The Structure of Engineering Revolutions 


How do normal inventions lead to radical technological change?

What determines success or failure for a laboratory or a company?

Course Handouts

Article about the class from MIT "Tech Talk"

Student Project Histories, Fall 1997

        Magnetic Core Memory (HTML)

        Thinking Machines Corp. (MS Word)


This new subject examines engineers in action. Research the life cycle of a major engineering project, new technology, or startup company from multiple perspectives: technical, economic, political, and cultural. We will be interviewing inventors, reading laboratory notebooks, evaluating patents, and looking over the shoulders of engineers as they developed today’s technologies. Subject is for students who recognize that technical proficiency alone is only part of the formula for success in technology.

Project case histories include: RSA Security, the Apollo Guidance Computer, magnetic core memory, Thinking Machines Inc., the spreadsheet, Harold Edgerton and side-scan sonar.

Professors David A. Mindell (STS) and Charles Leiserson (EE/CS)
Tuesday, Thursday, 9:30-11:00, room 26-110
3-0-9 H-Level Grad Credit

Subject is open to EECS M.Eng students and STS graduate students. Others by permission of instructor. Enrollment restricted to 30 students.

For EECS M.Eng. students, 6.972 will automatically count as one of the two EC electives that can come from any of the seven Engineering Concentration fields.  Alternatively M.Eng. students may by petition use it as an elective in a specific EC if they have chosen a term project on a topic appropriate to that EC.

pictures: Jay Forrester’s notebook, invention of core memory (left) and system diagram for Apollo Guidance Computer.