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Thursday, November 16, 2023
6:00 – 9:00 PM
Wong Auditorium, Tang Center
70 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA

Join MIT’s System Design and Management for an evening of connection and community.

Our fall 2023 Systems Night will bring together speakers from government and industry for a panel discussion on systems engineering organizations. We will also present two awards: the John Helferich Award for Excellence in the Systems Community at MIT, and the SDM Student Award for Leadership, Innovation, and Systems Thinking. The evening will also include time for networking and a Q&A with our panelists. We hope you’ll be able to join us!

Speakers and Moderator

Megan Mitchell

Headshot of Megan Mitchell

Megan is a Senior Manager of Manipulation Hardware and Systems at Amazon Robotics, where she has adapted traditional systems engineering best practices to align with the speed of Amazon development. She has over 20 years of experience that spans robotics, space systems, navigation algorithms, and human behavior understanding. Megan’s past experiences include Draper Laboratory and CyPhy Works. She is energized by engaging with stakeholders to imagine novel, user-centered capabilities; translating the vision to an achievable plan; architecting systems and products; and building, managing, and motivating highly capable and diverse teams through all phases of the development lifecycle. Megan holds an M.S. in Aero/Astro from MIT, an M.S. in Engineering Management from Tufts, and a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. 

Robert Plummer

Robert Plummer chairs the Systems Engineering Board at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), which is responsible for maintaining and expanding the systems engineering discipline in support of delivering trained practitioners to executing programs. He is also the Chief Engineer for Advanced Photon Technologies (APT) within the NIF & Photon Science Directorate and is the Project Engineer for the MEC petawatt class, rep-rated laser upgrade being developed for the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory’s Linac Coherent Light Source beamline. He holds a Professional Engineer license in mechanical engineering and completed a graduate certificate in System Design & Management from MIT. He also received his MS in structural engineering from Stanford University and has a BS in civil and environmental engineering from Rice University.

J. Robert Wirthlin

J. Robert Wirthlin is the Senior Technical Leader for Systems Engineering at Ford Motor Company, where he drives implementation of effective, modern systems engineering practice, tools, and methods into Ford and its culture through engagement, empowerment, and teaching. He brings technical acumen from his engineering background to his leadership of diverse teams both small and large, with past experience at General Motors and as both an officer, systems engineer, leader, and a professor for the U.S. Air Force. Robb is an alum of the System Design and Management program and holds a Ph.D. in engineering systems from MIT as well as a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy. 

Moderator: Dr. Afreen Siddiqi

Dr. Afreen Siddiqi is a Research Scientist in the department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT and an adjunct lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School.  She is motivated about addressing urgent problems of sustainable resource use, development of sufficient and smart infrastructure, and equitable use of technology for improving human well-being and the natural environment. She has co-authored a book and over 90 publications in leading scientific and technical journals. She has been a recipient of the Amelia Earhart Fellowship, Richard D. DuPont Fellowship, and the Rene H. Miller Prize in Systems Engineering.

Dr. Siddiqi holds an S.B. in Mechanical Engineering, an S.M. in Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a Ph.D. in Aerospace Systems, all from MIT.

About Systems Night

Since 2017, Systems Night has brought together current students, alumni, faculty, and local industry leaders for evenings that feature new ideas and personal stories about systems thinking. Systems thinkers embrace the challenge of solving interdisciplinary and inter-industry problems in an increasingly complex world. With programming including lightning talks from a range of distinguished speakers and chances for networking and discussion, these events offer an opportunity for the entire SDM and MIT community to share their thoughts on solving today’s challenges with a systems approach.