engineers to law school at its own expense. 

New patent attorneys will join a small but growing fra- 
ternity. According to the American Intellectual Property Law 
Association, there are about 12,000 intellectual property 
lawyers in the U.S. — fewer than 2 percent of all attorneys 
listed by the American Bar Association. Those professionals 
might find they have an important advantage over their peers, 
Kokulis notes. 

"Young people ask me about the practice of law," he says. 
"I tell them that if you go into criminal law, you'll probably get 
rather disenchanted with human nature. And I can see how 
one might find domestic relations law, where you are con- 
stantly confronted with people in turmoil, a bit depressing. 
But patent law mostly has ups. You are dealing with people 
who are out there making new inventions that, hopefully, 
will contribute to everybody's well-being and happiness." 


Spring 1993 


Playing Matchmaker to Methane 


^^ ometimes called marsh gas or fire- 
f | damp, methane constitutes about 
1^/ 85 percent of natural gas and is 
also produced by the decomposition of 
organic matter. In addition to its use as 
a fuel, methane has long been an impor- 
tant starting point in a host of commer- 
cially important chemical processes. 

In the petrochemical industry, for 
example, methane is often used to make 
synthesis gas (carbon monoxide and 
hydrogen), which is used, in turn, in the 
manufacture of methanol and ammonia. 
Since methane is abundant and cheap, 
a major goal of the industry is to find a 
way to convert methane to ethylene, a 
chemical building block used to make 
ethylene glycol, polyvinyl chloride, sty- 
rene, polyethylene, fabric finishes, latex 
paints and a host of other products. 

To make ethylene in this way, two 
molecules of methane must be combined 
in a process known as oxidative dimeriza- 
tion. In practice, this is a difficult process 
to control and produces poor yields, gener- 
ally in the range of just 25 to 30 percent, 
says Yi Hua Ma, professor of chemical engi- 
neering and director of WPI's Center for In- 
organic Membrane Studies. 

"It is not easy to put two methane mol- 
ecules together," Ma says, "since methane 
does not readily react with itself. To make 
the reaction work, you must control the 
oxidation of the methane. When you burn 
methane, you completely oxidize it, pro- 
ducing carbon dioxide and water. But in 
the dimerization reaction, you partially 
oxidize the methane molecules, producing 
some carbon dioxide and water and some 
useful products." 

With a three-year contract for $690,590 
from the U.S. Department of Energy, Ma and 
chemical engineering professors Anthony 
G. Dixon and William R. Moser are attempt- 
ing to develop an inorganic membrane sys- 
tem that will significantly increase the yield 
of the dimerization reaction by both con- 

From left, William Moser, Anthony Dixon and 
Yi Hua Ma are developing an inorganic membrane 
system to convert methane into ethylene. 

trolling the rate at which oxygen mixes 
with the methane and promoting the 
coupling of the methane molecules. 

Inorganic membranes are generally 
made by building up increasingly fine 
layers of inorganic materials like alumina, 
zirconia and glass. The finest layers have 
a uniform network of tiny pores that let 
some compounds pass through, while 
holding others back. The properties of a 
membrane can be controlled by deposit- 
ing various compounds — including cata- 
lysts — inside the pores. 

In their research, the WPI team is 
developing a tube-shaped membrane 
with oxygen-permeable and catalytically 
active layers lining the interior of the 
tube. Methane will flow through the cen- 
ter of the tube while oxygen diffuses in 
from the outside to partially oxidize it. 

The team is currently experimenting 
with ways to control the structure of the 
membrane to permit only oxygen to pass 
through. In addition, they plan to deposit 
electrically conductive materials inside 

the pores of the membrane to enhance 
the movement of the electrically charged 
oxygen molecules. 

"We are looking at various oxides that 
will allow oxygen to permeate through at 
the high temperatures normally used in 
the methane dimerization process," Ma 
says. "By choosing the right material, 
we hope to be able to control the partial 
pressure of oxygen and, in turn, control 
the reaction to produce the best yield 

By the end of the three-year contract 
period, Ma says the team hopes to have 
developed a mechanism for increasing 
the yield of the dimerization reaction and 
to have determined how best to scale the 
membrane system up to a large enough 
size to handle the huge volumes of inex- 
pensive methane that are produced by 

"For the project to be successful, 
the process must be economically feasible," 
Ma says. "We may find that even though 
the membrane works, it is too expensive to 
build. Or it may not be easy to use for mass 
production in an industrial setting. We are 
hoping we can overcome all these difficul- 
ties, but it is a very, very difficult problem. 
Otherwise, someone would have done it. 
"However," he adds, "if the technique 
works and the conversion rate is high 
enough, this membrane system could be 
worth billions of dollars to the chemical, 
petrochemical and plastics industries." 
The Inorganic Membrane Center was 
established in 1988 to study how the mem- 
branes work, how best to make them and 
how to apply them in a broad range of 
industries, including the chemical and bio- 
technology industries. The center includes 
faculty and graduate students from the 
Chemical Engineering, Biology and Biotech- 
nology, and Mechanical Engineering depart- 
ments. Current industrial sponsors include 
Mobil Oil Corp. and Amoco Oil Co. 

—Michael Dorsey 

WPI Journal 



Richard Hansen Is Helping 
Power Up the Developing World 

U elipe Martinez can now regularly 
I keep his country store open past 
A sundown and the local community 
center can extend its programs well into 
the evening. Why is that news? Well until a 
few years ago, there was no reliable source 
of electricity for lighting in the rural town 
of Bella Vista in the Puerto Plata region of 
the Dominican Republic. If the store and 
community center were occasionally open 
evenings, shoppers and center visitors 
were disturbed by the fumes from kero- 
sene lamps. 

Richard Hansen 76, a professional engi- 
neer who received his bachelor's degree in 
mechanical engineering from WPI and his 
M.B.A. from Boston University, is the cata- 
lyst for these electrifying changes. Nine 
years ago he founded Enersol Associates 
Inc., a nonprofit international development 
organization in Somerville, Mass., that spe- 
cializes in solar-based rural electrification. 
He's served since then as Enersol's execu- 
tive director. 

Enersol's goal is to foster rural solar 
electrification around the globe. Its ap- 
proach to business, which it calls SO-BASEC, 
makes use of recent advances in photovol- 
taic technology and local human and insti- 
tutional resources to bring power and light 
to communities beyond the reach of exist- 
ing distribution networks. 

"It's impractical to run traditional 
electric lines through heavily wooded or 
remote terrain," says Hansen, a former 
manager of industrial and manufacturing 
engineering for Westinghouse. "Besides, 
it would be bad for the environment." 

Hansen went to the Dominican Repub- 
lic in April 1984 to install one of his first 
cost-effective, small-scale PV systems at 
the Martinez home and store in Bella Vista. 
The system, typical of others installed 
since then as a result of Enersol's efforts, 
included a solar photovoltaic module, an 
automotive battery and a simple control- 
junction box. 

"It provided enough power to run the 
family's television and radio and to keep 
lights operating throughout the home and 
market," Hansen says. "Community mem- 
bers visited, discussed the system, and 

Ydalia Alcantara, a Dominican seam- 
stress, works under an electric light 
powered by one of Enersol's solar 
electric systems. The systems have 
replaced dim and smelly kerosene 
lamps in homes and businesses. 

soon were convinced that the technology 
suited their needs." 

In such a low-income area, paying for 
systems up front was a problem. So in 
December 1984, Enersol helped 10 families 
organize themselves into ADESOL, a solar 
energy development association. The orga- 
nization maintains a revolving loan fund 
that enables people to buy home systems. 
"It may well be the first solar electric re- 
volving credit fund in the Third World," 
Hansen says. 

The U.S. Agency for International Dev- 
elopment mission in the Dominican Repub- 
lic provided $2,000 in seed money for the 
fund. By March 1985, five systems had 
been financed, with users paying about 
$10 a month for energy services. Buyers 
pay back the $500 cost for a system over 
four years. With a community-based credit 
mechanism in place, Enersol then tackled 
the problem of system servicing and sales. 

"We worked with a local entrepreneur 
to establish a small hardware and electri- 
cal supply store," Hansen says. "The store 
became the solar service center for the 
region, a place where customers could 
order new systems, buy spare parts, re- 
quest service or arrange short-term financ- 
ing. Business boomed. Typically, a success- 
fully installed system would result in a 
number of other sales." 

Enersol next trained six local youths 
to install and service solar home systems. 
As the young technicians were completing 
their training, ADESOL received a $3,500 
USA1D grant to finance systems for eight 
additional homes and businesses. The 
work gave the youths immediate practical 
experience. Peace Corps volunteers at- 
tended the second training session, then 
spread word of the technology to commu- 
nities where they worked. 

With a grant from the U.S. Department 
of Energy, Enersol and the University of 


Spring 1993 

Massachusetts — Lowell prepared a case 
study of the organization's activity in the 
Dominican Republic. The 150-page report 
described this unique experience of a U.S. 
company disseminating photovoltaic tech- 
nology at the grass-roots level in a devel- 
oping country. It also provided important 
lessons to others who might choose to 
follow in Enersol's footsteps. 

Between 1984 and 1992, about 4,000 
home lighting systems were installed by 
Dominicans; about half of these can be 
traced directly to Enersol's training and 
financing initiatives. Owners say they are 
pleased with their systems, because they 
put them in control of their own electrical 
power. One noted that rural solar system 
owners are better off than city dwellers 
who depend entirely on centralized elec- 
tricity. "While the lights go out daily in 
Dominican cities," he said, "they stay on in 
Bella Vista." 

Now that solar electric technology has 
gained a foothold in the Dominican Repub- 
lic, Hansen is planning similar programs in 
other countries in Latin America and the 
Caribbean. He says solar systems can pro- 
vide these nations with power and light for 

homes, farms, schools, health clinics and 
community centers. Unlike other rural 
energy options, he notes, solar energy 
systems emit no acid rain or greenhouse 
gases, use no power lines, and require no 
dams, mines or refineries. 

Enersol has developed a comprehen- 
sive program to foster solar-based rural 
electrification at the community, national 
and international levels. Its Energy Enter- 
prise Development Activities encourage 
the creation of local photovoltaic service 
enterprises that sell, install and maintain 
systems in remote rural communities. In- 
stitutional Support Activities help groups 
start solar-based rural electrification pro- 
grams. And Public Outreach and Education 
Activities provide information about the 
economic, environmental and technologi- 
cal aspects of photovoltaic systems and 
their application in the developing world. 

Enersol's efforts to aid developing 
countries have not gone unnoticed. Its 
Dominican Republic program has received 
international recognition and support from 
such institutions as the World Bank, the 
Central Bank of the Dominican Republic, 
the USAID Office of Energy, the U.S. Peace 

Richard Hansen, far right, Enersol's executive director, and Eric Johnson, second 
from left, the organization's training coordinator, pose with a group of Dominican 
technicians at a training site in Bella Vista. The technicians install and service 
Enersol's home solar photovoltaic systems. Since 1984, more than 2,000 systems 
have been installed in the Dominican Republic as a result of Enersol's efforts. 

Technicians Milo Martinez, left, and 
Cesar Hiraldo carry a solar electric 
system to a rural home in Bella 
Vista. Enersol is planning similar 
programs elsewhere in Latin 
America and the Caribbean. 

Corps, the Electric Power Research 
Institute, Sandia National Laboratories, 
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the United 
Nations, and the National Rural Electric 
Cooperative Association. 

Early on, Hansen's efforts also caught 
the interest of WPI Professor Edward N. 
Clarke, who was then planning WPI's 
Center for Solar Electrification. The two 
presented a workshop at WPI on solar 
electrification in developing countries. 
One of the first Interactive Qualifying 
Projects completed through the center, 
PV Promotion for Rural Electrification, was 
done by Visarut Asvaraksh '88 and Aswin 
Pinsuvana '89 from Tailand, who benefited 
from Hansen's early experience in the 
Dominican Republic. 

"We've been encouraged by the results 
of our efforts to date," says Hansen, who 
has recently been involved in feasibility 
studies in Belize, Guatemala and Bolivia, 
and has served as a consultant under con- 
tract with the World Bank for the introduc- 
tion of solar electric technology in Yemen. 
"But there is still much to be done by ev- 
eryone. Globally, an estimated two billion 
people have no electricity." 

— Ruth Trask 

1 1 * * 

f i ft ■ £> 

v ^ r -**^. 









*>-..,..,.; ^^H 

A Special Issue 
on Medicine 

Front Cover: Assisted by a surgical 
nurse, plastic surgeon Dr. Raymond 
Dunn 78 operates at the University of 
Massachusetts Medical Center. Photo 
by John Ferrarone. Story on page 25. 

This Page: David S. Adams, associ- 
ate professor of biology and biotech- 
nology, examines the genetic map of a 
gene for a neurotrophic factor. Photo 
by Janet Woodcock. Story on page 10. 

Back Coven Higgins Labs is sur- 
rounded by lush summer greenery. 
Plans are being drawn up for a major 
overhaul of this home of the Mechan- 
ical Engineering Department Photo 
by Donald F. Berth '57. 



WFI Journal 






Fantastic Voyages Michael Dorsey 

In laboratories all across campus, researchers are at work attacking a broad 
range of medical problems — from treating stroke, to mapping the heart, to 
understanding diabetes. 

Greetings From WPI...Wish You Were Here 

Summer is the season for vacations, and vacations mean postcards. Here is a 
collection of the popular mailers that have featured pictures of the Institute 
over the years. 

WPI and the Healing Arts 

Diane Benison, Carol Campbell, Allison Chisolm and Ruth Trask 

Meet some of the many alumni who have used their WPI educations as 

preparation for rewarding careers in medicine... 

Atliina Kyritsis '87, pediatrician, page 26 • Raymond Dunn 78, plastic surgeon, 
page 27 • Daniel Pender '63, otologic surgeon, page 29 • David Crimmins '58, 
dentist, page 30 • Bruce Minsky 77, radiation oncologist, page 31 • Allison 
Nunn 73, critical care nurse, page 32 • Bruce Haffty 76, radiation oncologist, 
page 33 • Mark Mahoney 74, emergency room physician, page 34 • George 
Batten '67, health service director, page 36 • Francis Kiernan 75, cardiologist, 
page 37 • Carolyn Jones 79, industrial hygienist, page 38 • William AuBuchon 
'82, anesthesiologist, page 39 • Lauren Baker '82, preclinical program manager, 
page 40 • Thomas Gudewicz 78, undersea medicine specialist, page 41 • 
Emanuel Furst '69 (Ph.D.), biomedical consultant, page 43 



L Advance Word Michael Dorsey 
The education of a health professional. 

J Letters 

Readers respond to recent articles on the humanities at WPI 
and the Global Perspective Program. 

4 Input John T. O'Connor 

Are we finally ready to rein in the health care system? 

7 Explorations Michael Dorsey and Bonnie Gelbwasser 

A sampler of student projects in rehabilitation engineering and medicine. 

44 Final Word Ruth Trask 

How tavern owner Chandler Jones '26 has preserved a bit of history. 

Staff of the WPI Journal: Editor, Michael W. Dorsey • Alumni News Editor, Ruth S. Trask • Writers, Diane Benison, Bonnie Gelbwasser and Neil Norum • Designer, Michael J. Sherman • 
Photographer, Janet Woodcock. • Alumni Publications Committee: Samuel Mencow '37, chairman • Paul J. Cleary 71 • James S. Demetry '58 • Judith Donahue SIM '82 • William J. Firla 
Jr. '60 • William R. Grogan '46 • Carl A. Keyser '39 • Robert C. Labonte '54 • Roger N. Perry Jr. '45 • Harlan B. Williams '50 • The WPI Journal (ISSN 0148-6128) is published quarterly for the 
WPI Alumni Association by the Office of University Relations. Second-class postage paid at Worcester, Mass., and additional mailing offices. Printed by The Lane Press, Burlington, Vt. 
Printed in the U.S.A. 

Diverse views presented in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or official WPI policies. We welcome letters to the editor. Address correspondence to the Editor, 
WPUournal, WPI, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609-2280. Phone: (508) 831-5609, FAX: (508) 831-5604, Electronic Mail (Internet), Postmaster: If undeliverable, 
please send form 3579 to the address above. Do not return publication. Entire contents © 1993, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. 


"All medical 
schools look for 
evidence of inde- 
pendent work or 

research of the 
type fostered by 

the WPIPlan. " 

The Education 

of a Health Professional 

What do WPI graduates 
do for a living? The an- 
swer to that question 
may surprise you. Many, of 
course, have adhered to the ca- 
reer paths most often associated 
with their major fields of study. 

But more and more, WPI 
alumni are using their educations 
as starting points for lines of 
work that diverge from these tra- 
ditional occupations. In the Fall 
1991 issue of the WPI Journal we 

focused on alumni who work in 

the food industry, doing every- 
thing from farming to running restaurants. More recently, we profiled 
engineering and science graduates who've built successful careers as 
patent attorneys. 

Over the past few years, readers of the Journal and the WPI Wire 
have met graduates who work as actors, artists, musicians, writers, 
artists' agents, furniture makers, cartographers, teachers, judges, 
golf pros, corporate travel managers and pilots. And we are just be- 
ginning to scratch the surface. 

One field that has traditionally attracted many WPI graduates is 
medicine. In this special issue of the Journal we profile 15 alumni 
who work as physicians, as well as in a host of other medically 
related professions. These stories begin on page 25. You will also 
find — beginning on page 10 — a round-up of medically oriented 
research under way on campus. 

For students contemplating careers in medicine, WPI offers the 
Pre-Health Professions Program, which helps students prepare for 
careers in medicine, dental medicine and veterinary medicine. Stu- 
dents who want to be veterinarians can also apply to the highly suc- 
cessful B.S./D.V.M. program that WPI offers in conjunction with the 
Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. A select group of 
high school seniors are admitted each year to both institutions; they 
will study at WPI and then at Tufts, earning a B.S. in biochemistry, 
biology/biotechnology or biomechanics from the Institute and a 
doctorate in veterinary medicine from Tufts. 

Through the Pre-Health Professions Program, pre-health profes- 
sions advisors — Jill Rulfs, assistant professor of biology and biotech- 
nology, and Douglas T. Browne, associate professor of chemistry — 
provide interested students with advice on the courses they will 
need to take at WPI to prepare for medical school admission and 
also help them through the process of taking the Medical College 
Admission Test (MCAT) and applying to medical schools. 

Beginning next year, students will have the opportunity to 
perform volunteer work at local hospitals, doing such tasks as help- 

Kim Marquis '88, currently a resident at the University of 
Washington Medical Center, says WPI's project-oriented 
education and strong science programs helped prepare 
her for medical school. 

ing out in medical labs and emergency rooms or serving as patient 
advocates and translators. According to Rulfs, many students who 
intend to apply to medical school get additional hospital-based ex- 
perience through their required WPI projects. 

"These projects can give students a real competitive advantage," 
she says. "They learn a bit more about how the medical system 
works and make valuable contacts." Last year, about 60 students 
conducted Interactive Qualifying Projects and Major Qualifying Proj- 
ects at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and Saint 
Vincent Hospital in Worcester, at two hospitals in San Francisco affil- 
iated with WPI's San Francisco Project Center, at the Tufts Veteri- 
nary School and at other health-related facilities in the Worcester 
area. (See "Explorations," page 7, for examples of recent medically 
related projects.) 

The Pre-Health Professions Program is regularly evaluated by the 
Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee, which is composed of 
WPI alumni and other health professionals. On-campus seminars by 
working medical professionals provide students with insight into 
current issues in medicine and into the demands and rewards of 
their prospective professions. 

Currently, 87 WPI students participate in the Pre-Health Profes- 
sions Program. The Class of 1997 includes about 50 members who 
have already expressed an interest in pursuing a medical career, a 

Summer 1993 


significant jump from recent classes. 
Each year, between five and 10 students 
apply to medical schools, a number that 
is expected to triple within three years 
due to rising interest among current stu- 

Rulfs says WPI students consistently 
perform at or above the national average 
on the MCAT and are at or above the av- 
erage in medical school admissions rates. 
But, she notes, medical school admissions 
currently "are as competitive as they have 
ever been." While WPI does not "weed 
out" any candidate from its pre-health 
program, as some colleges do, it does ad- 
vise all students interested in health ca- 
reers to be prepared to pursue other pro- 
fessions, should they not win admission 
to medical, dental or veterinary school. 

As you will see as you read this issue, 
alumni who have made the cut and built 
successful careers as medical profes- 
sionals consistently look back at their WPI 
education as a major reason for their suc- 
cess in the field. In particular, the empha- 
sis of the Institute's academic program on 
self-study and small-group teaching is 
consistent with the teaching approach of 
most medical schools, and the experience 
in problem solving students gain through 
their projects is excellent preparation for 
medical diagnosis and research. 

Kim Marquis '88 is putting her train- 
ing to work as a second-year resident in 
internal medicine at the University of 
Washington Medical Center in Seattle. 
She received her M.D. from Duke Univer- 
sity School of Medicine. "I felt well pre- 
pared for medical school — especially in 
the area of molecular biology — because 
of WPI's strong science programs," she 
says. "I also feel a technical background 
can be invaluable considering the exten- 
sive use of computers and sophisticated 
equipment in medicine today." 

Notes Bruce Minsky 77, who is pro- 
filed on page 31, "All medical schools 
look for evidence of independent work or 
research of the type fostered by the WPI 
Plan. There still aren't many undergradu- 
ate students who have this kind of expe- 
rience; it's what distinguishes the WPI 
applicant from thousands of others ap- 
plying to medical schools. Being able to 
independently think a problem through 
and carry it out from beginning to end is 
critical, because it's exactly the skill you 
use when treating patients." 

—Michael Dorsey 

To the Editor: 

An eager reader of the WPI Journal, I found the Winter 1993 issue the most interesting 
that 1 have read in 43 years. 

From the opening of the first assembly of my freshman class, 1 recall only one thing. 
The first speaker was Dean Howe. After approaching the lectern in Alden Memorial, he 
scanned the assembled class— 90 percent World War II veterans-and said, "Gentlemen, 
look at the man on your left and the man on your right. A year from now, one will not be 
here and the other will take five years to graduate." 

I returned the next year following a successful two semesters of study that I did not find 
difficult. However, I completed only one more semester, having already decided to transfer 
to Clark University. That decision was made upon discovering that, while the engineering 
program was satisfactory, an educational setting wherein most students felt that taking an 
English course was a waste of time was too stifling an environment for me. I found my satis- 
faction in degrees from Clark and Harvard. 

My associations and friends from WPI have re- 
mained strong and I watched with pleasure the in- 
troduction of a meaningfully integrated program in 
the humanities at the Institute. If I had entered WPI 
at anytime from the 1970s on, I would have been 
satisfied. I found your latest exposition on the hu- 
manities program ("Enriching Life and Making a 
Living") the most forceful presentation to date. 

Carl J. Davis '50, West Burke, Vt. 

To the Editor: 

I just received my Spring 1993 WPI Journal and was 
most pleasantly surprised to see the Mapparium 
on the cover. I have been station manager at WCSN, 
the World Service of the Christian Science Monitor, 
since 1987. We, along with our other two stations in 
South Carolina and Saipan, North Mariana Islands, 
broadcast Monitor Radio worldwide via shortwave. 
So with our international involvement, I guess I 
became involved in the "Global Perspective" before 
it became "politically correct." 

Robert "Stess" Stessel '69, Milford, Maine 
(via electronic mail) 

To the Editor: 

1 enjoyed reading "The Whole World in Their 
Hands" (Spring 1993). It's good to see that WPI is 
continuing its efforts as a global educator through 
ongoing expansion of its foreign project centers. 
On page 13, it was mentioned that several fac- 
ulty members are expanding the program beyond 
the IQP such that students will be able to complete 
the MQP abroad. I know of one instance where this has already happened. Paul Wojciak '91 
and 1 completed our MQP at the London Project Center during the summer of 1990. Under 
the direction of Professor Jim Demetry, we evaluated hardware/software/experiments 
used at several existing controls engineering labs at a number of universities in the London 
area. The final report made hardware recommendations and outlined a number of controls 
experiments for use in a much needed (at the time) controls lab at WPI. 

Jason Demerski '91, Pittsfield, Mass. 
(via electronic mail) 

WPI Journal 


Are We Finally Ready to Rein in 
the Health Care System? 

By John T. O'Connor 

By now we're all familiar with the statistics. In the United States 
we spend more than $800 billion a year on health care — 
more than $2 billion a day. That's about 14 percent of the 
total output of the U.S. economy; in other words, we spend about 
one-seventh of all the income our economy generates on this one 
service. In comparison, we spent less than 5 percent of a much 
smaller GDP on medical care in 1950. Even today, England, Canada 
and most Western nations spend about half as much of their 
national output on health care as we do. 

Though we pay more for it, survey after survey has shown that 
Americans are less satisfied with their medical care system than res- 
idents of other countries. And the U.S. ranks poorly in many of the 
basic measures of health — including infant mortality — when com- 
pared to many other nations. 

In the public sector, which pays for about 40 percent of our med- 
ical care costs, these higher expenditures — which continue to grow 
much faster than the rate of inflation — are a cause of great concern. 
Federal, state and local budgets have taken tremendous hits. As a 

result, other valuable and necessary items 

have been crowded out. 

In the private sector, it's estimated that 
37 million Americans have no medical 
insurance; another 20 million are thought to 
be seriously underinsured. This is not just a 
problem for the unemployed; most of the 
uninsured have jobs. Rather, it is a direct 
result of the unaffordably high cost of med- 
ical insurance. Ask business owners and 
they will tell you that they feel that our na- 
tion's competitive position in world mar- 
kets is being drastically undermined by the 
high premiums they pay each year on employee health insurance 

How did we get into this mess? The current problems in health 
care in the U.S. began just after World War II, a period that saw the 
start of a tremendous expansion in the American medical care indus- 
try. In other writings I've referred to this time as the "promotive stage" 
of our health care industry. 

Contrary to the predictions of most economists, the U.S. econ- 
omy did not lapse into recession as the nation demobilized following 
the war. High levels of postwar liquidity led to enormous levels of 
pent-up demand (after the Depression of the 1930s and the forced 
conservation of the defense expansion). Private and public sector 
revenues expanded significantly, setting the stage for income-elastic 
industries — like health care — to grow disproportionately. 

The federal government responded to this relative affluence by 
passing legislation that greatly expanded its own role in medical 

"The postwar expan- 
sion of federal funding 
for medical care was 
accompanied by mas- 
sive growth in private 
sector health insurance. 

care. The Hill Burton Act of 1946 made billions of dollars 
available for new and improved hospitals throughout the 
country. Further billions were provided to finance medical 
research and to increase the supply of physicians. Perhaps 
most significant, Congress in 1965 created Medicare and 
Medicaid to pay for medical care for the elderly and the 
poor, respectively, adding what currently amounts to hun- 
dreds of billions of dollars each year to the cost of medical 
care delivery. 

The postwar expansion of federal funding for medical 
care was accompanied by massive growth in private sec- 
tor health insurance. In an era of relatively cheap insur- 
ance premiums and progressive personal income tax rates, 
organized labor and management considered it wise to fat- 
ten compensation packages with more nontaxable health 
insurance benefits. 

The growth of private and public medical insurance 
was not only acceptable, but advantageous to organized 

medicine (particularly to the 

American Medical Association), 
for it was based on the prevailing 
model of solo-practice, fee-for- 
service, cost-based reimburse- 
ment. The insured were allowed 
freedom of choice in their selec- 
tion of physicians, hospitals, 
etc.; controls on the utilization 
of services were minimal. \ 

By the late 1960s, the con- j 
sequences of the enormous \ 

postwar boost to the medical \ 
industry were becoming increasingly apparent. Medical I 
care inflation was out of control, as costs and expendi- 
tures skyrocketed. It became clear that a massive redistribution 
of income and resources had been taking place — away from 
taxpayers and other private sectors and into the medical care 

Washington's first reaction was to attempt to control the prob- 
lem through regulation. Comprehensive Health Planning legislation, 
signed by President Johnson, was an ambitious and somewhat naive 
attempt to rationalize the American medical care delivery system by 
establishing regional health planning agencies. Although the pack- 
age funded the education of system planners and created invaluable 
sets of statistical data, cooperation from health care providers was 
largely voluntary. In fact, the legislation contained language that re- 
quired it to be implemented "without interference with existing pat- 
terns of private professional practice of medicine...." As a result, the 

Summer 1993 


law was a disappointment to many of those interested in reforming 
the system. 

More legislation followed. A 1972 law created Professional 
Standards Review Organizations to provide peer review of the 
appropriateness of care and the length of hospital stays for patients 
covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Many states in the early 1970s 
adopted "Certificate of Need" laws that required a public body to ap- 
prove capital expenditures or substantive changes in the services 
provided by medical providers. 

The National Health Planning and Resources Development Act of 
1974 consolidated and extended existing legislation, combining ele- 
ments of regulation, health planning and federal funding for facilities 
development. It put the federal government in a proactive role in re- 
forming health care in the U.S., its supporters claimed. 

Despite of all this legislative activity, 
medical care expenditures and price lev- 
els continued to grow much faster than 
the GDP. The deregulatory approach of 
the Reagan and Bush administrations re- 
placed government regulation with 
attempts to improve market competition. 
The Republicans wondered why this in- 
dustry couldn't be made to conform more 
closely to the economist's model of pure 

During this period, funds for health 
planning, the education of new physicians 
and the creation of new medical facilities 
were eliminated or substantially 
curtailed. Private and public efforts con- 
centrated on making consumers better 
informed, promoting competitive Health 
Maintenance Organizations, and reducing 
the barriers to new suppliers of medical 

But this strategy has also failed to halt 
the runaway growth of the medical care 
industry. What's more, growing numbers 
of people are either uninsured or paying 
more out-of-pocket in the form of deduc- 
tibles and coinsurance. And it's widely 
believed that the system is still overex- 
panded — in terms of capital and person- 
nel — and that this excess capacity exacer- 
bates the costliness of the industry. 

It's clear that massive changes must 
be made in the way medical care is 
financed and delivered in the United 
States. Regulation and competitive strate- 
gies have failed to limit the system's ex- 
pansion, and an overly expanded system, 
still financed largely through an expense- 
promoting, cost-based reimbursement 
system and fueled by a government- and 
private-supported network of third-party 
payers, is capable of consuming virtually 
unlimited resources. 

Medical care is still as much an art 
as a science; different physicians frequently follow widely varying 
treatment protocols for the same conditions. Without an incentive 
system that encourages physicians to make more efficient use of re- 
sources and reduces the monopoly power enjoyed by health care 
providers, there is little hope for beneficial change. On the contrary, 
with the aging of the population, the AIDs epidemic and the contin- 
ued expansion of expensive biomedical technology, there is every 
reason to believe the industry will continue to master an ever-grow- 
ing share of our economy. It's no wonder that medical care reform 
was a major issue in the Democratic platform in 1992. 

Although the Clinton proposal is long overdue — delayed, in part, 
by the complexity of the issue and the power of the constituencies 
involved — its likely components are becoming clear. Managed com- 
petition will likely be the delivery system of choice. Under this sys- 

WPI Journal 

tem, provider groups will integrate the financing and delivery of 
medical care. These "Accountable Health Plans" (e.g., Health Main- 
tenance organizations. Preferred Provider Organizations, etc.) will 
compete to provide care to the American public. 

Patients, or consumers, will be organized into advocacy groups, 
variously known as "sponsors," "health insurance purchasing coop- 
eratives" and "health alliances." These will establish the standard 
coverage package, negotiate contracts with provider groups, con- 
duct the annual enrollment/re-enrollment periods, and monitor pa- 
tient complaints and quality issues throughout the contract period. 
Large businesses will likely be the sponsor group for their employ- 
ees. Regional health alliances will serve employees of smaller organi- 
zations and the unemployed. 

Under the managed care proposal, patients will have primary care 
physicians who will serve as "gatekeepers," responsible for providing 
care or directing treatment (access to specialists will require the prior 
approval of one's primary care physician) 

Under managed care, the provider 
group closely monitors the cost and 
quality of care. Incentives for cost con- 
trol, absent under the traditional cost- 
based, fee-for-service delivery system, 
are inherent in such a system. Without 
cost control, the provider group can- 
not establish premiums that will attract 
patients. Quality considerations are also built 
in. Excessive complaints will lead consumer al- 
liances to eliminate provider groups from con- 
sideration during the next enrollment period. 

It's expected that all Americans will be 
required to participate in this system. Financing 
is likely to come primarily from employer-paid premiums. Employers 
above a certain size will be required to participate in the payment of 
their employees' premiums through a health alliance. The 
government will share in the cost of providing coverage to the unem- 
ployed. It appears that vouchers will be provided to Medicaid partic- 
ipants so they can also be part of the new system; Medicare, 
however, may remain autonomous. 

Although such a system has not been implemented anywhere 
else in the world, there are good reasons to expect that it will work 
well in the United States. A medical care system must grow out of — 
and be consistent with — a country's culture to be successful. Most 
existing national health insurance programs are single-payer 
systems in which the government pays for health care through tax 
receipts. But with our devotion to free enterprise, the U.S. 
government has traditionally played a less-encompassing role. 

The likely features of the administration's proposal conform to 
our competitive, capitalistic tradition. Financing is primarily through 
the payment of insurance premiums from the private sector. The 
delivery system will involve competitive bidding among private enti- 
ties. The role of the government will be limited. The monopoly pow- 
er presently in the hands of providers will be limited by the forma- 
tion of health alliances. 

But the government's role will still be substantial. The standard 
benefit package will have to meet certain requirements. A certain 
level of employer contribution will be mandatory, as will participa- 
tion by all Americans. The creation of consumer health alliances will 
require government involvement. And new governmental financing 

will be necessary to provide coverage for some of those who are cur- 
rently uninsured. 

But proponents of the plan insist that it is consistent with the 
"American Way." Its provision of universal coverage will likely appeal 
to liberals concerned with the access problems inherent in the pres- 
ent systems. There are also plan ingredients that will appeal to conser- 
vatives. The role of government will likely be minimal when compared 
to that in most nations with national health insurance. And decentral- 
ized private markets will form the core of the delivery system, permit- 
ting consumers to choose from among various provider groups. 

Still, passage of any such proposal will not be easy, as consumers 
and providers will face significant restrictions on their traditional free- 
doms. HMOs have been around since the 1930s, but while they've 
seen periods of large enrollment gains in recent decades, they've yet 
to attract more than a modest share of the U.S. population. The free- 
dom to choose one's provider and see a specialist without prior ap- 

proval are highly valued (albeit costly) features 

of traditional indemnity insurance plans; there 
will be opposition to their elimination. 

Many Americans now enjoy employer- 
financed medical insurance with lavish benefits; 
QDDfOVQl for itS ^ e ^ cannot De expected to welcome a more ba- 

sic insurance package with increased restric- 

If the adminis- 
tration is to gain 

prOpOSal, it mUSt tions. And most physicians have traditionally 

achieve a consensus 

on the trade-offs of 

the new system. 

worked with an independence and autonomy 
that is not characteristic of managed care. 

Opposition can also be expected to the in- 
creased taxes that will be necessary to finance 
the system. While increased competition and 
managed care should ultimately be successful 
in controlling costs, expanding access to health 
care and improving coverage for some will cost billions of additional 
tax dollars. While proposals to increase "sin taxes" on such products 
as alcohol and cigarettes can be anticipated, additional sources of 
revenue may be necessary. 

Finally, it must be remembered that in the macroeconomy, ex- 
penditures equal income. What I pay a physician for a physical 
examination is an expense to me, but income to him or her. Since 
the proposed system is designed to control expenditures, it will also 
control the incomes of providers — institutions and individuals. Not 
all providers will support the reversal of the redistribution of na- 
tional income from which they've benefitted for the last half century. 

If the administration is to gain approval for its proposal, it must 
achieve a political consensus on the trade-offs of the new system. 
While many of the benefits will accrue to low-income groups, those 
either now uninsured or underinsured, many of the costs will be ab- 
sorbed by those in the upper income groups. Universal health insur- 
ance encompasses many value issues, not only efficiency issues. 
While there will be much wrangling over specific details of the 
proposals, the most important issue may well be the nation's collec- 
tive reaction to the redistribution of costs and benefits. While we 
have, as a nation, reached a vague consensus that our medical care 
system needs reform, we have not fully come to terms with the enor- 
mous implications of making such a reform. 

O'Connor, a professor in the departments of Social Science and 
Policy Studies and Management at WPI, has written and lectured 
extensively about the economics of health care. 

Summer 1993 


Challenging Students 
and Helping People 

For most WPI students, the Major Quali- 
fying Project is an opportunity to solve a 
realistic design problem in their major field 
and to learn about how engineering and sci- 
ence are practiced in the real world. But for 
some 15 to 20 students each year, the MQP 
means much more — it's a way of helping 

from attending regular schools. Hoffman 
says the students work on projects 
suggested by rehabilitation engineers at the 
school, developing specialized hardware to 
meet the needs of individual students. The 
projects help clients be more independent 
and participate in a wider range of recrea- 
tional and vocational activities. 

In 1992, for example, in a project that won 
WPl's Provost's MQP Award and the Edward 
C. Perry Award for outstanding projects in 

people gain greater control over their lives 
and participate more fully in the world 
around them. 

Working with advisors Allen Hoffman, 
professor of mechanical engineering, and 
Holly Ault, assistant professor of mechanical 
engineering, these students complete their 
projects in rehabilitation engineering, a field 
that includes the design and development of 
devices to assist the disabled. Since 1989, 
projects in this discipline at WPI have been 
supported by a grant from the National 
Science Foundation. 

Many of the project teams — there are 
generally between four and six each year, 
Hoffman says — work with students at the 
Massachusetts Hospital School in Canton, 
Mass., a state-supported residential school 
for students whose disabilities prevent them 

Left, from left, James Woyciesjes, Kath 
ryn Coughlin and Kerry Bagdonovich 
designed this universal arm for a stu- 
dent interested in photography. Above, 
this reacher/gripper helps a young stu- 
dent lead a more independent life. 

mechanical design, David Flin- 
ton '92 and William Sullivan '92 
designed a device to help an 
1 1-year-old with arthrogrypo- 
sis, a debilitating congenital 
disorder that greatly reduces the mobility 
and strength of the joints. 

"She has very little grip strength," Hoff- 
man says. "As a result, she drops things— 
her pencil, her paper, her hairbrush, and so 
on. Before this project, she had to rely on an 
attendant to pick them up because she can't 
reach down from her wheelchair and she 
can't use commercially available grippers, 
which require too much strength and coor- 

In a process that is typical of all of the re- 
habilitation engineering projects, the 
students first learned as much as they could 
about the girl's disability. Then, working 
with engineers and occupational therapists 
at the school, they observed her physical ca- 
pabilities. For example, they used a pinch- 
meter to measure the maximum force she 

can apply with her fingers, placed objects on 
the floor around her to gauge her peripheral 
vision, and attached a wooden dowel to the 
frame of the wheelchair to see how accu- 
rately she can maneuver it. 

That last test led to a significant revision 
to the students' preliminary design. "One of 
the students placed a quarter on the floor 
and asked her to see how close she could 
place the dowel to the center of the coin," 
Hoffman says. "Her response was to ask if 
she could keep the quar- 
ter if she managed to do 
it." Needless to say, he 
adds, she kept the quarter. 

Hoffman says her pre- 
cise targeting ability 
enabled the students to 
simplify what had been a 
complicated reacher/grip- 
per arm. The finished de- 
vice consists of a motor- 
ized aluminum arm that 
the student lowers over 
the object after she has 
wheeled the wheelchair 
into the proper position. 
With the flip of a switch, a 
gripper at the end of the 
arm closes on the object. 
The arm is raised once 
again, bringing the object 
within her grasp. 

"This has really made 
a difference in her life," Hoffman says. "She 
can zip about now and do things without 
having to have someone follow her every- 
where she goes. It's really added to her 

Here is a sampler of other recent 
projects in this discipline: 

- Kerry Bagdonovich '93, Kathryn Coughlin 
'93 and James Woyciesjes '93 designed a 
universal arm and mount for a teenage stu- 
dent with cerebral palsy who wished to 
take photographs, but was unable to hold 
or aim a camera. The device also lets her 
engage in other crafts and use objects like 
her mirror and hair dryer. 

- An "Art Class Assistor," the design of 
Brendan McLellan '92 and Lap Nguyen '92, 
makes it easier for students with muscular 
dystrophy, cerebral palsy and other mus- 
cle weakening diseases to draw pictures. It 
keeps a student's arm off the drawing pa- 
per to prevent smearing and enables the 
student to easily move his or her arm to 
any spot on the paper. 

WPI Journal 

- John J. Desrosiers '91, Troy Neilsen '91 and 
James Trapp '91 designed a vehicle pow- 
ered by two electric motors that provides 
mobility for children who are too young 
for wheelchairs. 

- A therapeutic tricycle designed by Jennifer 
Almy '93, Dean Giolas '93, Brian Goetz '93, 
Eric Graham '93 and Gary Krebs '93 not 
only lets a youngster with arthrogryposis 
get around with his friends, but encour- 
ages him to use and develop his more seri- 
ously affected leg. 

Ault says she was particularly impressed 
with a wheelchair pushcart designed by 
Donna Underwood '93, Steven Schoeck '93 
and Michael Bristol '93 with the help of 

Ault says rehabilitation engineering pro- 
jects have proven especially popular at WPI 
because they let students solve real prob- 
lems for real people. But she notes that they 
also provide outstanding training in design, 
as they require students to go through the 
entire design process — from identifying a 
problem, to conducting a detailed design and 
engineering analysis, to making and testing a 
prototype, to producing a usable device. 

"The requirement we place on students 
is that they deliver a working device," Hoff- 
man adds. "We won't settle for anything 
less. But we find that the fact that these de- 
vices will actually be used by disabled indi- 
viduals provides a strong motivation for stu- 

From left, Jesse Spencer, Jonne Helenius, Sean Kavanaugh and Professor 
Douglas Walcerz with the cardiac massage simulator the students designed. 

solid-modeling and finite element analysis 
software in WPI's CAD Lab. The cart was de- 
signed for a student whose job at the school 
is setting and clearing the tables for meals. 
The lightweight cart quickly attaches to the 
front of his wheelchair and has separate 
molded plastic inserts to hold clean and 
dirty dishes. 

"It really became part of his wheelchair; 
with practice he was able to wheel it around 
as easily as the chair alone," she says. "It 
should have a lot of other applications. For 
example, it could make shopping much eas- 
ier for disabled people." She notes that a stu- 
dent project team next year will look at the 
possibility of gaining wider distribution for 
this and other student projects. 

dents to follow through. And the students 
get a great deal of satisfaction from helping 
these people out." 

—Michael Dorsey 

Shape Memory Study 
is a Winner 

For their Major Qualifying Project, Nancy 
Lynn Koczera '93 and Walter C. Kretzer 
Jr. '92 investigated surgical staples fabri- 
cated from shape memory thermoplastics. 
In April, a paper about this MQP earned first 
place (out of 40 papers) in the Undergrad- 

uate Student Paper Competition at the 12th 
Southern Biomedical Engineering Confer- 
ence in New Orleans. 

Koczera and Kretzer studied thermoplas- 
tics, which can be shaped at high threshold, 
cooled, then reformed. If the temperature is 
raised above a certain temperature, the 
polymer will return to its original shape. 
These materials have applications to a wide 
range of products and industries, from toys 
to medicine. 

For their research and report, Koczera 
and Kretzer tested polymer compositions to 
determine which combination would be the 
best replacement for the stainless steel frac- 
ture-fixation devices currently used to hold 
healing bones in place. Physicians have 
come to recognize that polymers, which are 
similar in density to bone, allow broken 
bones to heal without the slight osteoporo- 
sis that can occur when steel devices are 
used. In addition, these polymers are gradu- 
ally resorbed into the body, eliminating the 
need for surgical removal of the device. 
Satya Shivkumar, assistant professor of me- 
chanical engineering, and David DiBiasio, 
associate professor of chemical engineering, 
were the project advisors. 

—Bonnie Gelbwasser 

Building A Cardiac 
Massage Simulator 

The operation is progressing normally, 
when, without warning, the patient goes 
into shock. His heart beats rapidly, then 
stops. Faced with this life-or-death situation, 
a surgeon has several choices. If other life- 
saving measures fail to get the heart going 
again, he can open the chest and massage 
the heart. 

Surgeons routinely use open-chest cardi- 
ac massage (OCCM) to resuscitate patients 
during open-heart surgery and in a number of 
other situations; veterinarians use it even 
more frequently because the rib cage of 
many animal species makes external heart 
massage relatively ineffective. Until now, 
most medical and veterinary students 
received limited hands-on training in open- 
chest cardiac massage because of the cost of 
laboratory exercises and the ethical necessity 
of minimizing the use of laboratory animals. 

WPI students Michael T. Clohecy '93, 
Jonne Henrik Helenius '93, Sean M. 

Summer 1993 

Kavanaugh '93, Kevin M. Lord '93, Jesse W. 
Spencer '93 and Jessica M. Young '92 have 
applied for a patent for their Open-Chest 
Cardiac Massage Simulator, a working pro- 
totype of the heart that can be used to dem- 
onstrate and practice the proper ways to 
administer the procedure. It is expected to 
be an important teaching tool for medical 
and veterinary students and for other health 
care professionals. It could also be used by 
these individuals to review and practice 
their technique during their careers. 

Five of the students worked with Douglas 
B. Walcerz, assistant professor of mechani- 
cal engineering, and Dr. James Ross, profes- 
sor and chairman of medicine at Tufts 
University School of Veterinary Medicine in 
North Grafton, Mass., to design a device for 
simulating OCCM. The project was initiated 
in 1992 by Jessica Young. 

The simulator consists of a hollow sili- 
cone heart attached to a system of tubes, 
valves and reservoirs that model venous 
and arterial input and output to provide 
tactile feedback to the practitioner through 
variable flow rates and pressures. The team 
studied a sheep's heart they obtained from a 
slaughterhouse before creating an aluminum 
and later a silicone model. 

"The model has the look and feel of a real 
heart and is designed to be filled with liquid 
— probably a water/glycerol mix," says 
Walcerz. "It is fitted with tubes with valves 
on them to enable the instructor to simulate 
actual conditions like shock and vasocon- 
striction, so the student can actually feel 
what is happening." 

—Bonnie Gelbwasser 

Helping Physicians 
See More Clearly 

For their Major Qualifying Project, Richard 
J. Bombard '93, Douglas F. Finkle '93 and 
Mark Turbitt '93 completed a study that will 
help physicians and scientists more accu- 
rately see why and how cells act the way 
they do. 

Using digital technology and light micros- 
copy, biologists and clinicians have been 
able to observe fluorescent dye-stained cells 
under powerful microscopes to see and bet- 
ter understand the complex changes that 
can take place in the molecules and ions in 
living cells. This knowledge can play an im- 

From left, Dr. Fredric Fay of the 
UMass Medical Center with Douglas 
Finkle and Mark Turbitt, who studied 
several algorithms used in digital 
image restoration. 

portant role in diagnosis, and ultimately 
treatment, of illnesses and diseases. 

For example, within the last few years a 
protein defect has been identified within the 
genes of cystic fibrosis patients and the con- 
centration of calcium ions in smooth muscle 
cells has been shown to have a significant 
role in hypertension, asthma, bladder dis- 
functions, kidney disease and gastrointesti- 
nal disturbances. 

Before the development of this new mi- 
croscope technology, it was not possible to 
observe complex intercellular processes. 
Normal light microscopes are plagued with 
optical distortions, known as aberrations. 
But optical aberrations can be reversed if 
they can first be accurately measured and 
mathematically described. This process is 
known as image restoration. Using powerful 
computers, image restoration and feature- 
enhancement techniques are being used to 
produce three-dimensional images of cells. 
But, because the science is so new, some 
restoration techniques produce visually and 
numerically inaccurate images. 

Bombard, Finkle and Turbitt, who re- 
ceived bachelor's degrees in electrical and 
computer engineering in May, worked with a 
team of scientists from the Biomedical Imag- 
ing Group, part of the Physiology Department 
of the University of Massachusetts Medical 
School in Worcester, to test and compare 
the performances of several restoration algo- 
rithms currently in use. Algorithms are road- 
maps or blueprints that tell scientists which 
steps to follow to make best use of their 
experimental information. 

The students' goal was to ascertain 
which of several restoration algorithms pro- 

duce the most accurate images 
under a variety of test condi- 
tions. The test results will help 
biologists and clinicians in- 
crease their understanding of 
complex cell structures and 
processes. The WP1 faculty ad- 
visors were Denise W. Nicoletti, 
assistant professor of electrical 
and computer engineering, and 
Michael A. Gennert, assistant 
professor of computer science. 

"The students acted effec- 
tively to test a number of algo- 
rithms that have been proposed to enhance 
resolution," says Dr. Fredric S. Fay, director 
of the Biomedical Imaging Group. "Their re- 
sults have long been awaited by the field 
and represent much needed, careful and un- 
biased analysis. Their work will provide use- 
ful guidance for biomedical researchers in- 
terested in using digital imaging microscopy 
throughout the world." Fay's laboratory is 
world renowned for pioneering a novel ap- 
proach to digital imaging microscopy. 

The students developed a number of 
computer models as test images, estab- 
lished testing criteria that can be used for 
future tests, and wrote process-control soft- 
ware to automate the testing procedures. 
They determined that the most accurate 
algorithm of those presented for study was 
the least squares regularization with non- 
negativity, which was developed by Walter 
Carrington, a mathematician from the 
Biomedical Imaging Group who was an assis- 
tant professor of mathematical sciences at 
WPI in 1984-85. They presented a summary 
of their project at the December meeting of 
the WPI Board of Trustees. 

"This project fulfilled the technical 
requirements of an MQP because the 
students learned techniques of software 
engineering, microscopy, simulation and 
restoration algorithms, and model testing," 
says Nicoletti. "Engineering design must be 
included in any MQP; the design compon- 
ents of this project were the selection of al- 
gorithms, efficient coding of the algorithms, 
creation of automatic and user-friendly in- 
terfaces for model testing, and appropriate 
statistical measurements of the model 
performance. This project was particularly 
rewarding because it combined advanced, 
theoretical topics from electrical engineer- 
ing with the solution of an important scien- 
tific problem." 

—Bonnie Gelbwasser 

WPI Journal 

Pioneering New Ways to 
Detect and Treat Stroke 

^^ ince it was first developed in the late 1970s, magnetic reso- 
^k nance imaging, or MR1, has become a powerful tool for prob- 
%J ing the body for signs of cancer and other diseases. This 
technique employs a combination of a strong magnet and radio 
signals to produce detailed images of the body's internal structure. 

In recent years, new techniques have been developed that 
have greatly expanded the capabilities of MR1. In pioneering 
research undertaken over the past few years by a consortium of 

A roundup of explorations under way in 

WPI's research laboratories aimed at advancing 

the leading edge of medicine 


By Michael Dorsey 

All over the WPI campus, 

faculty members and students 

—from undergraduates on up to 

postdocs—are conducting 

research that is opening new 

frontiers in medicine. In this one 

article, we can highlight only a 

small sample of this exciting 

work. Watch future issues of the 

WPI Journal andW\ Wire for 

more stories about ongoing 

research in medicine and many 

other disciplines. 

medical research groups at WPI and six New England hospitals, a 
combination of novel MR1 techniques and new drugs is providing, 
for the first time, a method for detecting the onset of stroke and 
treating it before devastating brain damage occurs. 

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. The condi- 
tion occurs when an artery feeding blood into the brain becomes 
blocked, often by a blood clot, depriving nerve tissue of oxygen and 
energy — a condition called ischemia. Almost immediately, a small 
region of brain cells dies, but cells surrounding this core, although 
compromised, can recover if treatment begins soon enough. 

Unfortunately, standard methods of diagnosing stroke — 
including conventional MRI — cannot detect the signs of ischemia 
until several hours after the flow of blood ceases. By that time, the 
damage is generally irreversible. In fact, many neurologists be- 
lieve treatment must start within the first hour of a stroke to have 
any chance of success. 

As part of a consortium that includes the University of 
Massachusetts Medical Center and the Medical Center of Central 
Massachusetts, WPI's Magnetic Resonance Research Center has 
been evaluating the ability of several new MRI techniques to de- 
tect the early effects of stroke. One of the most promising of these 
new techniques is called diffusion-weighted (DW) MRI. In this 
method, signal intensity in the image is proportional to the diffu- 
sion coefficient of water, a measure of how readily water mole- 
cules move through a medium. 

Christopher H. Sotak, associate professor of biomedical engi- 
neering and director of the Magnetic Resonance Research Center, 
and his research collaborators have been exploiting the fact that 
DW MRI can detect an ischemic region of the brain far more 
quickly after the onset of stroke than other diagnostic techniques. 
While four to six hours can pass before the effects of stroke be- 
come apparent in conventional MRI images, DW MRI can spot an 
ischemic region in as little as 15 minutes after the cessation of 
blood flow, Sotak says. 

The increased signal intensity observed in a DW MRI image is a 
reflection of a decrease in the apparent diffusion coefficient, or ADC, 
of water in the ischemic region. The change in ADC is most likely 
related to the disruption of high-energy metabolism. 


Summer 1993 

High-energy metabolism drives the so-called "sodium pump" in 
the membranes of cells. This pump maintains the proper balance 
between the concentration of sodium inside the cell and in the extra- 
cellular spaces. As the pump fails during ischemia, extracellular 
sodium rushes into the cell, initiating a cascade of biochemical 
events that includes the accumulation of water and calcium in the 
cell, cell swelling and, ultimately, cell death. 

Many therapeutic strategies for stroke involve the design of 
drugs that attempt to retard the biochemical mechanisms that lead 
to cell death. These include the release of toxins, like glutamate, 
from damaged cells. Glutamate latches on to nerve cell membranes 
and lets calcium flood in, killing the cells. The New England consor- 


effectiveness of the combination of diffusion-weighted MRI and Cere- 
stat in diagnosing and treating patients who show symptoms of stroke. 

In related work, Sotak has been working with graduate student 
Lawrence L. Latour to better understand the mechanism responsible 
for the decrease in the apparent diffusion coefficient during 
ischemia. They are using a simple model system that consists of 
closely packed red blood cells. 

To simulate the biochemical processes that occur in stroke-dam- 
aged cells, Latour and Sotak reduced the salt concentration in the 
extracellular spaces, causing water to rush into and swell the cells. 
As water flowed in, the volume of water in the extracellular spaces 
shrank. This caused a characteristic change in the diffusion coef- 
ficient in these spaces, a change that was readily measurable 
with the laboratory's magnetic resonance instrument. 

What was particularly striking, Sotak notes, is that the diffu- 
sion coefficient decreased by 40 percent, a value quite similar to 
the magnitude of the reduction that has been measured in brain 
tissue damaged by stroke. In normal brain tissue, water is dis- 
placed an average of seven to eight microns every 40 milliseconds 
(the measurement time in the MRI experiment). In stroke-damaged 
brain tissue, the average displacement is reduced to about five mi- 
crons in 40 milliseconds. "This decrease has 
been observed for about five or six years," 
Sotak says, "but there hasn't been a good ex- 
planation for why it happens." 

Some theories have suggested that, when 
deprived of energy, the active transport mech- 
anism inside brain cells shuts down, reducing 
the movement of fluids in the cell and lowering 
the diffusion coefficient. Others focus on the 
failure of the sodium pump during ischemia, 
which lets water rush into and swell the cells. 
"Our work indicates that it is really the shrink- 
ing extracellular volume that is behind the 
characteristic reduction in this parameter," 
Sotak says. 

C £T ' \ ^ m . Graduate students 

\ \ * Bernard J. Dardzinski 

and Mary Ferrera work 
in WPI's Magnetic Reso- 
nance Research Center. The insert shows what happens 
to brain cells during a stroke. As energy is cut off to a 
cell, the sodium pump in its membrane fails. Sodium 
rushes in, causing the cell to swell with water. The 
damaged cell releases toxins, which let calcium flood 
through the membrane, killing the cell. 

tium of which Sotak and his team are members is studying the effec- 
tiveness of a drug developed by Cambridge Neuroscience Inc. 
Known as Cerestat, the compound blocks channels in the cell mem- 
brane that allow calcium to flow in unchecked. 

"In our MRI studies, we've seen a 50 percent reduction in the size 
of the ischemic region as a result of this treatment," Sotak says. 
"Based on these studies, the FDA has approved the drug for human 
clinical trials." The trials, which began in the spring, will study the 

Shedding New 
Light on Diabetes 


s the 1.4 million Americans who 
suffer from the Type I form of the 
disease well know, diabetes 
remains a disease without a cure. The insulin injections diabetics 
take several times a day to regulate their blood sugar greatly curtail 
the damage the illness can do to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, 
nerves and kidneys. They can be reduced still further with more ag- 
gressive monitoring of blood sugar, a recently concluded study by 
the National Institutes of Health noted. But no matter how carefully 
administered, insulin can't eliminate the progressive deterioration of 
the body that diabetes causes. 

In fact, the disease remains the leading cause of kidney failure 
and new cases of blindness in those over 65 and is the nation's 
fourth leading cause of death. Before diabetes can be cured, scien- 
tists will have to get a better handle on its root causes. 

The most overt symptom of diabetes is the inability of the body 
to produce insulin. Manufactured in the pancreas, insulin helps the 
body regulate the amount of glucose circulating through the blood- 
stream. When there is too much glucose, the body removes the 

WPI Journal 


sugar from the blood and stores it as glycogen in the liver and 

A great deal of research on diabetes has focused on the biochem- 
ical pathways involved in the storage of glucose. Insulin's role in this 
process is to activate an enzyme known as glycogen synthase, 
which, in turn, helps link individual molecules of glucose into gly- 
cogen, notes Jill Rulfs, assistant professor of biology and biotechnol- 
ogy, who became interested in this process as an instructor in the 
Biochemistry Department at the University of Massachusetts 
Medical Center. 

Jill Rulfs at work in the new Fairlawn Foundation 
Laboratory at WPI. Rulfs is working to understand 
the biochemistry underlying diabetes. 

At UMass, where Rulfs serves today as an adjunct assistant pro- 
fessor of biochemistry and molecular biology, she was part of a team 
studying glycogen synthase and attempting to clone the gene for this 
protein. In the process, the team became interested in another pro- 
tein that plays an even more fundamental role in glycogen formation. 

"Glycogen synthase cannot start with one glucose molecule and 
build from there," she says. "It needs a primer of six or seven glu- 
cose molecules already strung together. Back in the 1970s, people 
realized that there had to be another protein that could make this 
primer. That protein is now known as glycogenin." 

While the effect of diabetes on the quantity and activity of glyco- 
gen synthase has been extensively studied, she says, to date no one 
has looked at how the disease affects glycogenin. With a three-year, 
$104,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health, Rulfs is taking 
on that challenge. Working at UMass and in a new laboratory at WPI 
funded by the Fairlawn Foundation in Worcester, she is studying 
glycogenin in the liver and muscle. 

In work completed so far, undergraduate Nestor Deocampo '93, 
as part of his Major Qualifying Project, found the protein in samples 

of normal liver and muscle tissue using an antibody probe devel- 
oped in Rulfs' lab. "It appears that there is more of the protein in the 
liver, although the forms present in the two types of tissue may be 
significantly different," Rulfs says. 

The next step will be to determine the amino acid sequence for 
each type of protein to see where the differences lie. This may pro- 
vide clues as to whether glycogen synthesis works differently in the 
liver and muscle and whether diabetes has different effects on glyco- 
gen storage in these organs. 

Then, using a special strain of rat that spontaneously develops 
diabetes, Rulfs and a new team of 
undergraduates will see whether the 
disease alters the amount of glycogenin 
produced by the body and whether the 
structure of the protein is different in any 
way in the diabetic rats. 

"If the diabetic rats have the protein," 
she says, "we want to see if there is a 
change in its ability to attach to glucose 
and build the primer for glycogen 
synthase." It may turn out, she notes, that 
the real problem in diabetes and other 
glycogen-storage diseases lies in the 
creation of this primer. Or, it may be that 
the same mechanisms that affect the activ- 
ity of glycogen synthase also affect glyco- 

In other research, Rulfs has been look- 
ing at the molecular changes that underlie 
the damage diabetes can do to the heart. 
"Diabetic hearts are hypersensitive to 
adrenaline," she says. "For example, very 
low levels of adrenaline will cause heart 
cells to beat faster. We want to understand 
the molecular basis of this hypersensitivity. 
"Clearly, there is some information that 
is being translated from the cell membrane 
into the cell that causes this reaction. We 
want to elaborate the mechanism by which this happens. What is 
the signal from outside the cell? Is it insulin, some other growth fac- 
tor, or another compound? How does it get into the cell, and once 
there, how is its message transmitted." 

To do this work, Rulfs uses rat heart cells that are cultured in the 
lab. While a single heart can be used to create multiple cultures that 
can be exposed to multiple experimental conditions, each new 
experiment requires the sacrifice of a new animal, Rulfs says. To 
avoid this requirement, Rulfs is working with doctoral candidate 
Caroline E. Miller to develop an immortal adult cardiac cell line. 

An immortal cell line is made up of cells of a certain tissue that will 
continue to grow and divide indefinitely in culture and still maintain all 
the original characteristics of the tissue. It provides researchers with a 
virtually unlimited source of tissue for experimentation without the 
continual need for sacrificing animals, Rulfs says. 

Normally, many mammalian cells, like heart cells, do not grow or 
divide once they are removed from the body. To jump-start them, 
scientists transform the cells with a virus that inserts a gene into the 
cell's chromosomes that overrides built-in checks on cell growth; 
the transformation is similar to the genetic changes that cause can- 
cer cells to grow and divide uncontrollably. 

To date, the cell line established by Rulfs and Miller, with 
support from the American Health Assistance Foundation, has 


Summer 1993 

undergone 20 passages. Passaging is the process of subdividing a 
growing cell population by transfering cells from one culture vessel 
to several others. The process gives the cells room to keep growing. 
Miller has analyzed the first 12 of these "passages" and confirm- 
ed that the cells continue to show all the characteristics of adult 
heart cells and still seem to have the gene for unlimited growth in 
their genome. In addition to its value in her own research, Rulfs says 
the cell line should prove useful to researchers doing many other 
types of studies on the physiology and pathology of the heart. 

Putting Living 
Tissue in the 
Deep Freeze 

■•uring the 20th century, medical 
■ ■researchers have developed tech- 
m0 niques that use tissue from human 
donors to treat illnesses, to restore nor- 
mal bodily functions and — in many 
cases — to save lives. While procedures 
like heart and liver transplants have 
grabbed the headlines, millions of pa- 
tients have regained their sight after 
cornea transplants, burn victims have 
been saved with skin grafts, infertile 
couples have had children thanks to 
donated sperm and eggs, and countless 
accident victims, surgery patients 
and hemophiliacs owe their lives to 
donated blood. 

Living cells undergo 
steady deterioration 
after removal from the 
life-giving systems of 
the body. This can be 
slowed by refrigeration 
at 4°C coupled with 
nourishment with spe- 
cially designed solu- 
tions. But even in the 
best of circumstances, 
tissue remains viable 
for only a few weeks. 
The goal of unlimited 
storage with no loss of 
function has been 
achieved in a few tis- 
sues by freezing them 

at -196°C. The potential exists for many more tissue types to be pre- 
served in this way. 

Cryopreservation, as the freezing of living tissue is known, has 
proven to be as much an art as a science, notes Douglas B. Walcerz, 
assistant professor of mechanical engineering. "Most of the tissue 
we currently preserve — blood, skin, embryos, and so on — can be 
frozen and thawed pretty reliably," he says. "But each time we begin 
looking at a new tissue we run into new problems. Tissues are so di- 
verse and cell types so different from one another, that there is no 
one freezing and thawing method that will work for everything." 

Douglas Walcerz and graduate 
student Alison Berube prepare to 
freeze cells in a cryogenic micro- 
scope stage Walcerz designed and 
built. He and Berube are using the 
stage to learn how best to freeze 
pancreas islets (insert), the source 
of the hormone insulin. 

In his cryobiology laboratory at WPI, Walcerz is bringing an engi- 
neering perspective to what has largely been the domain of medical 
researchers. "In the past, most cryopreservation methods have been 
developed with a purely experimental approach," he says. "Tissue is 
frozen and studied, and then the freezing rate or conditions are var- 
ied and the process repeated until the best method is discovered." 
Over the last seven years, Walcerz has been developing a ther- 
modynamic model of the cryopreservation process that can be used 
to predict how fluids and chemicals will flow across the cell mem- 
branes in the target tissues and 
how various factors — such as ex- 
cessive dehydration and ice for- 
mation — may injure or destroy 
the cells. "Ice formation is almost 
always fatal," he says, "because 
the rigid crystalline structure of 
ice will grow right through the 
cell membrane." 

To make sure the model 
accurately reflects what 
happens in actual tissue, 
Walcerz spends about half of his 
time freezing and thawing tissue 
in the laboratory and studying 
how its properties change. For 
these studies, he uses a special 
microscope stage he developed 
while completing his Ph.D.