The MIT Master's Program in Engineering and Management
Women in SDM (WiSDM) is a student-focused organization, conceived and led by women in MIT's System Design and Management (SDM) program. Its mission is to empower female leaders and to enhance the ongoing learning experience for SDM students and alums. WiSDM's five-year goal is to achieve a balanced SDM cohort.
In 2011, in order to build and strengthen its foundation, WiSDM focused on designing and implementing several initiatives to reach out to women who have an interest in engineering and management. These efforts included:
In addition, two women from the 2011 SDM cohort, Andrea Ippolito and Melissa Rosen (WiSDM President) were nominated for the 2011 SDM Student Award for Leadership, Innovation, and Systems Thinking. Ippolito is Co-Chair of the Sloan BioInnovations Conference and Co-Director of the MIT 100K Accelerate Contest. Another WiSDM leader, SDM '11 Tina Srivastava, is a mentor for GEL and organizer for the 2012 SWE Regional Conference for professionals and collegiate members which was hosted by MIT.
WiSDM's major initiatives for 2012 include the following:
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to get involved.
Prior to the start of the 2011 annual MIT SDM Conference on Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges, WiSDM members welcomed over 30 early-to-mid-career industry women to a "Breakfast with Engineering Leaders" at the MIT Faculty Club. Deborah Nightingale, who is a Professor of the Practice of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems, the Director of the Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development, and Co-Director of the MIT Lean Advancement Initiative, delivered a keynote presentation.
Professor Deborah Nightingale delivered a keynote address at WiSDM's "Breakfast for Engineering Leaders" in October, 2011
Photo by Alex Thomas, SDM '11
Professor Nightingale spoke about the challenges and rewards of a career that combines engineering and management, as well as the value of understanding and applying systems thinking. She described her beginnings as a computer scientist in her hometown of Dayton, Ohio, and her path to MIT via the several senior executive positions she held at Allied Signal Engines.
SDM '11 Tina Srivastava welcomes guests at WiSDM's "Breakfast for Engineering Leaders"
Photo by Alex Thomas, SDM '11
Professor Nightingale also shared several lessons learned along the way. Perhaps the most important of these lessons was that "Systems thinking works everywhere." She explained that her background in systems engineering and her broad-based perspective in engineering and management enabled her to navigate across departments by thinking holistically about the people, processes, information, and technology involved. Her training has helped her to balance competing objectives while she held leadership positions in operations, engineering, and program management.
Other insights Nightingale provided included a discussion on the tendency of engineers to resist change and how the soft stuff is really the hard stuff. She stressed that engineers often get caught up with methods and design and forget that people are needed for implementation. She emphasized the importance of understanding workplace culture in order to better elicit and manage sustainable change.
Professor Nightingale concluded by sharing her views regarding the importance of having passion for one's work, asking for opportunities to broaden your experience, networking, and finding work-life balance.