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SDM Info Evening – September 18, 2019

Do you want to lead engineering, not leave it? Are you interested in tackling complex problems in your field with a systems approach? Please join us at MIT for an information session on MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program, which offers a master’s degree in engineering and management. You will have the opportunity to learn more about this flexible graduate program, discuss career opportunities, and network with SDM alumni, faculty, students, and staff.

For specific questions, please contact SDM Admissions at sdm@mit.edu.

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Rachel Le Vely brainstorms with a Honda employee

Systems THINKing: SDM Students Run Ideation Workshop with Honda THINK Lab

In the spring semester of the combined core class in systems thinking, System Design and Management (SDM) students partner with sponsors to solve real-world problems using the tools and skills taught in the course. This spring, one group partnered with the Honda THINK Lab to develop a process for identifying future projects for Honda to explore. As part of this partnership, SDM students Ria Bissram, Lee Johnson, Rachel Le Vely, and Adrian Ortiz traveled to Japan to collaborate on an ideation workshop with the team at Honda and Hideyuki Horii, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Tokyo. We asked the students about their experiences in Tokyo; their answers are below.

How did you come together to work on this project, and what was the project pitch? 

Three members of the Honda THINK Lab came to MIT’s campus in January to pitch two projects: designing a process for future products based on scenarios for 2050, and developing scenarios of the future to guide strategic roadmaps. We were interested in the large problem space and strategic nature of the project proposal for the first concept, so we put in a bid to work with Honda and were placed on the team together to design the process for products in 2050. Honda also needed to learn how to implement a new strategic process that combined inputs from many existing teams and used new methods for analysis and providing recommendations. 

How did the workshop come about? 

The workshop was suggested by both Hideyuki Horii and Honda THINK Lab during the initial phase of the project. We learned in our lectures how valuable a workshop can be to generate ideas and discussion, especially when the group is diverse. We floated many ideas for a workshop, including an all-day conference call and an in-person workshop with the sponsor.

What led you or the sponsors to decide that an in-person workshop would be the best way forward?

We tried a mini ideation conference call with our sponsor using the collaboration tool ApisNote. However, we struggled to derive value from this process; it took a lot of time without yielding much content. After that attempt, we decided that an in-person workshop was vital to the success of our project and would create a solid working relationship with our team’s sponsors.

What took place at the workshop?

The main focus of the workshop was to understand Honda’s extreme users – customers that are outlier use cases for the company’s products – and generate profiles of these users by meeting with key stakeholders across Honda, including Honda THINK Lab and its business divisions. During the second half of the workshop, we held multiple ideation sessions using ApisNote to capture all the ideas from the workshop. These ideas were not for development as part of our project; instead, they were generated to demonstrate that our process could include extreme users as part of the 2050 design scenario. 

Rachel Le Vely brainstorms with a Honda employee
Rachel Le Vely brainstorms with a Honda employee. (Picture provided by Ria Bissram)

In addition, we gave a three-hour overview of MIT System Design & Management (SDM)—covering what the program teaches, the benefits it provides to students and sponsor companies, and what we have been learning. Our sponsor had requested an overview as part of the workshop, and we found that teaching them gave us a better understanding of the course material ourselves. This part of the workshop was engaging for everyone, and we received many questions from Honda team members about SDM’s certificate program.

What surprised you the most about the experience? 

We were surprised by how engaged Honda’s participants were throughout the entire workshop. The level of enthusiasm for generating ideas and learning about SDM was impressive and productive. In addition, the final concepts from the ideation portion of the workshop were surprising to most of the participants. These concepts included a rideshare service equipped with mobile office space for working during long commutes and a medical device that could affect a user’s sensitivity to temperature by reducing blood flow.

What were the highlights of the workshop? 

The amount of collaboration between all the team members made the entire process a huge success. The dinner celebration after the workshop was also a highlight. We were able to interact with the Honda team members in a more social setting—and we got to toast with Japanese sake! 

What were the key takeaways? How did you carry workshop lessons forward as you worked on the project for the rest of the semester?

In-person meetings are key to working on a successful global team. The workshop enabled us to connect with our sponsor in a more direct way. We found that if you can build a successful working relationship during some key, in-person meetings, everything will go more smoothly and more efficiently down the road. 

To learn more about collaborating with SDM students, email Ben Linville-Engler, Industry Co-Director, at benle@mit.edu.

SDM Alumni Run Second Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

System Design and Management graduates Shruti Banda and Jack Yao are running a second Kickstarter campaign for their startup Mobile Pixels with the goal of bringing an upgraded portable external laptop monitor to market. TRIO, an “on-the-go dual and triple screen laptop monitor,” reached its initial funding target in less than nine hours. 

Person using a laptop with two extended screens on either side of the monitor
TRIO in action (photo courtesy of Mobile Pixels)

This follows hard on the heels of the company’s first successful Kickstarter —for DUEX, a portable monitor that attaches to the lid of a laptop with magnets and serves as a secondary display. That campaign raised more than $1 million and received widespread publicity.

TRIO is a similar accessory that allows users to attach up to two screens with increased rotation and flexibility, allowing for a three-screen setup in a variety of configurations. The fundraiser has already raised more than 10 times its $35,000 goal, but it will run until August 3, 2019.

Yao got the idea for DUEX while interning at Amazon; he needed a portable second monitor—and could not find one. He founded Mobile Pixels in 2016 with Banda and Stephen Ng of Northeastern University. The startup received seed funding from the MIT Sandbox Innovation Fund and IDEA Northeastern.

Yao graduated from MIT in 2018 with two master’s degrees – one in mechanical engineering and the other in engineering and management earned through MIT System Design and Management (SDM). Before MIT, he worked in aerospace with GE Aviation. 

Banda also graduated in 2018 with a master’s degree in engineering and management from SDM. She holds an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, and has worked at Oracle and Personagraph.

For more information, please visit the Mobile Pixels siteor the TRIO Kickstarter page

Keran Rong explains his team's presentation.

Solving complex challenges together: SDM core final presentations

Keran Rong explains his team's presentation.
Keran Rong explains his team’s presentation.

For the past four and a half months, System Design and Management students have worked with sponsors to solve real-world problems by using the skills and tools taught in the program’s core class in systems thinking. On May 14 and 15, 2019, students presented the results of these spring projects to the MIT community in three parts.

Final presentations began with a poster session in MIT’s Lobby 7 on May 14. Each team displayed a summary of its work and explained its project’s challenges and potential solutions to MIT students, faculty, visitors, and community members passing through one of the most active locations on campus. 

In one poster session, for example, Dai Lin gave a lightning review of her team’s collaboration with Shell TechWorks (read more here). She explained the project, which centered on repurposing offshore oil rig platforms for renewable energy, and detailed how the team selected an architecture focused on hydrogen generation. In this design, offshore wind turbines would power batteries running a hydrolyzer, which would refine hydrogen to be sent to shore via repurposed oil pipelines. However, the team reached the conclusion that its ambitious plan was not likely to be financially viable in the short term, given current technology and the present economic viability of renewable energy. 

On May 15, the core class concluded with two sessions of presentations for an audience of faculty, teaching assistants, fellow students, and project sponsors. Students delved into the details of their spring projects and explained how they had used tools taught in the core class to analyze problems and explore possible solutions.

For example, the TreatPath team mapped out a tradespace solution designed to increase patient recruitment in clinical trials for their project sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Boston Medical School. Students proposed juxtaposing integrability (a measure of how easy it would be to integrate the solution with existing record systems and maintain HIPAA security protocols) against utility (whether the solution could increase participant numbers while maintaining quality of patient care). Members of the Blockheads team, which worked with PerkinElmer, described how their stakeholder interviews and needs mapping led them to change their project framing almost entirely. Their final presentation focused on the need to challenge the framing of problems as presented and the importance of going beyond individual stakeholders’ preferences and domain knowledge to understand the bigger picture.

“We were excited to see how well the teams synthesized months of effort into their posters and short pitches, all of which integrated engineering and business systems decisions to address the project challenges,” noted SDM Academic Director Bryan Moser. “The teams leveraged new teaching on innovation and ideation and were able to increase the engagement of stakeholders and improve the quality of their systems projects.” 

To learn more about SDM’s integrated core class and the program’s certificate and degree programs, visit the education section of the SDM website. Those interested in sponsoring a future spring project are invited to reach out to SDM Industry Codirector Ben Linville-Engler at benle@mit.edu.

Webinar: Steven D. Eppinger, “10 Agile Ideas Worth Sharing”

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Join us for a free webinar on Monday, June 17 at 12:00 PM EDT with Steven D. Eppinger, MIT Portrait of Steven EppingerProfessor and SDM Faculty Co-Director. Steven D. Eppinger is Professor of Management Science at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He also holds the General Motors Leaders for Global Operations Chair and has a joint appointment in MIT’s Engineering Systems Division. He is currently the faculty co-director of the System Design and Management program.


For additional information on Agile methods, Prof. Eppinger recommends these resources:

Jeff Sutherland, Rini van Solingen, and Eelco Rustenburg, The Power of Scrum, North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace, 2011.

Kevin W. Thompson, Solutions for Agile Governance in the Enterprise (SAGE), Sophont Press, 2019.
https://www.scruminc.com/
https://www.scaledagileframework.com/

About the Talk: Agile development has created a number of very effective practices through implementation largely in the software industry. Today, we are finding ways to adopt some of these agile techniques in other domains. This seminar will review a range of practices from spiral development in time-boxed sprints to various hybrids of agile combined with staged processes. With an eye toward application outside the realm of software, we will discuss how these techniques may be appropriately adjusted to suit specific development challenges. Of particular interest to the SDM community will be scaling agile processes to handle the planning and coordination demands of complex system development.

SDM Hosts MEMPC Design & Pitch Competition

MIT hosted the first-ever Design & Pitch Competition for the Master of Engineering Management Project Consortium (MEMPC) on April 12, 2019. The competition combined elements of design challenges for engineering students with the type of business pitch contest commonly held for MBA students into a single competition that challenged students to combine their engineering and business skills.

Student organizers with Rutu Manchiganti, center in striped dress

Student volunteers from the consortium—a group of nine universities that work together to promote degrees in engineering management, share best practices, and increase recognition of engineering management as a field—organized the preliminary stages of the competition and ran the event.

The event featured teams from seven of the consortium schools, including MIT, presenting concepts for a sustainable energy solution for a model city in an afternoon session. A panel of engineering management alumni judged the competition.

Rutu Manchiganti, executive director of MEMPC and an alumna of MIT System Design and Management (SDM), introduced the competition’s goals. “We designed this event to build community among the engineering management students across the schools in the consortium, to allow them to build their skill sets in both design and management, and to engage alumni with current students and the consortium as a whole,” she said.

Alumni judges included Dean Adams, a Dartmouth graduate with experience at IBM who currently leads a patent law firm; Mohit Daga, also of Dartmouth and a senior product portfolio manager at Dassault Systèmes; and Timothy Fu, director of product management at FirstFuel Software and an alumnus of Cornell. Three SDM alums also joined the judging panel: Carlos Perez Damas and Scott McCarthy, senior system architects at Shell TechWorks, and Mario Montoya, a regional lead for Siemens Power and Gas.

The judges posed as the board of MEMCo, a fictional company looking for a transformative plan to enable the imaginary city of Utopia to draw more than half its energy from renewable sources by the year 2030. The student teams gave multimedia presentations offering a variety of approaches to creating a long-term, sustainable, renewable energy portfolio for the city.

Team Gaia from Cornell, for example, highlighted a new technology that captures the vibration from wind passing office buildings in dense urban environments as an additional source of wind-generated power. Team Gaia, which had assistance from the Cornell Center for Technology Licensing, also included anaerobic digestion in wastewater treatment for heat generation in its plan. The team earned the “Most Sustainable” honor from judges.

SDM’s own Pareto Pioneers won the “Most Creative” award with a presentation focused on the complex flow of values in the system. The SDM team included plans for a software model that would build a tradespace for evaluating existing technologies.

The overall winner was 4 Guys Consulting from Duke University, a team that focused on solar farming and improving an existing energy grid by adding battery technology to better capture generated power to meet demand at peak times. Mario Montoya of Siemens noted that the judging panel was impressed by all the presentations, saying they were “fantastic.”

SDM congratulates the winners and thanks all the student teams, the organizers, and the alumni judges for joining us in Cambridge for this special event.

SDM Information Evening, June 4, 2019

Do you want to lead engineering, not leave it? Are you interested in tackling complex problems in your field with a systems approach? Please join us at MIT for an information session on MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program, which offers a master’s degree in engineering and management. You will have the opportunity to learn more about this flexible graduate program, discuss career opportunities, and network with SDM alumni, faculty, students, and staff.

For specific questions, please contact SDM Admissions at sdm@mit.edu.

 

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Students try out Oculus technology

From Farming to Facebook: SDM Bay Area Tech Trek 2019

By Ajie Nikicio, Koji Nakashima and Ryuichi Takagi, SDM ’18

Every year, MIT System Design and Management (SDM) students visit some of the world’s most innovative and successful companies in the San Francisco Bay Area to learn about innovation, leadership, and systems thinking from industry experts. During the spring 2019 SDM Tech Trek, which ran from March 25 to 29, participants visited a variety of companies across multiple industries, including software, hardware, agriculture, and healthcare.

C3

Students outside C3.ai's building

The first company visited during the SDM Tech Trek was C3.ai, located in Redwood City, CA. C3 is a software provider for rapidly developing and operating artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, and Internet of Things applications at the enterprise scale. Uma Sandilya, Vice President of Applications, gave a presentation on how C3 applies engineering and management skills to drive digital transformation for Fortune 500 companies. We also had an amazing office tour with SDM alum Jake Whitcomb, Director of Products. The visit concluded with a networking lunch with employees from several departments.

Sumo LogicStudents and staff at Sumo Logic

Sumo Logic is a cloud-based machine data analytics company that focuses on security, operations, and business intelligence use cases. Based in Redwood City, CA, the company provides log management and analytics services that leverage machine-generated big data to deliver real-time IT insights. SDM students heard presentations from Chief Communications Officer Aaron Feigin, founding Vice President Bruno Kurtic, Senior Director of Product and Management Michael Marfise, and Product Manager and SDM alum Angad Singh. After the presentation, we toured the office.

Blue RiverStudents and Blue River staff in front of a tractor in an open field

We started our second day at Blue River Technology, located in Sunnyvale, CA. This company has been developing See & Spray equipment using machine learning and computer vision. This technology is able to identify a variety of crops and weeds and precisely spray herbicides on weeds. The system continually improves by automatically checking its work as it operates. This smart technology can reduce herbicide costs by 90 percent and unlock the ability to use herbicide alternatives. We enjoyed interactive sessions with CEO Jorge Heraud and employees from several of the company’s key departments. Finally, we got some hands-on experience with the company’s products. Some of us even got to ride a John Deere tractor!

Bloom EnergyStudents in front of Bloom Energy's storage batteries.

Bloom Energy provides clean, reliable, and affordable electricity through its innovative fuel cell technology. We were welcomed by Senior Cybersecurity Engineer and SDM alum Adrien Laws, Senior Staff System Engineer Karthikeyan Sengodan, and Product Marketing Manager and MIT alum Mabel Feng. After a series of insightful presentations, we received a tour of the manufacturing facility from Operations Manager Gema Guillen. We learned that each Bloom Energy Server produces 200 to 300 kilowatts of power in a footprint roughly equivalent to that of half a standard 30-foot shipping container.

Potrero MedicalStudents with CEO Joe Urban and Potrero Medical staff

SDM fellows met with Potrero Medical leaders in their office in Hayward, CA. The mission of Potrero Medical is to help doctors transform patient care by building a predictive technology platform for the early detection of critical illnesses using artificial intelligence. We were introduced to the company’s Accuryn product by CEO Joe Urban. In addition, we really enjoyed meeting Vice President of R&D Rich Keenan, Head of Products Jeff Alvarez, Vice President of Strategy and Global Business Development Rebecca Lin, and Director of Growth Omar Khateeb.

OktaStudents and staff at Okta

Okta, in downtown San Francisco, CA, provides software services for identification that include a single sign-on solution that allows users to log into a variety of systems. We toured the office and attended a presentation by two product strategy managers, Jess Starr and Lindsey Bly. We learned that the company’s product goals include developing single sign-on, lifecycle and mobility, and API access management in a huge ecosystem.

Facebook and Instagram

Afra Ansaria gives a thumbs-up in front of a giant Facebook "Like" button Students try out Oculus technology

The fourth day of the trip was all about big tech. The first stop was Facebook’s beautiful, amusement park-like campus in Menlo Park, CA. We were introduced to some of the company’s more recent projects and products, including Facebook Connectivity, Oculus, and the new smart-home video-chat device, Portal. It was heartwarming to see SDM alumni Eric Xu, Alex Shih, and James Paul. We learned how Facebook defines different flavors of engineering and management within the roles of product manager, technical project manager, and engineering manager—and how the three work together.

The same day, we were also welcomed by Engineering Manager and SDM alum Yoav Shapira and his team from Instagram. Unfortunately, due to time clashes with celebrity visits, we were unable to meet at Instagram’s office. One of Yoav’s engineers said that working in a big-tech company like Facebook or Instagram is a great experience, noting that the very well-established software development tools help engineers to work more effectively.

GoogleStudents and Google staff at Google

The second stop that day was a must-visit company, Google. We were invited to the company’s Sunnyvale, CA, office, where we were welcomed by dozens of speakers, many of them SDM and MIT alumni. All of them worked on different projects at Google, including Google Cloud, YouTube Advertising, Waymo, and so on. Having so many speakers from diverse projects and roles within Google gave us interesting insights—especially on how we might proceed in our careers as technical leaders. Special thanks to SDM alum Na Wei for organizing such a great panel.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Students at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is a federal research institute for applying science and technology research to support national security. We visited the LLNL’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) in Livermore, CA. NIF uses lasers to heat and compress a small amount of hydrogen fuel with the goal of inducing nuclear fusion reactions. We toured with Henry Hui and Nicholas Muetterties, both SDM certificate students and LLNL affiliates. They explained how systems thinking is used to manage LLNL’s big projects, which involve many engineers and researchers. 

Overall, the spring 2019 SDM Tech Trek was a fruitful and unforgettable experience for SDM fellows. In addition to learning from a great variety of companies across different industries, students also enjoyed social events with local alums at wonderful venues around the San Francisco Bay Area. This year’s tech trek was a collaborative effort between SDM ’18 students led by Lisa Crofoot and Monisha Pushpanathan and SDM staff Rutu Manchiganti, Amanda Peters, Naomi Gutierrez, James Collins, Ben Linville-Engler, and Joan Rubin.

SDM Fellow Presents at Conference on Systems Engineering Research

Arthur Middlebrooks, a current SDM fellow, presented on his work with the Systems Engineering Advancement Research Initiative (SEAri) at the 17th annual Conference on Systems Engineering Research (CSER) on April 4, 2019. The conference is hosted jointly by the Stevens Institute of Technology and Virginia Tech and focuses on theoretical work in systems engineering and its translation to practical application. Middlebrooks’ paper, titled “Broad Utility: Architecting Flexible and Robust Systems for a Complex Operational Environment,” discusses research focused on the U.S. military and its operational environment, proposing a set of key design decisions for systems engineers and architects to employ when developing systems that need to respond to changing environmental conditions and handle disruptions without a loss in effectiveness. The paper also includes authors Donna Rhodes of MIT, Jeffrey J. Cipolloni of Draper, and Simon R. Goerger of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center.

Middlebrooks matriculated in the SDM program in August 2017 and serves as a Captain and Operations Research and Systems Analyst in the U.S. Army. He is a Systems Engineering Fellow at Draper and a graduate research assistant at the MIT Sociotechnical Systems Research Center.

To read the paper, download it here. SDM congratulates Arthur on this achievement! 

SDM Students Grapple with Complex Problems in Core Class

In the spring semester of the combined core class in systems thinking, SDM students put the skills and tools taught in the course into practice by partnering with sponsors to solve real-world problems.

This spring, students took on projects from a variety of industries, all of which offer challenges that systems thinking principles may solve. On March 16, students presented their midstream project updates to an audience of local and distance classmates as well as faculty and teaching assistants.

For the offshore platform repurposing project in partnership with Shell TechWorks, students developed a trade space of architectural options. To identify promising architectures, the system was modelled and plotted on a tradespace comparing the capital expenditure to the annual energy produced. Architectures on the Pareto Frontier of this plot are more likely to be economically feasible.
Image courtesy of Lisa Crofoot

The presentations revealed how students focused their projects to tackle something manageable within a single semester. For example, Lisa Crofoot presented her team’s work with Shell TechWorks on the reuse of offshore oil facilities, explaining that they chose to look at the possibility of using these facilities as hubs for renewable energy generation. This choice aligns with Shell’s transition from an oil company to a holistic energy company and gives the students a chance to focus their efforts on an in-depth analysis of the many factors going into the future transformation of these facilities. Crofoot showed the class her team’s morphological matrix and financial feasibility graphing and demonstrated how the team is mapping out areas of interest, stakeholders, and performance indicators.

In another example, Nestor Figueroa and Nick Dowmon described how their team zeroed in on a manageable project for the University of Massachusetts Boston Medical School, which is trying to increase and diversify the pool of patients recruited to its clinical trials. Figueroa explained that the team is focused on implementing a solution involving medical providers, because those providers are already trusted by the people that the medical school hopes to recruit into trials. In addition, working with providers offers patients the chance to participate in trials without interrupting their current programs of care.

Several presenters described the challenges they have faced getting their projects under way. Some teams, for example, reported having difficulty getting data from sponsors due to legal issues or a lack of understanding about what information would be needed for proper analysis. Brady Hammond highlighted his team’s trouble dealing with sources of information who are invested in the current state of affairs, such as contractors who have no incentive to support changes to the system.

Going forward, all of the teams will face issues and setbacks like these; that’s what comes with tackling real-world problems. We’ll provide further updates through the semester, leading up to the students’ final presentations in May.

Ben Linville-Engler Named SDM Industry and Certificate Director

MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program has named Ben Linville-Engler to serve as its new industry and certificate director. Linville-Engler brings a long track record of technical leadership skill to the role, along with strong connections with industry, particularly in the medical technology and biotech space.

As industry director, Linville-Engler will be responsible for growing relationships with companies across a wide range of industries to pursue opportunities for SDM research collaboration, identify and share best practices, and secure corporate sponsorship for SDM projects.

He will also lead the SDM Certificate in Systems Thinking, a career-compatible one-year program that utilizes core systems theory and complements the SDM master’s degree. Certificate students attend the regular SDM master’s core classes online at a distance while continuing to work full time. They also complete comprehensive capstone projects, applying integrated systems approaches to challenges jointly selected by the student’s company and MIT.

Linville-Engler joins SDM after spending almost 10 years at Applied Medical, a global medical devices company, in roles of increasing responsibility spanning the full product lifecycle. Dividing his time between California and the Netherlands, he led the development of the Voyant® Electrosurgical System and expanded the European organization, finishing as vice president of product development and engineering for Europe.

Linville-Engler also has experience working with medical technology and healthcare technology startups in the Boston and MIT innovation ecosystem, sharing his expertise in technology and product development as well as in quality, regulation, innovation, and business strategy.

SDM Executive Director Joan Rubin commented, “The SDM program was established in concert with industry, and continued collaboration is essential to keeping the education relevant to students, research, and industry. Ben brings in a strong understanding of industry needs and skills in working across MIT. I am thrilled to have him as part of the leadership team for the SDM program.”

Linville-Engler is an SDM alumnus; he wrote his SDM thesis on a systems approach to genomics developed in collaboration with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. While a student at MIT, he helped lead the Sloan Healthcare and BioInnovations Conference, represented the SDM program on the Sloan Senate, served as a core instructor for the Designing the First Year at MIT course, and was awarded the 2018 SDM Award for Leadership, Innovation, and Systems Thinking.

In addition to holding an MIT master’s degree in engineering and management as an SDM alum, Linville-Engler holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder.

“Engineers by nature are problem-solvers,” Linville-Engler said. “I am excited to join the leadership team of this world-class program that expands on our students’ technical depth and provides them with a breadth of business skills and a systems thinking perspective, empowering them to solve today’s most challenging problems and lead the organizations of tomorrow.”

 

Webinar: Bryan Moser, Performance for Grand Challenges with Model and Experiment based Engineering Teamwork

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

The System Design and Management program is pleased to announce the return of the Systems Thinking Webinar Series with a talk by Bryan Moser, SDM Academic Director and Senior Lecturer. 

About the Presentation: MIT SDM’s new core curriculum has been developed over five years to integrate capabilities in system architecture, system engineering, and project management. The courses support the development of engineering leaders to navigate, frame, and analyze decisions in tradeoff across stakeholder, functional, and implementation strategies. Additionally, research has been launched — only recently feasible — on the performance of the “team of teams” required to solve complex engineering challenges. These research projects leverage both model-based systems methods and highly instrumented engineering teamwork experiments. This talk by Dr. Moser, the Academic Director of MIT SDM, will introduce the learning objectives and outcomes of the new SDM curriculum as well as an introduction to research on the underlying behaviors, architectures, and dynamics of teamwork for complex systems projects.

About the Speaker: Moser has been lead instructor and a member of SDM’s core faculty since 2013. 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. In the past, Moser has taught leadership development in MIT’s Technology and Policy Program (TPP). He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Frontier Sciences and earned his B.S. and M.S. 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 Leads Innovation Discovery Japan

Report by Hiroyuki Ikukawa, Ayano Kagami, and Koji Nakashima, SDM Fellows

IDJ students around MIT X Japan banner

1. Overview

What is IDJ?
Innovation Discovery Japan (IDJ) is a tech trek to Japan in which MIT students and researchers visit technology-oriented Japanese companies and research institutes. IDJ was established in 2017 by Japanese students at MIT to build networks between MIT and Japan by exposing MIT students and faculty to Japanese technologies and businesses. The third trek, IDJ ’19, took place January 21-25, 2019.

 

Demographics
IDJ’19 participants come from diverse fields and programs within MIT, which allows everyone involved to learn from each other as well as from the companies. Fourteen SDM fellows participated in IDJ’19, which was led by seven Japanese students from SDM. These SDM students (Hiroyuki Ikukawa, Ayano Kagami, Takuya Kashimura, Koji Nakashima, Yuki Soeda, Ryuichi Takagi, and Yasutsugu Tamura) organized company visits and managed logistics for the tour.

Ring chart showing student status of IDJ attendees Ring chart showing backgrounds of students on trek

Overall Schedule
We spent five days visiting companies in Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokyo. The participants divided into groups based on their interests; during the trek, we visited 10 companies in total. To meet the diverse interests of participants from different backgrounds, we selected companies from a variety of industries and in a range of sizes, from large, established companies to small startups.

2. Company visit report
ToyotaIDJ students around Toyota car
We visited the Tsutsumi manufacturing plant, home of the Prius and Camry production lines. We were able to see the Toyota Production System in action through the welding process, which used synchronized and densely packed robots, and the assembly process, which involved a largely uninterrupted flow of cars-in-the-making, materials, and people.

It was impressive to see how Toyota has optimized its processes, balancing the work of people and automated systems across the manufacturing value stream. We were also impressed by Toyota’s commitment to the Kanban and Jidoka culture that provides the foundation for Toyota Next Generation Architecture. This commitment has led Toyota to increase the modularity and flexibility of its systems to create more commonality across platforms and production sites.

Jinki-Ittai Student manipulating robot control system

Jinki-Ittai is a small startup focused on using teleoperated robotics to enable humans to lift and move heavy objects. Its system includes force feedback so that the human operator can actually sense resistance through the joystick—for example, if the machine is pushing against a wall. For visibility, a virtual reality headset is worn, broadcasting the stereo-vision setup on the head of the robot so that the user actually sees what the robot sees. In its current form, the robot has two halves: the torso (including two manipulators and a sensing head) and the leg section. After the discussion, students were able to see the robot, and some were even able to test out its controls.

Astroscale
Astroscale is a small aerospace company focused on cleaning up orbital debris. It has developed a chaser satellite outfitted with a magnetic capture mechanism that can rendezvous with a target satellite and ensure both burn up in the atmosphere. Astroscale is hoping to lead this field as the amount of end-of-life regulations regarding small satellites increases. Company leaders plan to expand their business once their chaser satellite has flown its first mission. We visited their engineering facility and were also able to chat with an MIT AeroAstro alumnus about his experience working at Astroscale.

teamLabStudents inside an art installation with projected light and floral motifs
teamLab focuses on creating interactive and immersive digital artwork with software. We were able to get insights into how the company develops ideas as well as the vision behind its work.
The name truly encompasses the effort to develop each display: It really does take a team of creators and visionaries to make digital art a reality. Now art is not only an outlet for artists but also for engineers who want to use their technical abilities to create and imagine.

 

 

3.Voice from participants
Garrett A. Hemann
IDJ didn’t just give perspective, it transformed perspective. There really is something unique about Japanese companies, and the opportunity to meet with over 10 different companies in one week is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The variety of technology ranges from space-debris-cleaning satellites, to re-engineered stem cells, to massive immersive interactive art installations. And, if that does not impress you enough, imagine a 600 km/hour train in a tunnel from Tokyo to Nagoya. Beyond the profoundness of these technologies, the trip itself was seamlessly executed. The organizers were gracious hosts and dedicated so much time to our daily and evening activities, which included lots of delicious food and fun hangouts.

Afra Ansaria
The only thing I knew about Japan before this trip is that people in Japan work very efficiently and they make excellent sushi. Although I wasn’t wrong about either of these things, I got to see a much larger picture of the country. The efficiency of people’s work can be seen in the country’s most basic system—the transport system. From the subways to the Shinkansen (bullet train), everything runs on time, down to the second. The Western phrase, “running late due to traffic,” is invalid in Japan. The companies that we visited exposed us to the startup culture that’s budding up in Japan. One can find Toyota’s concept of Jidoka, humanized automation, in almost every company that we visited. The ability to pay attention to detail is embedded in every aspect of Japanese culture, be it a startup or even food. Speaking of food, one can spend a whole month in Japan trying out different varieties of food. Everything tastes delicious and fresh!

Lastly, the trip was phenomenal because of the excellent work that IDJ organizers put into it. I’m very glad that I took the IDJ tour, and I highly recommend that people take this tour!

SDM students in traditional Japanese dress

SDM at MIT Space Week, March 13-15

MIT is commemorating the 50thanniversary year of the Apollo 11 moon landing with MIT Space Week, March 13 to 15. This series of events will celebrate the past 50 years of space exploration and consider the future of interplanetary travel. We are proud to announce that the System Design and Management (SDM) community will be well-represented at these events.

On March 13, two people with SDM ties will participate in a symposium hosted by the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AeroAstro) to investigate the legacy of the Apollo program and envision the next 50 years of human space exploration. The day’s events will feature panel discussions with NASA astronauts and engineers as well as MIT faculty and students.

Olivier de Weck, professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems, will moderate two panels; he has served as the head of SDM’s integrated core curriculum. George Lordos, SDM alum and current AeroAstro doctoral student, will deliver a lightning talk on Project HYDRATION, which envisions mining water from ice on Mars. (The HYDRATION project has also included collaboration from Integrated Design and Management alum Meghan Maupin and Roland de Filippi, a current SDM student.) Advance registration is now open to the MIT community; please register via the event website.

Two days later, on March 15, SDM alum John Rising will speak at the student-led New Space Age Conference. Rising will appear on the “Astropreneurs” panel during the Emerging Space Economy Forum, a discussion focused on the rise of the private space industry. Rising is the director of vehicle engineering at Relativity Space, a company working toward 3D printing orbital rockets. To register, visit the event website.

Many of the talks and events will be livestreamed over the internet. For more information, visit MIT Space Week.

James Pennington, SDM '18, discusses his team's poster at the Technology Showcase with fellow students.

SDM Spotlights Evolving Systems in Technology Showcase

James Pennington, SDM '18, discusses his team's poster at the Technology Showcase with fellow students.

James Pennington, SDM ’18, discusses his team’s poster at the Technology Showcase with fellow students.

Society today depends on networks of complex, interconnected systems—ranging from the miniaturized technology seen in wearable “smart” devices to the vast Internet of Things. On January 14, MIT System Design and Management (SDM) highlighted these systems and the work that goes into them in a day-long Technology Showcase held on campus.

The day began with a poster session featuring work done by SDM students in SDM’s integrated core class, which combines system architecture, systems engineering, and project management in a holistic approach to problem solving.

Last fall, students in the class were asked to explore technologies being developed in MIT labs and centers and to consider ways to combine those technologies using an integrated systems approach to problem-solving. At the showcase, students presented the ideas they came up with by studying technologies ranging from 3D printers to micro-thrusters.

For example, Tomas Egana SDM ’18 reported that he and his team, which included fellow SDM ’18s Jude Chen, Donald Lew, and Daniel Valderrama, found an interesting way to connect the world of biopharmaceuticals with research into food preservation. Half of the team focused on the Love Lab at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, which is working on sustainable biomanufacturing using the common yeast fungus to produce chemicals for medical applications. The other half investigated the Laboratory for Advanced Biopolymers, which has found that applying silk fibroin to strawberries and bananas creates an edible and non-toxic shell that can extend the shelf lives of these fruits far beyond conventional refrigeration. The SDM team then theorized that the Love Lab technique could be used to create a yeast variant that could produce silk fibroin so that the silk would not have to be sourced from silkworms.

In the afternoon, students were joined by representatives from companies across a variety of industries for a session in which company representatives pitched potential projects to students, seeking systems-based solutions to a range of business needs. Students then had the opportunity to sign up in teams to work on these projects, which will serve as part of SDM’s integrated core class for the spring term.

Students had dozens of projects from which to choose. Ashley Whitney, an SDM alum working at Cambridge Consultants, pitched a project to determine how to leverage digital health solutions such as smartphone apps or wearable technology to help patients manage post-operative care. On a broader scale, the Japanese shipping company Mitsui OSK Lines proposed that students apply the tools of the sharing economy and the Internet of Things to create an “Uber for shipping” that would help companies find optimal vessels and routes for their goods.

The students put in bids for the problems they wanted to solve, and in the end 22 teams were formed. To see how the projects proceed throughout the spring term, follow SDM on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates!

SDM Virtual Information Session, February 13, 2019

Please join us on Youtube for a virtual information session for MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program, which offers a master’s degree in engineering and management. You will have the opportunity to learn more about this flexible graduate program designed for mid-career professionals, discuss career opportunities, and hear from SDM Executive Director Joan Rubin and current fellows in the program.

A link to the Youtube live video will be sent to registrants in advance of the info session. For specific questions, please contact SDM Admissions at sdm@mit.edu.

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SDM Information Evening, January 9, 2019

Do you want to lead engineering, not leave it? Are you interested in tackling complex problems at a high level? Please join us at MIT for an information session on MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program, which offers a master’s degree in engineering and management. You will have the opportunity to learn more about this flexible graduate program designed for mid-career professionals, discuss career opportunities, and network with SDM alumni, faculty, students, and staff.

For specific questions, please contact SDM Admissions at sdm@mit.edu.

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SDM Virtual Information Session, December 13, 2018

Please join us on Youtube for a virtual information session for MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program, which offers a master’s degree in engineering and management. You will have the opportunity to learn more about this flexible graduate program designed for mid-career professionals, discuss career opportunities, and hear from SDM Executive Director Joan Rubin and current fellows in the program.

A link to the Youtube live video will be sent to registrants in advance of the info session. For specific questions, please contact SDM Admissions at sdm@mit.edu.

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SDM’s Alejandro Diaz Receives SHPE National STAR Award

Alejandro Diaz, a first-year student in the SDM program, has received the National Hispanic in Technology STAR Award from the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). The SHPE Technical Achievement and Recognition (STAR) award honors outstanding professionals for their dedication and commitment to advancing Hispanics in STEM careers. Alejandro, an Associate Technical Fellow at the Boeing Company, received the award for his outstanding impacts to the EVA/Spacesuit Design & Operations field and leadership of major technical projects at Boeing. We congratulate Alejandro on his recognition! For more information on the STAR awards, please visit the SHPE website.

Portrait of Rodrigo Diez

SDM Alum’s Company Wins Top Prize in MIT $100K Pitch Contest

A startup cofounded by MIT System Design & Management alumnus Rodrigo Diez has won the grand prize in the pitch portion of this year’s MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition.

The $100K, MIT’s largest annual entrepreneurship competition, features three main events— Pitch, Accelerate, and Launch. In the Pitch finals, 20 competitors have 90 seconds each to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges. This year’s competition took place November 6 in Room 10-250 at MIT.

Diez’s startup, Novo Space, won the $5,000 top prize with a pitch for its high-performance electronics designed for use in space. Jenny Collins, whom Novo Space is bringing onboard as chief operating officer, delivered the winning pitch at the competition.

“The space industry is changing very fast,” Diez said. “In the next few years we’re going to see some amazing new space applications — such as high-resolution video and global Internet provided by low-Earth-orbit satellites — and there are no products for them.”

The company’s goal is to supply backplanes/motherboards, daughterboards (CPUs, signal processors, carriers), and mezzanine cards to new space-focused businesses to help them reduce costs, time to market, and risk, Diez said.

Diez received his master’s degree in engineering and management through the SDM program in September and is now a PhD student in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He cofounded Novo Space in January 2017 with Facundo Jorge, a friend and colleague from the time he spent working at Invap S.E., an Argentine supplier of space technologies, prior to his arrival at MIT.

While at SDM, Diez worked as a research assistant at MIT’s Space Telecommunications, Astronomy, and Radiation (STAR) Laboratory. Associate Professor Kerri Cahoy, who heads the STAR Lab, now serves both as Diez’s PhD advisor and as advisor to Novo Space.

Diez said he has put SDM lessons to work in the company, notably working to address a number of “ilities” with its products — such as reliability and usability. “We’re creating a whole ecosystem of high-performance, high-reliability, and modular electronics,” Diez said.

Novo Space has already produced its first prototype, and Diez says the company plans to spend the next year fund-raising and finishing its products with the goal of putting devices into space by 2020.

He said the company has received a wealth of support from MIT’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, including assistance from the MIT Venture Mentoring Service and two rounds of funding from MIT Sandbox Innovation Fund.

SDM Alum Appointed to Cabinet of Rwanda

Paula Ingabire, SDM ’16, has been appointed to the cabinet of Rwanda by President Paul Kagame. Paula graduated from the SDM program in June 2018, having completed a thesis on electronic health care systems under the supervision of academic director Bryan Moser. Paula will serve as the Minister for ICT and Innovation. We congratulate Paula on her achievement!

SDM Information Evening, November 14, 2018

Please join us at MIT for an information session on MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program, which offers a master’s degree in engineering and management. You will have the opportunity to learn more about this flexible graduate program designed for mid-career professionals, discuss career opportunities, and network with SDM alumni, faculty, students, and staff.

For specific questions, please contact SDM Admissions at sdm@mit.edu.

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SDM Systems Night, October 25, 2018

SDM is hosting our third Systems Night! At this evening current students, alumni, and faculty will be able to engage with business and technology leaders focused on systems thinking, design and management. A panel of key speakers from a range of industries will give “lightning talks” on how they employ systems thinking and management principles. The evening will also feature time for networking and socializing with alumni, students, and faculty.

Scheduled speakers for this event include:

Aravind Asokan, SDM ’14, Senior UX Designer, Terrafugia
Stephen Boyer, SDM ’07, Founder and CTO, BitSight Technologies
Kate Cantu, SDM ’15a, Materiel Leader, PNVC Integration, U.S. Air Force
Karl Critz, SDM ’10, CTO, REsurety
Vikas Enti, SDM ’15a, Head of International Programs, Amazon Robotics

Speaker biographies are available on the event website. Systems Night is currently scheduled for Thursday, October 25, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., at the Samberg Conference Center located at 50 Memorial Drive in Cambridge.

This event is free and open to the MIT community. Registration for free tickets is available via Eventbrite.

SDM Virtual Information Session, October 16, 2018

Please join us on Youtube for a virtual information session for MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program, which offers a master’s degree in engineering and management. You will have the opportunity to learn more about this flexible graduate program designed for mid-career professionals, discuss career opportunities, and hear from SDM Executive Director Joan Rubin and current fellows in the program.

A link to the Youtube live video will be sent to registrants in advance of the info session. For specific questions, please contact SDM Admissions at sdm@mit.edu.

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Innovation Conference Includes SDM Alumnus

Karan Sachan SDM ’16 is a speaker at the Product Innovation Summit, scheduled for September 27-28 in Boston, MA. Karan is a Senior Product Manager at Nasdaq and the product lead for Nasdaq’s Data Integrity platform. The summit will provide a deep dive into design thinking models. For more information and to buy tickets, please visit the Innovation Enterprise website.

SDM Information Evening, September 20th, 2018

Please join us at MIT for an information session on MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program, which offers a master’s degree in engineering and management. You will have the opportunity to learn more about this flexible graduate program designed for mid-career professionals, discuss career opportunities, and network with SDM alumni, faculty, students, and staff.

For specific questions, please contact SDM Admissions at sdm@mit.edu.

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SDM Alumnus Runs Kickstarter for Tech Startup

Jack Yao SDM ’15 is running a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring a portable external laptop monitor to market. DUO, a “completely portable dual-screen laptop accessory” produced by Yao’s startup, Mobile Pixels, was completely funded in four hours.

Yao graduated from MIT in June with two master’s degrees—one in mechanical engineering and the other in engineering and management earned through System Design & Management (SDM). Before MIT, he worked in aerospace with GE Aviation. He started Mobile Pixels after interning in 2016 at Amazon, where he found himself in real need of a second monitor.

Yao developed a prototype mobile monitor and then, working with Shruti Banda SDM ’15 and Stephen Ng of Northeastern University, launched Mobile Pixels. The startup’s first product, DUO, is a light and portable monitor that attaches to the lid of a laptop with magnets and serves as a secondary display.

Mobile Pixels has received seed funding from the MIT Sandbox Innovation Fund and IDEA Northeastern. While the business has already reached its initial Kickstarter goal of $35,000, the campaign will run until July 24, 2018. Early backers can receive DUO monitors at a discount off the retail price.

For more information, please visit the Mobile Pixels site or the DUO Kickstarter page.

SDM Student Receives Robert B. Guenassia Award

Frederico Calil, SDM ’17

Frederico Calil, SDM ’17, has received a Robert B. Guenassia Award for 2018 from MIT’s Office of Graduate Education. This award grants $1,500 to a graduate student who has attended the École Centrale in France. Calil holds an MBA in project management from the Fundação Getúlio Vargas in Piracicaba, Brazil, and an MS in engineering from the École Centrale de Lyon in Lyon, France. Calil also has nearly 20 years of work experience in engineering, including 10 years with Whirlpool. SDM congratulates him on this award!

Recording and Slides Now Available: Renewable Energy Integration Opportunities in Chile

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Jorge Moreno and Donny Holaschutz, Cofounders, inodú; SDM Alumni

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

Date: Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Slides available here.

About the Presentation

Chile was one of fewer than 15 countries worldwide that had solar and wind energy production levels above 10 percent in 2017. Rapidly integrating these renewable sources into the power system has created significant challenges and opportunities for regulators, system operators, and market entities.

This webinar will explain how both public and private entities can take advantage of the transition now under way in Chile’s power system. It will cover:

  • challenges and opportunities created in the operation of the power system;
  • elements driving the need for flexibility to support renewable energy integration in the power system; and
  • key regulatory and policy challenges to incentivize a more flexible power system in the future.

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

About the Speakers

Donny Holaschutz is a cofounder of the energy and sustainability consultancy inodú with experience in both for- and not-for profit ventures. As an SDM graduate he holds a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT. He also earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

Jorge Moreno is an inodú cofounder with extensive experience in the energy industry in the United States and Latin America. As an SDM graduate, he holds an MS in engineering and management from MIT. He also earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

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.

 

Recording and Slides Now Available: Balancing Usability and Cybersecurity in IoT Devices

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Tod Beardsley

Saurabh Dutta, SDM ’15

Saurabh Dutta, Director of Experience Design, Rapid7; SDM Alumnus
Tod Beardsley, Director of Research, Rapid7

Date: Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Slides available here.

About the Presentation

The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing fast, with web-enabled devices now helping people to monitor their health, upgrade their cars, and control home heating—remotely. Yet, these advances come with increasing security risks. The technology research firm Gartner predicts that by 2020, more than 25 percent of identified enterprise attacks will involve IoT.

In this webinar, cybersecurity experts will discuss how to use systems thinking and related methodologies to reduce IoT risk while preserving usability. Attendees will learn:

  • what cybersecurity risks are common to IoT devices;
  • measures that can be taken to minimize those risks; and
  • how to weigh the tradeoffs between usability and security.

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

About the Speakers

Saurabh Dutta directs the experience design team at Rapid7. He has worked in design and usability domains across physical and virtual products for more than 15 years. He has a master’s degree in engineering and management from MIT as an alumnus of System Design & Management. He also has an MS in architecture and design from Mississippi State University and a BArch from Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra in India.

Tod Beardsley is the director of research at Rapid7. He has more than 20 years of hands-on security experience, stretching from in-band telephony switching to modern IoT implementations. He directs the myriad security research programs and initiatives at Rapid7. He has a bachelor’s degree in information technology management from Western Governors University.

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.