15.795 | Fall 2002 | Graduate

Seminar in Operations Management


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session


Technology Roadmapping (TRM for short) is a 9 unit Fall Semester 2002 Masters Research Seminar on exploring long-term industry dynamics of emerging technologies. Students perform original work crafting or enhancing a Roadmap in a technology-business domain of their choice. Thesis & Special Project opportunities are offered & encouraged.

Seminar Description

This seminar will explore the purposes and development of Technology Roadmaps for systematically mapping out possible development paths for various technological domains and the industries that build on them.

Data of importance for such Roadmaps include rates of innovation, key bottlenecks, physical limitations, improvement trendlines, corporate intent, and value-chain and industry evolutionary paths.

The course will build on ongoing work on the MIT Communications Technology Roadmap project, and begin exploring other domains as well. Towards this end, we will have faculty guest speakers – mostly lab directors drawn from a spectrum of research centers at MIT – each of whom will share their long-term perspective on their fields and what they perceive to be open and compelling directions for future effort.


It’s crucial that all participating students realize this is a Research Seminar, meaning that all participants must perform original (and hard) work. You should be doing this because you think this sort of in-depth research is highly aligned with your professional interests and aspirations. For example, research you will perform for this Seminar will be an excellent entrée to CTOs, key people in companies in your industry of choice, and so forth. We, in turn, will be offering sometimes half-baked & even preliminary ideas, sharing lessons-learned along the way, figuring things out as we go, and generally investing a lot of time and braincycles into really understanding what Technology Roadmapping could and should be.

Seminar Goals

We hope to foster collaborative efforts between 1-3 students, MIT researchers, & Industry Sponsors, cutting across MIT research areas. Furthermore, we hope this includes Cross Industry Benchmarking, ideally in partnership with Industrial Sponsors of current and potential research at MIT. We’d like to develop an “MIT Method” of Roadmapping which integrates Technology AND Business Dynamics. Ideally, we attract students passionate about the technology sector - however broadly or narrowly defined - who are committed to producing a coherent & complete Tech Roadmap (Draft 1.0) during the Fall Semester.

Our overall TRM aspiration is to build up a rich and thriving MIT Technology Roadmapping Initiative, one which integrates many currently disparate or fragmented research veins.

Elements of the MIT Technology Roadmapping Initiative

  • Business Cycle Dynamics -  e.g. systems dynamics-like models of the bullwhip effect
  • Industry Structure Dynamics - e.g. the double helix in Clockspeed
  • Corporate Strategy Dynamics - e.g. S-curves & dynamic analyses of players in the value chain
  • Technology Dynamics - e.g. the Semiconductor Industry Association’s roadmap built around Moore’s law
  • Regulatory Policy Dynamics - e.g. Cross-National, Cross-Sector

Purpose of Roadmapping

Tech Roadmapping allows for a technology-and-Industry-level of observation & analysis. Ideally the effort encourages Broad faculty participation, drawn from Multi-Disciplinary parts of the Institute, so as to cover the Emerging Technology spectrum and assessment of Business Implications of Technology trends. If done well, this offers a unifying, big-picture perspective, and a long-term “futurecasting” view. Furthermore, we are neutral-ground for discussion among industry players & MIT research sponsors.

Possible Benefits of TRM

  • We closely observe Value Chain Evolution over time
  • Language for discussion between business & technology world
  • Structured basis for interaction Cross Value Chains, between academia & industry, spanning basic research through application 
  • Bridging between vertical “silos” of research - e.g. MicroPhotonics / LIDS / Media Lab / eBiz Center
  • Publishing Collaborative Tech Roadmaps
  • Risk goes down, Capital Investment goes up (generally)

Technology Roadmapping Essentials

  • Performance indicators
  • Innovations over time, trendlines
  • Physical limitations
  • Value Chains
  • Industry Structure

Examples of Degrees of Technology Aggregation

  • Communications Roadmap

    • Optical Communications

      • MicroPhotonics
    • Wireless

      • Personal Area Networking
      • Cellular G3, G4, G5
  • Medical Imaging

    • MRI
      • Functional MRI
  • Nanotechnology

    • Precision Engineering
      • AFM
  • Biological Engineering

    • Bacterial Robotic

Enrollment & Expectations

Open to truly dedicated students who commit to active attendance, the readings, the necessary independent research, & crafting a high-quality Technology Roadmap in your technology domain of choice.


Students are graded 20% based on class participation & attendance, 15% on progress report presentations & documentation, 45% on the quality & content of the final TRM presentation & documentation, 5% for adding novel reference material to our library of links and TRM documentation, and 15% discretionary for demonstrably helping classmates improve their roadmapping abilities, sharing lessons-learned, and generally going “above & beyond.”


We allow students to work either alone or in teams of 2 or 3 consisting of people of their own choice. For grading purposes, teamwork will be judged per-capita, with special effort made to assess individual contribution within the team. We will not tolerate free-riders in this seminar; everyone must be a full contributor.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2002
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes