Institute of Science and Technology (University of Michigan) records, 1950-1989
Using These Materials
- The collection is open to research.
- University of Michigan. Institute of Science and Technology.
- University of Michigan scientific research center. Office files relating to the activities of the unit, and to the research divisions that IST administered, notably the Willow Run Laboratories, the Great Lakes and Marine Waters Center, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, and others.
- 33 linear feet
- Call Number:
- 90132 Bimu C147 2
- Finding aid created by Thomas E. Powers, 1989-1990
- Scope and Content:
The records of the Institute of Science and Technology of the University of Michigan cover the period 1959 to 1987, from the establishment of the unit to the year of its regentally-approved reorganization. Scattered documents prior to 1959 and after 1987 will be found, but not in great quantity.
The record group consists of thirteen series. Except for some modifications and combining of similar materials, these are series that were maintained by the institute office. Types of documents present within these series include memoranda, reports, minutes of meetings, budgetary and financial papers, correspondence, proposal and grant documents, subject files, and photographs. The researcher should note that much material was retained by the IST office at the time of the 1989 transfer of records to the library. Thus, records for expected areas of interest might still be in the possession of IST. Periodic additions to this record group are expected.
Although of obvious value for its documentation of the history and activities of IST, the records of the institute have prime interest for the researcher interested in the study of research at a major educational institution. In particular, the records of IST document the development of the relationship between a university and state and national governments for the purpose of fostering research in areas deemed mutually advantageous. On the national level, especially in the 1960s, this research centered on areas of national defense and environmental study. On the state level, research was intended to improve the economy: to develop the state's technological and industrial base, thereby reducing the debilitating consequences of depression and unemployment that had periodically plagued Michigan's one-industry economy.
Of some value for the study of the content of research undertaken under IST auspices, the records here are of greater importance for the study of the environment required for research programs to be successful. The specifics of research will be found in scientific notebooks, laboratory experiments, and published studies. The IST records document a different story: the need to search out, administer, and balance competing requests for funding, space, equipment, and trained personnel. The IST files, in effect, document the management of research.
Beyond these research possibilities, the records of IST are illustrative of the changing patterns of technological research over the past thirty years. Founded with specific economic goals in mind, IST (with the administrative transfer of Willow Run Laboratories) managed programs having national defense implications. With the completion of these programs, and especially as the university ceased its responsibility for Willow Run, IST turned to areas of new research or areas of special significance to Michigan (perhaps the most notable examples being in the areas of highway safety and water-related research).
- Biographical / Historical:
The Institute of Science and Technology (hereafter called IST) was established in 1959 by the Regents of the University of Michigan as a research center to link the scientific and technological expertise of the university's faculty to specific research initiatives that would prove beneficial to the state's economy. IST marked a new approach to cooperative research efforts. For the first time, a state government designated funds specifically for the purpose of encouraging scientific research activity.
In practice, IST was a nurturer of scientific research and education, serving as a facilitator agency, organizing interdisciplinary teams of faculty and students to undertake major projects with government or industrial support. Beyond this, IST was the homebase for a number of interdisciplinary research and service units that had been created to support the state's industrial climate. Initially, these area units consisted only of the Great Lakes Research Institute and the Biophysics Research Divisions, both of which had been transferred over from the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies in 1960. A far more important administrative change (also implemented in 1960) was the transfer to IST of responsibility for Willow Run Laboratories (hereafter called WRL). With Willow Run thirteen units were added to IST's growing family of research departments: Analog Computer, Computation, Countermeasures, Engineering Psychology, Fluid and Solid Mechanics, Information Processing, Infrared, Navigation and Guidance, Operations Research, Radar, Sensory Subsystems, Solid-State Physics, and Special Projects.
Because, with the merger, IST assumed responsibility for the records that had been maintained by WRL, a summary discussion of that unit's history and mission seems in order. Willow Run Laboratories originated in 1946 when the University of Michigan, at the request of the U.S. War Department, created the Aeronautical Research Center (ARC) for the purpose of conducting research into the development of the United States air defense capability. Initially, this research centered on problems of defense against the V-2 ballistic missile. Later on, research shifted to the technical feasibility of a defense system against intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The name of the unit was changed to Willow Run Research Center on August 19, 1950 and to Willow Run Laboratories in the Spring of 1955. In 1953, there was a shift in emphasis of the work being done at Willow Run, away from the technology of air defense and a movement toward the study of problems associated with military reconnaissance and surveillance. The focus of this new emphasis was Project MICHIGAN, a long-term research development program to examine applications of modern technology to battlefield situations. In the 1960s, WRL began its important work with the study of ballistic missile radiation phenomenology. This aspect of the science of remote sensing was broadened at this time with various investigations into how the technology underlying airborne reconnaissance and surveillance could be used in detecting, surveying, and monitoring various features related to earth resources and the environment
In the early 1970s, the university made the decision to cease its formal relationship with WRL. In its place, the State Legislature of Michigan, on June 30, 1972, established the Environmental Research Institute of Michigan (ERIM). As set up, ERIM was intended to provide a new structure for the research programs that had been conducted by WRL. With this act of the legislature, the personnel, facilities, and projects of WRL were transferred over to an independent and state-endorsed institute.
In the decade that IST was responsible for WRL, IST had two principal aims: to plan and administer the university's large sponsored research program; and to find seed money for promising research (especially research with specific relevance to the state's economy). In addition, IST administered a number of organizations concerned with inter-disciplinary research, service, and teaching. Mention has already been made of the Biophysics Research Division (BRD) and the Great Lakes Research Division (later to become one of the water-related research units that forms the Great Lakes and Marine Waters Center: GLMWC). Others created during the 1960s and 1970s included the Industrial Development Division (IDD), the Highway Safety Research Institute, the Macromolecular Research Center (MACRO), and the MERIT Computer Network. By 1985, there were eight units of this sort, not counting units that had been operated within IST, and then had either been phased out or transferred to different University units. These eight units, in addition to BRD, GLMWC, IDD, and MACRO, were the Computer Network Division (CND) which had assumed most of the responsibilities of MERIT, the Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), which was the successor of the Highway Safety Research Institute, the Center for Catalysis and Surface Science, and the Special Projects Division (SPD), which was created in 1982 to nurture new areas of research and to house special programs not easily accommodated elsewhere in IST, such as the Ultra-Small Structures Research Office.
As a unit with disparate and shifting areas of interest (albeit most of them falling within areas of intercooperative research), IST often reviewed its activities and defined its goals. In the 1980s, in part because of the university's efforts to "downsize," IST underwent a series of faculty examinations and unit reviews. The ultimate result was that the Regents, at their meeting of October 1987, approved 1) the transfer of a number of units to elsewhere within the university or establishing them as free-standing units, and 2) the reorganization of the Office of the Vice President for Research "so as to create two foci, one for interdisciplinary research activities and the other for economic and industrial development activities." The aim of this reorganization was to revitalize the various units, to improve the linkages that exist between the units and the faculty, and to improve the lines of authority through which these research units reported to the university's administration. The Regents made clear that the units provide a valuable function, and were not being abandoned, but just shuffled about administratively.
At this writing (December 1989), IST consists of six research divisions: Biophysics Research Division, Center for Catalysis and Surface Science, Center for Molecular Genetics, Macromolecular Research Center, Program in Protein Structure and Design, and Technology Transfer Center.
Directors of the Institute of Science and Technology Date Event 1959-1960 Robert R. White 1960-1962 Joseph A. Boyd 1962-1964 James T. Wilson (Acting) 1964-1978) James T. Wilson 1978-1981) Joseph J. Martin (Acting) 1981-1986 George Gamota 1986-1987) William C. Kelly (Interim) 1987-1988 Ronald H. Olsen (Acting) 1988-1989 Ronald H. Olsen
- Acquisition Information:
- The records (donor no. 5993 ) were transferred to the Michigan Historical Collections in 1989-1990.
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
Michigan Sea Grant Program.
University of Michigan. Great Lakes and Marine Waters Center.
University of Michigan. Great Lakes Resource Management Program.
University of Michigan. Institute of Science and Technology.
University of Michigan. Institute of Science and Technology. Industrial Development Division.
University of Michigan -- Research.
University of Michigan. Transportation Research Institute.
University of Michigan. Willow Run Laboratories.
Great Lakes (North America)
North Campus (University of Michigan)
Using These Materials
The collection is open to research.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Copyright is held by the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright is not held. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.
- PREFERRED CITATION:
[item], folder, box, Institute of Science and Technology (University of Michigan) Records, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan