Large, military-funded, applied research laboratories became a common and controversial feature of Cold War academe. This paper examines the origins and first twelve years of Lincoln Labs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with two primary purposes. First, it extends our understanding of who encouraged the rise of large laboratories in the Cold War academy, when controversy over these changes arose, and why. Second, it ties academic efforts to privilege theoretical over applied forms of education and research, to academic concerns about competing with industry for military funding. By defining a "normal" MIT in terms of fundamental research and education, administrators sought to negotiate the rapidly changing institutional environments for Cold War science and engineering.

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