William Boone Bonvillian


Lecturer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology






William B. Bonvillian is Lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Science Technology and Society and Political Science Departments, and Senior Director, Special Projects, at MIT's Office of Digital Learning, directing a research project on workforce education. He began teaching science and technology policy MIT in 2007, and has also taught a course on innovation policy since 2017. Prior to this position, from 2006-17, he was Director of the MIT’s Washington, D.C. Office, reporting to MIT’s President. In this position he worked to support MIT’s strong and historic relations with federal R&D agencies, and its role on national science policy.  He has assisted with major MIT technology policy initiatives, on energy technology, the “convergence” of life, engineering and physical sciences, advanced manufacturing, online higher education and its "innovation orchard" project on startup scale-up.. 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 policy 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.

In addition to teaching at MIT, he has been on the adjunct faculty at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins SAIS, and has taught courses in science and technology policy at Georgetown, Hopkins, and George Washington. He has lectured and given speeches before numerous organizations on science, technology and innovation questions, including university lectures: the 2012 annual Alan Bromley Memorial Lecture at the University of Ottawa, and invited lectures and talks at Cambridge University's Babbage Forum on manufacturing, the University of Toronto Munk School, the National Defense University's Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Georgia Tech, National Graduate Research Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo, Unividad Central de Caribe (UCC) in Puerto Rico,  American University in Cairo, Carleton College, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Southern Illinois University. He is on the National Academies of Science standing committee for its Innovation Policy Forum, served for seven years on its Board on Science Education, and has served on six Academies’ Committees. He chaired for four years the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) standing Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy (COSEPP), is on the Polaris Council advising the federal General Accountability Office's (GAO) Science, Technology Assessment ad Analytics program, is on the Board of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), and serves on on the Advisory Council of the Mystic Seaport Museum. He previously served on the American Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) Commission on the Science and Mathematics Teaching Imperative (SMTI) and on the Governor of Connecticut's Panel on Transportation Finance. 

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.”

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. Following law school, he served as a law clerk to Hon. Jack B. Weinstein, a Federal Judge in New York. 


His book, with Prof. Sanjay Sarma of MIT,  Workforce Education - A New Roadmap, published by MIT Press in 2021, examines the workforce education system and ways to improve it, see https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/workforce-education


His recent book, The DARPA Model for Transformative Technologies, edited with Richard Van Atta and Patrick Windham, was published by Open Book Publishers in 2020, and collects the leading academic articles on DARPA, see https://www.openbookpublishers.com/product/1079.

His book, Advanced Manufacturing - The New American Innovation Policies, with Peter L. Singer, was published in 2018 by MIT Press, see https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/advanced-manufacturing.

His 2015 book, with Distinguished Prof. Charles Weiss of Georgetown (ret.), entitled Technological Innovation in Legacy Sectors was published by Oxford University Press and is summarized at: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/technological-innovation-in-legacy-sectors-9780199374519?cc=us&lang=en&#.  


His book, with Prof. Weiss, Structuring an Energy Technology Revolution, was published by MIT Press in 2009 and is summarized at: http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=11808

Articles and Chapters (by Topic):

Energy Technology Policy

- "Energy Storage for the Grid: Policy and Options for Sustaining Innovation (with David Hart and Nate Austin), MITEI Working Paper, April 28, 2018.

-“ARPA-E on the Chopping Block,” The American Interest, Feature, March 30, 2017.

- “Applying Innovation Policy to the U.S. Energy/Climate Challenge”, Chapter 12 in the book Delivering Energy Law and Policy in the EU and U.S. (Raphael Heffron and Gavin Little, eds.) (Edinburgh University Press 2016).  

- “Forum: DOD’s Role in Energy Innovation”, Issues in Science and Technology (Winter 2015) 10-14.

- “Time for Climate Plan B”, Issues in Science and Technology (Winter 2011),

- “A New Strategy for Energy Innovation” (with J. Alic, D. Sarewitz, and C. Weiss), Nature (July 15, 2010),

- “Stimulating a Revolution in Sustainable Energy Technology”, Environment (with C. Weiss, July/Aug. 2009).

- “Stimulating Innovation in Energy Technology”, Issues in Science and Technology (with C. Weiss, Fall 2009).

- “Will the Search for New Energy Technologies Require a New R&D Mission Agency?” Bridges (2007).

- “Power Play – The DARPA Model and U.S. Energy Policy”, American Interest (Nov./Dec. 2006) (reprinted in the book Blindside, below).

Advanced Manufacturing

- "Restoring U.S. Leadership in Manufacturing" in Dan Correa, ed., DayOne Project Papers (Jan. 23, 2020).

- "What Economists Don't Know About Manufacturing," (with Peter L. Singer), The American Interest, March 29, 2018.

- “US Manufacturing Decline and the Rise of New Production Paradigms, OECD Forum and OECD Yearbook, June 6, 2017.

- “The Rise of Advanced Manufacturing in the United States”, Chapter 11 in the book The Next Production Revolution, Implications for Governments and Business (Alistair Nolan, editor) (Paris: OECD May 2017).

- “Advanced Manufacturing: A New Policy Challenge”, Annals of Science and Technology Policy, v.1, n.1, March 31, 2017.

- "Donald Trump Voters and the Decline of American Manufacturing", Issues in Science and Technology (Nat’l Academies journal), Summer 2016. 

- “Advanced Manufacturing Policies and Paradigms for Innovation”, Science (December 6, 2013).

- “Reinventing American Manufacturing: the Role of Innovation”, Innovations (special manufacturing issue Summer 2012).

Bringing Innovation to Legacy Sectors

- “Legacy sectors: barriers to global innovation in agriculture and energy” (with C. Weiss), Technology Analysis and Strategic Management v. 25, no. 10 (Nov. 2013). 1189-1208.

- “Complex, Established ‘Legacy’ Sectors: The Technology Revolutions that do Not Happen”, Innovations (with C. Weiss, Spring 2011).

- “Taking Covered Wagons East: A New Innovation Theory for Energy and Other Established Sectors”, Innovations (with C. Weiss, special energy issue Fall 2009).  

Innovation Organization

-“Innovation Orchards, Helping Tech Startups Scale Up,” (with Peter L. Singer), ITIF Report, March 27, 2017.

-“New Model Innovation Agencies – An Overview,” Science and Public Policy (July 2014), v.41 n.4, 425-437

-“The Problem of Political Design in Federal Innovation Organization” appeared in the Stanford Univ. Press book The Science of Science Policy (spring 2011). 

- “The Innovation State”, American Interest (July/Aug. 2009).

- “The Politics of Jobs”, Issues in Science and Technology (Summer 2007).

- “Meeting the New Challenge to U.S. Economic Competitiveness”, Issues in Science and Technology (2004).

- “Organizing Science and Technology for Homeland Security”, Issues in Science and Technology (with K.V. Sharp, 2002).

- “Science at a Crossroads" (2002), published in Technology in Society and reprinted in the FASEB Journal.

The DARPA Model

- "Summary of the DARPA Model," in Iain Mansfield and Geoffrey Owen, eds.,Visions of DARPA, Embracing Risk. Transforming  Technologies, PolicyExchange 2020, chapters 1, 27-33.

- "DARPA and its IARPA and ARPA-E Clones, a unique innovation organization model," Industrial and Corporate Change (Oxford), v.27, n. 5 (Oct. 1, 2018).

- “All That DARPA Can Be," The American Interest, v.11, n.1 (Sept.-Oct. 2015).

-"ARPA-E and DARPA: Applying the DARPA model to energy innovation” (with R.VanAtta), Journal of Technology Transfer (Oct. 2011).

- “The Connected Science Model for Innovation - The DARPA Model” appeared in the National Academy book 21st Century Innovation Systems for the U.S. and Japan (May 2009).

- “The Once and Future DARPA” appeared in the book Blindside (Brookings Press, Francis Fukuyama, ed., 2007).

Online and Workforce Education

-"Applying New Education Technologies to Workforce Education Needs" (with Sanjay Sarma), MIT Work of the Future Research Brief, Oct. 14, 2020

-"Fixing an Imperfect Labor Market Information System" (with Sanjay Sarma), Issues in Science and Technology (Nat'l Academies journal), Fall 2018 (Special "Future of Work" Issue)

-"The Quest for Quality Jobs" (with Sanjay Sarma), Issues in Science and Technology (Nat'l Academies journal), Fall 2018 (Special "Future of Work" Issue)

-“Two Revolutions in Learning” (with S. Singer), Science (March 22, 2013)

- “The Online Challenge to Higher Education”, Issues in Science and Technology (with S. Singer, Summer 2013).

2010 - present

2010 - present



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 served on the Board of Editors of the Columbia Law Review.  










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