Pursuing the Endless Frontier. Essays on MIT and the Role of Research Universities. Charles M. Vest, The MIT Press. Cambridge & London. First edition, 2011.
Charles M. Vest is currently president of the National Academy of Engineering of the United States and was President (1990-2004) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His book “Pursuing the Endless Frontier” describes his experience as president of MIT and reflections on the role of research universities in the United States. A book that should be a must read for all those who believe that education, scientific research and innovation are key for any economy and society. This book is also a must for those who want to learn more about leadership and the impact of an institution like MIT. An institution that has decided to put on the internet, completely free and accessible to everyone, most of its 2,000 courses. An institution whose graduates have built thousands of new businesses and created over a million jobs. Nearly a quarter of the various campus buildings were constructed during the Vest’s presidency, generating financing transactions and huge private donations. He skillfully explains how science and technology, in the broadest sense, help us find answers to problems and issues such as energy sources, environmental protection, health physics of the universe or economic growth . He also provides the reader with new perspective science and technology, increasingly broad and interrelated, where collaboration projects throughout the world are growing. His defense of basic science highlights the importance of public policy and investment in R & D. At the same time, it teaches us the need for close collaboration between universities, enterprises and governments for the sake of social progress and economic development. Quoting John Schaar he states that the future is not a place where we walk, but a place that we create. The book consists of a series of writings and lectures Vest prepared during his years as head of MIT. A highly recommended book!