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Francis Mechner received his Ph.D. in 1957 from the Columbia University Graduate Faculties of Pure Science where he remained on the teaching faculty until 1961.  His professional activities and publications have been in education, educational technology, training, learning theory, and basic research in behavioral science.1 In 1960 Mechner formed Basic Systems Inc.,2 to commercialize his instructional systems technology. In 1965 the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity awarded Basic Systems a contract to establish and operate a Job Corps Training Center in Huntington, West Virginia, based in part on a design for a residental training center that Mechner developed in 1964 under a contract with the office of Governor Peabody of Massachusetts—a design that subsequently served as one of the models for the nationwide network of Job Corps Training Centers created under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. In 1970 he worked with the Carnegie Corporation's Children's Television Workshop project in the original design of Sesame Street.

Mechner did extensive work in curriculum innovation during two years as a consultant to UNESCO on projects to upgrade secondary school physics and chemistry education in South America and Asia (1963-1965).  From 1960 to 1965 he created instructional programs for middle school and high school in the sciences and mathematics, published by Appleton Century Crofts' school division.  He also developed a wide range of instructional programs for nursing education and post-graduate medical education.  From 1968 to 1973, through his company Universal Education Corporation (UEC), he created educational day care systems for state agencies (Pennsylvania, Georgia, Alabama, and Nebraska), and founded the Paideia School in Armonk, NY, where he developed the Paideia Individualized Education (PIE) model, later developed further by the Queens Paideia School which he founded in 2008.3 In 1971 Dr. Mechner testified in the Senate hearings in connection with the Comprehensive Child Development Act of 1971, on the long-term impact of early learning and the applicability of the PIE approaches.4

During the years 1963-1978, he created hundreds of large-scale managerial and supervisory training systems under contracts with corporations and government agencies. From 1974-1976 he designed a model of the first computerized information storage and retrieval system for Brazil, under contract with the Brazilian governmental agency Instituto de Pesquisas Technologicas. For descriptions of other projects see Accomplishments.

Mechner acquired the management experience he applies to the Foundation's current school aggregation project over the course of founding and building 11 innovative technology companies over five decades (for descriptions of these, see Business Enterprises). Five of these companies commercialized technologies that Mechner created, and several have provided the Mechner Foundation's funding over the years.

Mechner's theoretical work in the behavioral sciences has focused on the development of a formal symbolic language for codifying the logical and temporal relationships between acts and consequences in such diverse disciplines as economics, sociology, law, psychology, education, and biology.

Mechner is also an accomplished painter and a pianist of concert caliber.  As a student of strategy games, he achieved a Master rating in chess (2236), and a "5-dan" rating in the oriental strategy game "go." Previously, he was heavily involved in lepidoptery, and is fluent in German, French, Spanish, English, and Portuguese.


1 The present website provides a list of Dr. Mechner's publications and other accomplishments. See also Dr. Mechner's Wikipedia page.

2 In 1965, Basic Systems, Inc., was purchased by Xerox Corporation and became Xerox Learning Systems. In Xerox's hands, Basic Systems' flagship program Professional Selling Skills (PSS) became the most widely used training system of all time, grossing over $50 million per year for many decades. Xerox sold the company in 1985 for $117 million to the Los Angeles TImes Mirror, which renamed it Learning International and continued to market PSS with continuing success.  See History in the Making: A Conversation with Francis Mechner, Founder of Basic Systems on the Downloads page of this website.

3 See The Paideia Individualized Education (PIE) Model paper in the Downloads.

4 September 1971 Congressional Record for the 92nd Congress.  For a transcript of the testimony, see Downloads.