Tech Day, Including Fly-By, Honors MIT WWII Contributions


At the 1995 MIT Technology Day, June 16, alumni reflected on MIT's contribution to the WWII effort.

MIT contributions were broad and vital to the war effort, they included:

  • 8,776 alumni (24% of living alumni at the time) were enrolled in the armed forces
  • 148 alumni died for their country

MIT Research and Development included:

  • radar systems (with the exception of the atomic bomb activity, this was the largest civilian research and development agency)
  • submarine and aircraft detection systems
  • long range navigation scheme based on radar principles
  • the SCR-584 radar for directing anti-aircraft fire
  • Ground-Controlled Approach system for landing aircraft in low-visibility
  • Draper Gun Sight which positions a gun at the proper lead angle to fire at moving targets

War training programs for service people including:

  • The MIT Radar School trained 4,742 naval officers and 2,524 army officers
  • Training 994 students (principally Army Air Force) in meteorology and weather forecasting
  • radioactive tracer materials used in metallurgy, chemical warfare and in aiding the blood donor program by developing methods for preserving blood
  • super-high-voltage x-ray outfits for examination of castings and munitions
  • improved oxygen production and transportation for use in submarines, aircraft and hospitals
  • long-range weather forecasting

While MIT's participation in the development of the atomic bomb was very small in comparison with the major contracts for the program, a number of MIT scientist were recruited to work on the effort.

  • Military use of facilities such as the Wind Tunnel and the chemical engineering lab

The Institute adopted a policy that it would accept no profit on the war work it undertook for the government and had a firm policy to always give first precedence to serve in the crisis.

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Fly-by--12:15 pm. The planes scheduled to make the noon fly-over are a B-25 twin-engine bomber, a P-51 fighter; two AT-6s, an F4U Corsair and a DC-3. It was from the controls of a B-25 that MIT alumnus James H. Doolittle led the April 18, 1942 bombing raid against Japan, the first U.S. strike of the war against Japan's homeland.

Tech Day speakers--will discuss how the war changed MIT and relate the Institute's contributions to the successful conclusion of the conflict. MIT's major response to the war effort was the creation of the Radiation Laboratory which developed microwave radar. Speakers will include historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin; Aeronautics and Astronautics Professor Robert C. Seamans Jr., former Secretary of the Air Force and former president of the National Academy of Engineering; Paul E. Gray, chairman of the MIT Corporation; Professor Lester C. Thurow and President Charles M. Vest.


Topics: Security studies and military, History of MIT

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