An Innovation-Driven Strategy for Advanced Manufcturing

William B.  Bonvillian

William B. Bonvillian


MIT, Washington Office

William B. Bonvillian, since January 2006, has been Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Washington, D.C. Office, reporting to MIT’s President. At MIT, he works to support MIT’s strong and historic relations with federal R&D agencies, and its role on national science policy. Has assisted with major MIT technology policy initiatives, on energy technology, the “convergence” of life, engineering and physical sciences, and most recently in advanced manufacturing. Prior to that position, he served for seventeen years as a senior policy advisor in the U.S. Senate. His legislative efforts included science and technology policies and innovation issues. He worked extensively on legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security, on Intelligence Reform, on climate change, on defense and life science R&D, and on national competitiveness and innovation legislation leading to the America Competes Act in 2007.

He has lectured and given speeches before numerous organizations on science, technology and innovation questions (including the 2012 annual Alan Bromley Memorial Lecture at the University of Ottawa, and invited lectures at Carleton College, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Southern Illinois University), is on the adjunct faculty at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins, and has taught courses in this area at Georgetown, the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, MIT and George Washington. He served for seven years on the Board on Science Education of the National Academies of Sciences, and on the Academies’ Committees on “Learning Science: Computer Games, Simulations and Education,” on “Future Directions for NSF Studies on National Patterns of R&D,” on “Modernizing the Infrastructure of the NSF’s Federal Funds (R&D) Survey” and, on “Exploring the Intersection of Science Education and the Development off 21st Century Skills.” He also serves on the Board of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) and on the Advisory Council of the Mystic Seaport Museum. He was the recipient of the IEEE Distinguished Public Service Award in 2007 and was elected a Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011 for “socially distinguished” efforts “on behalf of the advancement of science and its applications.”

His book, with Distinguished Prof. Charles Weiss of Georgetown, entitled Structuring an Energy Technology Revolution, was published by MIT Press in 2009 and is summarized at: His chapter “The Problem of Political Design in Federal Innovation Organization” appeared in the Stanford Univ. Press book The Science of Science Policy (spring 2011) and his chapter “The Connected Science Model for Innovation” appeared in the National Academy book 21st Century Innovation Systems for the U.S. and Japan (May 2009). His articles in recent years include, “ARPA-E and DARPA: Applying the DARPA model to energy innovation” (with R.VanAtta) in the Journal of Technology Transfer (Oct. 2011); “A New Strategy for Energy Innovation” (with J. Alic, D. Sarewitz, and C. Weiss) in Nature (July 15, 2010); “Stimulating a Revolution in Sustainable Energy Technology” in Environment (with C. Weiss, July/Aug. 2009); “Complex, Established ‘Legacy’ Sectors: The Technology Revolutions that do Not Happen” (with C. Weiss June 2011) and “Taking Covered Wagons East: A New Innovation Theory for Energy and Other Established Sectors” (with C. Weiss, Nov. 2009) both in Innovations; “The Innovation State” (July/Aug. 2009) and “Power Play – The DARPA Model and U.S. Energy Policy” (Nov./Dec. 2006) both in American Interest with the latter reprinted in the book Blindside (Brookings Press, Francis Fukuyama, ed., 2007); “Time for Climate Plan B” (Winter 2011), “Stimulating Innovation in Energy Technology” (with C. Weiss, Fall 2009), “The Politics of Jobs” (2007), “Meeting the New Challenge to U.S. Economic Competitiveness” (2004) and “Organizing Science and Technology for Homeland Security” (with K.V. Sharp, 2002), all published in Issues in Science and Technology; “Will the Search for New Energy Technologies Require a New R&D Mission Agency?” (2007) in Bridges; and “Science at a Crossroads\" (2002), published in Technology in Society and reprinted in the FASEB Journal.

Prior to his work on the Senate, he was a partner at a large national law firm. Early in his career, he served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary and Director of Congressional Affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation, working on major transportation deregulation legislation. He received a B.A. from Columbia University with honors, an M.A.R. from Yale Divinity School in religion; and a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he also served on the Board of Editors of the Columbia Law Review. Following law school, he served as a law clerk to Hon. Jack Weinstein, a Federal Judge in New York. He has been a member of the Connecticut Bar, the District of Columbia Bar and the U.S. Supreme Court Bar.