Vannevar Bush Lecture Series on Science and Technology Innovation: William Bonvillian

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 6:00pm to 7:00pm

Building E51, 335
70 MEMORIAL DR, Cambridge, MA 02142

This lecture series, which includes eminent researchers and innovators from a wide variety of fields across MIT, will showcase the numerous forms that innovation takes and the pathways it can take from ideation to implementation. 

Title: Advanced Manufacturing - The New American Innovation Policies

Topic Summary

In 2016 the political system experienced significant disruption in part due to an angry voting block suffering from a long decline in American manufacturing, which became particularly acute in the decade of the 2000s. Manufacturing employment fell by one third in this period, 64,000 factories closed, manufacturing capital investment and output suffered, and the productivity rate dropped. The U.S. had been systematically shifting production abroad, and experts began to realize as the next decade began that the decline in its production capability was starting to affect its innovation capacity – which had long been viewed as its core economic strength.

         The talk reviews the origins of the policy response to this dilemma, which came to be called “advanced manufacturing.”  It will trace the way the foundational concepts were developed in a series of reports from in and out of government.  It will explore how, for the first time, an innovation system response was considered and developed to strengthen the U.S. production system. It will examine the key new policy mechanism created by the Administration and supported by Congress, the manufacturing innovation institutes, a complex public-private collaborative model to develop new production technologies and processes, with supporting workforce education. It will review how the new institutes are working, lessons learned as they have started up and possible enhancements that could expand their policy reach.  The talk draws on the new book by Bonvillian (with Peter Singer), Advanced Manufacturing - The New American Innovation Policies just released in January by MIT Press.

About the Speaker

William B. Bonvillian is a Lecturer at MIT, and an advisor on research projects at MIT’s Office of Digital Learning and its Industrial Policy Center. From 2006 until 2017, he was director of MIT’s Washington Office, supporting MIT’s historic role in science policy. He teaches courses on innovation systems at MIT and on energy technology policy at Johns Hopkins SAIS, and is coauthor of three books on innovation, Advanced Manufacturing – The New American Innovation Policies (MIT Press 2018), Technological Innovation in Legacy Sectors (Oxford University Press 2015) and Structuring an Energy Technology Revolution (MIT Press 2009). Previously, he worked for over 15 years on innovation issues as a senior advisor in the U.S. Senate, and earlier was a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Transportation. He serves on the National Academies of Science standing committee for its Innovation Policy Forum, chairs the Committee on Science and Engineering Policy at the American Association for the Advancement of Science and serves on the board of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was awarded IEEE’s public service award, and has written and spoken extensively about science and technology and innovation policy issues. 

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Vannevar Bush Lecture Series on Science and Technology Innovation


MIT Science Policy Initiative
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