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Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The imperative for adapting a holistic, systems-based approach is rapidly being embraced to address the urgent and complex problems facing today’s world. The pressing concern is how to apply systems thinking effectively before it is too late.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s 2009 conference titled "Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges" will focus on the importance of addressing issues of infrastructure and context. MIT professors will frame the three-fold nature of systems thinking—technical, managerial, and socio-political—and outline how it is being applied in the critical areas of health care, energy, space, and the environment. Industry leaders will describe best practices that demonstrate the challenges they face within and outside their organizations, the benefits achieved through systems thinking, and the lessons learned that illustrate the need for a more holistic view of complex systems.

MIT has carefully chosen the speakers not only for their expertise in addressing complex systems challenges but also for their role leading the implementation of the day-to-day tasks that are producing results. During this two-day event, conference speakers will discuss:

There will be ample time for Q&A with speakers and networking with executives attending the conference. The aim of the conference is to provide practical information from multiple disciplines that will spark ideas for how to implement systems thinking in addressing complex challenges, whether in industry, academia, government, or the community at large.


Day 1 -- October 22, 2009 - Broad Auditorium, 7 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142

7:30 - 8:30 am: Registration and breakfast

8:30 am: Pat Hale, Director, MIT SDM Fellows Program; Senior Lecturer, MIT Engineering Systems Division; President, INCOSE
Overview: The Engineering Systems Imperative for Addressing Complex Problems – Energy, Space, and Sustainability

8:35 - 9:15 am: Olivier de Weck, Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems; Associate Director of the MIT Engineering Systems Division
System Design and Management and Engineering Systems:
Grappling with Intertwined Technological and Social Complexity

9:15 - 10:15 am: Michael Ryschkewitsch, Chief Engineer, NASA
The Art and Science of Systems Engineering

10:15 - 10:30 am: Break

10:30 - 11:30 am: Sharon L. Nunes, Ph.D., Vice President, Big Green Innovations, Systems and Technology Group, IBM
Smart Systems for Planetary Water Management

11:30 am - 12:30 pm: Lawrence D. Willey, Manager, Wind Conceptual Design, GE Infrastructure-Wind, Advanced Technology Operations
Gigawatt Wind Power: Supporting U.S. 20 Percent Wind Generation by 2030

12:30 – 1:30 pm: Lunch

1:30 – 2:30 pm: John Reid, Ph.D., Director, Product Technology and Innovation, Moline Technology Innovation Center, John Deere
Increased Productivity and Sustainability in Agricultural Production Systems

2:30 - 3:30 pm: Stephen Connors, Director, Analysis Group for Regional Energy Alternatives, MIT Energy Initiative
Regional Energy Sustainability

3:30 – 3:45 pm: Break

3:45 – 4:45 pm: Harvey Wilkinson, Product Line Manager, A123Systems, Inc.
Energy Storage Systems in Emerging Smart Grid Applications

6:30 – 9:30 pm: Dinner reception, Hyatt Regency Cambridge (ticketed event)

Day 2 -- October 23, 2009 - Broad Auditorium, 7 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142

8:00 am: Breakfast

8:30 am: Pat Hale, Director, MIT SDM Fellows Program; Senior Lecturer, MIT Engineering Systems Division; President, INCOSE
Overview: The Engineering Systems Imperative for Addressing Complex Problems in Health Care

8:45 - 9:15 am: Joel Moses, Ph.D., Institute Professor; Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Systems; Acting Director, Center for Technology, Policy, and Industrial Development
Framing Health Care Systems Challenges

9:15 - 10:15 am: Deborah Nightingale, Ph.D., Professor of the Practice of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems; Co-Director, Lean Advancement Initiative
A Lean Enterprise Systems Approach to Health Care Transformation

10:15 – 10:30 am: Break

10:30 – 11:30 am: Blackford Middleton, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., Partners HealthCare System, Clinical Informatics Research & Development, Center for Information Technology Leadership
Re-engineering U.S. Health Care with Health Care Information Technology – Promises and Peril

Please note that an announcement has been made that President Obama is currently scheduled to speak at MIT on Friday from approximately noon - 1:00pm on clean energy.

In order to accommodate this historic event and to enable our conference attendees to watch the President live via webcast at the conference site, we have made the following adjustments to the schedule:

11:30am - 1:00pm: Lunch will be available at 11:30 in Broad's lobby. Since food and beverages are not allowed in Broad Auditorium, if you wish to watch the President's speech you will have the following options:

       a. Eat lunch, then re-convene in the auditorium to watch the President via large screen projection.

       b. Eat lunch while watching the webcast on your laptop in the Broad lobby.

Noon - 1:00pm -- President Obama's speech is webcast.

1:00 – 2:00 pm: Stan N. Finkelstein, M.D., Senior Research Scientist, MIT Engineering Systems Division and Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology; Professor, Clinical Computing Division, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Senior Lecturer, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School
Henry Feldman, M.D., Instructor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Chief Information Architect, Division of Clinical Informatics, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School
Clinical Systems Issues in Health Care: Stroke Care Pathways in the U.S. and the U.K.

2:00 – 3:00 pm: Margaret V. Stringfellow, Ph.D. Candidate, Complex Systems Research Lab, MIT
Meghan Dierks, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Faculty in the Division of Clinical Informatics, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Director of Clinical Systems Analysis, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
High-Risk Operations in Health Care

3:00 – 4:00 pm: Joseph F. Coughlin, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer, MIT Engineering Systems Division; Director, MIT AgeLab
Getting Better But Feeling Worse: Why Health Systems Innovation Begins with the Patient as Consumer

4:00 pm: Wrap up

MIT System Design and Management Site