the DoD MURI program and
2003 May Issue 3
The Multidisciplinary Research Program of the University Research
Initiative, or MURI, is a multi-agency Department of Defense (DoD)
program that supports research teams based in academic research
organizations whose efforts intersect more than one traditional
science and engineering discipline.
MURI program was initiated around the time that RLE's historical
core research funding program, the Joint Services Electronics Program
(JSEP), was terminated in 1996. Annual MURI funding in RLE today
is nearly three times the value of funding that JSEP had provided.
While MURIs are more topically focused than was JSEP, and have shorter
funding cycles, RLE’s intrinsic multidisciplinary nature has
been remarkable fit to the objectives of the MURI program. The hallmarks
of RLE research are its scholarly excellence and the wide-ranging
curiosity needed to go beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries.
These qualities have proven to be powerful inducements for DoD sponsorship.
The dollar volume of RLE research in 2003 from all sponsors is
nearly 80% more than in 1996 despite the loss of JSEP. There are
today substantially greater numbers of active RLE faculty researchers
and students. An important part of this unprecedented growth can
be attributed to RLE’s cohort of MURI projects.
The cover story for this issue presents the most recent of these
projects. In a typical MURI nationally, the interdisciplinary requirements
of the program demand teams assembled from two or more universities.
In a startling demonstration of RLE’s ability to span multiple
research areas, in Erich P. Ippen’s new program (see cover
story) is not only based at MIT, it is centered entirely with one
MIT laboratory: the Research Laboratory of Electronics.
No place at MIT enjoys a broader diversity of sponsors than does
RLE. The MURI program is one of our many sponsors. In future issues
we will present how this diversity ensures the continuing vitality
of RLE’s research and educational missions.