Jillian Wisniewski, SDM ’14: Systems Engineering, Operations Research, the US Army, and Two Kids

US Army Capt. Jill Wisniewski and colleagues in AfghanistanJillian Wisniewski, SDM '14 By Lois Slavin, MIT SDM Communications Director
November 5, 2013

She’s a US Army captain who earned a Bronze Star, a wife, a mother, and now an SDM student. Her name is Jillian Wisniewski.

A 2006 graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, where she earned an undergraduate degree in operations research (OR), Wisniewski chose to apply to MIT’s SDM master’s program because it offers technical depth, management breadth, and leadership skills through MIT’s No. 1 rated School of Engineering and its top business school, MIT Sloan. "I felt that an SDM education would enable me not only to apply systems engineering and OR concepts, but to effectively communicate those concepts to my future students as well," she said.

US Army Capt. Jill Wisniewski and colleagues in Afghanistan

Future students? Yes. After Wisniewski earns her MIT MS in engineering and management, adding "SDM graduate" to her list of accomplishments, she will also put "faculty member at West Point" on her resume, following in the footsteps of SDM alumni Nathan Minami, Kristina Richardson, and Joshua Eaton. She is slated to teach systems engineering during a three-year assignment, spending one of those years at the Army’s Operations Research Center.

"SDM will help me achieve my longer-term goals as well," she said, noting her plans to help significantly change the Army’s education for military intelligence analysts at user, operational, and strategic levels. "Intelligence personnel must sift through hundreds, if not thousands of data points to make sense of adversaries’ actions, yet they receive no training in basic data analysis," she explained. "Too often this results in misinterpretation and errors.

"So far I have been able to effect some change on a local level, but I would like to have a larger impact on the branch itself," she continued. "I believe that my SDM education, combined with teaching systems engineering and working at the Army’s Operations Research Center, will give me a solid platform to research, develop, and implement real solutions on a larger scale over the long term."

While Wisniewski is studying at SDM, her husband, Isaac Jahn, is attending the MBA program at Harvard Business School. High school sweethearts, they both attended West Point and served together in the United States and Afghanistan. Their oldest child, Anna, now 6, was born during their first assignment together at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. When both were deployed to Afghanistan, which is where Wisniewski received a Bronze Star for exceptional service as a squadron intelligence officer, Anna stayed in the United States with her paternal grandparents. The couple now also has a son, Isaac Edward, who is almost 2.

After managing to handle war-time deployment, Wisniewski said she is looking forward to a different type of adventure at MIT. "This is an experience that I am proud to share with my family. I am confident that the rigors of academics at MIT will provide a new set of challenges that will help us grow even stronger together and will ultimately enhance my contribution to the military."

Jillian Wisniewski,
SDM ’14