SDM brings a new class into the action

SDM Class of 2008 and Director, Pat Hale

By Patty Eames, LFM/SDM Communications Assistant
February 1, 2008

Every January brings a new cohort of fellows to the System Design and Management (SDM) Program within MIT’s School of Engineering and MIT Sloan School of Management. Sixty new graduate students will spend the next 13 to 24 months completing this unique interdisciplinary curriculum. The SDM experience they will gain during this time is one that integrates core courses in system architecture, systems engineering, and system and project management, as well as engineering electives and specially designed management courses.

SDM Class of 2008 and Director, Pat Hale
(Photo by Barry Lynn Hetherington)

Already 27 out of the 60 students have earned at least one master’s degree in such disciplines as electrical engineering and applied computer systems management. Some students are on their way to earning a third. Of the group’s previous degrees (in more than 40 disciplines), the most common areas of study are mechanical and electrical engineering and computer science.

Although SDM studies are customized to individual educational and professional goals, the cohort overall gains a cohesive and holistic perspective of systems engineering and managing technical teams and projects through shared experience. Students participate as on-campus, commuter, or distance learners through digitally integrative classrooms and work groups throughout the program.

The 2008 cohort of SDM fellows benefit not only from their varied educational experiences, but from cross-cultural learning as well: more than half of the fellows are international students. Whether joining the program in Cambridge, MA, or participating at a distance, they come from more than 15 countries, including Costa Rica, Israel, and the Philippines. For example, Shailendra Yadav SDM ’08 grew up in the foothills of the Himalayas in Kathmandu, Nepal. He joins the program after several years of genomic medical research, both at the Broad Institute and at the Whitehead Institute, where he was involved in the Human Genome Project, www.genome.gov.

Ten women are members of the SDM ’08 cohort-the largest number of women in one cohort since the program’s start in 1996. Their experiences are as rich and varied as their male classmates’. From automotive engineering to biotechnology research and service in the U.S. Army and Navy, these women will add depth and perspective to the collaborative program. Cynthia Munoz, originally from Trujillo, Peru, says she applied to SDM hoping to complete a holistic program that will bridge the gap between the technology and management fields. Another student, Marcia Azpeitia Camacho from Mexico City, says she wanted to be a part of SDM, "to broaden my knowledge in systems design, improve my leadership skills, and have a unique chance to work and study abroad. These skills will help me become a key member of my organization and widen the scope of the contributions I can make through my work."