David Mindell

Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


David A. Mindell, the Dibner Associate Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing in the Science, Technology and Society Program at MIT and associate professor of engineering systems, is a leading figure in the relatively new field of deep-sea archeology. He is trained in both engineering and the history of engineering, has worked as an engineer on deep-sea vehicles' navigation and scanning systems, and was organizer of the first two conferences to bring practitioners of this complicated collaborative science together at MIT.

He has degrees in electrical engineering and literature from Yale University and a Ph.D. in the history of technology from MIT. He is the author of "War, Technology, and Experience aboard the USS Monitor" and "Between Human and Machine: Feedback, Control, and Computing before Cybernetics," both from Johns Hopkins. He is currently working on a book on the history of control, computing and human-machine interaction on the Apollo moon project.

His research interests include the history of military technology, the history of electronics and computing, cultural studies of technology, and deep-ocean archaeology. He is a visiting investigator in the Deep Submergence Laboratory of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and is head of MIT's DeepArch research group in technology, archaeology and the deep sea.

Mindell develops high-precision sonar navigation systems for control of undersea robots in very deep water, which are used to make the world's most accurate three-dimensional maps of the ocean floor.

Mindell has participated in many ocean archeology and deep-sea expeditions, including the following:

  • Skerki Bank: eight ancient shipwrecks along the Skerki Bank, located between Sicily, Sardinia, and Tunisia in the Mediterranean Sea--1997
  • U.S.S. Yorktown, sunk during the Battle of the Midway during World War II--1998
  • Survey of the area surrounding the city of Sinop, Turkey in the Black Sea--1998
  • Two eighth-century B.C. Phoenician shipwrecks found off the coast of Ashkelon, Israel
  • Surveyed the sealed Confederate War submarine, the Hunley--2001
  • Shipwreck off the Greek island of Nisyros in the Aegean Sea--2001
  • Turret of the U.S.S. Monitor and the surrounding seafloor off Cape Hatteras, N.C--2001

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