Fred Abernathy

Fred Abernathy is Abbott and James Lawrence Research Professor of Engineering Gordon McKay Research Professor of Mechanical Engineering in Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and has been a member of Harvard’s faculty since 1959. Together with the late Professor John T. Dunlop, he founded Harvard’s Center for Textile and Apparel Research.

Fred was appointed Director of the Engineering Division of the National Science Foundation while on leave from Harvard in 1971. Later he was made the Head of the National Science Foundation’s Energy Research Office, created in response to the global energy crisis of 1973.

In the summer of 1979 Professors Dunlop and Abernathy undertook a study of the apparel industry to determine if automation might significantly increase its productivity. The study’s report let to the formation of [TC]2, a non-profit corporation of textile and apparel manufactures, labor, and government working together to enhance productivity.

In 1990 the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation encouraged Professors Abernathy and Dunlop to form the Harvard Center for Textile and Apparel Research and focus academic research on the textile-apparel–retail supply channel and other aspects of apparel production.

Fred is a co-author of A Stitch in Time: Lean Retailing and the Transformation of Manufacturing–Lessons from the Apparel and Textile Industries (Oxford University Press, 1999).

Fred received his S.M. and Ph.D. in Engineering from Harvard University.

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HCTAR, Harvard Center for Textile and Apparel Research. 29 Oxford Street, Pierce Hall 318, Cambridge, MA 02138