Future of Exploration: Welcome and Introductory Remarks

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GRIMSON: Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. My name is Eric Grimson. I have the honor and privilege of being the chancellor at MIT, and I'd like to welcome you-- or welcome you back-- to MIT for this exciting symposium, "Earth, Air, Ocean, Space-- The Future of Exploration." Like the four symposia that have preceded it, this event promises to provide some unique and memorable experiences for you. As MIT celebrates its sesquicentennial, we're using our 150 days of celebration to fuel our future by celebrating the contributions of our past, a theme that I know is firmly embedded in this symposium, which explores the innovations that will spur future exploration while relishing the many great leaps forward from the past century and a half. Some of those past leaps are undoubtedly very clear to many of you, and involve pioneers with strong MIT ties.

General James-- Jimmy-- Doolittle, who conceived and developed the notion of instrument flying, the first person to takeoff, fly, and land a plane purely on instruments without a view from the cockpit. And like any good MIT innovator, he not only pursued the technology, he also investigated the science-- in this case, the psychophysiological limitations of human senses and that impact on instrumented flight. A great instance of "Mens et Manus," MIT's motto of "mind and hand."

Doc Edgerton, who pioneered strobe photography, letting us explore the physical effects and wonderful detail, from bursting balloons, to milk drop coronas, to physical motions. Doc used his insights from strobe photography to develop side scan sonar. He then collaborated with Jacques Cousteau and others to explore the seafloor, locating, among other wrecks, the HMHS Britannic and the Civil War ironclad, the USS Monitor. Like Doolittle, Doc was a practitioner of Mens et Manus. He developed wonderful practical devices, but based on the fundamentals of physics and engineering.

And of course, there's the other doc, Charles Stark Draper, father of inertial guidance. As a faculty member in AeroAstro, Draper founded the Instrument Lab, which, of course, went on to become Draper Labs. Draper and the I Lab were awarded the first contract given out under the Apollo program and developed the Apollo guidance computer, of course used to control the guidance and navigation of the lunar excursion module to the surface of the moon. These three legends, all MIT grads, whose work done at MIT had huge impact on the realm of explorationm are certainly visible reminders of MIT's contribution to exploration and great exemplars of Mens et Manus.

Of course, the idea of Mens et Manus was due to William Barton Rogers, the founder of MIT. Rogers really believed in getting your hands dirty in the pursuit of truth, and this was quite literally true. You may not know this, but early in his career, while a faculty member at the University of Virginia, he spent six years clambering over the mountains and slogging through the swamps of Virginia to conduct the state's first serious geological survey. And indeed, the state's highest mountain is named in his honor. Through this and other experiences, he developed a passionate belief, quite radical in his time, that teaching science should be a hands-on proposition. He believed that students should feel at least as comfortable working in the laboratory as listening in the classroom, because they would always remember best the lessons they taught themselves.

Today, hands-on research remains a hallmark of the MIT education. For example, through our Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, or UROP, more than 85% of our students have worked in faculty led research programs by the time they graduate. UROP is not just about washing glassware. In fact, a quarter of last year's graduating seniors had authored or co-authored a published paper during their time at MIT. I know personally that UROP was a huge and essential part of Doc Edgerton's life here and, indeed, the center named for him pursues experiential learning in new and interesting ways.

Of course, not all of these students will be explorers in the traditional sense, but all will be explorers of ideas and innovations and all are great exemplars of Mens et Manus. Rogers was also the most wonderful kind of MIT nerd. I'm not certain he coined the phrase, but we'll attribute it to him anyway. He was an irrepressible, enthusiastic expert. And indeed, he and his brother Henry are credited, for example, with developing an important theory about the formation of the Appalachian Mountains-- a theory based in part on scientific understanding of geophysics, and in large part, presumably, from his hands on field work in exploring the mountain chain. Once again, Mens et Manus. This combination of deep scientific insight with deployment in practical context runs deeply through MIT, and no more so than in the themes being explored in this symposium-- innovations that led to the Apollo program, to the exploration of the ocean floor, to new ways to reach the outer limits of the atmosphere, to exploration of the earth's surface and those of other planets.

I'm very confident that you'll leave tomorrow inspired both by the historical perspectives of the past achievements from MIT and elsewhere, and especially by the exciting leaves for that are being fostered today in the labs around campus. So I'm delighted to wish you a productive and informative and exciting symposium. With that, I would like to now introduce David Mindell, chair of the MIT150 Steering Committee and the Frances and David Dibner Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing. David.


MINDELL: Good morning. It's my pleasure to help Chancellor Grimson introduce the MIT150 symposia on "Earth Air, Ocean, and Space-- The Future of Exploration." As Eric mentioned, I'm chair of the MIT150 Steering Committee and also an engineer and historian of technology. I'd like to add a little bit about the context of the 150 celebrations as well as the historical context of MIT's history. As you'll see, I'm also very deeply interested in this symposium because it, of all of them, relates most of my own work. As Eric mentioned, William Barton Rogers, who we're really celebrating in this 150th, came north from Virginia in 1853 to pursue this new vision of a very hands-on scientific education. And on April 10, 1861-- which was 150 years ago last week, a day that we celebrated with a commemorative convocation-- the governor of Massachusetts signed MIT's charter, creating this unique and innovative educational institution. I'll just excerpt one quote that I found from Rogers's original plan for MIT, which seems to relate very well to his spirit of exploration, as Eric mentioned, and also to the topic today.

The original idea for MIT's education included not only lectures and exams, but also, quote, "Practice in physical and chemical manipulations--" that's the laboratory part, but also, "--excursions for the inspection and study of machines, motors, processes of manufacture, buildings, works of engineers, geological sections, quarries and mines." Sounds like fun to me, actually. Rogers imagined that MIT graduates, as they have indeed become, would be both practical experts and thinkers of great breadth. Now that we celebrate 150 years of accomplishments in a variety of fields, we're also celebrating the inventions that changed our world and define it today, and of the various courageous professors, students, graduates, and alumni who have gone forth from this place to make their contributions.

The MIT150 150 events include many concerts, celebrations and other festivals. I'll draw your attention, also, this Saturday on April 30 is a MIT open house, which revives a tradition that MIT held mostly through the 20th century but has not been held since the 1970s. And we're expecting tens of thousands of people, particularly young people, K through 12 students, to welcome them into our campus and our research and share the excitement of the campus. I welcome you all to join us there. The intellectual core of the 150 celebrations is this series of six symposia celebrating by doing what we do best-- thinkers, students, researchers, professors talking about great ideas, contemplating the world, and hopefully making a little progress on some difficult problems.

Today is the fifth of six symposia. The others have been "Economics and Finance" from early January; "Conquering Cancer Through the Convergence of Science and Engineering" in March; "Women's Leadership in Science and Engineering" at the end of March; "Computation and the Transformation of Practically Everything," which was about two weeks ago; and next week, the final one, "New Approaches to the Problem of Intelligence." Each of these symposia, including this one, were chosen because they had leading faculty, exciting new ideas, and a focus on more than one department and more than one school. Of course, they in no way cover the full range of research that goes on here on campus, but they all represent excellent work that epitomizes what's best about MIT.

My sincere thanks to Professor Dava Newman for taking on this big job and all everyone on her organizing committee, particularly our institutional collaborators from Draper Laboratories and from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and also particularly to Ryan Kobrick, who's really done a lot of the heavy lifting on the logistics for this and has done an outstanding job. Where's Ryan? Cheers for Ryan.


And, of course, thank you to all of our participants and panelists and all of you for taking the time to be here. As I mentioned, I have a personal interest in the topic at hand today, which I'll say a lot more about in the first session. But I want to say a few words about Doc Edgerton, because for me he's been quite an inspiration-- although, sadly, I never even met the man. I began my career working at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, working with a company down there called Benthos, which was founded by Edgerton's student, Sam Raymond, and is on Edgerton Drive. And when I came up to MIT and joined the faculty, I used to do this stuff-- sort of undersea archaeology, back from my Woods Hole days, during the summer. And I treated it as kind of an academic hobby, something I could go off and do and get away from Cambridge during the summer, not necessarily part of my mainstream research. But people at MIT were so supportive of it and so interested of it. It always caught me a little bit by surprise. And gradually, it became a much bigger part of my work.

I was always a little puzzled by the interest that people had because it didn't really fit in one department and it didn't really fit in any particular kind of school. And then slowly, I began to realize that people on campus were used to Doc Edgerton, who also used to go out and do all that kind of work and worked with Cousteau. And one of my post-docs at one point, [? Claire ?] [INAUDIBLE] who may be here today, did some research on Edgerton's work in archaeology and showed me, one day, a list of the expeditions that he had gone on. And it pretty much included every single exciting underwater expedition from the '60s and '70s, all the greats. And he worked with Cousteau and all the great archaeologists.

And I learned something very important from that experience, which was that Edgerton built cool toys and people would always invite him on their expeditions because he had toys that no one had, particularly the side scan sonars, but also cameras, lights, other kinds of sonars. And in our small way, our lab tried to replicate that model by building different kinds of new instruments that were customized, and then we were always invited to go interesting places. And so there very much remains the spirit of Edgerton. And I'm sure we'll say a lot more about Draper and Doolittle and the other great explorers from MIT. So with that, I'll turn it over to Dava Newman, who has really conceived the vision for this [? symposia ?] and has worked tirelessly to bring you all here and really has an exciting view of what we're going to do in the next two days. Thank you.

NEWMAN: Thanks, Dave.


Welcome. Welcome to all of our dear friends, colleagues, fellow explorers, and mostly to the students. If you're in your [? teens, ?] [? twenties ?] or thirties, could you stand up? I know it's 9:00 AM. It's tough to get students here. It's hard for me to see, but this is for you. You're the future.


We'll be joined by more, but you're really the future of exploration. Personally, you inspire me as a teacher and mentor, and we are so thrilled to have you in Kresge Auditorium today and tomorrow. We couldn't be more excited. We also want to welcome the folks who are watching us from-- we're going to videostream this. So many people around the world couldn't attend, and again, we want to get the next generation of explorers to engage in this discussion. It's really a privilege for all of us to be here to be able to paint a picture, paint our picture for the future of exploration from sea to space. We're here to celebrate discovery and celebrate exploration from all of our perspectives-- be it engineering, science, art, history, design, or education.

Essentially, we're here to celebrate the human experience. And what does it truly mean to have humans living, us here, on our spaceship, Earth? 15 months ago, this journey started for me. I had this idea, we have to have an exploration symposium for MIT's 150th. Of all things, MIT's known for the greats that you've just heard about. So I really had a vision to bring together the School of Engineering, the School of Science, Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences. We just have such a wealth of faculty. Our alum are incredible. And as I mentioned, most of these are students who are deeply, deeply passionate about exploration.

So together, we all inspire each other. I do want to do a quick list of thanks. Ryan's been thanked before. He's been the event director. I've been thinking about this for 15 minutes. Ryan's been full time the last six months, getting all this done. MIT Conference Services at MIT; Ted Johnson; Rebecca Tyler; Quentin, from [? AeroAstro, ?] Quentin; [? Maurice ?] [? Dupard; ?] Sally Chapman; Gail Gallagher; [? Bill ?] [? Attant. ?] The MIT150 advisory committee that's worked with me over the last year-- Jeff [? Hoffman; ?] Dave [? Mindell; ?] Jim Shields, the president and CEO of Draper Labs; Ian Waitz, Dean of Engineering; James Yoder from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; and my co-conspirator in all things aerospace and exploration, Maria Zuber.

The student showcase-- I think we're the only symposium, but we're going to put the students out here and celebrate their big ideas, give them some cash prizes for that. Peter James has been the chair of our committee, Francisco [? Alonso, ?] Allison Anderson and Dr. Chris Carr and Dr. Ryan Kobrick, thanks so much. Stay tuned, you're going t see a great, great student showcase this afternoon. Finally, thanks to NASA for working with us, sending us down the videos from the International Space Station, XCOR for sponsoring, financially, the student showcase and space vid for the webcasting. All of the panelists and artist, I want to thank you for being here.

Now, the symposium-- you have the-- in front of you and I think you know what's happening but just really briefly, because I'm so excited to just be able to start with a session on the great ages of exploration and discovery. Then we'll have our astronaut panel. And then we'll continue in the afternoon with an explorer's panel. Then we go to the student showcase. Stay tuned, wait until you see these five presentations by the students competing with their big ideas for the future of exploration. But that's just getting started. Then we have a reception. You can see flying vehicles. We'll celebrate it with submarines to flying vehicles. I hope you have some stamina, because then you're invited over to Baker House, where we have an art opening tonight-- stiller landscapes with glass art with Josh Simpson and underwater photography by Chris Newbert.

We'll be back here early in the morning tomorrow. We have two incredible panels for you where we're really going to look at the vision of exploration fort the next 50 years. I know it's tough to think 50 years. What about the next 150 years? We're really going to challenge people to think. We'll wrap it up tomorrow after lunch with a keynote thinking about, what are the commercial opportunities? What about new exploration opportunities? So that's where we're headed. We're really excited about it. And I just want to finally close by saying we really want to ask some essential questions, if I could have my slide of questions.

Throughout the next day and a half with us, we really do want to celebrate MIT's past, living here in the present, dare to envision what the future is. So throughout all of the panels and the themes, you'll hear people talking about, what about the next 50 years? What about the next 150 years? What does exploration look like? Can we paint a new picture across earth, air, ocean, and space? What are those breakthrough technologies that hopefully come out of MIT to get us there? What about the cultural changes that we have to move humanity forward? And then, finally, bringing it back down to home and, again, for the next generation-- what recommendations-- wait, no, what revolutionary recommendations can we come up with in science, technology, engineering, and math for the next generation of explorers?

With that in mind-- and we invite all of your questions, as well, to interact-- we hope this is going to be a really interactive symposium. We have, like I said, online, we can actually take some Twitter questions. So there's going to be a lot of questions and answers for all the speakers. And so, most importantly, thank you all for being here. It's our pleasure and I look for to a great symposium with you.