Author Archives: Kathryn O'Neill

Recording and Slides Now Available: How to Pick Breakthrough Technologies Using Network and Game Theory

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Nissia Sabri, Director, Strategic Business Development, Novanta; SDM Alumna

Nissia Sabri, SDM ’14

Date: Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Slides available here..

About the Presentation

Breakthrough technologies sustain competitive advantage and drive growth, but selecting which technology to develop or acquire can be challenging. Traditionally, this task has required in-depth industry knowledge and extensive technical expertise. However, big data paired with the right strategic analyses has provided an increasingly attractive alternative.

In this webinar, SDM alumna Nissia Sabri will describe a systematic framework of analysis that combines network theory and game theory concepts to help companies make strategic investments in technology.

The framework offers a way to calculate the payoff of taking different paths to attain an optimal target market with an eye toward how any new technology would fit into the firm’s existing portfolio. The analysis provides a recommendation for the best strategy under specific competitive scenarios. The presentation will illustrate this method with use cases related to corporate business development and mergers and acquisitions strategy.

About the Speaker

SDM alumna Nissia Sabri is director of strategic business development at Novanta, which serves the industrial robotics and medical technology markets. She cofounded Bitsence, which uses human and physical space data to improve cities, architecture, and real estate developments. She holds an MS in engineering and management from MIT; an MS in nuclear and radiological engineering from the University of Florida; and an MS in physics from the Grenoble Institute of Technology in France. In 2015, she received the MIT SDM Student Award for Leadership, Innovation, and Systems Thinking.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

SDM Core Faculty Honored with 2017 MIT Teaching with Digital Technology Award

Team members receiving the 2017 MIT Teaching with Digital Technology Award include, from left: Olivier L. de Weck, professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems; Bryan Moser, SDM academic director and senior lecturer; and Bruce Cameron, director of the System Architecture Lab and lecturer in engineering systems. (Not shown: Edward F. Crawley, Ford Professor of Engineering.) Photo courtesy of Office of Digital Learning

Dr. Bryan Moser, academic director and senior lecturer for MIT System Design & Management (SDM). along with several SDM faculty colleagues recently received the 2017 MIT Teaching with Digital Technology Award for online/in-class instruction, real-time communication, and polling technologies. The group included Moser; Edward F. Crawley, Ford Professor of Engineering in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Olivier L. de Weck, professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics; and Bruce Cameron, director of the System Architecture Lab and lecturer in system engineering systems for MIT SDM.

Please join us in congratulating them!

The MIT Teaching with Digital Technology Awards were established in 2016 to celebrate innovations in digital technology and the faculty who develop them. Read more.

Alum Navigates Systems Challenges to Launch Successful Milk-Chilling Business

By Sorin Grama, SDM ’07

The challenge: Milk is India’s lifeblood. Indians depend on milk for much of their daily nutrition. It is used in curries, the beloved chai, and even for religious rituals. India draws its milk supply from millions of small farmers in villages scattered across the vast countryside. Milk must be collected twice every day, 365 days a year, and rushed to a processing center before it spoils. As a result, the milk supply chain presents a huge challenge for dairy processors.

I learned about this challenge in 2007 when I was visiting India for the first time looking for business opportunities. One of our hosts was a dairy in Bangalore that was having a problem collecting fresh, quality milk. I learned that milk is collected in three steps:

  • Step 1: Individual farmers deliver 5–10 liters of milk to a collection center in a village. A collection center may aggregate from 500 to 2,000 liters of milk per day from 20–40 farmers.
  • Step 2: Milk is picked up and transported to a nearby chilling center. Because refrigeration is not used at the village collection center, the dairy processor needs to pick up the warm raw milk quickly, within 5–6 hours, before it spoils.
  • Step 3: The milk is transported from the chilling center to a processing center where it is pasteurized and processed into such products as cheese and ice cream.

These steps are repeated for thousands of collection centers, twice every day, all over India. It is a huge logistics challenge, and one that I soon discovered could have significant business potential.

One of the farmers who uses Promethean Power Systems’ equipment carries a jug of milk in the village of Mottur in Tamil Nadu, India. Image courtesy Promethean Power Systems

The approach: I began by studying the collection process fully so I could identify the pain points. In 2008 my team and I spent an entire month traveling through rural India following the “milk trail” from farmers to consumers. We made a video of this process so we could later explain the challenge to our US partners and investors.

We learned that the highest pain point in this supply chain was at the source, in the villages where the milk is produced. If milk is not refrigerated immediately after milking, bacteria starts to grow exponentially, changing the taste and eventually spoiling the milk. The sooner milk could be refrigerated, the better it would be for everyone in the system: farmers, processors, and consumers. If milk could be refrigerated at the village, multiple benefits would accrue, including:

  • Lower transportation costs. Milk could be picked up just once a day.
  • Access to additional supplies. Since refrigerated milk lasts considerably longer, the supply chain could extend farther into the countryside.
  • Better milk quality. This benefit is particularly significant since it would allow processors to sell higher-value milk products such as butter, yogurt, and ice cream.

If there are so many benefits to refrigerating milk at the source, I had to ask: Why weren’t dairies doing this? The answer is simple. Refrigeration in rural India is difficult to achieve because of an underlying problem: lack of reliable grid power. The milk supply challenge is really a power infrastructure challenge. If a refrigeration system could be reliably powered, the main problems in this supply chain could be addressed.

Figure 1. Traditionally, milk collection in India follows three steps (top image), which means fresh milk typically goes unrefrigerated for several hours—during which time bacteria can grow and spoil the milk. Promethean Power Systems was launched to facilitate a two-step process (bottom image) that refrigerates milk much sooner, curbing the growth of bacteria and preserving milk quality.

The tools: To understand the problem more deeply, I used contextual inquiries and immersion in my customers’ world, two user-centric design methods I learned in Product Design & Development, a course I took while a student in MIT System Design & Management (SDM). Based on these observations, I decided the best solution would be a stationary milk chiller that could be operated at a village collection center to chill milk immediately after it has been delivered by farmers.

To design this solution, I used the systems architecture and product design teachings that were still fresh in my mind at the time. I tackled the problem by first decomposing the system into modules that could be designed and developed separately. I then integrated these modules into a final system.

The two critical modules in this system are: the power module and the refrigeration module. For the power module, I quickly determined that solar power would be the best option. I had some experience with solar power—my SDM thesis was a survey of thin-film solar technologies—and believed that solar power costs would come down dramatically over time. Next, I began to explore different ways to achieve refrigeration efficiently using solar power. I investigated thermoelectrics, absorption chillers, and iceboxes, but I eventually settled on DC-powered vapor compressors.

Figure 2. Fixing on solar power made it possible to explore multiple concepts for refrigeration.

The results: My team and I built three prototypes over a period of three years, and with each prototype we learned something new and improved the design. However, the cost of solar power was still prohibitively high, a challenge exacerbated by the difficulty of obtaining the DC components we needed at a reasonable price. The most painful and vivid lesson came when our pilot customer rejected the system as too complex, too expensive, and too difficult to install. We had spent all our time and money to design a beautiful solar-powered refrigeration system only to discover that it was impractical and uneconomical. It was a tough lesson, and it looked as if it would be the end of the road for our startup.

But there was a glimmer of hope…

During the process of designing the solar power module, I had also designed a backup subsystem, since solar is not very useful unless you can store the energy and use it later. Because we were dealing only with refrigeration, I chose a simple thermal storage system comprised of a cold water tank. During the day, water can be chilled and stored in an insulated tank. The chilled water can then be used to chill milk in the early morning and late evening. The thermal backup was almost an afterthought, a necessary but not a critical component.

With a bit of reflection, I realized that we could drop the solar component and instead use the existing power grid with our thermal storage as a backup. The grid is usually available in villages; it just doesn’t always work when you need it. We could charge our thermal battery when the grid was on, and use it as a backup when the grid was off. It was a simpler and more elegant solution. We quickly built a prototype, tested it, and it worked.

From then on things moved quickly. We iterated and improved on the thermal storage system, which became our differentiator and the source of our competitive advantage over conventional milk chillers, which use diesel backup generators—an expensive option.

We eventually patented it and used it for other cooling applications. To date, we have installed more than 600 chilling systems throughout rural India. Each system has a capacity of 1,000 liters and serves the needs of 30 to 40 farmers.

The lesson: With the benefit of hindsight, I realize the mistake I made during my system design. To be fair, it was a complex system with a lot of moving pieces. I started by fixing on a power source (solar) and investigated different concepts for refrigeration. What I should have done is fixed on a known and economical method of refrigeration (AC-powered vapor compressor) and explored different concepts for generating reliable power: solar, biogas, battery, etc. After all, this was a power infrastructure problem that I was solving, not a refrigeration problem. My bias and preference for solar prevented me from truly exploring the full solution space for this problem. I learned my lesson the hard way, but I don’t regret the journey. Mistakes were costly, but they were also sources of inspiration.

Figure 3. Ultimately, it became clear that the solution space for India’s milk-chilling challenge should have included additional power source options.

About the Author

Sorin Grama, SDM ’07, is the cofounder of Promethean Power Systems, which manufactures and sells milk-chilling systems in India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. After living in India for a few years, Grama is now back at MIT as entrepreneur-in-residence at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and the Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship.

Cultivating Aspiring Entrepreneurs Around the World

MIT Grad Reflects on How SDM Furthered His Life’s Mission

By Rajesh Nair, SDM ’12

The challenge: The world needs entrepreneurs for many reasons: to create jobs, to create wealth, and to develop new ways to address societal challenges. In 2007, when I was a student in MIT System Design & Management (SDM) and a Tata Fellow, I decided to find ways to create entrepreneurship communities in India’s underserved areas. My goal was to nurture aspiring student entrepreneurs and thus change villages, towns, and ultimately, the nation.

Author Rajesh Nair, SDM ’12, poses with students at a TinkerFest held in Delhi, India. Participation in such events is one way Nair is helping to support future entrepreneurship.

Today, most government and private initiatives that aim to develop entrepreneurs in India provide them with mentoring support during a startup’s early stage. However, this has not produced intended results. A simple systems dynamics model reveals that this is primarily due to the scarce supply of aspiring entrepreneurs.

This, in turn, appears to arise because not enough young people are being inspired, educated, and supported by their educational institutions, families, and communities to pursue entrepreneurship. In essence, we need to cultivate aspirants by giving them ample opportunities to learn the fundamentals of business before they take on their first real startups.

This was a challenge I understood personally. When my first company failed and I lost much of my own funds, I thought perhaps I was not born to be an entrepreneur. Close friends and family felt I should abandon my startup dreams and get a desk job. However, despite—or perhaps because of—my prior failure, I learned invaluable lessons and therefore felt better equipped than ever to succeed. I later applied the lessons I had learned to my second and third startups, which were progressively more successful.

The question was: How could I use my personal experience, my Tata fellowship, and my SDM thesis research to create a training process to catalyze and nurture young innovators and prospective entrepreneurs from underserved areas who otherwise would have simply taken a job?

The approach: As an SDM fellow and a systems thinker, I decided this would be the focus of my master’s thesis. I began by exploring the existing ecosystem to better understand why potential startup founders were not getting the help they needed. I traveled to several rural towns and villages in India as well as to nearby universities to explore how entrepreneurs could be nurtured to create long-term, systemic social impact.

I found students in rural colleges were as intelligent as their peers in top schools anywhere. However, they lacked exposure to a broad range of topics. By contrast, their peers in top schools learned new concepts faster through interpolating and extrapolating from adjacent concepts that they already knew. I believe what one already knows is a significant indicator of how fast one can learn a related concept, and fast learning of new topics builds one’s self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy, or the confidence to face an unknown challenge, is a key factor in determining whether one can “make it” as an entrepreneur. Self-efficacy develops through an iterative process that involves:

  • attempting challenges outside one’s current abilities,
  • facing failures and learning from them, and
  • repeating the effort and thus expanding one’s zone of competence.

However, there were several barriers to developing an academic system that could cultivate creativity, foster entrepreneurial courage, and build self-efficacy. These included:

  • Educational norms. India’s academic system largely focuses on rote memorization, not creative thinking. The goal is for students to pass technical licensing exams and get jobs.
  • Family expectations. Families typically encourage students to get jobs, rather than start businesses, because there is a common belief in India that entrepreneurship is too risky.
  • Community limitations. While the spirit of innovation in individuals is high in India, the actual drive to share lessons, propagate entrepreneurship, and create systemic change is not—due to cultural factors that limit the opportunities for scaling the solution across the nation.

I chose to address the entrepreneurship challenge by building students’ self-awareness and self-efficacy through developing an educational program grounded in systems thinking that could be adapted as needed by others and scaled across India. As an engineer, product designer, and entrepreneur, I focused on one question: Could students learn to design multidisciplinary product systems if we helped them learn skills in different disciplines such as team ideation, user experience, mechanical and electrical systems, and basic coding?

That question led to others:

  • Would applying their lessons learned to designing products enable students to relate better to what is taught in the classroom?
  • Would learning to design inspire them to create products that can help solve real-world problems?
  • Would that, in turn, lead students to consider the possible commercialization of these products?
  • Ultimately, would all this inspire students to take the nontraditional path of entrepreneurship?

The process: I developed and conducted a series of workshops to introduce students to different phases of product development and give them opportunities to move beyond their own thresholds of fear and limitation. I also worked with students individually to help them realize their potential to achieve entrepreneurial goals.

To move students through the process, I created a curriculum based on my own life experience and what I learned at SDM that focuses on the transitions I made—from a child growing up in a village in India, to new graduate, to product designer, and entrepreneur. This consists of four stages:

  • Zero: Students with unrealized potential looking to graduate and find steady jobs. Most university students fall into this category, many of them influenced by their parents’ career views and by social pressures to “settle down.”
  • Maker: Students learning to design and make prototypes and products. I use current technologies, such as digital fabrication, to teach students to rapidly design and create products. I created a program called 48-Hour MakerFest where attendees learn to ideate, design, and fabricate prototypes. Students learn to make things in teams and demonstrate their products in just two days.
  • Innovator: Students learning to identify and solve unmet human needs. I introduce design thinking to teach students to observe, engage, and empathize with customers; to identify and define needs; and ultimately to develop and validate solutions. I created a weeklong workshop that takes students through the making and design thinking process to create and demonstrate solutions for real problems in the community.
  • Entrepreneur: Students learning to launch a venture to commercialize solutions that address real-world needs. I developed a two- to four-week-long boot camp that takes the students through making, design thinking, and the startup process. In 2016, this became an accredited course at the University of Rhode Island.

Figure 1. The author identified four stages of entrepreneurship, ranging from students with unrealized potential (zero) to students learning to launch ventures (entrepreneur). Important areas of focus are shown for each stage. A ‘maker’ focuses on making things that are feasible. The ‘innovator’ addresses both the feasibility and desirability of the solution. And, the ‘entrepreneur’ considers all three.

In my classes, students learn to apply design thinking principles to identify needs, evaluate them as business opportunities, and then create solutions. They are asked to:

  • visit places outside their comfort zone—such as tribal villages, cattle farms, homes for the disabled, even red-light districts;
  • immerse themselves in these communities by observing and interacting with people;
  • use these interactions to identify unmet community needs; and
  • devise solutions to these unmet needs that could create impact.

This curriculum is intended to train students to innovate, create, and begin to consider entrepreneurship as a serious career option. The goal is to help them go beyond traditional ways of thinking about their prospects and potential and ignite a change in attitude, driven by self-efficacy.

The results: I have conducted more than 40 intensive, hands-on MakerFests, innovation workshops, and entrepreneurship boot camps around the world, reaching some 1,500 people. These events have given rise to several startups, whose products and services included mobile apps, medical products, and community building.

However, these workshops are not primarily about teaching technology, solving problems, or even launching ventures. They are about helping students build self-efficacy to pursue larger missions.

I strongly believe that if we want to build an ecosystem where entrepreneurship is seen as a valid choice, it is important to start changing attitudes while students are still young and unafraid to experiment. We need to build a community of students who can support each other in innovation, and we need to support them by providing mentoring as well as maker-spaces where they can meet and work on projects.

To do this, I am now moving my work into middle and high schools—helping the Indian government roll out Tinkering Labs and innovation training programs in more than 1,000 middle and high schools across the country to develop future innovators and entrepreneurs. As part of this endeavor, this summer I helped train 48 engineering and business students from top institutes around the world—including MIT—who subsequently went out to schools around Delhi and mentored students in eighth through 12th grade in basic design and making skills. This new, hands-on way of learning made a huge impression on the children, and I expect that for many the experience will seed a passion for innovation going forward.

Next steps: What began as an SDM research thesis has now become my life’s mission—my current goal is to incubate 1,000 entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs will stumble and learn their way to founding companies that create jobs and wealth. I believe that catching them young will allow students to be unafraid of bypassing conventional routes to employment and live up to their full potential.

About the Author

Rajesh Nair is an award-winning entrepreneur and the holder of 13 US patents. He currently serves as chairman of Degree Controls Inc., a company he cofounded. He is a visiting scholar at MIT and a senior lecturer at the Asia School of Business, where he serves as director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center.

He holds two bachelor’s degrees: one in physics from the University of Kerala and one in electronics and communications engineering from the Indian Institute of Science. As a graduate of MIT System Design & Management, he also holds a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT.

Snapshot of Newest SDM Class

The cohort that entered MIT System Design & Management in fall 2017 is pictured on the steps of Building 10 at MIT.

MIT welcomed a new cohort of 58 early to mid-career technical professionals to the System Design & Management (SDM) program prior to the start of MIT’s new academic year.

Like their predecessors, the class entering in academic year 2018 represent a wide range of industries, including healthcare, US military, energy, software, information technology, US and foreign governments, consulting, and more. They work for well-established companies, new industries, and startups. Several are currently or aspiring entrepreneurs.

Demographics*
• 48 men / 10 women

Average age
• 33

Program
• 36 on campus
• 18 local commuter
• 4 distance

Sponsorship
• 43 company-sponsored
• 15 self-sponsored

Citizenship
• Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Ecuador, France, India, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States

Arthur Middlebrooks
Operations Research/Systems Analyst, US Army
“I am an instructor in West Point’s Department of Systems Engineering, so SDM’s leading-edge core courses and MIT electives will help me provide a state-of-the-art education to our cadets and continue to serve my country.”

 

Sonali Tripathy
Business Unit Head—Women’s Health, Embryyo Technologies
“Since I have been responsible for business development in women’s and children’s health, SDM will enable me to deep-dive into innovation, engineering, and marketing—and create higher impact in the future.”

 

Eunjin Koo
Manager for e-Government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea
“SDM’s emphasis on leadership, teamwork, and diversity will help me develop customized diplomatic information systems applications and collaborate with internal and external colleagues to strengthen e-government capacity.”

 

Tolu Sodeinde
Global Consulting Director (Oil & Gas), Schneider Electric
“At SDM, I will focus on applying systems thinking with an entrepreneurial focus to several areas: business technology transformation in the oil and gas sector and artificial intelligence/ machine learning in energy sustainability.”

 

Frederico Calil
Engineering Manager, Whirlpool Corporation
“As an SDM student, I will learn how to manage flexibility and complexity in system design and how to organize an enterprise to effectively deliver projects.”

 

 

Sandhya Prabhu
Energy Trader, Boston Energy Trading & Marketing
“SDM’s systems thinking foundation, combined with electives in management, will help increase my effectiveness in business development within the energy/clean-tech space.”

 

Elizabeth Bieler
Systems Engineer, US Air Force
“At MIT SDM, I want to learn innovative solutions to improve acquisitions engineering and project management. Eventually, I would like to become an engineering director for a major aircraft system.”

Recording and Slides Now Available: Products and Infrastructure for the New Space Economy

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Eric Ward, CEO, Odyne Space; CEO, Aten Engineering; SDM Alumnus

Eric Ward, SDM ’14

Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Slides available here..

About the Presentation

MIT SDM alumnus Eric Ward is a “space-faring” pioneer. Ward uses system design, architecture, and other systems-based methodologies to help “astro-preneurs” create new products and services—as well as supportive infrastructure—for emerging markets in space.

In this webinar, Ward will:

  • describe the underlying drivers of the space market—humanity’s desire to explore, invent, improve, and expand;
  • provide an overview of possibilities envisioned by the traditional space industry, entrepreneurs, government, academia, and other stakeholders;
  • offer examples of current and planned projects.

Attendees will learn:

  • how systems-based methodologies can be used to create a framework for developing new products, services, and profit models;
  • how these same tools can be employed to design the infrastructure needed to make space projects a reality; and
  • what a prosperous society in space might look like and how it could emerge.

About the Speaker

The CEO of Odyne Space and Aten Engineering, Eric Ward is a systems architect who believes that cultivating the private space industry is the next step to expanding humanity’s reach beyond Earth. In addition to publishing several technical documents on system architecture and the space industry, he has been featured in Fast Company and GeekTime. He also co-founded the MIT New Space Age Conference. Ward recently earned a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT through the System Design & Management program. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Oregon State University. His Erdős number is 4.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

Bryan Moser Named SDM Academic Director

Dr. Moser to serve on SDM leadership team and oversee quality of education and research

Bryan Moser

Bryan Moser has been named academic director and senior lecturer for MIT System Design & Management (SDM). Moser has been lead instructor and a member of SDM’s core faculty since 2013, along with Professor Edward F. Crawley, Professor Olivier L. de Weck, and Dr. Bruce G. Cameron. This team of faculty recently won MIT’s 2017 Teaching with Digital Technology Award.

“As a distinguished researcher, a superb educator, and an industry practitioner highly recognized for his contributions to diverse and technically complex projects, Bryan will be invaluable in helping SDM and MIT continue to be at the forefront of interdisciplinary research and education,” says Joan S. Rubin, executive director of SDM. “We are thrilled that he is joining the SDM leadership team.”

Team members receiving the 2017 MIT Teaching with Digital Technology Award included: Olivier de Weck, professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems; Bryan Moser, SDM academic director and senior lecturer: and Bruce Cameron, director of the System Architecture Lab and lecturer in engineering systems. (Not shown: Edward Crawley, Ford Professor of Engineering.)

In the past, Moser has taught leadership development in MIT’s Technology and Policy Program (TPP). He currently serves as associate director of MIT’s Strategic Engineering Research Group and is a project associate professor at the University of Tokyo and director of its Global Teamwork Lab.

Moser earned his doctorate at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, where he was mentored by Professors Fumihiko Kimura and Hiroyuki Yamato. He researched the dynamics and coordination of complex, global engineering projects.

Moser has more than 26 years of industry experience around the world in technology development, rollout, and sustainable operations in aerospace, automotive, heavy machinery, transportation, energy, telecom, and global services. His research focuses on developing high-performance teams for technically complex projects through the design of socio-technical systems.

“Because SDM students are already accomplished professionals when they matriculate, SDM faculty are required to have deep, relevant, and recent industry experience as well as cutting-edge research expertise in global leadership, teamwork and complex product development,” says Steven D. Eppinger, SDM industry co-director (management) and General Motors Leaders for Global Operations Professor of Management. “Bryan brings experience, expertise, and vision that will greatly enhance SDM’s already rich classroom exchanges.”

“Bryan’s track record of innovation in on-campus and distance education, coupled with his research and his commitment to the Institute, will benefit the SDM program’s industrial collaborators as well as our SDM students,” adds Warren Seering, Weber-Shaughness Professor of Mechanical Engineering and SDM co-director (engineering). “We are pleased that he will be an integral part of the SDM leadership team and help us evolve SDM’s pedagogical and research agendas.”

A long record of service to MIT

Beginning with his early academic years at MIT, Moser has had a long record of service to the Institute. He believes strongly in the engagement of scientists and technologists in public life.

As an undergraduate, while a student in Course 6 (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science), Moser twice served as president of the MIT student body and was subsequently awarded the Karl Taylor Compton Prize for outstanding achievements in citizenship and devotion to the Institute’s welfare.

As a graduate student he was selected as a Hugh Hampton Young (HHY) fellow. The award not only recognizes academic achievement, but also exceptional personal and character strengths, with heavy emphasis on the perceived overall potential of the candidate to have a positive impact on humanity. Today Moser serves as a trustee of the HHY Council, selecting fellows each year.

When he received his master’s degree from TPP, Moser was also awarded the MIT Alumni Award for Excellence in Technology and Policy.

A career distinguished by innovation and excellence

Moser was one of the first foreign engineers hired by Nissan Motors to work in its Oppama, Japan, factory and Central Research Labs. There he applied artificial intelligence to computer-aided design, multi-objective optimization, and robotic control problems. He later worked at United Technologies Corporation (UTC), where he established the company’s first technology and research center in Asia. He received UTC’s Outstanding Achievement Award for building the organization as well as UTC’s collaboration with industrial partners, universities, and national R&D programs across Asia.

In 1999, he founded Global Project Design (GPD), a company that brings system thinking, model-based project management, and teamwork design tools to complex engineering projects. GPD is still active today in the United States, Japan, and Germany.

Moser says he has been guided throughout his career by the MIT seal and motto. “The craftsman and the scholar, demonstrating “mens et manus” (mind and hand), are a necessary combination to stimulate discovery, rigor, and practicality which yield important innovations for our increasingly complex world.”

Raised in Northern Kentucky, Moser has lived around the world. He now resides in Winchester, MA, with his spouse, Harunaga Yamakawa Moser.

Developing and Launching Products at Google Cloud Platform

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Ari Liberman, Product Manager, Google Compute Engine, Google; SDM Alumnus

Ari Liberman, SDM ’13

Date: Tuesday, September 26, 2017

About the Presentation

Google is acclaimed worldwide for innovation. In this webinar, MIT SDM alumnus Ari Liberman, a product manager at Google Compute Engine, will provide an inside look at how one of the world’s best companies continues to produce some of history’s most innovative products—while helping customers do the same.

Liberman will provide highlights of decision-making in product design, prototyping, and experimentation at Google. The webinar will reveal:

  • how Google Compute Engine uses data science to prioritize product features and maximize agile program management; and
  • Google’s approach to continuous product excellence and how this deepens user trust.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Ari Liberman is a product manager at Google; he has been working on Google Compute Engine since 2016. Previously, he was product manager for cloud servers at Rackspace. Liberman’s prior engineering experience spans almost a decade at Amazon and Yahoo. He graduated from MIT System Design & Management in 2015, earning a master’s degree in engineering and management. He also holds a BS in electronic systems engineering from Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

Using Technology Readiness Levels and System Architecture to Estimate Integration Risk

By Steven D. Eppinger, ScD, Tushar Garg, Nitin Joglekar, PhD, and Alison Olechowski, PhD

The challenge: Risk management is one of the most critical activities in new product development. Improper or insufficient risk identification practices can result in unanticipated schedule overruns, significant rework, budget inflation, and reduced capability for delivering the project’s chartered scope. Although several decision support tools exist to help project managers identify and mitigate risks, few explicitly consider the impact of a system’s architecture.

The approach: This article describes a practical risk identification tool that can be used by engineers and technical managers on projects involving integration of new technology components into systems. Its framework combines system architecture concepts and analysis with technology readiness levels (a metric describing where a given technology is on the path to full maturity) to focus attention on high-risk components and interfaces. It focuses specifically on technical risk, which deals with the uncertainty related to developing and integrating new or complex technologies.

Our goal is to offer a novel risk estimation framework that:

  • includes system architecture considerations;
  • embraces traditional project management literature;
  • defines risk as a combination of likelihood and impact;
  • uses technology readiness levels as a proxy for the likelihood that a component will require a change to fulfill its function;
  • and, given that change propagates through interfaces, employs network measures to estimate impact related to connectivity.

We then:

  • describe how this framework was applied to a project at a high-tech company where data was visualized in different formats to aid in analysis;
  • discuss insights gained from this analysis; and
  • demonstrate that the risk estimation framework provides insight that is in line with the experience of engineers at the company.

For more detailed information, please see our technical article with supporting citations and a thesis.

In developing this framework, we grappled with the following questions:

  • how to estimate technology integration risk using concepts of technical maturity, architecture, and connectivity; and
  • how to keep this assessment effort low enough to enable practical application within industry.

In defining technology integration risk, we focused on concepts of engineering change and change propagation. For highly complex systems, engineering change is required to address mistakes during the design process resulting from uncertainty. In some cases, those changes propagate through interfaces to other components in the system. When mismanaged, relatively small changes can propagate into a cascade of changes that sweep across the system, incurring significant costs and rework. We therefore began our definition by asserting that the technology integration risk of each component i is estimated using a common risk metric—the product of likelihood and impact as seen in this equation:

Riski = Li ∙ Ii

Li is the likelihood that the component technology requires a change to fulfill its function. This is estimated by using technology readiness levels (TRLs), which have been shown to be good estimators of uncertainty in the technology integration process.

Ii is the severity of impact if the component is forced to change. We examined the overall architecture, and the component interfaces specifically, to estimate the impact of context on change propagation.

The following sections describe the rationale and method behind the inputs for our risk calculation. Given that some of our inputs are unbounded scales, we chose to calculate relative risk rather than absolute risk by rescaling all inputs to fall in the 1–10 range. We choose 1–10 for our range as this is the standard used in failure mode and effects analysis.

A. Likelihood of change

There is a relationship between the likelihood of technical or integration problems in design and the degree of certainty that we have about the design, implementation, and capabilities of a particular component or technology. As we design, test, iterate, and integrate the product or system, we drive uncertainty out through a range of validation activities. To include uncertainty in our risk calculation, it was critical to establish a means of measurement. Fortunately, NASA’s TRL scale offered a well-documented, widely used scale for measuring the degree of maturity in a given component. Maturity is also an indicator for uncertainty: Highly mature components have been well-proven in relevant environments and thus have low uncertainty levels. This is precisely the purpose of integration and testing—to minimize uncertainty within the system. The full TRL scale is presented in Table 1.

Table 1. Summary of Technology Readiness Levels from NASA’s Office of the Chief Engineer.

We evaluate each component using this 1–9 TRL scale to get the base likelihood score. Since a TRL of 9 corresponds to the lowest possible uncertainty, and thus the lowest likelihood of manifesting risks, we inverted this scale and made a TRL of 9 correspond to likelihood value of 1, and a TRL of 1 to likelihood value of 9. This produces a vector where the highest value corresponds to the highest likelihood of risks manifesting. As mentioned earlier, we also rescaled the vector linearly so that the range falls between 1–10.

B. Severity of impact

When presented with a specific engineering change, a panel of experienced engineers can provide a rough magnitude estimate of the system impact with relative ease. However, without a specific change instance, it can be difficult to conceive of how impactful future changes to any particular component may be. One approach is to estimate the component’s potential to propagate change.

Change propagation should be closely monitored in development programs because it can lead to unanticipated impacts to costs and schedule. It has been shown that change propagates between components through their interfaces.[1] Therefore, when estimating the potential impact on the overall system, it is reasonable to consider the system architecture and the connectivity of each component.

Because change propagates through interfaces, we propose that components with higher connectivity are more likely to spread change within the system. With this assumption, there are several tools at our disposal to estimate impact severity. System architecture can be analyzed as an undirected network where components are represented as nodes and interfaces as the edges between nodes. With this view, a simple method for estimating the severity of impact would be to count the number of interfaces for each component. In network terms, this would be referring to the nodal degree of the components. After rescaling the degree count for each node to fall between 1–10, we obtained a vector of scores reflecting the severity of risk for each component. The severity score was then multiplied by our likelihood vector to obtain a risk score for each component. The key advantage to this method is ease of calculation. Engineers can compute this risk score for their system with simple tools such as Microsoft Excel and immediately reap the insights.

While nodal degree is a simple measure that can be applied for this analysis, it does not consider architectural characteristics beyond immediate interfaces of the component. Alternative network analysis metrics that account for more indirect change propagation paths could also be useful, such as closeness centrality, betweenness centrality, and information centrality. Each provides a unique perspective on the importance of network nodes; however, they are all highly correlated and in most cases will net similar insights to nodal degree. Still, on occasion there will be some nodes where different measures have significant differences, and generally these nodes have unique characteristics worth examining. Calculating the three centrality measures generally requires specialized software which, while freely available, may be less accessible and more difficult to understand. Practitioners must decide which centrality measure will be most meaningful for their application.

The overall method that we apply in this research is illustrated and summarized in Figure 1.

Summary of method used to calculate risk involved in integrating a new component into a system.

The results: Analog Devices Inc., a large multinational semiconductor company headquartered in Massachusetts, was our industry partner for this research. Together we analyzed a new product development program that is currently under way for a sensor package that could be used to precisely measure angular position. We gathered the following inputs:

  • a decomposition of the system into six subsystems and 20 components,
  • a list of interfaces between every component in the system, and
  • a TRL assessment for every component in the system.

Using these data, we built a view of the system architecture and developed a network representation of the system as illustrated in Steps 1 and 2 from Figure 1. Once all data was collected, we calculated our impact and likelihood vectors as in Steps 3, 4, and 5 of Figure 1 to obtain final risk scores (Step 6). For simplicity’s sake, we demonstrated this example using nodal degree as our measure for impact. The inputs and final risk calculation is shown in Figure 2, with bars in each cell representing magnitudes.

This graphical representation of the components and their change likelihood, change impact, and overall risk scores provides an insightful view of the system integration risk.

To preserve information about interfaces, we combined risk score information with a design structure matrix (DSM) view of the system (Eppinger and Browning, 2012). To do this, we chose each off-diagonal mark in the matrix to represent a risk score composed of the two interfacing components. The calculation is done according to this equation:

Interface riskij = max(Li,Lj) ∙ max (Ii,Ij)

Li and Lj represent likelihood scores for the two interfacing components, and Ii and Ij represent impact scores for each component. We can see the intuition behind this choice in the following example: Suppose a highly uncertain (low-TRL) component were to interface with a highly connected (high-impact) component. If the high-uncertainty component had to be changed during the design process, it is possible that the highly connected component would require a change as well, and it could take careful design and planning to ensure that the change would not propagate beyond that component. Indeed, it may not be possible to fully contain the changes at this highly connected component, and thus you can see the need to scrutinize that interface carefully. Figure 3 enables us to see the results of this analysis. We leave the component-level risk calculations as a vector in the “risk” column as an additional reference.

We presented our findings to Analog Devices team and discussed the results. Analysis suggests the riskiest components were both sensors (Sensor 1 and Sensor 2), followed by the analog-to-digital converters. This aligned with the Analog Devices team’s experience and expectations. In addition, analysis shows the die attach portion of the packaging subsystem is risky. In the early phases of the data collection, the managers had mentioned that the packaging was a point of concern for them, and this is seen in the risk of the die attach.

One manager remarked that the team at Analog Devices implicitly does this kind of risk assessment mentally to gauge risk level of various components in their program. The engineer would consider the “newness” or uncertainty of a component, and the centrality to its role in the system, and use these two ideas to estimate risk. He noted that the newly developed method formalizes the thought process, making it measured and objective.

The technology risk design structure matrix provides an architectural view of the system integration risk for the Analog Devices project.

Next steps: This method could be built into an analytical tool as an add-on to an existing DSM system architecture software toolkit (for an example, see www.dsmweb.org/en/dsm-tools.html). These concepts are already being taught in MIT’s System Design & Management program and in other system-based classes.

This work will be presented at the International Conference on Engineering Design in Vancouver, Canada, in August 2017. The research team continues to pursue research related to technology integration risk, and in particular the technology readiness levels.

[1] P. J. Clarkson, C. Simons, and C. Eckert, “Predicting Change Propagation in Complex Design,” J. Mech. Des., vol. 126, no. 5, p. 788-797, 2004.

About the Authors

Steven D. Eppinger is MIT’s General Motors Leaders for Global Operations Professor, a professor of management science and engineering systems, and the codirector of MIT System Design & Management. His research centers on improving product design and development practices. He holds SB, SM, and ScD degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT.

 

Tushar Garg is a program manager in the low-voltage and system integration groups at Tesla. He has spent most of his career launching new products at automakers, including Kia, Hyundai, and Toyota. He received an SM in engineering and management from MIT as a graduate of System Design & Management. He also has a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Irvine.

 

Nitin Joglekar is a dean’s research fellow and associate professor of operations and technology management at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. His research focus is digital product management. He has a bachelor’s degree in naval architecture from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, and two SM degrees from MIT, in mechanical and ocean engineering. He also has a PhD in management science from MIT.

 

Alison Olechowski is an assistant professor, teaching stream, at the University of Toronto in the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering and the Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering. She has a BSc from Queen’s University and an MS and a PhD from MIT, all in mechanical engineering.

 

Alum Navigates Systems Challenges to Launch Successful Milk-Chilling Business

Sorin Grama, SDM ’06

By Sorin Grama, SDM ’06

The challenge: Milk is India’s lifeblood. Indians depend on milk for much of their daily nutrition. It is used in curries, the beloved chai, and even for religious rituals. India draws its milk supply from millions of small farmers in villages scattered across the vast countryside. Milk must be collected twice every day, 365 days a year, and rushed to a processing center before it spoils. As a result, the milk supply chain presents a huge challenge for dairy processors.

I learned about this challenge in 2007 when I was visiting India for the first time looking for business opportunities. One of our hosts was a dairy in Bangalore that was having a problem collecting fresh, quality milk. I learned that milk is collected in three steps:

  • Step 1: Individual farmers deliver 5–10 liters of milk to a collection center in a village. A collection center may aggregate from 500 to 2,000 liters of milk per day from 20–40 farmers.
  • Step 2: Milk is picked up and transported to a nearby chilling center. Because refrigeration is not used at the village collection center, the dairy processor needs to pick up the warm raw milk quickly, within 5–6 hours, before it spoils.
  • Step 3: The milk is transported from the chilling center to a processing center where it is pasteurized and processed into such products as cheese and ice cream.

These steps are repeated for thousands of collection centers, twice every day, all over India. It is a huge logistics challenge, and one that I soon discovered could have significant business potential.

One of the farmers who uses Promethean Power Systems’ equipment carries a jug of milk in the village of Mottur in Tamil Nadu, India. (Images courtesy Promethean Power Systems.)

The approach: I began by studying the collection process fully so I could identify the pain points. In 2008 my team and I spent an entire month traveling through rural India following the “milk trail” from farmers to consumers. We made a video of this process so we could later explain the challenge to our US partners and investors.

We learned that the highest pain point in this supply chain was at the source, in the villages where the milk is produced. If milk is not refrigerated immediately after milking, bacteria starts to grow exponentially, changing the taste and eventually spoiling the milk. The sooner milk could be refrigerated, the better it would be for everyone in the system: farmers, processors, and consumers. If milk could be refrigerated at the village, multiple benefits would accrue, including:

  • Lower transportation costs. Milk could be picked up just once a day.
  • Access to additional supplies. Since refrigerated milk lasts considerably longer, the supply chain could extend farther into the countryside.
  • Better milk quality. This benefit is particularly significant since it would allow processors to sell higher-value milk products such as butter, yogurt, and ice cream.

    Figure 1. Traditionally, milk collection in India follows three steps (top image), which means fresh milk typically goes unrefrigerated for several hours—during which time bacteria can grow and spoil the milk. Promethean Power Systems was launched to facilitate a two-step process (bottom image) that refrigerates milk much sooner, curbing the growth of bacteria and preserving milk quality.

    If there are so many benefits to refrigerating milk at the source, I had to ask: Why weren’t dairies doing this? The answer is simple. Refrigeration in rural India is difficult to achieve because of an underlying problem: lack of reliable grid power. The milk supply challenge is really a power infrastructure challenge. If a refrigeration system could be reliably powered, the main problems in this supply chain could be addressed.

    The tools: To understand the problem more deeply, I used contextual inquiries and immersion in my customers’ world, two user-centric design methods I learned in Product Design & Development, a course I took while a student in MIT System Design & Management (SDM). Based on these observations, I decided the best solution would be a stationary milk chiller that could be operated at a village collection center to chill milk immediately after it has been delivered by farmers.

    To design this solution, I used the systems architecture and product design teachings that were still fresh in my mind at the time. I tackled the problem by first decomposing the system into modules that could be designed and developed separately. I then integrated these modules into a final system.

    The two critical modules in this system are: the power module and the refrigeration module. For the power module, I quickly determined that solar power would be the best option. I had some experience with solar power—my SDM thesis was a survey of thin-film solar technologies—and believed that solar power costs would come down dramatically over time. Next, I began to explore different ways to achieve refrigeration efficiently using solar power. I investigated thermoelectrics, absorption chillers, and iceboxes, but I eventually settled on DC-powered vapor compressors.

    Figure 2. Fixing on solar power made it possible to explore multiple concepts for refrigeration.

    The results: My team and I built three prototypes over a period of three years, and with each prototype we learned something new and improved the design. However, the cost of solar power was still prohibitively high, a challenge exacerbated by the difficulty of obtaining the DC components we needed at a reasonable price. The most painful and vivid lesson came when our pilot customer rejected the system as too complex, too expensive, and too difficult to install. We had spent all our time and money to design a beautiful solar-powered refrigeration system only to discover that it was impractical and uneconomical. It was a tough lesson, and it looked as if it would be the end of the road for our startup.

    But there was a glimmer of hope…

    During the process of designing the solar power module, I had also designed a backup subsystem, since solar is not very useful unless you can store the energy and use it later. Because we were dealing only with refrigeration, I chose a simple thermal storage system comprised of a cold water tank. During the day, water can be chilled and stored in an insulated tank. The chilled water can then be used to chill milk in the early morning and late evening. The thermal backup was almost an afterthought, a necessary but not a critical component.

    With a bit of reflection, I realized that we could drop the solar component and instead use the existing power grid with our thermal storage as a backup. The grid is usually available in villages; it just doesn’t always work when you need it. We could charge our thermal battery when the grid was on, and use it as a backup when the grid was off. It was a simpler and more elegant solution. We quickly built a prototype, tested it, and it worked.

    From then on things moved quickly. We iterated and improved on the thermal storage system, which became our differentiator and the source of our competitive advantage over conventional milk chillers, which use diesel backup generators—an expensive option. We eventually patented it and used it for other cooling applications. To date, we have installed more than 600 chilling systems throughout rural India. Each system has a capacity of 1,000 liters and serves the needs of 30 to 40 farmers.

    The lesson: With the benefit of hindsight, I realize the mistake I made during my system design. To be fair, it was a complex system with a lot of moving pieces. I started by fixing on a power source (solar) and investigated different concepts for refrigeration. What I should have done is fixed on a known and economical method of refrigeration (AC-powered vapor compressor) and explored different concepts for generating reliable power: solar, biogas, battery, etc. After all, this was a power infrastructure problem that I was solving, not a refrigeration problem. My bias and preference for solar prevented me from truly exploring the full solution space for this problem. I learned my lesson the hard way, but I don’t regret the journey. Mistakes were costly, but they were also sources of inspiration.

    Figure 3. Ultimately, it became clear that the solution space for India’s milk-chilling challenge should have included additional power source options.

    About the Author

    Sorin Grama, SDM ’07, is the cofounder of Promethean Power Systems, which manufactures and sells milk-chilling systems in India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. After living in India for a few years, Grama is now back at MIT as entrepreneur-in-residence at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and the Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship.

    For more information about Sorin Grama, SDM ’07, and his company, Promethean Power Systems, visit www.promethean-power.com.

Spring 2017 SDM Tech Trek Report

By Juan Lara, SDM Certificate ’16

Each year, some of MIT’s best and brightest graduate students visit several of the world’s most innovative and successful companies to learn about leadership, innovation, and systems thinking from industry experts—and to explore recruitment opportunities.

Amazon (Photos by Ben Linville-Engler, SDM ’16)

The biannual MIT System Design & Management (SDM) Tech Trek is a tradition that has evolved over the past several years. Organized and run by SDM fellows, the treks were developed to enable SDM students to explore a variety of industries, examine different platforms and technologies, and speak with and learn from leaders at best-in-class companies. These up-close, personal interactions further the students’ education while also strengthening the relationship between SDM and host companies, fostering future opportunities. Two treks are held annually: one in the San Francisco Bay/Silicon Valley area in the spring and one in Greater Boston each fall (see related story below).

During the spring 2017 trek, SDM visited Amazon, C3 IoT, Continental, Ericsson, Google, Intel, Planet Labs, and Tesla. Several of these have sponsored thesis research or other projects; some already have SDM alumni on their staff and/or are looking to hire SDM graduates.

SDM Executive Director Joan S. Rubin remarked on the generosity of the companies visited during the treks. “All of them opened their doors to SDM students and provided unsurpassed opportunities to hear from industry leaders, tour facilities, and experience product/technology showcases and demonstrations. Most importantly, they shared the time, knowledge, and experience of some of their most talented people with the SDM fellows—offering a privileged and much-appreciated opportunity for networking and learning.”

The 2017 spring tech trek was organized and led by SDM 2016 fellows Christian West and Jose Garza. Organizational assistance was provided by all student participants, as well as by Rubin, SDM Director of Recruitment and Career Development Jon Pratt, Logistics and Administrative Specialist Amanda Rosas, and Career Development and Alumni Associate Naomi Gutierrez.

Trip highlights

Continental

Continental

At Continental’s offices in San Jose, CA, the SDM group met with the company’s vice president and head of products for intelligent transportation systems (ITS), Pasula Reddy; the director of products for Access Solutions ITS, Raj Sundar; and the head of products in China ITS, Yao Zhai. These leaders provided a general corporate overview, described overall industry challenges, discussed the organization’s project development structure; and gave product demonstrations. Later, SDM fellows went on a company tour to see some of the infrastructure put in place to support the company’s evolution. Throughout the visit and during an informal networking session, Continental executives encouraged questions, feedback, and suggestions from the SDMs on what they had seen and heard. Tour hosts included MIT SDM ‘08 alumnus Anil Rachakonda, director of products, Smart Cities ITS, and Heather Pagh of human resources.

Ericsson

Ericcson

Speakers at Ericsson’s facility in Santa Clara, CA, presented an overview and shared the company’s vision for strategy and growth over the short and long terms, focusing specifically on developing new technologies and connectivity for social interactions. They described the role of innovation and the company’s processes to support it, including predictive and optimization models that use data in conjunction with demographics to develop high-value products and services. Tours, product demonstrations, and access to working prototypes showed Ericsson’s commitment to reinvention, innovation, and adaptation over the 140 years of its work in the technology arena. Curtis Ludwig, director of global talent management, was SDM’s host for the visit. Other speakers were: Diomedes Kastanis, head of technology and innovation; Eric Qian, director of product management; Alvin Jude, researcher; and Nese Ozler, who works in the company’s OnSite Experience Center.

Tesla

Tesla

At Tesla’s headquarters in Palo Alto, CA, members of the engineering and development teams described the company’s history, products, approach to innovation and design, and several roadmaps for its systems and applications. Students got a glimpse into how fast the company’s culture is evolving to meet aggressive business deadlines. Learning about Tesla’s approach to design and development, as well as how its leaders plan, develop, and execute projects at the highest level in one of the world’s most competitive industries was invaluable.

Planet Labs

Planet Labs

In San Francisco, CA, several Planet Labs leaders met with SDM fellows to deliver presentations. Topics included a company overview; Planet’s approach to agile systems; satellite construction and operation; space deployment methods; and logistics for in-orbit satellites. A discussion followed on product design; methods and tools for development and user feedback; and the discovery of new use cases. SDM fellows received deep insight into a company operating in a small niche market with large demands for data management and reliability; they also gained an understanding of Planet’s business models. Planet representatives included Matthew Ferraro from spacecraft research and development; Ryan Kingsbury from electrical engineering; Cole Murphy from product design; Joseph Mascaro from impact initiatives; Lee Frantz from people services; and Alex Shih SDM ’09 from product and ecosystem, who hosted the visit.

C3 IoT

C3 IoT

At C3 IoT headquarters in Redwood City, CA, the group heard presentations from two MIT alumni—President and CTO Ed Abbo SM ’86 and Director of Products Erick Corona SM MBA ’13. Students learned about the company’s history; how data technologies and connected products interact with society; and what opportunities exist for employing applications in large-scale industries, cyber systems, and data learning. Together with the SDM fellows, Abbo and Corona discussed strategies for rapidly developing products, customizing projects for specific companies/industries; and providing value. The visit concluded with a networking lunch with employees from several of the company’s key departments, including engineering, services, and products.

Amazon

At Amazon in Tracy, CA, SDM fellows toured the state-of-the-art order fulfillment center, where robots are deployed for product handling, distribution, and manual labor. Students learned how this highly complex, flexible, automated system can quickly be reconfigured and adjusted for variables such as seasonal demand using a robust model that integrates data management inventory and scale. A question-and-answer session that followed the tour covered a variety of topics, including operations metrics; motivating people; the challenges of business growth; and inventory management logistics. Director of Operations Sanjeev Vaid led the visit, which was hosted by Community and Public Relations Specialist Danielle Tafoya.

Google

Google

In Mountain View, CA, students learned how systems thinking was applied at Google to develop the company’s autonomous car spin-off, Waymo. The hosts provided an overview of employee roles and responsibilities in system development for this complex project, and they gave students a look at project management and milestones—all of which aligned remarkably well with what fellows are learning in SDM’s core course. The visit also included a trip to Google’s ACME Lab where they saw how the company uses agile approaches to develop new products and applications as well as to address issues with existing products.

Intel

SDMs visited Intel’s product development lab at its San Francisco campus. There they saw how Intel uses rapid prototyping tools, and fellows examined sample products developed by Intel’s design team and marketed by partner companies. On-site discussions that followed focused on the design process, the challenges of developing wearable technology, and Intel’s market strategy.

Key Takeaways

While all the companies visited are technology-driven leaders in their fields, visiting them in rapid succession gave SDM fellows valuable insight into the differences in cultures, strategic and technical approaches, and market challenges—as well as the similarities from business to business.

  • Through meeting and engaging with SDM fellows, company leaders experienced the unique character that MIT SDM fellows share: All are experienced engineering professionals with an average of 10 or more years’ experience, and many already hold one or more advanced degrees. Several companies actively recruit during the trek and/or identify candidates for future recruitment.
  • SDM fellows return to MIT with new professional opportunities and an expanded appreciation of the versatility and applicability of their SDM education across industries.

Upcoming Tech Treks

Twice every year, fellows, faculty, and staff from MIT’s System Design & Management (SDM) program embark on tech treks to learn from leaders at best-in-class companies about how systems thinking is being used to address their most complex business challenges.

SDM will hold two treks in the upcoming year:

  • Fall 2017—a one-day trek to top technology-based companies in the Greater Boston area.
  • Spring 2018—a four- to five-day journey to the Silicon Valley/San Francisco Bay Area that will covers a wide variety of industries.

If your company would like to participate in an SDM Tech Trek, please contact SDM Executive Director Joan S. Rubin at jsrubin@mit.edu, 617.253.2081; SDM Industry Codirector (Name and contact info) or Director of SDM Recruitment and Career Development Jon Pratt at jonpratt@mit.edu, 617.327.7106.

Recording and Slides Now Available: Designing Software Platforms for Innovation and Profitability

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

From left: Martin Jouvenot, Rashesh Jethi, and Daniel Sturtevant, SDM”07

Martin Jouvenot, Software Architect, and Rashesh Jethi, Head of R&D, Amadeus
Daniel Sturtevant, PhD, CEO, Silverthread, Inc.; SDM Alumnus

Date: May 22, 2017


Slides available here.

About the Presentation

Amadeus is a global technology provider to the travel industry with an engineering team of more than 6,000 software professionals and customers that include airlines, hotels, travel agencies, and other travel providers. Like any large technology company, Amadeus has to balance multiple priorities—continually adding new products and capabilities to support a large customer base while simultaneously managing complexity in systems comprised of hundreds of millions of lines of software code.

This webinar will offer suggestions on how a company can make data-driven decisions to drive focused investments that continuously improve software design and agility, enabling the business to thrive in a competitive market space. The SDM-affiliated presenters—from Amadeus and Silverthread—will describe how Amadeus business and technical strategy is both influenced by and drives choices in system architecture. The presenters will:

  • explain how a platform strategy can be used to connect business and technical decision-making;
  • describe how measuring and improving modularity across a large interconnected software system can help increase corporate agility and productivity; and
  • offer suggestions for measuring the economic performance of a software development organization in granular detail, and for using that information to deepen insight, drive quality initiatives, and steer system evolution.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speakers

Martin Jouvenot, a software architect at Amadeus North America, has 10 years’ experience working on large, distributed software applications and has initiated actions to measure and attack technical debt within his company. He holds an MS in engineering from the Ecole des Mines de Saint-Etienne in France and will be joining MIT as an SDM fellow this fall.

Rashesh Jethi heads up the Amadeus research and development teams for the Americas. In this role, he is responsible for the development and delivery of software platforms and products for Amadeus’ business and travel industry customers. He holds a master’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Alabama.

Daniel Sturtevant, PhD, is an SDM alumnus and CEO of Silverthread, Inc., a firm that helps organizations improve the management of software applications and software portfolios. Silverthread’s clients include the US Department of Defense and several large enterprises, including Amadeus.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

MIT Space Hotel Wins NASA Graduate Design Competition

For Immediate Release

MARINA in orbit. MARINA is a proposed concept for a commercially owned and operated space station to replace the International Space Station (ISS) following its planned retirement in the mid-2020s. (All photos courtesy of MIT MARINA team.)

Contact: Matthew Moraguez
Phone: +1 (561) 281-3934
Email: moraguez@mit.edu

(June 20, 2017) An interdisciplinary team of MIT graduate students representing five departments across the Institute was recently honored at the Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts–Academic Linkage Design Competition Forum. The challenge involved designing a commercially enabled habitable module for use in low Earth orbit that would be extensible for future use as a Mars transit vehicle. The team’s design won first place in the competition’s graduate division.

The MIT project, the Managed, Reconfigurable, In-space Nodal Assembly (MARINA) was designed as a commercially owned and operated space station, featuring a luxury hotel as the primary anchor tenant and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as a temporary co-anchor tenant for 10 years. NASA’s estimated recurring costs, $360 million per year, represent an order of magnitude reduction from the current costs of maintaining and operating the International Space Station. Potential savings are approximately 16 percent of NASA’s overall budget—or around $3 billion per year.

MARINA team lead Matthew Moraguez, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a member of Professor Olivier L. de Weck’s Strategic Engineering Research Group (SERG), explained that MARINA’s key engineering innovations include:

  • the extensions to the International Docking System Standard (IDSS) interface;
  • the modular architecture of the backbone of MARINA’s node modules; and
  • the distribution of subsystem functions throughout the node modules.

“Modularized service racks connect any point on MARINA to any other point via the extended IDSS interface. This enables companies of all sizes to provide products and services in space to other companies, based on terms determined by the open market,” said Moraguez. “Together these decisions provide scalability, reliability, and efficient technology development benefits to MARINA and NASA.”

MARINA’s design also enables modules to be reused to create an interplanetary Mars transit vehicle that can enter Mars’ orbit, refuel from locally produced methane fuel, and return to Earth.

A subset of members of the interdisciplinary MIT team that won first place in the graduate division of the Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts–Academic Linkage Design Competition Forum. From left:Caitlin Mueller (faculty advisor), Matthew Moraguez, George Lordos, and Valentina Sumini.

MARINA and SERG team member George Lordos is currently a graduate fellow in MIT System Design & Management (SDM), a program offered jointly by the MIT School of Engineering and the MIT Sloan School of Management. Lordos pointed out that MARINA’s engineering design innovations are critical enablers of its commercial viability, which rests on MARINA’s ability to give rise to a value-adding, competitive marketplace in low Earth orbit.

Lordos also holds a Sloan MBA earned in 2000 and will enter the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics doctoral program in fall 2017. “Just like a yacht marina, MARINA can provide all essential services, including safe harbor, reliable power, clean water and air, and efficient logistics and maintenance,” said Lordos. “This will facilitate design simplicity and savings in construction and operating costs of customer-owned modules. It will also incent customers to lease space inside and outside MARINA’s node modules and make MARINA a self-funded entity that is attractive to investors.”

Dr. Valentina Sumini, a postdoctoral fellow at MIT, contributed to the architectural concept being used for MARINA and its space hotel, along with MARINA faculty advisor Assistant Professor Caitlin Mueller of MIT’s School of Architecture + Planning and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

“MARINA’s flagship anchor tenant, a luxury Earth-facing eight-room space hotel complete with bar, restaurant, and gym, will make orbital space holidays a reality”, said Sumini.

Other revenue-generating features include rental of serviced berths on external International Docking Adapter ports for customer-owned modules and rental of interior modularized rack space to smaller companies that provide contracted services to station occupants. These secondary activities may involve satellite repair, in-space fabrication, food production, and funded research.

Additional members of the MARINA team include:

* MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics graduate students and SERG members Alejandro Trujillo, Samuel Wald, and Johannes Norheim;
* MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering undergraduate Zoe Lallas;
* MIT School of Architecture + Planning graduate students Alpha Arsano and Anran Li; and
* MIT Integrated Design & Management (IDM) graduate students Meghan Maupin and John Stillman.

 

Kate Cantu Wins 2016 SDM Leadership Award

Kate Cantu, SDM ’15

On September 27, 2016, MIT System Design & Management (SDM) Industry Codirector Joan Rubin* announced that Kate Cantu won the annual MIT SDM Student Award for Leadership, Innovation, and Systems Thinking. The announcement was made during the annual SDM student-alumni networking session at Morss Hall on the MIT campus.

Created by the SDM staff in 2010, the award honors a first-year SDM student who demonstrates the highest level of strategic, sustainable contributions to fellow SDM students and the broader SDM and MIT communities; superior skills in leadership, innovation, and systems thinking; and effective collaboration with SDM staff, fellow students, and alumni.

The winner receives a monetary prize.

Cantu, a member of the SDM class that entered in 2016, was cited for numerous achievements, including the following.

  • She served as program manager for MIT’s CubeSat team, which competed in the Cube Quest Challenge, a small satellite competition run by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In this role, she supervised several MIT undergraduate and graduate students while integrating 25 high school students into the team. She led the team to a second-place finish in one of four tournaments held to select satellites for an unmanned lunar flyby mission planned for launch in 2018. (Her team is still in the ongoing competition.)
  • She co-led the annual SDM Tech Trek to Silicon Valley, in which 25 students and five faculty visited nine companies in just five days.
  • She co-led SDM’s “Not a Drone” boat entry for MIT’s Crossing the Charles Competition. She helped plan and execute the boat’s design, build, test, and operation.
  • She conducted thesis research resulting in a proposed new model-based systems engineering framework of methods and tools for better aligning technology development for the US Department of Defense’s space enterprise.
  • She served on the SDM Student Leadership Council; was a panelist for two SDM information sessions; was a panelist and mentor at a US Air Force career day; and participated in an in-class panel on model-based systems engineering, where she shared the US Air Force perspective.
  • She led a student seminar titled “A Day Without Space.”

Beyond the MIT community, Cantu organized and/or volunteered for several activities at her children’s school, including developing and leading a rocket experiment for 90 second-graders as part of Science Day.

In addition to Cantu, this year’s nominees included Leo Barlach and Vikas Enti. Barlach was recognized specifically for his leadership roles with the 2016 MIT Sustainability Summit, the SDM Student Life Council, the Sidney Pacific Graduate House, SDM’s participation in the Crossing of the Charles celebration, and for his volunteer work with the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program.

Enti was commended for his leadership roles as associate director of the MIT $100K Startup Competition and as a co-leader of the fall and spring SDM Tech Treks, as well as for serving as Amazon Robotics’ MIT liaison.

All nominees and the winner are selected by the SDM staff, with input from the first-year SDM community.

* Rubin was recently named executive director of SDM.

Recording and Slides Now Available: Best Practices for Water Use at Thermoelectric Facilities in Chile and Latin America

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

From left: Jorge Moreno, SDM ’11; Donny Holaschutz, SDM ’10; and Carolina Gomez

Jorge Moreno and Donny Holaschutz, Cofounders, inodú; SDM Alumni
Carolina Gomez, Sustainable Development Division, Ministry of Energy, Chile

Date: May 8, 2017


Slides available here.

About the Presentation

Thermoelectric facilities are significant users of water, yet a variety of environmental, institutional, and social challenges have been triggered by withdrawing water from natural sources for this use. Some common hazards include impingement and entrainment of water organisms, the release of chemicals into the water, thermal pollution in the mixing zone, and water loss.

In this webinar, SDM alumni and inodú cofounders Jorge Moreno and Donny Holaschutz will join Carolina Gomez of Chile’s Ministry of Energy to describe best practices for water use at thermoelectric facilities and how Chile has approached its environmental, institutional, and social challenges. They will provide

  • an overview of some of the challenges caused by water use at thermoelectric facilities;
  • a summary of associated policy and regulatory initiatives in Chile; and
  • highlights from a recently published guide to best practices—the first of its kind in Latin America—that was developed by Chile’s Ministry of Energy with inodú.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speakers

SDM alumnus Donny Holaschutz is a cofounder of the energy and sustainability consultancy inodú. He is a seasoned entrepreneur with experience in both for- and not-for-profit ventures related to energy and sustainability. He holds a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

SDM alumnus and inodú cofounder Jorge Moreno has extensive experience in the energy industry in the United States and Latin America. He holds an MS in engineering and management from MIT and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

Carolina Gomez works in the Sustainable Development Division at the Ministry of Energy in Chile, where she focuses on improving environmental impact assessments for energy and developing environmental standards for the country. She holds degrees in industrial civil engineering with a specialization in environmental engineering from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and an MSc in environmental technology from Imperial College London.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

A Systems Approach to Harnessing Wind Energy

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Burak Gozluklu, PhD, SDM ’15

Burak Gozluklu, PhD, Aerospace Designer; SDM Fellow

Date: April 24, 2017


Slides available here.

About the Presentation

Conventional thinking about wind energy has two components:

  • wind energy is proportional to the cube of wind speed; and
  • higher altitude increases the average wind speed.

However, if this is the case, then why does the conventional wind industry operate near 80 meters? Why don’t we go higher than that?

In this webinar, MIT SDM fellow and aerospace designer Burak Gozluklu will describe how using traditional system architecture can limit conventional wind turbine design. He will then outline the systems-based approach used by an airborne wind energy system developed by Gozluklu and his MIT team that can cost-effectively harness clean energy from high altitudes. The technology is based on work originally developed at NASA’s Langley Research Center. In 2016, Gozluklu’s team was named a winner in the NASA Startup Challenge; it is currently a finalist for the MIT Clean Energy Prize.

About the Speaker

Burak Gozluklu has nine years of experience in the aerospace industry, primarily as a lead structural design and analysis engineer. He has contributed to projects for Turkish Aerospace Industries, Tesla Motors, Boeing, and Airbus. He earned a PhD in aerospace engineering from Middle East Technical University–Ankara and is currently a fellow in the MIT System Design & Management master’s program. Gozluklu holds three patents on advanced aerostructures and drone systems. In addition, he has authored or coauthored more than 18 academic publications and received several awards. In 2016, Gozluklu and his MIT-SDM team won the Space-Race Competition organized by NASA and run by the Center for Advancing Innovation. He founded the MIT Systems Thinking Club and is currently working in Professor John Sterman’s System Dynamics group at MIT Sloan School of Management.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

Adventures in Strategy, Systems Thinking, and Business Frameworks in the Real Corporate World

MIT Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Aravind Ratnam, Head of Connected Vehicle Products, Wind River; SDM Alumnus

ratnam

Aravind Ratnam, SDM ’10

Date: April 19, 2017
Time: Noon – 1 p.m. ET

Slides available here.

About the Presentation

Strategic thinking is both an art and a science; it’s a perspective that one must develop to see the forest for the trees in today’s dynamic business environment. The Internet of Things, driverless cars, analytics, and other innovations require winning business models­ that are just as complex as products. Successful leaders must be able to zoom out to see the big picture and zoom in to see the details. They must keep one eye on the present while looking ahead. Strategic, systems-based thinking is essential.

In this webinar, SDM alumnus Aravind Ratnam, head of connected vehicle products at Wind River, a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel Corporation, will share his adventures and lessons learned in using this approach to innovate and lead.

He will:

  • discuss how strategy is practiced in management consulting and in industry;
  • offer examples of how strategists think through real-life challenges;
  • suggest tools, tips, and tricks for building a strategic thinking mindset;
  • provide an overview of careers in strategy with insight into both the hype and the reality.

We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Aravind Ratnam is head of connected vehicle products at Wind River, a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel Corporation. As a thought leader within the industrial Internet of Things and connected devices market, he drives internal strategic alignment, innovation planning, business unit strategy, corporate positioning, and internal business optimization (including financial alignment) while providing advice to Intel’s executive staff and business leaders. Previously he worked as a strategy consultant at IBB and Monitor Deloitte, and he has experience in product marketing, systems engineering, and physics research. As an SDM alumnus, he holds a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT. He also has degrees in space science and instrumentation engineering.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

 

Can a Life-Cycle Assessment Model Aid Sustainability Negotiations?

MIT Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Ellen Czaika, PhD, Head of Global Engagement, Gamaya; SDM Alumna

Ellen Czaika, SDM ’08

Date: April 10, 2017


Slides available here.

About the Presentation

Supply chain partners often work together to negotiate a more environmentally friendly end of life for their product. However, while they can typically agree on issues such as sustainability, environmental protection, financial feasibility, and social impact, partners are frequently unable to reconcile disparate business strategies. This can result in serious disagreements about how to reach common goals.

In this webinar, SDM alumna Dr. Ellen Czaika, head of global engagement at Gamaya, will discuss her research into whether a life-cycle assessment model can help. She will:

  • explain what a life-cycle assessment model is, why such a model can improve negotiations, and how she tested the model’s benefits in her research;
  • compare the benefits of using an expert-created model versus one created by the parties involved;
  • detail ways to use the model to test alternatives; and
  • provide recommendations for other sustainability negotiations.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us.

About the Speaker

Dr. Ellen Czaika is head of global engagement for Gamaya, a spinoff of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne that uses machine learning on hyperspectral imagery to help farmers increase their crop yields to feed the growing global population. Czaika holds a PhD from MIT and two master’s degrees: one in in applied statistics from the University of Oxford and one in engineering and management received as a graduate of MIT System Design & Management (SDM). Her doctoral research builds on her SDM master’s thesis and investigates how quantitative models can be used in sustainability negotiations and decisions. She currently applies this interest in data-driven decision-making to the precision agriculture domain.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

 

Applying Systems-Based Methods to Challenges in Product Development, Management, and Organizational Dynamics

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Ron Pepin, Former CIO, Otis Elevator Company Americas Region; SDM Alumnus

Ron Pepin, SDM ’97

Date: March 27, 2017


Slides available here.

About the Presentation

As an alumnus of the first graduating class of MIT System Design & Management (SDM) in 1999, Ron Pepin, former CIO of Otis Elevator Company’s Americas Region, has used systems-based methodologies to address the technical, business, and social components of complex challenges for nearly 20 years. In this webinar, Pepin will discuss the SDM tools he uses most frequently and the impact systems thinking has had on the teams he has led and on Otis Elevator as a whole.

Pepin will:

  • provide an overview of several MIT SDM principles, methodologies, and tools;
  • discuss how they complemented what he leaned as an undergraduate in electrical engineering and as an MBA grad; and
  • outline examples of how he used his SDM education to successfully deliver technology projects (especially through project and program management), personal and organizational motivation, and software development life-cycle models.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

SDM alumnus Ron Pepin, former CIO of Otis Elevator Company’s Americas Region, has more than 30 years of experience, with deep expertise in program management and group motivation. He has led technology teams that delivered measurable results in sales, field service, supply chain, and finance organizations. Pepin holds a BS in electrical engineering from Western New England College, an MBA from the University of Hartford, and, as an SDM alumnus, an SM in engineering and management from MIT. He is currently an information technology consultant.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

A Systems Approach to Creating Affordable Access to Medical Devices in Africa

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Oluwasoga Oni, CEO and Founder, MDaaS; SDM Alumnus

Oluwasoga Oni, SDM ’14

Date: March 13, 2017
Time: Noon – 1 p.m. ET


Slides available here.

About the Presentation

Medical devices have the power to transform the healthcare landscape and dramatically improve health outcomes around the globe. However, access to life-saving medical equipment and supplies is far from universal. In Africa, there are not enough medical devices to serve the vast population of more than 1 billion—and, according to the World Health Organization, 40 percent of the medical devices available are currently out of service. In many parts of the continent, this dearth of functioning medical equipment means that diseases are diagnosed too late or not at all.

In this webinar, SDM alumnus Oluwasoga Oni will explain how he used systems thinking to develop a startup designed to improve affordable access to medical devices in his home country, Nigeria, and ultimately across Africa.

Webinar attendees will learn about:

  • the Nigerian and African healthcare ecosystem;
  • using systems analysis to identify the challenges in this ecosystem and their drivers;
  • the pros and cons of existing approaches to solving medical device challenges; and
  • using the Idealized Design Framework to create a new model for tackling Africa’s medical equipment problem.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Oluwasoga Oni is the CEO and founder of MDaaS, a medical equipment services company dedicated to improving affordable access to high-quality medical devices in Nigeria and across Africa. Previously, Oni worked as a software engineer for a large multinational data storage organization. He holds a bachelor’s degree in information and communication technology from Covenant University in Ogun, Nigeria, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. As a graduate of the System Design & Management program, he also holds a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

SDM Alum Ali Almossawi Publishes Second Book

Ali Almossawi, SDM ’11SDM ’11 Ali Almossawi has published a new book that explores the science of algorithms and how they can save you time and lead to better choices—Bad Choices: How Algorithms Can Help You Think Smarter and Live Happier (Viking, 2017).

A graduate of MIT System Design & Management, a master’s program offered jointly by the MIT Sloan School of Management and MIT’s School of Engineering, Almossawi sparked a word-of-mouth phenomenon with his first illustrated book, Bad Arguments. More than 2.7 million people have read the book, which features funny, clarifying explanations of complex subjects along with amusing illustrations drawn by his collaborator Alejandro Giraldo. Bad Arguments has been translated into 17 languages.

In Bad Choices, Almossawi uses entertaining stories and whimsical illustrations to demystify a topic of increasing relevance to our lives—and he does it in fewer than 200 pages. Almossawi reveals that we all use complex math more frequently than we realize. In fact, every day people apply algorithms to solve such problems as finding pairs of socks in a pile of clothes, deciding when to go to the grocery store, and determining how to prioritize tasks for the day.

Bad Choices acquaints readers with algorithmic thinking by highlighting different ways of approaching tasks and pointing out how these approaches fare relative to each other. It’s the perfect book for anyone who’s looked at a given task and wondered if there were a better, faster way to get it done.

Here a few of the questions that Bad Choices will make you consider:

  • Why is Facebook so good at predicting what you like?
  • How do you discover new music?
  • What’s the best way to organize a grocery list or sort your laundry?
  • What’s the secret to being more productive at work?
  • How can you better express yourself in 140 characters?

Almossawi credits his time at SDM with helping him learn the “thinking about thinking” approach he uses in his book. “I came from a computer science background; many of my classmates came from other engineering disciplines. Putting that kind of a mix of people into the same space and asking them to solve problems is just a fantastic learning experience,” he said. “SDM made me appreciate the value of domain-agnostic and general-purpose engineering tools.”

In Bad Choices, Almossawi uses such thinking to provide a guide to better choices—borrowing from the very systems that underline word processing, Google search, and Facebook ads. Bad Choices focuses on intuition-building and thinking, leading to learning that is more personal, transferable, and timeless. Once you recognize what makes a method faster and more efficient, you’ll become a more nimble, creative problem-solver, ready to face new challenges. Bad Choices will open the world of algorithms to all readers and is sure to be a perennial go-to reference for fans of quirky, accessible science books.

About the Author

Ali Almossawi is the creator of An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments, which has been read by 2.4 million readers and translated into 17 languages (11 translations were done by volunteers from across the world). Now a principal data visualizer at Apple, Almossawi previously worked on the Firefox team at Mozilla. He is an alumnus of MIT System Design & Management, a master’s program offered jointly by the MIT Sloan School of Management and MIT’s School of Engineering, where he earned an SM in engineering and management. He also holds a master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science. In addition, he has worked as a research associate at Harvard and as a collaborator with the MIT Media Lab.

http://almossawi.com/
@alialmossawi

BAD CHOICES: How Algorithms Can Help You Think Smarter and Live Happier
Ali Almossawi
Viking / On-Sale: April 4, 2017
ISBN: 9780735222120/ Price: $20.00
ALSO AVAILABLE AS AN E-BOOK

A Smart City Pilot in Boston: Collecting Human-Centric Urban Data

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Nissia Sabri, CEO and Cofounder, Bitsence; SDM Alumna

Sabri, Nissia

Nissia Sabri, SDM ’14

Date: February 27, 2017

Download the presentation slides (pdf)

About the Presentation

In this webinar, SDM alumna Nissia Sabri, CEO and cofounder of Bitsence, will provide an overview of the unique potential of agile sensor technologies for city planning. She will also show how they can be connected and correlated to produce novel and rich new insights about the constellation of city spaces and stakeholders.

Sabri will begin by discussing roadblocks that have emerged to date in this arena, such as:

  • increased fragmentation of sensor technologies in the field;
  • technological tunnel vision and lack of system integration by end users; and
  • challenges in educating stakeholders, such as city planning offices, community advocacy groups, and individual citizens about the multifaceted need for sensors, as well as their value.

Sabri will also describe why a systems-based approach should be employed. She will illustrate with examples from:

  • Chicago’s Array of Things, which tested a variety of sensors working together in a single location; and
  • Boston’s Local Sense Lab, a public/private entities coalition chartered to guide city officials in evaluating, deploying, and analyzing data from networked sensors in order to design better urban infrastructure and improve community engagement.

We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

An alumna of MIT System Design & Management, Nissia Sabri is CEO and cofounder of Bitsence, which monitors human movement and behavior in physical space and also uses data and insights to improve cities, architecture, and real estate developments. She has seven years of experience in the energy sector, including working as a risk analyst creating data models to forecast the failure of complex systems. She holds three advanced degrees: an MS in engineering and management from MIT; an MS in nuclear and radiological engineering from the University of Florida; and an MS in physics from the Grenoble Institute of Technology in France. She is the recipient of the 2015 MIT SDM Student Award for Leadership, Innovation, and Systems Thinking.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed at sdm.mit.edu.

Joan S. Rubin Named MIT SDM Executive Director and Senior Lecturer

Joan Rubin, MIT SDM staff

Joan S. Rubin

(January 24, 2017, Cambridge, Massachusetts) Joan S. Rubin has been named executive director and senior lecturer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s System Design & Management (SDM) program.

As executive director, Rubin will be responsible for managing all facets of SDM to support the vision of a technically grounded degree program that develops leaders who can manage complex systems in an ever-changing world. Rubin will work closely with SDM’s faculty codirectors to review SDM’s vision and will then develop a three-year strategic plan that establishes the program’s top priorities for students, alumni, faculty, and corporate partners.

Rubin will also work directly with SDM students, advising them on their academic paths and careers beyond MIT. In addition, she will oversee the creation of new offerings for SDM alumni interested in career and professional development.

In her senior lecturer role, Rubin will work with SDM faculty to continue to evolve the core courses, engage faculty from across MIT in the SDM program, advise and supervise SDM fellows on thesis research, guide certificate students on group capstone projects, and teach.

Rubin joined SDM in 2010 as industry codirector and was instrumental in increasing the engagement of existing SDM industry partners and recruiting new ones. Among other important accomplishments, she was influential in redesigning the SDM core course sequence; she restructured the admissions process to improve the quality of admitted students; and she has broadly expanded SDM’s outreach and involvement with the corporate community.

Prior to joining SDM, she served as vice president of Covidien, a leading manufacturer of medical devices and supplies. As a graduate of MIT Leaders for Global Operations, Rubin holds an SM in management and an SM in mechanical engineering. She also earned an ScB in mechanical engineering from Brown University.

Further information:
Lois Slavin
MIT SDM Communications Director
617.253.0812

NASA Names SDM Team a Winner in Startup Challenge

A team of students from the MIT System Design & Management (SDM) program recently won the NASA Startup Challenge in the category of wind energy production.

The team’s winning product is designed to harness wind energy resources at high altitudes, where wind speeds are higher and more sustained. The product uses a flexible, tethered kite that makes an 8-shaped motion, obtaining wind energy using ropes controlled by a ground station that employs a machine learning algorithm. The product has a very small land signature and is a cheap and efficient power generator.

ElectroKiteTeam_thumb_5a33

Members of the MIT-SDM team, which won the NASA Startup Challenge in the wind energy category, are all fellows from the SDM cohort entering in 2015. Left to right: Charles Lambert, Erdem Yilmaz, Carlos Perez Damas, Jack Yao, and Burak Gozluklu, who is also the founder and president of the MIT Systems Thinking Club. Photo: Dave Schultz, SDM Media Development

The MIT-SDM team included five members of the SDM cohort that entered in 2015. “The team’s strength comes from the diversity of its members’ professional backgrounds and experience,” said SDM Executive Director (interim) and Industry Codirector Joan Rubin. For example:

  • Jack Yao earned an MS in operations research and has five bachelor degrees —one each in economics, Chinese language/linguistics, mathematics, industrial engineering, and finance/operations management.
  • Carlos Perez Damas earned a BS in petroleum engineering and most recently worked at Cenovus and Schlumberger.
  • Charles Lambert holds a BS in mechatronics engineering and is currently a test engineer at IBM.
  • Erdem Yilmaz has a BS and an MS in electrical engineering and computer science and most recently was the lead radio frequency engineer at Evolv Technology.
  • Burak Gozluklu holds a PhD in aerospace engineering and an MS and BS in mechanical engineering. He has worked as a lead engineer on the Airbus A350 project and, most recently, at Tesla Motors.

Jointly offered by the MIT Sloan School of Management and School of Engineering, SDM educates experienced technical professionals to lead effectively and creatively by using systems thinking to tackle complex challenges in product development and innovation. “Systems thinking provides a common language and set of tools that enable a diverse, multidisciplinary team to think and work together in new ways to innovate and create outstanding and unique products,” Rubin said.

All members of the MIT-SDM team belong to the MIT Systems Thinking Club (STC), founded in fall 2016 by Gozluklu and advised by Professor John Sterman. The team’s advisors include Professors Olivier de Weck and Nicholas Ashford. The startup competition, initiated in March 2016, was cofounded and cosponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in conjunction with the Center for Advancing Innovation.

“Competitions such as the NASA Startup Challenge are useful in many ways—and not simply by providing the opportunity to create new products,” Gozluklu said. “They also provide an opportunity to demonstrate the power and potential of systems thinking and related tools to develop new solutions to today’s complex and urgent challenges.”

The 160+ STC members include students in a range of MIT programs beyond SDM, including the MBA, PhD, and executive MBA programs, Sloan fellows, and students enrolled in Integrated Design & Management. MIT faculty and industry professionals from diverse backgrounds are also part of the STC community.

For further information on the MIT STC, visit www.facebook.com/mitstc/. Membership is open to all, both within and beyond the MIT community

Redesigning/Updating the Healthcare Information Infrastructure: A Systems-Based Approach

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

hartzbandDavid Hartzband, DSc, Research Affiliate, Institute for Data, Systems, and Society, MIT; Founder and Principal, Post Technical Research

Date: November 28, 2016


Download the presentation slides (pdf)

About the Presentation

Primary Care Associations (PCAs) are the federally chartered, one-per-state organizations responsible for providing guidance and services to federally qualified health centers (FQHCs). This webinar will focus on the PCA in Texas, the Texas Association of Community Health Centers (TACHC), which serves 72 of the state’s 94 FQHCs, supporting approximately 2 million patients a year. The TACHC provides:

  • information technology (IT) consulting, deployment, and management of a statewide high-speed healthcare network;
  • development and maintenance services for a Health Center Controlled Network (HCCN) that supplies a data warehouse for clinical and demographic data across all centers;
  • analysis and interpretation of clinical and demographic data for clinical and operational improvement; and
  • an accountable-care organization for a group of health centers.

Non-IT related services are also provided.

In this webinar, Dr. David Hartzband will:

  • describe how he evaluated the technical infrastructure, organizational structure and processes, and cultural environment of the entity providing these services;
  • outline his findings, which included discovering highly conventional structures and technical components that were approximately three to five years out of date;
  • share a plan developed to update the health IT infrastructure and associated organizational structures; and
  • describe how this plan was received by the executive director and staff of the TACHC.

He will also outline the plan’s implementation and current status while sharing the challenges involved in working with organizational structures, processes, and culture.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

David Hartzband, DSc, is a research affiliate at MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society. He is also the founder and principal of Post Technical Research, a technology consulting firm specializing in healthcare information technology and machine intelligence.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed at sdm.mit.edu.

 

Logistics That Learn: A Dynamic Engine to Drive a Smarter Logistics Future

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

kamil

Ali Kamil

Ali Kamil, Cofounder and Head of Product and Technology, Wise Systems; MIT SDM Fellow

Date: November 14, 2016

Download the presentation slides (pdf)

About the Presentation

Logistics is in a state of transition, and no link in the supply chain is more in flux than the last mile (when goods reach stores or customers). The impatient demands of consumers and the pressure of the modern sharing economy (as emblemized by Uber and Airbnb) require companies to be more agile than ever. To compete at this new level, companies are increasingly making decisions in real time—adjusting to changes as they happen, while looking for ways to predict changes in advance.

Now, companies are using machine learning models to try to stay ahead of consumer demand without sacrificing efficiency. In this webinar, MIT SDM fellow Ali Kamil, cofounder and head of product and technology at Wise Systems, will discuss:

  • traditional logistics methods and why they are becoming obsolete;
  • dynamic decision-making models driven by operations research and machine learning;
  • examples of companies that are taking advantage of intelligent software; and
  • the exciting future of last-mile delivery (e.g., autonomous vehicles and connected everything).

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Ali Kamil is a cofounder of Wise Systems, where he serves as head of product and technology. His expertise is in employing big data, social computing, and system dynamics–based models to identify patterns of human behavior, connectivity, and urban mobility. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics from the Georgia Institute of Technology and, as an MIT SDM fellow, will receive a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

How to Avoid Overengineering

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Christine Miyachi, Software Systems Engineer and Architect, Xerox Corporation; SDM Alumna

miyachi

Christine Miyachi, SDM ’00

Date: October 31, 2016


Download the presentation slides (pdf)

About the Presentation

Why do overly complicated systems occur more frequently than simple ones?

In this webinar, MIT SDM alumna Christine Miyachi, software systems engineer and architect at Xerox Corporation, will discuss how to recognize the signs of overengineering and how to prevent it. She will

  • define overengineering and discuss why it occurs;
  • provide examples of simple and overengineered systems;
  • share lessons learned about what worked well and what could have been improved in these systems; and
  • discuss the roles of courage, prediction, and serendipity in creating beautiful, simple systems that can stand the test of time.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Christine Miyachi is a software systems engineer and architect at Xerox Corporation with almost 30 years of experience working for startup and large companies. She holds several patents and writes a blog about software architecture. She holds a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Rochester and two master’s degrees from MIT: an SM in technology and policy/electrical engineering and computer science and, as an SDM alumna, an SM in engineering and management. She is currently the chair of the IEEE Cloud Computing Steering Committee.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

Agile Project Dynamics for Aerospace and Defense Technologies and Plus Lessons for Other Sectors

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Firas Glaiel, Corporate Technology Area Director, Information Systems and Computing, Raytheon; SDM Alumnus

GLAIEL, FIRAS

Firas Glaiel, SDM ’10

Date: October 17, 2016

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About the Presentation

Commercial software providers have adopted “agile” believing that it will help lower costs, shorten development times, and deliver greater customer satisfaction. Now government contractors are looking at agile methods to help them compete successfully in the aerospace and defense domains. For them, two questions are paramount: Can agile succeed in the large-scale government systems development domain? And if so, how?

This presentation by SDM alumnus Firas Glaiel, Raytheon’s corporate technology area director for information systems and computing, is designed for government contractors as well as professionals in a wide variety of other domains. Glaiel will:

  • provide a brief overview of systems thinking;
  • describe system dynamics—a method for modeling and understanding the dynamic behavior of complex systems; and
  • define agile practices and outline a framework for better understanding them.

He will then share research results, including:

  • the seven agile techniques (seven genes) used by successful project teams, aka the “genome of the agile”; and
  • a description of the system dynamics model developed from this research—agile project dynamics—including the structure and time-delayed relationships for capturing the impact of agile genes on emergent system behaviors.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Firas Glaiel is Raytheon’s corporate technology area director for information systems and computing. He is responsible for coordinating technology and research, including cross-business alignment, collaboration with universities and external organizations, and support for technology strategy development. He also works on strategic research and development projects in big data analytics, cybersecurity, high-performance computing, and agile systems development. He holds a BS in computer engineering from Lebanese American University, a BS in computer system engineering from Boston University, and as an alumnus of MIT System Design & Management, an MS in engineering and management from MIT.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

 

Building an AI Product to Improve High-Tech Sales

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Bryan Pirtle, Cofounder and Chief Technology Officer, Nova.ai; SDM Fellow

Pirtle, Bryan1_pp

Bryan Pirtle, SDM ’13

Date: September 12, 2016

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About the Presentation

Today, almost every industry is being disrupted by the emergence of “intelligent software.” While software was once used simply to improve efficiency and workflow, now more and more businesses are demanding that software help them make smarter, more data-driven decisions. Perhaps surprisingly, this is even true in sales—especially in the high-technology sector. Modern technology sales teams demand software that offers a competitive edge in an increasingly complex and globalized world.

In this webinar, SDM fellow Bryan Pirtle, chief technology officer of Nova.ai, a sales technology startup, will:

  • provide an overview of the current technology sales ecosystem;
  • explain how his team successfully built an artificial intelligence (AI) product for the contemporary technology sales organization; and
  • explore how the trend toward smarter software and AI products is changing the way people buy and sell.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Bryan Pirtle started his career as a consultant building dynamic e-commerce websites and consumer electronics, then he worked in the wine industry on big data and real-time control systems. He is now a co-founder and the chief technology officer of a sales technology startup, Nova.ai. Nova is a Y Combinator alumnus of the winter 2016 class and has just been accepted into the Salesforce.com incubator to accelerate its growth over the course of the six-month program. At Nova, Pirtle spends most of his time building technology and talking to customers about how to make their salespeople more efficient and data-driven. Pirtle is currently an SDM fellow.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

Applying Joy’s Law to Open Innovation at NASA

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Jernigan

Mark Jernigan, SDM ’00

Mark Jernigan, Assistant Director, Human Health and Performance Directorate, Exploration Systems Development Support, NASA; SDM Alumnus

Date: June 6, 2016

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About the Presentation

In an era of increasingly bold objectives and correspondingly tight budgets, NASA is going beyond traditional mechanisms to solve problems related to space exploration. Open innovation is key. One method that NASA’s Human Health and Performance Directorate uses is Joy’s Law. Credited to Sun Microsystems cofounder Bill Joy, the law states that “no matter who you are, the smartest people always work for someone else.”

In this webinar, SDM alumnus Mark Jernigan, assistant director of NASA’s Human Health and Performance Directorate in the area of Exploration Systems Development Support, will:

  • explain why relying solely on your organization’s employees can limit problem-solving and innovation—and never solve all of your customers’ needs;
  • expand on Joy’s Law by discussing why it is better to create an ecology that encourages the world’s smartest people who don’t work for you to help you solve your problems—and how to do that;
  • discuss mechanisms that NASA uses to incentivize outsiders to propose and develop solutions with unexpected and exciting results incurred at significantly lower investment;
  • describe how his organization encourages team members to think and work “out of the box”;
  • review several open innovation techniques; and
  • offer information about a data-driven tool used to help overcome cultural biases impeding adoption of these techniques.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Mark Jernigan has more than 35 years of experience at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), where he develops and delivers hardware and software projects and advanced capabilities for human spaceflight. He recently completed a rotation as executive director of the Rice Space Institute and returned to NASA as associate director in the Johnson Space Center’s Human Health and Performance Directorate. There he manages the effort to ensure that next-generation human exploration systems and advanced technologies have the necessary capabilities to sustain the mission’s crew, meet human performance constraints, and maximize both mission safety and success. He holds a BS in aero engineering from Texas A&M University and, as an SDM alumnus, an MS in engineering and management from MIT.

 

Is the Commissioned Sales Force Model Right for Today’s Semiconductor Industry?

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Marvin, Heath

Heath Marvin, SDM ’14

Heath Marvin, Field Applications Engineer, Microchip Technology; SDM Fellow

Date: May 23, 2016

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About the Presentation

The semiconductor industry has entered a new phase where growth has slowed to a pace more in line with the rest of the economy. This shift requires that business be conducted across the industry in new ways that will help to sustain and grow profitability. One area in critical need of reform is the way in which companies incentivize and compensate their sales forces. While the norm now is to pay commissions based on completed sales, current research indicates that there are benefits to using a sales process that does not include commissions.

In this webinar, SDM Fellow Heath Marvin will discuss how system dynamics can be used to test and compare the robustness of a commission-less model against the more traditional system. He will:

  • explain modeling and simulation techniques that can analyze the effects of using different types of incentive plans;
  • review results that reveal that a commission-less sales force is superior in nearly every scenario; and
  • demonstrate why a sales force can be more effective without commissions when selling a complex product in a complex industry—whether the economy is growing, stable, or in a recession.
A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Heath Marvin started his career as a semiconductor chip designer and has been moving closer to the customer ever since. He now works as a field applications engineer for Microchip Technology and spends most of his time working with customers designing embedded products, including a wide variety of microcontrollers. In June 2016, he will receive a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT as a System Design & Management graduate.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

Competing at Innovative Speed: Why Is It So Darn Hard?

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

SteveSpearColorPhoto

Steven J. Spear, DBA

Steven J. Spear, DBA, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management and School of Engineering; Author: The High Velocity Edge

Date: May 9, 2016

Slides available here

About the Presentation

Today’s companies can no longer lock in market share with barriers that keep competitors at bay and customers and employees from defecting. As a result, competitive paradigms have irrevocably transformed from finding and sustaining a position to practicing relentless innovation.

In this webinar, Dr. Steven J. Spear will define “relentless innovation” and how to use it to continually identify new targets and be the first to achieve them. He will discuss:

  • why management decisions can no longer be made primarily by using sophisticated models to gather and analyze data;
  • why today’s companies must also employ experiential and experimental approaches while constantly testing new ideas about what to do and how to do it; and
  • how to achieve this new level of competitiveness at innovative speed—and why that is easier said than done.

Attendees will learn:

  • ways to assess their organization’s willingness and ability to practice hyper-experimentation;
  • how to encourage the continual generation of fresh ideas;
  • why and how to discern if customers, suppliers, and vendors are competing at innovative speed;
  • tips for practicing “energy activation,” including how to cultivate the freedom to discover and understand what’s going right or wrong; and
  • how to identify recurring challenges, such as socio-psychological impediments, and address and mitigate them.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Dr. Steven J. Spear, a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and School of Engineering, is a well-recognized expert on innovation. He has worked for the investment bank Prudential-Bache and the US Congress Office of Technology Assessment, among others, and taught at Harvard Business School. His consulting clients include Lockheed Martin, John Deere, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Spear is also an award-winning author. His book, The High Velocity Edge: How Market Leaders Leverage Operational Excellence to Beat the Competition (McGraw Hill, 2010), has won several awards, including the Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing Research and the Philip Crosby Medal from the American Society for Quality. He holds a BS in economics from Princeton University, an MA in management and an MS in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD from Harvard Business School.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

Cultivating Resilience with Heuristics and Systems Thinking: Lessons from New Industries

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Burl Amsbury, Business Consultant, Entrepreneur, Inventor, and Cattleman; SDM Alumnus

Date: April 25, 2016

Slides available here

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Burl Amsbury, SDM ’99

About the Presentation

Regenerative ranching, sustainable agriculture, organic foods, integrative medicine, and other new or niche markets have much to teach companies of any age, in any industry. Two key elements many use to compete effectively are heuristics and systems thinking.

In this webinar, SDM alumnus Burl Amsbury will offer lessons in how to design or redesign your organization by sharing specific systems thinking heuristics drawn from his experience as an entrepreneur, startup executive, big company employee, US Navy pilot, engineer, and creative problem-solver. Using examples from new and/or niche industries, Amsbury will discuss:

  • common themes among industries that employ systems thinking principles—even if they don’t use that term;
  • why systems thinking is rapidly being put to work in so many disparate fields; and
  • heuristic principles for designing an entrepreneurial organization within a fast-growth niche in any industry.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Burl Amsbury graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1988 with a combined SB and SM in electrical engineering and, as an SDM alum, earned an SM in engineering and management from MIT in 2000. Between stints at MIT, he flew A-6E Intruders for the US Navy aboard the USS Kitty Hawk and helped develop what became the Segway self-balancing scooter. Amsbury has been an executive in four startup and high-growth technology-enabled companies located in Colorado’s Front Range region. He has been named the primary inventor on three patents and is a contributing inventor on 26 others, including Kiva System’s warehouse robot. A cattleman, Amsbury is a business coach and consultant for sustainable agriculture endeavors, natural/organic food enterprises, and functional medicine practitioners.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

Using Systems Thinking to Assess and Address Cybersecurity Challenges

By Charles Iheagwara, PhD, SDM ’10

The challenge: Cybersecurity is a growing industry, with a market expected to expand to about $120.1 billion by 2017. The proliferation of product offerings provides companies with a wide range of security options but makes it increasingly difficult to assess which product best suits specific intrusion prevention needs.

Users therefore need a method for:

  • Acquiring insight into the inherent characteristics and modes of operation for a wide variety of cybersecurity products;
  • Eliminating the pain points associated with choosing the wrong products;
  • Preventing the disastrous consequences of failing to detect and prevent intrusions; and ultimately
  • Meeting the intrusion prevention goals unique to their specific enterprises.

The approach: An SaaS application/tool has been developed to allow users of intrusion prevention products to customize a business case analysis for any deployment and target environment or market. The patent-pending tool (IntrusionPoint™) accepts a wide range of market data, technical parameters, and business/financial and service planning inputs that users can tailor to their own deployment plans. It simulates a network deployment and operations using a variety of technical, environmental, and service plans and produces a detailed analytical report, analytics output graphs, and key technical, deployment and implementation metrics.

The tools: The systems thinking mindset central to MIT’s System Design & Management (SDM) program, as well as several systems engineering tools commonly taught in SDM were employed to develop the application. The process included:

  • defining and designing a systems architecture to encapsulate the different modular system subcomponents;
  • conducting a systems dynamics analysis of the various factors that could affect the system in either a positive or negative direction;
  • developing an information flow schema;
  • developing an algorithm that performs mathematical computation using the system input data to produce a set of desirable system output in the form of decision-making intelligence reports, analytics, and visual charts;
  • developing the system analytics and visualization subsystems; and
  • developing a web portal.

The results: The IntrusionPoint application performs artificial intelligence decision-making analysis of enterprise intrusion prevention solutions, providing a computer-implemented method for evaluating the suitability of cybersecurity products for any particular user.

The method accomplishes the following tasks:

  • obtaining weights representing the relative importance of a plurality of attributes related to intrusion protection systems;
  • obtaining a plurality of attribute scores for each of the plurality of attributes related to intrusion protection systems; and
  • calculating a weighted sum of the plurality of attribute scores based on the weights.

The tool’s logical design construct and implementation provides a variety of analytics and visualizations from which end users, product developers, and vendors can gain insight into the pros and cons of each solution and thus make informed decisions related to purchases, product enhancements, and other cybersecurity tasks.

Intrusionpoint Compare 3

These charts represent a sampling of the analytics generated by the IntrusionPoint tool that enable customers to visualize the technical performance of various cybersecurity products.

Intrusionpoint Compare 4

About the Author

Charles.Iheagwara

Charles Iheagwara, PhD, SDM ’10

Charles Iheagwara, PhD, is a customer solutions advocate and security solutions consultant at Cisco, Inc. Previously, he served as managing director at Unatek Inc. and as a consultant in various capacities at Grant Thornton, KPMG, Lockheed Martin, and Edgar Online. He holds a PhD from the University of Glamorgan in the United Kingdom and, as an SDM alumnus, an MS in engineering and management from MIT. He also earned an MS in mineral engineering from the University of Minnesota and a BS and MS in metallurgical engineering from Russia’s Moscow Institute for Steel and Alloys. Dr. Iheagwara has published widely and is a frequent speaker at industry events.

 

Ericsson, SDM Team Up on Autonomous Car Project

EricssonLogoEricsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) today announced an agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) System Design & Management (SDM) program to jointly create innovative solutions for Ericsson’s Autonomous Driving – Predictive Mobility project. The collaboration is a result of significant student interest expressed via a vote at MIT SDM’s annual SDM Project Forum and Core Technology Showcase, held in January at the MIT Media Lab. Ericsson and MIT SDM will also work together to explore additional ways to work closely together in the future.

KaulHeadshot

Mike Kaul, Vice President, Technology, Business Unit Support Solution at Ericsson

Ericsson’s Autonomous Driving project takes an innovative software approach to combining data and analytics. This will enable Ericsson to better understand context, driver profiles and network awareness in support of app delivery to the autonomous car, including intelligent media streaming. One of the project’s many challenges is how to securely capture the driver’s identity to better understand preferences and behavior. The MIT SDM project team will work with Ericsson to define and design this “identity” module.

The 2016 SDM Core Technology Showcase attracted about 300 SDM students and faculty, as well as representatives from companies that presented 28 projects for students to judge and vote on for further development. SDM fellows, who will earn a master’s in engineering and management from MIT upon graduating, ranked Ericsson’s among the top two projects to pursue and deliver in May. This collaboration establishes an innovation-based relationship with the prestigious research university.

Joan Rubin, MIT SDM staff

Joan S. Rubin, Industry Codirector, MIT SDM

“We are eager to team with MIT to push the boundaries of autonomous car innovation,” said Mike Kaul, Vice President, Technology, Business Unit Support Solution at Ericsson. “MIT’s SDM program combines multiple academic disciplines, including engineering, management and systems thinking, for top-tier mid-career professionals with several years of work experience who want to innovate and lead. Their participation will offer fresh insight, and creative perspective to Ericsson’s important Autonomous Driving project.”

System Design & Management (SDM), the MIT master’s program in engineering and management, was created in 1996 in response to industry’s need to develop future generations of leaders. Offered jointly by MIT’s School of Engineering and the MIT Sloan School of Management, SDM is one of the world’s first graduate programs to integrate engineering, management, and systems thinking with leadership and innovation.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT, with five schools and one college that contain a total of 32 departments, is often cited as among the world’s top universities. The Institute is traditionally known for its research and education in the physical sciences and engineering and has as of 2015 85 Nobel laureates.

Notes to Editors

For media kits, backgrounders and high-resolution photos, please visit www.ericsson.com/press

Ericsson is the driving force behind the Networked Society – a world leader in communications technology and services. Our long-term relationships with every major telecom operator in the world allow people, business and society to fulfill their potential and create a more sustainable future.

Our services, software and infrastructure – especially in mobility, broadband and the cloud – are enabling the telecom industry and other sectors to do better business, increase efficiency, improve the user experience and capture new opportunities.

With approximately 115,000 professionals and customers in 180 countries, we combine global scale with technology and services leadership. We support networks that connect more than 2.5 billion subscribers. Forty percent of the world’s mobile traffic is carried over Ericsson networks. And our investments in research and development ensure that our solutions – and our customers – stay in front.

Founded in 1876, Ericsson has its headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden. Net sales in 2015 were SEK 246.9 billion (USD 29.4 billion). Ericsson is listed on NASDAQ OMX stock exchange in Stockholm and the NASDAQ in New York.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT

Ericsson Corporate Communications
Phone: +46 10 719 69 92
E-mail: media.relations@ericsson.com

Ericsson Investor Relations
Phone: +46 10 719 00 00
E-mail: investor.relations@ericsson.com

How to Navigate the Perils and Promises of Intrusion Prevention Systems

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Charles.Iheagwara

Charles Iheagwara, PhD, SDM ’10

Charles Iheagwara, PhD, Customer Solutions Advocate and Security Solutions Consultant, Cisco Systems, Inc.; SDM Alumnus

Date: March 21, 2016


Download the presentation slides

About the Presentation

Although the market is full of intrusion prevention products, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to every business need. In this webinar, SDM alumnus Dr. Charles Iheagwara will offer suggestions for how to cut through the jargon and evaluate which products will best meet your organization’s requirements.

He will discuss:

  • a working definition of intrusion prevention;
  • critical criteria for evaluating products that include—and go beyond—meeting budgetary and implementation needs;
  • how employing these criteria can enhance your cybersecurity strategy while addressing your organization’s technical, business, and socio-political challenges.

In short, there are ramifications to choosing one security solution over another. This session will suggest an approach to preventing the types of security failures that can reverberate throughout and beyond your organization.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us.

About the Speaker

Dr. Charles Iheagwara is a customer solutions advocate and security solutions consultant at Cisco, Inc. Previously, he served as managing director at Unatek, Inc., and as a consultant in various capacities at Grant Thornton, KPMG, Lockheed Martin, and Edgar Online. He holds a PhD from the University of Glamorgan in the United Kingdom and, as an SDM alumnus, an MS in engineering and management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He also earned an MS in mineral engineering from the University of Minnesota and a BS and MS in metallurgical engineering from Russia’s Moscow Institute for Steel and Alloys. Dr. Iheagwara has published widely and is a frequent speaker at industry events.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

 

A Systems-Based Approach to Startups: Why They Fail and How They Can Succeed

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

MIT student portraits, System Management and Design

Fady Saad, SDM ’11

Fady Saad, Strategy, Research, and Business Development Director, Vecna Technologies; SDM Alumnus

Date: March 7, 2016

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About the Presentation

Any evaluation of the life cycle of established companies will reveal the importance of taking a holistic approach to fundamental business challenges such as product development, customer acquisition, financial growth, and employee and leadership recruitment. Making progress on all fronts simultaneously is critical for companies at all stages of development, but it is especially important for startups.

In this webinar, SDM alumnus Fady Saad, director of strategy, research, and business development at Vecna Technologies, will:

  • explain why mature companies can afford delays in responding to a broad set of internal and external issues while startups cannot;
  • reveal how early business and policy decisions can help and/or hurt a startup during subsequent phases of its life cycle; and
  • explore how an understanding of these business dynamics can impact the formation and growth of companies in both the short and long term.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Fady Saad is the strategy, research and business development director at Vecna Robotic Solutions, as well as the co-founder and Director of Partnerships of MassRobotics, and was previously cofounder and strategist of ePowerhouse. Prior to coming to MIT, he worked at Nokia Systems Networks in North Africa and Europe and consulted for the World Bank. As an SDM alumnus, Saad holds an MS in engineering and management from MIT. He also earned a BS in mechanical engineering from the American University in Cairo.

About the Series

The MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series, sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program, features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings from prior MIT SDM webinars can be accessed here.

DE&S Fellow Duncan Kemp Speaks at MIT

By Lois Slavin, SDM Communications Director

MIT’s System Design & Management (SDM) program was honored to host a presentation in January 2016 by Duncan Kemp, Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Fellow in the UK Ministry of Defence. Kemp spoke to SDM master’s students about how capability systems engineering has been used to understand different stakeholder positions, improve railroad capacity, and develop train requirements.

Kemp began with a brief overview of his career, which has spanned more than 25 years as a systems engineer—including service as chief systems engineer in the UK Ministry of Defence and Department for Transport. He was lead author of the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) UK Capability Systems Engineering Guide and an author of the INCOSE Systems Engineering Vision 2025.

As the DE&S Fellow for Systems Engineering, Kemp is responsible for ensuring that the DE&S’ approaches are informed by global best practices.

Kemp discussed many important specifics, including:

  • use of systems engineering in World War II;
  • how soft systems methodology can be used to understand different stakeholder viewpoints;
  • ways to employ system dynamics and Monte Carlo simulations to improve railroad capacity; and
  • use of capability systems engineering to develop train requirements.

After Kemp’s presentation, US Army Captain J.D. Caddell, an SDM fellow, said, “It was interesting and valuable to learn about Duncan’s professional experience in applying systems engineering for the defense, information services, and rail industries. He demonstrated how the methodologies and tools we are learning in SDM are being applied in a diverse set of industries in the UK.”

SDM alumnus John Helferich, a member of SDM’s teaching staff and an MIT PhD student, said, “In the US we tend to hear the same kinds of examples of systems engineering. Learning about the UK experience, especially the work Duncan led in the rail industry, broadened our perspective.”

Helferich added, “In short, Duncan’s presentation was fantastic. Now we just need to work out how to get him back to Boston for a follow-up session!”

Architecting and Building Private Clouds by Leveraging Systems Thinking

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Deep Bhattacharjee, SDM ’07

Ratnadeep (Deep) Bhattacharjee, Head of Product Management, ZeroStack; and SDM alumnus

Date: February 22, 2016

Download the presentation slides

About the Presentation

Cost, performance, and regulatory restrictions frequently prevent companies from moving to a public cloud. Many want to build their own clouds; however, the norms for designing and operating public clouds cannot always be applied to private ones. Consequently, the challenge of creating a successful private cloud can be daunting.

In this webinar, SDM alumnus Ratnadeep Bhattacharjee, head of product management at ZeroStack, will describe how systems thinking can be used to design an alternative architecture that can deliver an optimal private cloud experience. He will discuss:

  • the evolution of software systems in general;
  • the sea change that public cloud services like Amazon Web Services has brought about regarding how enterprises design, manage, and deliver IT services to users; and
  • how understanding the above can help IT professionals avoid pitfalls in building a private cloud.

Attendees will learn about:

  • attributes of a general cloud-based system and how to measure its business value;
  • specific factors involved in developing and deploying a private cloud;
  • how to evaluate private cloud technology as an IT management system; and
  • the benefits a private cloud can offer, such as reduced maintenance, improved performance, and more.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

Register

About the Speaker

SDM alumnus Deep Bhattacharjee is the head of product management at ZeroStack. He previously worked at VMware as the group product manager responsible for re-architecting the company’s core management platform. He also served as head of cloud product management at Canonical and, earlier in his career, in various roles during 10 years at Sun Microsystems. He holds an MS in engineering and management from MIT and an MS in computer science from Pennsylvania State University.

About the Series

The MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series, sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program, features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

 

The Importance of (Big) Data for Healthcare Safety-Net Organizations

hartzband

David Hartzband, DSc

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

David Hartzband, DSc, Research Affiliate, MIT Sociotechnical Systems Research Center

Date: February 8, 2016


Slides available here.

About the Presentation

Big data holds great promise for understanding the successes and failures of systems in a wide range of industries. This webinar will explore the use of big data in the healthcare system, with specific reference to a multiyear project that deployed Hadoop-based analytics at 33 Federally Qualified Community Health Centers with approximately 1.3 million patients.

The project analyzed five years of data to assess data quality and its impact on care and found that:

  • reporting of specific conditions was often lower than expected given known estimates for the US population;
  • the rates of obesity and heart disease as reported appeared especially low; and
  • these apparent data errors made identifying comorbidities problematic.

The speaker will explore possible system causes for these results, including:

  • a structural misalignment of electronic health records with actual health center practices;
  • impediments to proper reporting caused by sociocultural and organizational contexts; and
  • poor-quality data.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

David Hartzband, DSc, is a research affiliate of the MIT Sociotechnical Systems Research Center where he does research on technology evolution and adoption for healthcare organizations. He is the founder of PostTechnical Research, a technology futures and consulting firm that works primarily with early stage healthcare information companies on issues of technology evolution, product development, and technology landscape. He is also director for technology research at the RCHN Community Health Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on issues of healthcare policy and technology for Federally Qualified Community Health Centers nationwide. He holds a doctoral degree in mathematics.

About the Series

The MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series, sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program, features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This WebEx service includes a feature that allows audio and any documents and other materials exchanged or viewed during the session to be recorded. By joining this session, you automatically consent to such recordings. If you do not consent to the recording, discuss your concerns with the meeting host prior to the start of the recording or do not join the session. Please note that any such recordings may be subject to discovery in the event of litigation.

 

A Systems Analysis of Tactical Intelligence in the US Army

Wisniewski

Jillian Wisniewski, SDM ’14

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Jillian Wisniewski, Captain, US Army; System Dynamics Instructor, US Military Academy at West Point; SDM Alumna

Date: November 16, 2015

Download the presentation slides

About the Presentation

Modern intelligence analysts must generate and direct intelligence that supports the pace of tactical operations for a modular force with decentralized decision-making. Digital collection platforms, information systems, analytical software, and connectivity at the tactical level are useful but insufficient. Analysts need training in data analysis fundamentals to understand how to leverage these systems to support tactical mission planning and decision-making.

This type of analysis uses systems design tools to:

  • examine and model the design of military operations;
  • define the analyst’s required capability in the context of tactical operations;
  • explore, revise, and assess components of intelligence competency;
  • assess the relative costs of competency gaps; and
  • recommend improvements.

Webinar attendees will gain an understanding of how structural changes impact organizational processes as well as how performance shortfalls and shortcut methodologies impair military operations. They will also learn:

  • how to apply design thinking and systems methodologies to improve the training and educational requirements within an organization; and
  • how to apply system dynamics to explore the drivers of mission performance outcomes.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Jillian Wisniewski is an Army captain and system dynamics instructor at the US Military Academy at West Point (USMA). She holds a BS in operations research from USMA and, as an SDM alumna, she holds a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT.

About the Series

The MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series, sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program, features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

Eppinger Honored with Two Awards

eppinger

Steven D. Eppinger, ScD

By Lois Slavin, SDM Communications Director

MIT Sloan School of Management’s Steven D. Eppinger, ScD, recently received two important awards: the Medal of Excellence from the Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET) and the 2015 Distinguished Speaker Award from the Technology, Innovation Management, and Entrepreneurship Section (TIMES) of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). Eppinger is the General Motors Leaders for Global Operations Professor of Management; Professor of Management Science and Innovation; and codirector of System Design & Management (SDM) and Integrated Design & Management (IDM).

Instituted in 2004, the PICMET Medal of Excellence recognizes the extraordinary achievements of individuals in any discipline who have made outstanding contributions to science, engineering, and technology management. Eppinger was honored for several important accomplishments, among them:

  • Co-authoring Product Design and Development (with Karl T. Ulrich)—currently in its sixth edition, this leading textbook has been translated into several languages and is used by hundreds of universities and over a quarter million students;
  • Conducting extensive research that has been applied to improving complex technical projects in a wide range of industries; and
  • Serving as Professor of Management Science and Innovation at MIT and as codirector of SDM and IDM, which are offered jointly by MIT Sloan and MIT’s School of Engineering.

Eppinger is the first faculty member from MIT Sloan to win the PICMET Medal of Excellence, although several Sloan faculty members have won other PICMET awards. For example, the following professors have received the organization’s Leadership in Technology Management Award: Eric von Hippel (2005); Edward B. Roberts (2006); Nam Pyo Suh (2012); and James M. Utterback (2014).

On November 2, during the INFORMS annual meeting in Philadelphia, TIMES presented Eppinger with the 2015 Distinguished Speaker Award in recognition of his outstanding academic leadership in the field of technology management. At that time, Eppinger delivered a presentation, “The Structure and Management of Technical Projects,” in which he reviewed some key design structure matrix (DSM) research results and described ways in which the method is used today to manage complex technical projects. He also offered thoughts on frontiers in technology management that may be addressed using DSM modeling and reflected on why it has taken more than 20 years to bring this practical method into common practice.

Other MIT Sloan faculty who have received the TIMES Distinguished Speaker Award include Roberts (2001), Hippel (2005), and Utterback (2012).

Eppinger is one of the most highly recognized scholars in product development and technical project management. His research is applied to improving complex design processes in order to accelerate industrial practices. He pioneered the development of the widely used DSM method for managing complex system projects. He has authored more than 70 articles in refereed academic journals and conferences. He is also the co-author of a book based on DSM research, Design Structure Matrix Methods and Applications, published by MIT Press.

In his current research, Eppinger delves into complex engineering systems with particular emphasis on:

  • the integration of complex engineered systems—to explore a new way to apply DSM to complex systems;
  • technology readiness—he and collaborators are investigating the state of the art in the use of technology-readiness-level assessment methods in system development; and
  • engineering communication networks—Eppinger and collaborators are investigating the patterns of technical process communications through engineering networks.

Eppinger previously served five years as deputy dean of MIT Sloan. He received SB, SM, and ScD degrees from MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Understanding and Measuring the Impact of Enterprise Social Software on Business Practices

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Suzanne Livingston, Product Manager, IBM; SDM Alumna

Date: November 2, 2015

livingston

Suzanne Livingston, SDM ’13

About the Presentation

Organizations are increasingly investing in enterprise social software, which provides collaboration tools such as communities and people profiles, to support their business goals. For many, however, the practical impact of such technologies is unclear. Companies struggle with insufficient usage to demonstrate meaningful impact and have difficulty comparing performance with social technology to performance without.

This webinar will provide research-based guidelines that can help companies understand:

  • whether a technology investment has been worthwhile;
  • which areas of the company have gained value from it; and
  • which areas of the company have seen no improvement.

Attendees will learn:

  • how to address user adoption issues to improve impact; and
  • how to identify business metrics they can use to compare performance before and after adopting social technology.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us.

About the Speaker

Suzanne Livingston is a product manager at IBM, where she manages a team of product and offerings managers in IBM’s Enterprise Social Solutions division, which encompasses mail, chat, meetings, audio/video, cognitive computing, social technologies, and more. In this role, she helped launch IBM Connections, a social software suite for businesses and organizations. Livingston is also a teaching fellow at Harvard Business School. As an SDM alumna, she holds a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT.

About the Series

The MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series, sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program, features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

How to Build a Culture of Innovation Through Design and Systems Thinking

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Andrea Ippolito, Presidential Innovation Fellow, US Department of Veterans Affairs; SDM Alumna

Date: October 19, 2015

About the Presentation

In this webinar, SDM alumna Andrea Ippolito, a presidential innovation fellow, will describe how the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) developed and implemented an innovators network. She will cover:

  • the human-centered design and systems methodologies used to develop the VA Innovators Network;
  • the strategy used to build a culture of innovation designed to help employees develop the best possible services and experiences for veterans and their supporters;
  • the VA Innovation Creation Series, an open innovation system designed to accelerate the development of personalized prosthetics and assistive technologies for veterans with disabilities; and
  • the development and deployment of an open innovation strategy–plus program at the VA using open challenge platforms such as InnoCentive and GrabCAD.

Webinar attendees will learn:

  • how to apply design thinking and systems methodologies to improve the innovation culture within organizations;
  • what open innovation tools organizations can use to harness the power of the crowd and improve innovation output; and
  • ways to build an innovation network at your organization, no matter what your industry.

We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Andrea Ippolito is a presidential innovation fellow based at the US Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation. A PhD student in engineering systems at MIT, she cofounded Smart Scheduling, a software firm specializing in medical appointment planning. She has also served as an innovation specialist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Innovation Hub, as co-leader of MIT’s Hacking Medicine, as product innovation manager at athenahealth, and as a research scientist within the corporate technology development group at Boston Scientific. As an SDM alumna, she holds a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT. She also has a BS and a master’s degree, both in biomedical engineering, from Cornell University.

About the Series

The MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series, sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program, features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

 

The Technology-Based Transformation of the Media Industry

IWB_Headshot

Irving Wladawsky-Berger, PhD

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Irving Wladawsky-Berger, PhD, Visiting Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management

Date: September 21, 2015

Download the presentation slides

About the Presentation

Just about every industry has been transformed by the relentless advances of digital technologies that have taken place over the past 20 years. But, like few others, the media industry continues to be severely disrupted by the digital revolution. Everything seems to be changing at once, from the way content is produced, delivered, and consumed, to the sources of revenue and profits. Globalization, deregulation, technological innovation, and the convergence of previously separate industries such as entertainment, communications, and consumer electronics has led to a highly turbulent media landscape.

This talk will explore some of the huge changes taking place in the media industry, with particular emphasis on the major negative, as well as positive, impacts of these changes. The presentation will examine the similarly transformative changes that are taking place in other industries and will map out the innovations and cultural changes required to help companies not only survive but thrive amid such major technology-based transformations.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. We invite you to join us.

About the Speaker

Dr. Irving Wladawsky-Berger retired from IBM in May 2007 after a 37-year career with the company, where his primary focus was on innovation and technical strategy. He led a number of IBM’s companywide initiatives, including the Internet, e-business, supercomputing, and Linux. From March 2008 to June 2014 he was a strategic advisor at Citigroup, working on innovation and technology initiatives such as the transition to mobile digital money.

Since 2005, Wladawsky-Berger has been writing a weekly blog, irvingwb.com, which has also been published in The Wall Street Journal’s “CIO Journal” since April 2012.

He is a strategic advisor on innovation at HBO and at MasterCard, visiting lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, adjunct professor at the Imperial College Business School, and executive-in-residence at New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress. He is a member of the board of directors of Inno360 and the Corporation for National Research Initiatives, and he serves on the advisory board of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Innovation Lab.

Wladawsky-Berger received an MS and a PhD in physics from the University of Chicago.

About the Series

The MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series, sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program, features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

 

 

How to Prepare for Workforce Continuity and Business Operations in the Upcoming Flu Season: It’s Nothing to Sneeze At!

Larson

Richard C. Larson, PhD

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Richard C. Larson, PhD, Mitsui Professor of Engineering Systems, MIT; Founding Director, MIT Center for Engineering System Fundamentals

Date: Thursday, September 10, 2015

Download the presentation slides

A Home Tookit for Primary Prevention of Influenza by Individuals and Families (pdf)
Engineering Effective Responses to Influenza Outbreaks (pdf)

About the Presentation

It’s not too early to plan now for the next flu season: Research shows that your organization’s workforce could suffer a decrease of 20 percent to 30 percent. If you run a lean shop, that’s a lot of lost capacity!

In this webinar, MIT Professor Richard C. Larson will highlight results of a six-year research project he codirected in collaboration with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He will discuss:

  • how to educate your staff on behavioral changes that they and their family members can make to reduce the chances of getting sick;
  • ways to alter business processes to reduce infection pathways; and
  • why it is imperative to start planning now.

A Q&A will follow the presentation.

Be proactive! Join us­­ and learn how to keep your employees and your business healthy.

About the Speaker

Richard C. Larson, PhD, is the Mitsui Professor of Engineering Systems and founding director of the Center for Engineering System Fundamentals at MIT. He focuses his research and practice on operations in the services industries, primarily technology-enabled education, health, disaster preparedness, urban service systems, queuing, logistics, and workforce planning. He is past president of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). He is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and an INFORMS Founding Fellow, as well as a recipient of INFORMS’ President’s Award, Lanchester Prize, and Kimball Medal. He has served and continues to serve on a variety of panels and committees of the NAE and Institute of Medicine.

Larson’s current MIT research includes modeling and broader analysis of infectious diseases, especially pandemic influenza, Middle East respiratory syndrome, and Ebola. The CDC, IBM, and the Sloan Foundation have supported this work. The published research results include a Best-Paper-of-the-Year award (Value in Health) and AMA recognition as content valuable for physicians who received professional PRA Category 1 Credits for taking and passing an online quiz relating to one of our papers (“Home Flu Kit”).

About the Series

The MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series, sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program, features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.
 

Advancing Human-Computer Communication to Maximize Sales

Pirtle, Bryan1-VC

Bryan Pirtle, SDM ’13

By Bryan Pirtle, SDM ’13

The challenge: In today’s fast-moving, dynamic business environment, it is tougher than ever for businesses to reach the right clients in a meaningful way and achieve results. Sales and marketing professionals need highly specialized and effective technology to source clients, engage them, and close deals.

This is especially true for top-of-funnel outreach. Even if a sales/marketing professional has carefully selected targets, “cold call” emails are almost always deleted immediately. How can prospective customers be incentivized to engage with the material for mutual benefit?

The approach: Nova Labs was formed to address this challenge using an integrative, systems-based approach—coupled with deep knowledge of typical top-of-funnel challenges—to develop hyper-personalized email outreach technology that surpasses what is currently available to sales and marketing professionals.

First we conducted a massive information-gathering mission by interviewing dozens of lead users in companies across the globe. The goal was to understand how potential users in the sales/marketing field spend each day on the job. Findings produced a clear view of common and best practices and typical products already in use.

Next, we researched the market landscape to gain insight into what gaps exist at the leading edge of sales automation technology.

Finally, we created a software-as-a-service, business-to-business product designed to meet the new-customer acquisition needs of medium and large companies. The goal of this initial product, Nova, is to optimize email outreach for clients. Nova’s underpinning is a scalable personalization technology that can be extended into other domains and ultimately become a platform for future products. This technology will enable our customers to personalize not just email, but ads, engagement/re-engagement communications, upsell opportunities, and more.

The tools: The systems thinking mindset, technology strategy, and user-centered design—as well as system architecture and dynamics methodologies—that form the foundation of MIT’s System Design & Management program have provided many of the fundamental concepts on which Nova Labs built its core technology.

The product design/synthesis/feedback process included:

  • Transforming all of our documented experiences plus the synthesized information collected from the sales/marketing professional interviews into baseline product requirements;
  • Choosing and configuring the technology stack to be used;
  • Determining initial/future sources of information from the public Internet with which to construct meta-profiles for each prospect;
  • Creating a baseline scope for the personalization technology layer;
  • Designing the look and feel of user interfaces;
  • Designing the “glue layer” of how data flows to/from each interface, as well as usability/user experience;
  • Implementing all of the above in the chosen technology stack;
  • Sourcing beta clients and releasing the product to them; and
  • Feeding back client suggestions, concerns, and usability issues into the process to continue iterative design.

After analyzing and discussing the results of our data collection efforts at length, we were able to characterize our target market as follows:

  • The client: Sales development representatives, account executives, and personnel in inside sales roles.
  • What the client does: Spends five or more hours each day researching individuals on prospect lists to determine the right personal touch to add to an initial message to engage each person.
  • What the client currently uses: Static, template-based, single-email, and mail-merge (multiple-email, campaign-based) platforms that convert comma-separated values documents into bland, spammy-looking emails.
  • What the client wants: Dynamic, data-driven technology that allows for utilization of publicly available data and performance analytics to construct appropriate targeting language automatically and insert it into emails to capture each recipient’s attention and/or establish a personal connection—at scale.

We thus determined that a technology that combines the successful elements of existing products on the market with an automated personalization text-generation layer would have the potential to revolutionize sales and marketing top-of-funnel and save hours per day per professional.

To deliver this product, we created a robust and sophisticated software stack capable of asynchronously compiling and delivering the data needed for the personalization process and desired user experience. Our current stack with high-level relationships between components is shown in Figure 1.

NovaBlockDiagram

Figure 1. Nova Labs’ technology stack.

We decided to use contemporary open-source software built upon the Heroku platform as a service in order to achieve the following goals with our stack:

  1. Stability, gained by using robust, mature frameworks and software platforms;
  2. Flexibility, attained by picking and choosing the correct open-source tools and libraries for each product need; and
  3. Focus on application design rather than infrastructure design.

We built the primary user interface as a Google Chrome extension application. This design choice was primarily made to make use of the Google Apps mail client that most lead users preferred. We chose AngularJS as the front-end Javascript framework and “glue layer” to provide a more robust and streamlined real-time “desktop experience” in the web environment. The asynchronous and real-time data needs of the application were also simplified by the use of AngularJS. Figure 2 shows the real-time analytics in action in a campaign.

Pirtle_dashboard

Figure 2. Screenshot of Nova’s “campaign view” with analytics data.

Once a client uploads a list of target email addresses, the personalization engine is employed on the back end to search target sources on the Internet. The engine then constructs a meta-profile for each person using his/her email as the key. We chose several initial data sources, including social media data aggregator APIs as well as our own data scrapers and search technology. Proprietary algorithms are then used to construct the meta-profile and custom attributes—such as seniority, influence, playfulness, and international orientation—from the collected raw data.

Once the meta-profiles are constructed, the personalization engine uses natural language processing and machine learning as well as statistical analysis of past analytics data to determine the proper personalization snippets, including tone, to add to the email for each recipient. The user may also customize correspondence from all available personalization types and tones that the engine has previously created. The personalization engine learns from the choices users make to continually adapt to recipient preferences.

The results:

  • Nova Labs has started beta testing with two dozen companies;
  • The pipeline increases daily with more than 200 companies expressing interest in the product;
  • More than 5,000 emails per week go through the Nova system; and
  • Nova-personalized emails perform more than 500 percent better on average than control (non-personalized) emails based on numerous experiments using real-world campaigns for both prospect engagement and response rates.

Nova Labs is continuing to meet its own internal milestones and is aggressively pursuing new client growth using its proprietary tools, product, and technology.

About the Author

Bryan Pirtle, SDM ’13, is chief technology officer of Nova Labs, Inc. He employed techniques from MIT’s System Design & Management (SDM) program to help shape the core of Nova Labs’ technology strategy and roadmap.

 

Assessing Regulatory, Environmental, Economic, and Technical Components of Sustainable Energy and Water Use in Thermoelectric Facilities in Chile

Editor’s note: The following is a summary of a study performed for the Chilean Energy Ministry with the support of the Ministry of the Environment. We would like to thank the Chilean Energy Ministry and Ministry of the Environment for supporting this project.

The report that includes the analysis conducted, the recommendations, and the next steps can be downloaded here.

By Donny Holaschutz, SDM ’10, and Jorge Moreno, SDM ’11

The challenge: Water use at thermoelectric facilities presents a complex systems problem for several reasons:

  • To operate safely and efficiently, the facilities need large amounts of water, yet water supplies are limited;
  • The social and environmental impacts of water use are becoming increasingly significant worldwide; and
  • A complex set of relationships exists among the overall environmental, economic, and social impacts of water use; how water is withdrawn from its source; how it is used at facilities; and how it is returned to the environment.

The most significant water use at a thermoelectric facility is associated with the cooling process, which in turn is tightly coupled to the overall performance and reliability of the plant. An adequate amount of water for the plant’s cooling system leads to a more energy-efficient thermoelectric facility—one that produces less atmospheric emissions per unit of electricity generated. This relationship creates an important tension in the design or upgrade of a plant’s cooling system between water use and performance.

Any cooling system design must consider a variety of factors, including:

  • local environmental conditions and geography, including access to and availability of water;
  • the ecosystems of the source body of water;
  • local social context; and
  • how specific system byproducts—such as water flow at the intake and the temperature of the water effluent—might stress the source body of water.

Inodú worked with the Chilean Energy Ministry and the Ministry of the Environment to identify and address some of the challenges posed by water use at thermoelectric facilities in Chile by conducting a preliminary assessment of the current regulatory, environmental, economic, and technical situation. This assessment helped address the following goals presented in the Chilean Energy Ministry’s Energy Agenda:

  • supporting the sustainable development of thermoelectric generation projects;
  • making progress toward overall territorial regulations focused on efficiency and sustainability; and
  • promoting energy efficiency as a state policy.

The approach: Inodú used an integrated set of methodologies grounded in systems thinking to elaborate its analysis.

First, we conducted an extensive literature review to gather facts and gain an understanding of the research, analysis, and regulation developed worldwide. Inodú found that in Chile most thermoelectric generation facilities are located by the coast, while in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, only 3 percent of power plants use ocean water. This indicated that solutions being developed for the United States might not necessarily apply to Chile.

Next, we engaged key Chilean stakeholders to gain a better understanding of how water is currently used and what solutions might be available. The stakeholders included:

  • cooling system technology providers;
  • thermoelectric facility technology providers;
  • construction companies; and
  • local generation companies.

Inodú also conducted a survey to calculate the potential for water withdrawal by the thermoelectric generation base. In Chile in 2013, the potential for water withdrawal from the Pacific Ocean was 530,400 m3/hr by thermoelectric facilities, the equivalent of withdrawing approximately 212 Olympic-size pools every hour[1] (see Figure 1). The potential for water withdrawal from water wells was 3,080 m3/hr.

EnergyFigure1

Figure 1. The water cycle is shown at left for Chile’s thermoelectric facilities, marked on the map at right.

Chile typically withdraws water from the Pacific using an overhead syphon, a method that differs from that used in many other countries. The potential for water withdrawal using an overhead syphon was 495,434 m3/hr in 2013 (see Figure 1). Mitigating the environmental impact created by withdrawing water with an overhead syphon requires a different approach than that used for some of the common intake structures found in the United States, such as the intake channel or submerged intake structure flush with shoreline. Engaging local construction companies allowed inodú to understand the unique Chilean coastal conditions that made the overhead syphon the preferred water intake system.

EnergyFigure2

Figure 2. Cooling system configurations in Chile.

Several cooling system configurations unique to Chile have developed over time as shown in Figure 2. The withdrawal and return of water generates the following relevant environmental impacts:

  • impingement and entrainment of water organisms;
  • chemicals released into the water (chemicals are mostly used to keep cooling systems clean);
  • increases in water temperatures; and
  • water loss.

The environmental impacts caused by withdrawing and returning water can be affected by the selection of the cooling system and the use of proper safeguards applied to the water intake and discharge systems. The velocity at the intake, the water volume, the location of the intake and discharge systems and the types of safeguards used (screens, racks, biomass handling systems, etc.) also affect the overall environmental impact of the cooling system. Environmental safeguards installed in water intake systems in Chile are shown in Figure 3.

EnergyFigure3

Figure 3. Environmental safeguards installed in water intake systems in Chile.

The environmental impact of water use can be greatly influenced by the type of cooling system selected. For example, once-through cooling systems use the most water, but only consume small amounts of that water. Cooling towers and cooling ponds require less water, but they lose more water to evaporation. Finally, air cooled condensers (dry-cooling) require no water, but they are significantly more energy inefficient than the other types of cooling systems. In addition, the topography of the coastline in Chile can play a significant role in the amount of energy needed to pump water from the coast to the location of the thermoelectric facility—a factor that affects the overall efficiency and environmental impact of the system.

We found that 95 percent of the water employed by thermoelectric facilities is used for cooling and that, in the whole water cycle, approximately 3 percent of the water is consumed. Most of the water is used by once-through cooling systems. Currently, the northern region of Chile demands more cooling water than the central region as shown in Figure 1. Both regions have significant inland water constraints, especially the far north, home to some of the country’s important mining operations and well as to the Atacama Desert, one of the driest deserts in the world.

Once we had an understanding of worldwide best practices, what was possible in Chile, and the current state of water use at thermoelectric facilities, we began exploring:

  • what important tradeoffs would have to be considered to generate recommendations and future work; and
  • the techno-economic performance of different types of cooling systems at the four locations where thermoelectric generation is currently centered in Chile (Mejillones, Quintero, Quillota, and Coronel).

To assess the techno-economic performance across locations, inodú developed cases for comparison. The effectiveness of cooling systems depends on local environmental conditions such local air and water temperatures and humidity. The cases were developed by determining representative local environmental conditions at the four locations, then using the same thermoelectric facility for all cases as well as comparable design criteria.

In addition, to evaluate environmental and system performance, we explored:

  • how changes in system configurations could reduce important environmental impacts associated with the withdrawal and return of water such as impingement and entrainment of water organisms, the use of chemicals in water, increases in water temperatures, and water consumption (loss); and
  • how changes in system configurations could produce other environmental side effects such as changes in atmospheric emissions, noise, and plume.

The results: For a thermoelectric plant located by the coast, the analysis led to the conclusion that, in Chile, a once-through cooling system with the proper environmental safeguards tends to be the most adequate. In addition, cooling towers or other closed-loop cooling systems tend to be the most appropriate where the water intake elevation exceeds the elevation at which it is environmentally sustainable and economically efficient to pump the water volume required by a once-through cooling system. Dry-cooling systems should only be used when water usage concerns do not permit the use of a once-through cooling system or cooling towers. While dry-cooling systems decrease water use, they increase atmospheric emissions per unit of net-energy produced.

Ultimately, we found that clearer guidelines are needed to help stakeholders choose adequate cooling system configurations and safeguards that are socially, environmentally, and economically friendly. Inodú presented a set of next steps for creating such guidelines so that power plant developers and operators can reduce the environmental and social impact of their power plants.

About the Authors

Donny

Donny Holaschutz, SDM ’10

Donny Holaschutz, SDM alumnus and an inodú cofounder, is a seasoned entrepreneur with experience in both for- and not-for-profit ventures related to energy and sustainability. He has consulted for startups, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies in the United States and Latin America. He holds a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

 

MIT student portraits, System Management and Design

Jorge Moreno, SDM ’11

Jorge Moreno, SDM alumnus and inodú cofounder, has extensive experience in the energy industry in the United States and Latin America. He holds a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

 

 

 

[1] 2,500 m3 is a value commonly quoted for the volume of an Olympic-size pool.

Challenging Common Software Design Principles

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Christine Miyachi, Systems Engineer and Architect, Xerox Corporation; SDM Alumna

Date: June 15, 2015

Download the presentation slides

About the Presentation

miyachi.thumb

Christine Miyachi, SDM ’00

Does deviating from common software design principles necessarily produce bad software? In this webinar, Xerox systems engineer and architect Christine Miyachi will explore what lessons software designers can learn from other areas of design. Great furniture designers, for example, may iterate on a particular chair design even when the iterations aren’t necessarily improvements. They simply produce different beautiful and functional chairs. This webinar will explore such questions as:

  • Must software form always follow function?
  • Can software be designed for beauty first?
  • What happens when software designers break the single responsibility principle (i.e. a class is responsible for one part of the functionality only)?
  • What are the pros and cons of abandoning common principles in crafting software?

A Q&A will follow the discussion. We invite you to join us!

About the Speaker

Christine Miyachi has almost 30 years of experience working for startups and large corporations. She writes a blog about software architecture and currently serves as a systems engineer and architect at Xerox Corporation. She works on Xerox’s Extensible Interface Platform, a software platform that enables developers to use standard web-based tools to create server-based applications that can be configured for the multifunction peripheral’s touch-screen user interface. Miyachi holds several patents. She graduated from the University of Rochester with a B.S. in electrical engineering. She also holds two MIT degrees: an S.M. in technology and policy/electrical engineering and computer science and, as an SDM alumna, an S.M. in engineering and management. She is currently chair of the IEEE Cloud Computing Steering Committee.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Creating a Technology Strategy and Roadmap for Global Manufacturing at Merck

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Anando A. Chowdhury, Director of Product Design: Innovation to Operation, Global Science, Technology, & Commercialization, Merck & Co., Inc.; SDM Alumnus

Date: June 1, 2015

Download the presentation slides

Anando Chowhury Environmental Portrait

Anando A. Chowdhury

In 2011, Merck & Co., Inc. began developing a technology strategy and roadmap for global manufacturing that would provide expanded access to pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and biologics for such ailments as diabetes, cancer, infectious diseases, and for neurological, cardiovascular, and reproductive health. This webinar will explore the tools and techniques drawn from MIT’s System Design & Management (SDM) program that were used to create Merck’s leading-edge capability. It will also review major lessons derived from the roadmap’s successful implementation and execution over the past four years.

SDM alumnus Anando A. Chowdhury, director of product design: innovation to operation for Global Science, Technology, & Commercialization at Merck, will describe:

  • the development of a framework engineered to manage complexity and deliver clear guidance to the organization on where and how to focus effort;
  • the process of incorporating key lessons from across multiple industries with the depth of insight needed to transcend different technical disciplines; and
  • lessons learned through the successful implementation and execution of the roadmap over the past four years.

If you would like to be in touch with Chowdhury, you may contact him by email.

About the Speaker

Anando A. Chowdhury is the director of product design: innovation to operations in Merck & Co., Inc.’s Global Science, Technology, & Commercialization division. He is responsible for developing primary, secondary, and tertiary product, packaging, and logistics solutions that are patient-, customer-, and value-chain-focused for all of Merck’s human health new product pharmaceutical, vaccine, and biotech pipelines. He led the organizational strategy, management, and operations function for Global Science, Technology, & Commercialization and was accountable for the development, commercialization, launch, and technical support of all Merck products. He and his team were pivotal in establishing Merck’s small- and large-molecule late-stage development and commercialization models, creating and executing the manufacturing technology merger roadmap between Merck and Schering-Plough, creating Merck’s Quality by Design strategy, and establishing the company’s first-ever manufacturing technology roadmaps.

Prior to joining Merck, Chowdhury worked in product development, process engineering, equipment design, installation and commissioning, fundamental research and development, new business ventures, information systems and technologies, applied management sciences, and as an operations manager for two new businesses. He has worked at Eastman Kodak Company, Los Alamos National Laboratory, MDT Biologics of Getinge USA, Inc., the United Nations Children’s Fund, hospital systems, and has held positions and postings in Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, and France.

Chowdhury holds a B.S. and M.S. in chemical engineering and biomedical engineering from the University of Rochester and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and as an SDM alumnus, an M.S. in engineering and management from MIT. A Six Sigma Black Belt, he is also a graduate of Merck’s Business Leadership Program through Duke University’s Executive Program.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

2015 MIT Sustainability Summit: Farming, Food, and the Future

Nolet, Sarah

Sarah Nolet, SDM ’15

By Sarah Nolet, SDM ’15

MIT students recently organized a conference focused on using systems thinking to reshape global agriculture to meet the climate, population, and resource challenges of the 21st century.

The event: The MIT Sustainability Summit is a student-led event that takes place every year during Earth Week on the MIT campus, drawing more than 350 attendees ranging from professionals to academics and students. The summit has emerged as a premier issue-driven event, featuring discussions with thought leaders and expert practitioners.

2015 theme: The seventh annual Sustainability Summit, held at MIT’s McDermott Court on Friday and Saturday, April 24-25, focused on the complex problems facing local and global agriculture systems. Summit talks centered on examining food and farming challenges through the lens of the “circular economy,” a systems-thinking approach focused on building a flourishing, sustainable world by intentionally cycling resources between production and consumption—in other words, from farm to table and back again.

“As a student-led event that is joined by leaders in the public, private, and civil sectors, the MIT Sustainability Summit is a perfect illustration of how we can all come together to foster collaboration and create lasting solutions to poverty,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, who delivered a keynote address at the event. “Oxfam America believes that together we can stand against injustice and recognize our ability to hold the powerful accountable. Through collaboration with corporations and by empowering consumers, we can influence decisions that promote sustainable food systems and increase global food security. The most important step toward that goal is bringing public and private sectors together, and that’s why this summit is so.

Focus Areas and Featured Speakers

Conference content was divided into three core focal areas:

  • Rethinking consumption
  • Creating resilience in production
  • Enabling the transformation to a more circular economy

Keynote speakers and panelists with backgrounds from across academia, industry, and the public sector addressed such questions as:

  • How can innovation and technology help us move beyond a single-use model of agricultural products?
  • What are viable ways to promote and harness the functions that biodiverse and resilient agricultural ecosystems naturally provide?
  • What is needed from individuals, businesses, and governments for a more sustainable, circular agricultural system to take hold?

Featured speakers included:

  • Fedele Bauccio, cofounder and CEO, Bon Appétit Management Company
  • L. Ann Thrupp, executive director, Berkeley Food Institute, University of California at Berkeley
  • Paul Matteucci, operating partner, US Venture Capital Partners
  • John Lienhard, director, Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab, MIT
  • Raymond C. Offenheiser, president, Oxfam America

Other highlights:

  • In-kind food sponsorships from Ben & Jerry’s, ABInBev, Boloco, and Stonyfield
  • Sustainably sourced food from MIT Sloan startup Foodium
  • Friday night networking happy hour and MIT Waste Research and Innovation Night

My role: As marketing codirector, I was responsible for social media, email marketing campaigns, live audience Q&A, on- and off-campus marketing efforts, and ticket pricing and sales. I am really proud of how the marketing team did this year: We held a kickoff event with local startups and students from across MIT, the summit sold out a week before the conference, we continued to sell tickets at the door through Saturday morning, and we more than tripled our social media engagement. I believe we are starting to create a recognizable brand for the MIT Sustainability Summit.

Looking ahead: I am thrilled to be managing codirector of the 2016 MIT Sustainability Summit. Organizing the summit this year was an amazing learning experience. I not only improved my social media marketing and graphic design skills, but more importantly my communication and leadership skills. I also made some amazing connections and lasting friendships. I believe that creating a more sustainable world is the critical challenge of our future, and I’m thrilled to be at MIT where we have a unique opportunity to bring business and societal leaders together with academic researchers and students to drive innovation and meet this challenge.

2015 Sustainability Summit Team

SDM ’15 Sarah Nolet (fourth from right) poses on campus with the 2015 MIT Sustainability Summit leadership team.

About the Author

Sarah Nolet, SDM ’15, is passionate about using technology to create a more sustainable global food system. She is currently conducting research on organic farming in India while also pursuing a Sustainability Certificate from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Nolet was a three-sport varsity athlete and All-America soccer player at Tufts University, where she double majored in computer science and human factors engineering. Nolet loves all sports, building rock walls, speaking Spanish, and deep woods backpacking.