System Design and Management

The MIT Master's Program in Engineering and Management

2011 MIT SDM Conference on Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges

Addressing Complexity and Innovation in Healthcare, Education, and Product Development
October 24-25, 2011
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Wong Auditorium

Across industries and government organizations around the globe, a systems-based approach is increasingly seen as critical to addressing the urgent and complex problems we face today. For many organizations, the question is not whether to employ systems thinking, but how to apply it before it is too late.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's annual Conference on Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges, sponsored by the System Design and Management Program, will focus on addressing complexity and innovation in healthcare, education, and product development. MIT has carefully chosen speakers not only for their expertise in addressing complex systems challenges, but also for their role in leading the implementation of the day-to-day tasks that produce results.

MIT professors will frame the three-fold nature of systems thinking—technical, managerial, and socio-political—and outline how it is being applied in these critical areas. Industry leaders will describe best practices that demonstrate the challenges they face within and outside of their organizations, how they apply a systems-based approach, the benefits achieved, and the lessons learned.

The aim of the conference is to provide practical information from multiple disciplines that will spark ideas for how to implement systems thinking and innovation to address complex challenges, whether in industry, academia, government, or the world at large.

There will be ample time for Q&A with speakers and networking with executives attending the conference.

Confirmed speakers include:


  • Edward Crawley, PhD, Ford Professor of Engineering, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and of Engineering Systems; Codirector, Bernard M. Gordon–MIT Engineering Leadership Program; Cofounder SDM
  • Julian Goldman, MD, Medical Director of Biomedical Engineering for Partners HealthCare System; Principal Anesthesiologist, Massachusetts General Hospital "Operating Room of the Future"; Director of the Program on Medical Device Interoperability at MGH and the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT)
  • Thomas L. Magnanti, Institute Professor; Dean of the School of Engineering 1999–2006; Professor of Management Science and Electrical Engineering President, Singapore University of Technology and Design; Cofounder, SDM

From MIT

  • Steven Eppinger, ScD, General Motors Leaders for Global Operations Professor of Management; Professor of Management Science and Engineering Systems; Codirector, System Design and Management Program
  • Pat Hale, Executive Director, MIT System Design and Management Program; Senior Lecturer, MIT Engineering Systems Division
  • David Hartzband, ScD, Lecturer, Engineering Systems Division, MIT
  • Sahar Hashmi, MD, SDM alumna and current MIT Engineering Systems Division (ESD) PhD candidate
  • Richard C. Larson, PhD, Mitsui Professor of Engineering Systems and Civil and Environmental Engineering; Director, Center for Engineering Systems Fundamentals
  • Joan S. Rubin, SDM Industry Codirector
  • Warren Seering, Weber-Shaughness Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Systems; Codirector, MIT

From Industry

  • Malvern Atherton, Chief Design Engineer, Control Systems, Rolls-Royce Corporation, SDM alumnus
  • Devon C. Campbell, Head (Director) of Engineering and Systems, Novartis Molecular Diagnostics (MDx)
  • Katharine Frase, PhD, Vice President, Industry Solutions and Emerging Business, IBM Research
  • Doug Hague, PhD, Small Business Analytics Executive, Consumer and Small Business Banking, Bank of America, SDM alumnus
  • John Helferich, former Senior Vice President of R&D, Mars Inc.; ESD PhD student; SDM alumnus
  • Michael C. Little, PhD, Global Head of Diagnostics Development, Novartis Molecular Diagnostics (MDx)
  • Thomas Pelland, Vice President and General Manager, Air Management Systems, Hamilton Sundstrand, SDM alumnus
  • Irving Wladawsky-Berger, PhD, Chairman Emeritus, IBM Academy of Technology, and MIT Visiting Lecturer of Engineering Systems

We invite you to join us on October 24-25, 2011. Register here.

For additional information on the event or to become a conference sponsor, contact Joan S. Rubin, SDM industry codirector,

Conference Sponsors

MIT's System Design and Management Program wishes to thank the following for their generous support of the 2011 MIT Conference on Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges.

  • John Deere
  • Merck
  • Werfen Group
  • Global Product Design
  • WBUR Boston's NPR news station
  • Science Driven Management Consulting
  • The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values

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All information is accurate as of the date of posting and subject to change.

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