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Draper Lab Retains MIT Connection

Nuclear Guidance Systems Dominate Priorities

By Elizabeth H. Wiltshire

This is the second in a two-part series.

Although the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) formally disassociated itself from Draper Laboratory, Inc. in the early 70s, many scholars around Technology Square still maintain ties to the institution that protesters picket each week for its involvement in the nuclear weapons industry.

The lab's 1979 annual report states that one-third of its board of directors is affiliated with MIT. And more than 300 MIT students last year worked, studied or researched under the lab's facilities.

The MIT catalogue offers students a one-page description of the opportunities available at Draper, but little specific information on the lab's projects. What the catalogue describes as "guidance control of aerospace and marine vehicles," the annual report lists as Trident I and Cruise missiles.

"If students are going to associate themselves with Draper Lab, they should be more informed as to the moral implications of their work," John C. Stewart, an MIT graduate student in the technology and policy program, said yesterday.

Draper is a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation whose "principal endeavor continues to be the application of inertial guidance technology to the development of strategic systems for the Air Force and for the Navy..." the annual report states.

But the tax-exempt status of the lab doesn't take any property off the city tax rolls--the owner of the land, Cabot, Cabot and Forbes, pays taxes on it, Franklin King, vice president of the company, said yesterday.

Ailanthus, a group of area residents, protests every Monday at Draper, handing out leaflets on jobs in defense and the Soviet threat.

"They say military spending produces jobs, but couldn't there be jobs if they used Draper for other things," Kriss D. Worthington, a third-year graduate student and a member of Ailanthus said last week.

"They call themselves a public service corporation, but they're working on first-strike weapons," John Leary, a third-year graduate student and Ailanthus member, said last week. "Draper got an award for keeping its grounds so clean--they should look at what goes on inside the place," he added.

While he admits the lab works primarily on defense research, Joseph F. O'Connor, executive assistant to the president of Draper, said last week the lab is not set against branching out.

"It's in our interest to apply things we do well to other things and find new markets for them," he said.

Worthington said, "There's such a thing as nuclear overkill--no matter how much they threaten, after a certain level, building becomes ludicrous and wasteful."

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