Author Archives: Naomi Gutierrez

Webinar: Steven D. Eppinger, “10 Agile Ideas Worth Sharing”

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Join us for a free webinar on Monday, June 17 at 12:00 PM EDT with Steven D. Eppinger, MIT Portrait of Steven EppingerProfessor and SDM Faculty Co-Director. Steven D. Eppinger is Professor of Management Science at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He also holds the General Motors Leaders for Global Operations Chair and has a joint appointment in MIT’s Engineering Systems Division. He is currently the faculty co-director of the System Design and Management program. 

About the Talk: Agile development has created a number of very effective practices through implementation largely in the software industry. Today, we are finding ways to adopt some of these agile techniques in other domains. This seminar will review a range of practices from spiral development in time-boxed sprints to various hybrids of agile combined with staged processes. With an eye toward application outside the realm of software, we will discuss how these techniques may be appropriately adjusted to suit specific development challenges. Of particular interest to the SDM community will be scaling agile processes to handle the planning and coordination demands of complex system development.


SDM Hosts MEMPC Design & Pitch Competition

MIT hosted the first-ever Design & Pitch Competition for the Master of Engineering Management Project Consortium (MEMPC) on April 12, 2019. The competition combined elements of design challenges for engineering students with the type of business pitch contest commonly held for MBA students into a single competition that challenged students to combine their engineering and business skills.

Student organizers with Rutu Manchiganti, center in striped dress

Student volunteers from the consortium—a group of nine universities that work together to promote degrees in engineering management, share best practices, and increase recognition of engineering management as a field—organized the preliminary stages of the competition and ran the event.

The event featured teams from seven of the consortium schools, including MIT, presenting concepts for a sustainable energy solution for a model city in an afternoon session. A panel of engineering management alumni judged the competition.

Rutu Manchiganti, executive director of MEMPC and an alumna of MIT System Design and Management (SDM), introduced the competition’s goals. “We designed this event to build community among the engineering management students across the schools in the consortium, to allow them to build their skill sets in both design and management, and to engage alumni with current students and the consortium as a whole,” she said.

Alumni judges included Dean Adams, a Dartmouth graduate with experience at IBM who currently leads a patent law firm; Mohit Daga, also of Dartmouth and a senior product portfolio manager at Dassault Systèmes; and Timothy Fu, director of product management at FirstFuel Software and an alumnus of Cornell. Three SDM alums also joined the judging panel: Carlos Perez Damas and Scott McCarthy, senior system architects at Shell TechWorks, and Mario Montoya, a regional lead for Siemens Power and Gas.

The judges posed as the board of MEMCo, a fictional company looking for a transformative plan to enable the imaginary city of Utopia to draw more than half its energy from renewable sources by the year 2030. The student teams gave multimedia presentations offering a variety of approaches to creating a long-term, sustainable, renewable energy portfolio for the city.

Team Gaia from Cornell, for example, highlighted a new technology that captures the vibration from wind passing office buildings in dense urban environments as an additional source of wind-generated power. Team Gaia, which had assistance from the Cornell Center for Technology Licensing, also included anaerobic digestion in wastewater treatment for heat generation in its plan. The team earned the “Most Sustainable” honor from judges.

SDM’s own Pareto Pioneers won the “Most Creative” award with a presentation focused on the complex flow of values in the system. The SDM team included plans for a software model that would build a tradespace for evaluating existing technologies.

The overall winner was 4 Guys Consulting from Duke University, a team that focused on solar farming and improving an existing energy grid by adding battery technology to better capture generated power to meet demand at peak times. Mario Montoya of Siemens noted that the judging panel was impressed by all the presentations, saying they were “fantastic.”

SDM congratulates the winners and thanks all the student teams, the organizers, and the alumni judges for joining us in Cambridge for this special event.

SDM Information Evening, June 4, 2019

Do you want to lead engineering, not leave it? Are you interested in tackling complex problems in your field with a systems approach? Please join us at MIT for an information session on MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program, which offers a master’s degree in engineering and management. You will have the opportunity to learn more about this flexible graduate program, discuss career opportunities, and network with SDM alumni, faculty, students, and staff.

For specific questions, please contact SDM Admissions at



Students try out Oculus technology

From Farming to Facebook: SDM Bay Area Tech Trek 2019

By Ajie Nikicio, Koji Nakashima and Ryuichi Takagi, SDM ’18

Every year, MIT System Design and Management (SDM) students visit some of the world’s most innovative and successful companies in the San Francisco Bay Area to learn about innovation, leadership, and systems thinking from industry experts. During the spring 2019 SDM Tech Trek, which ran from March 25 to 29, participants visited a variety of companies across multiple industries, including software, hardware, agriculture, and healthcare.


Students outside's building

The first company visited during the SDM Tech Trek was, located in Redwood City, CA. C3 is a software provider for rapidly developing and operating artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, and Internet of Things applications at the enterprise scale. Uma Sandilya, Vice President of Applications, gave a presentation on how C3 applies engineering and management skills to drive digital transformation for Fortune 500 companies. We also had an amazing office tour with SDM alum Jake Whitcomb, Director of Products. The visit concluded with a networking lunch with employees from several departments.

Sumo LogicStudents and staff at Sumo Logic

Sumo Logic is a cloud-based machine data analytics company that focuses on security, operations, and business intelligence use cases. Based in Redwood City, CA, the company provides log management and analytics services that leverage machine-generated big data to deliver real-time IT insights. SDM students heard presentations from Chief Communications Officer Aaron Feigin, founding Vice President Bruno Kurtic, Senior Director of Product and Management Michael Marfise, and Product Manager and SDM alum Angad Singh. After the presentation, we toured the office.

Blue RiverStudents and Blue River staff in front of a tractor in an open field

We started our second day at Blue River Technology, located in Sunnyvale, CA. This company has been developing See & Spray equipment using machine learning and computer vision. This technology is able to identify a variety of crops and weeds and precisely spray herbicides on weeds. The system continually improves by automatically checking its work as it operates. This smart technology can reduce herbicide costs by 90 percent and unlock the ability to use herbicide alternatives. We enjoyed interactive sessions with CEO Jorge Heraud and employees from several of the company’s key departments. Finally, we got some hands-on experience with the company’s products. Some of us even got to ride a John Deere tractor!

Bloom EnergyStudents in front of Bloom Energy's storage batteries.

Bloom Energy provides clean, reliable, and affordable electricity through its innovative fuel cell technology. We were welcomed by Senior Cybersecurity Engineer and SDM alum Adrien Laws, Senior Staff System Engineer Karthikeyan Sengodan, and Product Marketing Manager and MIT alum Mabel Feng. After a series of insightful presentations, we received a tour of the manufacturing facility from Operations Manager Gema Guillen. We learned that each Bloom Energy Server produces 200 to 300 kilowatts of power in a footprint roughly equivalent to that of half a standard 30-foot shipping container.

Potrero MedicalStudents with CEO Joe Urban and Potrero Medical staff

SDM fellows met with Potrero Medical leaders in their office in Hayward, CA. The mission of Potrero Medical is to help doctors transform patient care by building a predictive technology platform for the early detection of critical illnesses using artificial intelligence. We were introduced to the company’s Accuryn product by CEO Joe Urban. In addition, we really enjoyed meeting Vice President of R&D Rich Keenan, Head of Products Jeff Alvarez, Vice President of Strategy and Global Business Development Rebecca Lin, and Director of Growth Omar Khateeb.

OktaStudents and staff at Okta

Okta, in downtown San Francisco, CA, provides software services for identification that include a single sign-on solution that allows users to log into a variety of systems. We toured the office and attended a presentation by two product strategy managers, Jess Starr and Lindsey Bly. We learned that the company’s product goals include developing single sign-on, lifecycle and mobility, and API access management in a huge ecosystem.

Facebook and Instagram

Afra Ansaria gives a thumbs-up in front of a giant Facebook "Like" button Students try out Oculus technology

The fourth day of the trip was all about big tech. The first stop was Facebook’s beautiful, amusement park-like campus in Menlo Park, CA. We were introduced to some of the company’s more recent projects and products, including Facebook Connectivity, Oculus, and the new smart-home video-chat device, Portal. It was heartwarming to see SDM alumni Eric Xu, Alex Shih, and James Paul. We learned how Facebook defines different flavors of engineering and management within the roles of product manager, technical project manager, and engineering manager—and how the three work together.

The same day, we were also welcomed by Engineering Manager and SDM alum Yoav Shapira and his team from Instagram. Unfortunately, due to time clashes with celebrity visits, we were unable to meet at Instagram’s office. One of Yoav’s engineers said that working in a big-tech company like Facebook or Instagram is a great experience, noting that the very well-established software development tools help engineers to work more effectively.

GoogleStudents and Google staff at Google

The second stop that day was a must-visit company, Google. We were invited to the company’s Sunnyvale, CA, office, where we were welcomed by dozens of speakers, many of them SDM and MIT alumni. All of them worked on different projects at Google, including Google Cloud, YouTube Advertising, Waymo, and so on. Having so many speakers from diverse projects and roles within Google gave us interesting insights—especially on how we might proceed in our careers as technical leaders. Special thanks to SDM alum Na Wei for organizing such a great panel.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Students at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is a federal research institute for applying science and technology research to support national security. We visited the LLNL’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) in Livermore, CA. NIF uses lasers to heat and compress a small amount of hydrogen fuel with the goal of inducing nuclear fusion reactions. We toured with Henry Hui and Nicholas Muetterties, both SDM certificate students and LLNL affiliates. They explained how systems thinking is used to manage LLNL’s big projects, which involve many engineers and researchers. 

Overall, the spring 2019 SDM Tech Trek was a fruitful and unforgettable experience for SDM fellows. In addition to learning from a great variety of companies across different industries, students also enjoyed social events with local alums at wonderful venues around the San Francisco Bay Area. This year’s tech trek was a collaborative effort between SDM ’18 students led by Lisa Crofoot and Monisha Pushpanathan and SDM staff Rutu Manchiganti, Amanda Peters, Naomi Gutierrez, James Collins, Ben Linville-Engler, and Joan Rubin.

SDM Fellow Presents at Conference on Systems Engineering Research

Arthur Middlebrooks, a current SDM fellow, presented on his work with the Systems Engineering Advancement Research Initiative (SEAri) at the 17th annual Conference on Systems Engineering Research (CSER) on April 4, 2019. The conference is hosted jointly by the Stevens Institute of Technology and Virginia Tech and focuses on theoretical work in systems engineering and its translation to practical application. Middlebrooks’ paper, titled “Broad Utility: Architecting Flexible and Robust Systems for a Complex Operational Environment,” discusses research focused on the U.S. military and its operational environment, proposing a set of key design decisions for systems engineers and architects to employ when developing systems that need to respond to changing environmental conditions and handle disruptions without a loss in effectiveness. The paper also includes authors Donna Rhodes of MIT, Jeffrey J. Cipolloni of Draper, and Simon R. Goerger of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center.

Middlebrooks matriculated in the SDM program in August 2017 and serves as a Captain and Operations Research and Systems Analyst in the U.S. Army. He is a Systems Engineering Fellow at Draper and a graduate research assistant at the MIT Sociotechnical Systems Research Center.

To read the paper, download it here. SDM congratulates Arthur on this achievement! 

SDM Students Grapple with Complex Problems in Core Class

In the spring semester of the combined core class in systems thinking, SDM students put the skills and tools taught in the course into practice by partnering with sponsors to solve real-world problems.

This spring, students took on projects from a variety of industries, all of which offer challenges that systems thinking principles may solve. On March 16, students presented their midstream project updates to an audience of local and distance classmates as well as faculty and teaching assistants.

For the offshore platform repurposing project in partnership with Shell TechWorks, students developed a trade space of architectural options. To identify promising architectures, the system was modelled and plotted on a tradespace comparing the capital expenditure to the annual energy produced. Architectures on the Pareto Frontier of this plot are more likely to be economically feasible.
Image courtesy of Lisa Crofoot

The presentations revealed how students focused their projects to tackle something manageable within a single semester. For example, Lisa Crofoot presented her team’s work with Shell TechWorks on the reuse of offshore oil facilities, explaining that they chose to look at the possibility of using these facilities as hubs for renewable energy generation. This choice aligns with Shell’s transition from an oil company to a holistic energy company and gives the students a chance to focus their efforts on an in-depth analysis of the many factors going into the future transformation of these facilities. Crofoot showed the class her team’s morphological matrix and financial feasibility graphing and demonstrated how the team is mapping out areas of interest, stakeholders, and performance indicators.

In another example, Nestor Figueroa and Nick Dowmon described how their team zeroed in on a manageable project for the University of Massachusetts Boston Medical School, which is trying to increase and diversify the pool of patients recruited to its clinical trials. Figueroa explained that the team is focused on implementing a solution involving medical providers, because those providers are already trusted by the people that the medical school hopes to recruit into trials. In addition, working with providers offers patients the chance to participate in trials without interrupting their current programs of care.

Several presenters described the challenges they have faced getting their projects under way. Some teams, for example, reported having difficulty getting data from sponsors due to legal issues or a lack of understanding about what information would be needed for proper analysis. Brady Hammond highlighted his team’s trouble dealing with sources of information who are invested in the current state of affairs, such as contractors who have no incentive to support changes to the system.

Going forward, all of the teams will face issues and setbacks like these; that’s what comes with tackling real-world problems. We’ll provide further updates through the semester, leading up to the students’ final presentations in May.

Ben Linville-Engler Named SDM Industry and Certificate Director

MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program has named Ben Linville-Engler to serve as its new industry and certificate director. Linville-Engler brings a long track record of technical leadership skill to the role, along with strong connections with industry, particularly in the medical technology and biotech space.

As industry director, Linville-Engler will be responsible for growing relationships with companies across a wide range of industries to pursue opportunities for SDM research collaboration, identify and share best practices, and secure corporate sponsorship for SDM projects.

He will also lead the SDM Certificate in Systems Thinking, a career-compatible one-year program that utilizes core systems theory and complements the SDM master’s degree. Certificate students attend the regular SDM master’s core classes online at a distance while continuing to work full time. They also complete comprehensive capstone projects, applying integrated systems approaches to challenges jointly selected by the student’s company and MIT.

Linville-Engler joins SDM after spending almost 10 years at Applied Medical, a global medical devices company, in roles of increasing responsibility spanning the full product lifecycle. Dividing his time between California and the Netherlands, he led the development of the Voyant® Electrosurgical System and expanded the European organization, finishing as vice president of product development and engineering for Europe.

Linville-Engler also has experience working with medical technology and healthcare technology startups in the Boston and MIT innovation ecosystem, sharing his expertise in technology and product development as well as in quality, regulation, innovation, and business strategy.

SDM Executive Director Joan Rubin commented, “The SDM program was established in concert with industry, and continued collaboration is essential to keeping the education relevant to students, research, and industry. Ben brings in a strong understanding of industry needs and skills in working across MIT. I am thrilled to have him as part of the leadership team for the SDM program.”

Linville-Engler is an SDM alumnus; he wrote his SDM thesis on a systems approach to genomics developed in collaboration with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. While a student at MIT, he helped lead the Sloan Healthcare and BioInnovations Conference, represented the SDM program on the Sloan Senate, served as a core instructor for the Designing the First Year at MIT course, and was awarded the 2018 SDM Award for Leadership, Innovation, and Systems Thinking.

In addition to holding an MIT master’s degree in engineering and management as an SDM alum, Linville-Engler holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder.

“Engineers by nature are problem-solvers,” Linville-Engler said. “I am excited to join the leadership team of this world-class program that expands on our students’ technical depth and provides them with a breadth of business skills and a systems thinking perspective, empowering them to solve today’s most challenging problems and lead the organizations of tomorrow.”


Webinar: Bryan Moser, Performance for Grand Challenges with Model and Experiment based Engineering Teamwork

MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

The System Design and Management program is pleased to announce the return of the Systems Thinking Webinar Series with a talk by Bryan Moser, SDM Academic Director and Senior Lecturer. 

About the Presentation: MIT SDM’s new core curriculum has been developed over five years to integrate capabilities in system architecture, system engineering, and project management. The courses support the development of engineering leaders to navigate, frame, and analyze decisions in tradeoff across stakeholder, functional, and implementation strategies. Additionally, research has been launched — only recently feasible — on the performance of the “team of teams” required to solve complex engineering challenges. These research projects leverage both model-based systems methods and highly instrumented engineering teamwork experiments. This talk by Dr. Moser, the Academic Director of MIT SDM, will introduce the learning objectives and outcomes of the new SDM curriculum as well as an introduction to research on the underlying behaviors, architectures, and dynamics of teamwork for complex systems projects.

About the Speaker: Moser has been lead instructor and a member of SDM’s core faculty since 2013. He currently serves as associate director of MIT’s Strategic Engineering Research Group and is a project associate professor at the University of Tokyo and director of its Global Teamwork Lab. In the past, Moser has taught leadership development in MIT’s Technology and Policy Program (TPP). He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Frontier Sciences and earned his B.S. and M.S. from MIT.

About the Series

Sponsored by the System Design & Management (SDM) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges. Recordings and slides from prior SDM webinars can be accessed here.

SDM Leads Innovation Discovery Japan

Report by Hiroyuki Ikukawa, Ayano Kagami, and Koji Nakashima, SDM Fellows

IDJ students around MIT X Japan banner

1. Overview

What is IDJ?
Innovation Discovery Japan (IDJ) is a tech trek to Japan in which MIT students and researchers visit technology-oriented Japanese companies and research institutes. IDJ was established in 2017 by Japanese students at MIT to build networks between MIT and Japan by exposing MIT students and faculty to Japanese technologies and businesses. The third trek, IDJ ’19, took place January 21-25, 2019.


IDJ’19 participants come from diverse fields and programs within MIT, which allows everyone involved to learn from each other as well as from the companies. Fourteen SDM fellows participated in IDJ’19, which was led by seven Japanese students from SDM. These SDM students (Hiroyuki Ikukawa, Ayano Kagami, Takuya Kashimura, Koji Nakashima, Yuki Soeda, Ryuichi Takagi, and Yasutsugu Tamura) organized company visits and managed logistics for the tour.

Ring chart showing student status of IDJ attendees Ring chart showing backgrounds of students on trek

Overall Schedule
We spent five days visiting companies in Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokyo. The participants divided into groups based on their interests; during the trek, we visited 10 companies in total. To meet the diverse interests of participants from different backgrounds, we selected companies from a variety of industries and in a range of sizes, from large, established companies to small startups.

2. Company visit report
ToyotaIDJ students around Toyota car
We visited the Tsutsumi manufacturing plant, home of the Prius and Camry production lines. We were able to see the Toyota Production System in action through the welding process, which used synchronized and densely packed robots, and the assembly process, which involved a largely uninterrupted flow of cars-in-the-making, materials, and people.

It was impressive to see how Toyota has optimized its processes, balancing the work of people and automated systems across the manufacturing value stream. We were also impressed by Toyota’s commitment to the Kanban and Jidoka culture that provides the foundation for Toyota Next Generation Architecture. This commitment has led Toyota to increase the modularity and flexibility of its systems to create more commonality across platforms and production sites.

Jinki-Ittai Student manipulating robot control system

Jinki-Ittai is a small startup focused on using teleoperated robotics to enable humans to lift and move heavy objects. Its system includes force feedback so that the human operator can actually sense resistance through the joystick—for example, if the machine is pushing against a wall. For visibility, a virtual reality headset is worn, broadcasting the stereo-vision setup on the head of the robot so that the user actually sees what the robot sees. In its current form, the robot has two halves: the torso (including two manipulators and a sensing head) and the leg section. After the discussion, students were able to see the robot, and some were even able to test out its controls.

Astroscale is a small aerospace company focused on cleaning up orbital debris. It has developed a chaser satellite outfitted with a magnetic capture mechanism that can rendezvous with a target satellite and ensure both burn up in the atmosphere. Astroscale is hoping to lead this field as the amount of end-of-life regulations regarding small satellites increases. Company leaders plan to expand their business once their chaser satellite has flown its first mission. We visited their engineering facility and were also able to chat with an MIT AeroAstro alumnus about his experience working at Astroscale.

teamLabStudents inside an art installation with projected light and floral motifs
teamLab focuses on creating interactive and immersive digital artwork with software. We were able to get insights into how the company develops ideas as well as the vision behind its work.
The name truly encompasses the effort to develop each display: It really does take a team of creators and visionaries to make digital art a reality. Now art is not only an outlet for artists but also for engineers who want to use their technical abilities to create and imagine.



3.Voice from participants
Garrett A. Hemann
IDJ didn’t just give perspective, it transformed perspective. There really is something unique about Japanese companies, and the opportunity to meet with over 10 different companies in one week is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The variety of technology ranges from space-debris-cleaning satellites, to re-engineered stem cells, to massive immersive interactive art installations. And, if that does not impress you enough, imagine a 600 km/hour train in a tunnel from Tokyo to Nagoya. Beyond the profoundness of these technologies, the trip itself was seamlessly executed. The organizers were gracious hosts and dedicated so much time to our daily and evening activities, which included lots of delicious food and fun hangouts.

Afra Ansaria
The only thing I knew about Japan before this trip is that people in Japan work very efficiently and they make excellent sushi. Although I wasn’t wrong about either of these things, I got to see a much larger picture of the country. The efficiency of people’s work can be seen in the country’s most basic system—the transport system. From the subways to the Shinkansen (bullet train), everything runs on time, down to the second. The Western phrase, “running late due to traffic,” is invalid in Japan. The companies that we visited exposed us to the startup culture that’s budding up in Japan. One can find Toyota’s concept of Jidoka, humanized automation, in almost every company that we visited. The ability to pay attention to detail is embedded in every aspect of Japanese culture, be it a startup or even food. Speaking of food, one can spend a whole month in Japan trying out different varieties of food. Everything tastes delicious and fresh!

Lastly, the trip was phenomenal because of the excellent work that IDJ organizers put into it. I’m very glad that I took the IDJ tour, and I highly recommend that people take this tour!

SDM students in traditional Japanese dress

SDM at MIT Space Week, March 13-15

MIT is commemorating the 50thanniversary year of the Apollo 11 moon landing with MIT Space Week, March 13 to 15. This series of events will celebrate the past 50 years of space exploration and consider the future of interplanetary travel. We are proud to announce that the System Design and Management (SDM) community will be well-represented at these events.

On March 13, two people with SDM ties will participate in a symposium hosted by the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AeroAstro) to investigate the legacy of the Apollo program and envision the next 50 years of human space exploration. The day’s events will feature panel discussions with NASA astronauts and engineers as well as MIT faculty and students.

Olivier de Weck, professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems, will moderate two panels; he has served as the head of SDM’s integrated core curriculum. George Lordos, SDM alum and current AeroAstro doctoral student, will deliver a lightning talk on Project HYDRATION, which envisions mining water from ice on Mars. (The HYDRATION project has also included collaboration from Integrated Design and Management alum Meghan Maupin and Roland de Filippi, a current SDM student.) Advance registration is now open to the MIT community; please register via the event website.

Two days later, on March 15, SDM alum John Rising will speak at the student-led New Space Age Conference. Rising will appear on the “Astropreneurs” panel during the Emerging Space Economy Forum, a discussion focused on the rise of the private space industry. Rising is the director of vehicle engineering at Relativity Space, a company working toward 3D printing orbital rockets. To register, visit the event website.

Many of the talks and events will be livestreamed over the internet. For more information, visit MIT Space Week.

James Pennington, SDM '18, discusses his team's poster at the Technology Showcase with fellow students.

SDM Spotlights Evolving Systems in Technology Showcase

James Pennington, SDM '18, discusses his team's poster at the Technology Showcase with fellow students.

James Pennington, SDM ’18, discusses his team’s poster at the Technology Showcase with fellow students.

Society today depends on networks of complex, interconnected systems—ranging from the miniaturized technology seen in wearable “smart” devices to the vast Internet of Things. On January 14, MIT System Design and Management (SDM) highlighted these systems and the work that goes into them in a day-long Technology Showcase held on campus.

The day began with a poster session featuring work done by SDM students in SDM’s integrated core class, which combines system architecture, systems engineering, and project management in a holistic approach to problem solving.

Last fall, students in the class were asked to explore technologies being developed in MIT labs and centers and to consider ways to combine those technologies using an integrated systems approach to problem-solving. At the showcase, students presented the ideas they came up with by studying technologies ranging from 3D printers to micro-thrusters.

For example, Tomas Egana SDM ’18 reported that he and his team, which included fellow SDM ’18s Jude Chen, Donald Lew, and Daniel Valderrama, found an interesting way to connect the world of biopharmaceuticals with research into food preservation. Half of the team focused on the Love Lab at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, which is working on sustainable biomanufacturing using the common yeast fungus to produce chemicals for medical applications. The other half investigated the Laboratory for Advanced Biopolymers, which has found that applying silk fibroin to strawberries and bananas creates an edible and non-toxic shell that can extend the shelf lives of these fruits far beyond conventional refrigeration. The SDM team then theorized that the Love Lab technique could be used to create a yeast variant that could produce silk fibroin so that the silk would not have to be sourced from silkworms.

In the afternoon, students were joined by representatives from companies across a variety of industries for a session in which company representatives pitched potential projects to students, seeking systems-based solutions to a range of business needs. Students then had the opportunity to sign up in teams to work on these projects, which will serve as part of SDM’s integrated core class for the spring term.

Students had dozens of projects from which to choose. Ashley Whitney, an SDM alum working at Cambridge Consultants, pitched a project to determine how to leverage digital health solutions such as smartphone apps or wearable technology to help patients manage post-operative care. On a broader scale, the Japanese shipping company Mitsui OSK Lines proposed that students apply the tools of the sharing economy and the Internet of Things to create an “Uber for shipping” that would help companies find optimal vessels and routes for their goods.

The students put in bids for the problems they wanted to solve, and in the end 22 teams were formed. To see how the projects proceed throughout the spring term, follow SDM on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates!

SDM Virtual Information Session, February 13, 2019

Please join us on Youtube for a virtual information session for MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program, which offers a master’s degree in engineering and management. You will have the opportunity to learn more about this flexible graduate program designed for mid-career professionals, discuss career opportunities, and hear from SDM Executive Director Joan Rubin and current fellows in the program.

A link to the Youtube live video will be sent to registrants in advance of the info session. For specific questions, please contact SDM Admissions at


SDM Information Evening, January 9, 2019

Do you want to lead engineering, not leave it? Are you interested in tackling complex problems at a high level? Please join us at MIT for an information session on MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program, which offers a master’s degree in engineering and management. You will have the opportunity to learn more about this flexible graduate program designed for mid-career professionals, discuss career opportunities, and network with SDM alumni, faculty, students, and staff.

For specific questions, please contact SDM Admissions at


SDM Virtual Information Session, December 13, 2018

Please join us on Youtube for a virtual information session for MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program, which offers a master’s degree in engineering and management. You will have the opportunity to learn more about this flexible graduate program designed for mid-career professionals, discuss career opportunities, and hear from SDM Executive Director Joan Rubin and current fellows in the program.

A link to the Youtube live video will be sent to registrants in advance of the info session. For specific questions, please contact SDM Admissions at


SDM’s Alejandro Diaz Receives SHPE National STAR Award

Alejandro Diaz, a first-year student in the SDM program, has received the National Hispanic in Technology STAR Award from the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). The SHPE Technical Achievement and Recognition (STAR) award honors outstanding professionals for their dedication and commitment to advancing Hispanics in STEM careers. Alejandro, an Associate Technical Fellow at the Boeing Company, received the award for his outstanding impacts to the EVA/Spacesuit Design & Operations field and leadership of major technical projects at Boeing. We congratulate Alejandro on his recognition! For more information on the STAR awards, please visit the SHPE website.

Portrait of Rodrigo Diez

SDM Alum’s Company Wins Top Prize in MIT $100K Pitch Contest

A startup cofounded by MIT System Design & Management alumnus Rodrigo Diez has won the grand prize in the pitch portion of this year’s MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition.

The $100K, MIT’s largest annual entrepreneurship competition, features three main events— Pitch, Accelerate, and Launch. In the Pitch finals, 20 competitors have 90 seconds each to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges. This year’s competition took place November 6 in Room 10-250 at MIT.

Diez’s startup, Novo Space, won the $5,000 top prize with a pitch for its high-performance electronics designed for use in space. Jenny Collins, whom Novo Space is bringing onboard as chief operating officer, delivered the winning pitch at the competition.

“The space industry is changing very fast,” Diez said. “In the next few years we’re going to see some amazing new space applications — such as high-resolution video and global Internet provided by low-Earth-orbit satellites — and there are no products for them.”

The company’s goal is to supply backplanes/motherboards, daughterboards (CPUs, signal processors, carriers), and mezzanine cards to new space-focused businesses to help them reduce costs, time to market, and risk, Diez said.

Diez received his master’s degree in engineering and management through the SDM program in September and is now a PhD student in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He cofounded Novo Space in January 2017 with Facundo Jorge, a friend and colleague from the time he spent working at Invap S.E., an Argentine supplier of space technologies, prior to his arrival at MIT.

While at SDM, Diez worked as a research assistant at MIT’s Space Telecommunications, Astronomy, and Radiation (STAR) Laboratory. Associate Professor Kerri Cahoy, who heads the STAR Lab, now serves both as Diez’s PhD advisor and as advisor to Novo Space.

Diez said he has put SDM lessons to work in the company, notably working to address a number of “ilities” with its products — such as reliability and usability. “We’re creating a whole ecosystem of high-performance, high-reliability, and modular electronics,” Diez said.

Novo Space has already produced its first prototype, and Diez says the company plans to spend the next year fund-raising and finishing its products with the goal of putting devices into space by 2020.

He said the company has received a wealth of support from MIT’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, including assistance from the MIT Venture Mentoring Service and two rounds of funding from MIT Sandbox Innovation Fund.

SDM Alum Appointed to Cabinet of Rwanda

Paula Ingabire, SDM ’16, has been appointed to the cabinet of Rwanda by President Paul Kagame. Paula graduated from the SDM program in June 2018, having completed a thesis on electronic health care systems under the supervision of academic director Bryan Moser. Paula will serve as the Minister for ICT and Innovation. We congratulate Paula on her achievement!

SDM Information Evening, November 14, 2018

Please join us at MIT for an information session on MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program, which offers a master’s degree in engineering and management. You will have the opportunity to learn more about this flexible graduate program designed for mid-career professionals, discuss career opportunities, and network with SDM alumni, faculty, students, and staff.

For specific questions, please contact SDM Admissions at


SDM Systems Night, October 25, 2018

SDM is hosting our third Systems Night! At this evening current students, alumni, and faculty will be able to engage with business and technology leaders focused on systems thinking, design and management. A panel of key speakers from a range of industries will give “lightning talks” on how they employ systems thinking and management principles. The evening will also feature time for networking and socializing with alumni, students, and faculty.

Scheduled speakers for this event include:

Aravind Asokan, SDM ’14, Senior UX Designer, Terrafugia
Stephen Boyer, SDM ’07, Founder and CTO, BitSight Technologies
Kate Cantu, SDM ’15a, Materiel Leader, PNVC Integration, U.S. Air Force
Karl Critz, SDM ’10, CTO, REsurety
Vikas Enti, SDM ’15a, Head of International Programs, Amazon Robotics

Speaker biographies are available on the event website. Systems Night is currently scheduled for Thursday, October 25, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., at the Samberg Conference Center located at 50 Memorial Drive in Cambridge.

This event is free and open to the MIT community. Registration for free tickets is available via Eventbrite.

SDM Virtual Information Session, October 16, 2018

Please join us on Youtube for a virtual information session for MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program, which offers a master’s degree in engineering and management. You will have the opportunity to learn more about this flexible graduate program designed for mid-career professionals, discuss career opportunities, and hear from SDM Executive Director Joan Rubin and current fellows in the program.

A link to the Youtube live video will be sent to registrants in advance of the info session. For specific questions, please contact SDM Admissions at


Innovation Conference Includes SDM Alumnus

Karan Sachan SDM ’16 is a speaker at the Product Innovation Summit, scheduled for September 27-28 in Boston, MA. Karan is a Senior Product Manager at Nasdaq and the product lead for Nasdaq’s Data Integrity platform. The summit will provide a deep dive into design thinking models. For more information and to buy tickets, please visit the Innovation Enterprise website.

Ben Levitt and Katy O’Brien ’12: Product Design Project Yields Safer, Faster Security Checks

Ben Levitt and Katy O’Brien, both SDM ’12, have been featured on the Slice of MIT blog for their product OneBin. The bin, created as a class project for 15.783 Product Design and Development, offers travelers an easier way to get their personal items through airline security while also clarifying TSA safety requirements. Check out the article here!

SDM Alumni Newsletter – December 2017

Check out the latest edition of the SDM Alumni Newsletter! The newsletter is archived online here. This edition includes recaps of this year’s orientation “boot camp,” our first-ever Systems Night event, and the program’s attendance at the Grace Hopper Celebration, as well as a call for webinar submissions. To ensure you receive the newsletter as well as all our other alumni news, make sure you’re on the SDM alumni email list by emailing

SDM Alumni Newsletter – August 2017

Check out the latest edition of the SDM Alumni Newsletter! The newsletter is archived online here. This edition includes a recap of our commencement celebration, invitations to our fall events and webinars, an introduction to the Alumni Advisors Hub, and spotlights on recent SDM news. To ensure you receive the newsletter as well as all our other alumni news, make sure you’re on the SDM alumni email list by emailing

Sorin Grama ’06: Alum Navigates Systems Challenges

Sorin Grama, SDM ’06, has contributed an article to the SDM Pulse on his process in launching a startup for improving supply chain issues in the dairy industry in rural India. The article is available here on the SDM website. To submit your own article to the SDM Pulse, contact Lois Slavin, SDM Communications Director, at

SDM Alumni Newsletter – May 2017

Check out the latest edition of the SDM Alumni Newsletter! The newsletter is archived online here. This edition includes a recap of the spring Bay Area Tech Trek, invitations to our commencement celebration and upcoming networking events, and spotlights on recent alumni news. To ensure you receive the newsletter as well as all our other alumni news, make sure you’re on the SDM alumni email list by emailing

Sandro Catanzaro ’04 Named High-Tech Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year

SDM congratulates alum Sandro Catanzaro ’04 on his reception of the High-Tech Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year award as bestowed by the Immigrant Learning Center of Malden, Mass. Sandro serves as the Chief Innovation Officer for DataXu, which provides programmatic marketing solutions based on data science that draws on his research performed here at MIT. Please see DataXu’s website and the ILC’s press release for more information.

SDM Alumni Newsletter – March 2017

Check out the latest edition of the SDM Alumni Newsletter! The newsletter is archived online here. This edition includes some great memories and pictures from the retirement celebration we held for outgoing executive director Pat Hale, as well as a recap of the January Tech Showcase and notes on our upcoming Bay Area Tech Trek. To ensure you receive the newsletter as well as all our other alumni news, make sure you’re on the SDM alumni email list by emailing

SDM Alumni Newsletter – December 2016

Check out the latest edition of the SDM Alumni Newsletter! The newsletter is archived online here. This edition includes recaps of the August Boot Camp and Conference on Systems Thinking, as well as a letter from the Student Leadership Committee’s new co-chairs on alumni relations. To ensure you receive the newsletter as well as all our other alumni news, make sure you’re on the SDM alumni email list by emailing

SDM Alumni Newsletter – September 2016

Check out the latest version of the SDM Alumni Newsletter! The newsletter is archived online here. This edition includes a recap of this spring’s commencement and celebration, an update on the upcoming SDM Conference on Systems Thinking, and a letter from the SDM Director of Career Development and Recruitment, Jonathan Pratt. To ensure you receive the newsletter as well as all our other alumni news, make sure you’re on the SDM alumni email list by emailing

“A Whole-Systems Approach to Product Design and Development”

Join the 2015 MIT SDM Conference on Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges: “A Whole-Systems Approach to Product Design and Development” on Wednesday, October 7, at the MIT Wong Auditorium. Alumni are also invited to join pre-conference activities on the 6th, including Back-to-the-Classroom Sessions and the annual SDM Alumni-Student Mixer. We hope to see you there.

Chris Berardi SDM ’11 at the SDM annual conference.

SDM alumna Andrea Ippolito presenting at the 2014 MIT SDM Conference on Systems Thinking for Emerging, Evolving, and Established Leaders.

Pat Hale participating in Qi Van Eikema Hommes’ back-to-the-classroom session on “What Is Systems Thinking and Why Is It Important?” He is surrounded by alums.

SDM Alumni Present in Systems Thinking Webinar Series

Already in 2014, MIT System Design and Management (SDM) students and alumni have been featured 10 times in the popular SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series. Conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners, the series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.

Click below to read the titles, abstracts, and bios from your impressive colleagues.

Andrea Ippolito (‘11), Ph.D. Student, Engineering Systems

Ioannis Kyratzoglou (’11), Principal Software Systems Engineer, The MITRE Corporation

Asif Iqbal (’11), Power and Performance Program Manager, Apple Inc.

Ali Kamil (’12), MIT SDM and Harvard Kennedy School of Government Graduate Student & Dmitriy Lyan (’11), Senior Product Manager, Amazon Web Services

Jorge Moreno (’11), Cofounder, inodú & Donny Holaschutz (’10), Cofounder, inodú

Daniel J. Sturtevant (’07), Ph.D. & Jeanne Contardo, Ph.D., Independent Education Consultant, Senior Advisor, Business-Higher Education Forum

Daniel Mark Adsit (’13), Principal, Mergence Systems

Andrea Ippolito (’11), Ph.D. Student, Engineering Systems & Allison Yost, Ph.D. Candidate, Mechanical Engineering

Mona M. Vernon (’09), Vice President of Data Innovation Lab, Thomson Reuters

Andres Kutt (’11), Head Software Architect, Republic of Estonia

The series generally occurs twice monthly. View a complete listing of upcoming webinars and on-demand recordings.

If you are interested in delivering a presentation in 2014 or 2015, please contact Lois Slavin, MIT SDM communications director.


Join us for the 2014 MIT SDM Systems Thinking Conference for Emerging, Evolving and Established Leaders | October 8 | MIT’s Wong Auditorium | Register today!

Alumnus Esteban Montero, advanced analytics team lead at Chevron, returned to campus for the MIT Career Fair. Afterwards, he wrote, “I talked to several SDMs during the day. It was impressive to see how great they are. It really makes me feel proud of being a part of this group.”

Alumni Moise Solomon (‘00), Ioannis Kyratzoglou (’11), and Steve Ajemian (’12) enlightening SDM fellows about their exciting work at MITRE.

Attention SDM Class of ’11: Alumna Andrea Ippolito to Present at 2014 SDM Conference


Andrea Ippolito (’11), Ph.D. student in the MIT Engineering Systems Division, cofounder or Smart Scheduling, and coleader of MIT Hacking Medicine, will present “Hacking Leadership.” Visit to read Andrea’s bio and the talk abstract or to register.

We hope you will join us and personally congratulate Andrea on her Presidential Innovation Fellowship working with the Department of Veterans Affairs! 

Attention SDM Class of ’00: Alumnus Freddie Douglas III to Present at 2014 SDM Conference

Freddie Douglas III (’00), director of the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center, will present “A Systems Thinking Framework for Emerging, Evolving, and Established Leaders.” Visit to read Freddie’s bio and the talk abstract or to register.  

SDM Fellow Darshini Thiagarajan Victorious in 6th Annual MIT vs Harvard Consulting Case Competition

SDM ‘14 Darshini Thiagarajan helped an MIT team win this year’s case competition against Harvard. the first place winner, MIT Team 6 included: Chieze Ibeneche-Nnewihe, Shiou-chi Chang, Adam Weiner, and Darshini.

According to the competition website:

The Harvard vs. MIT Case Competition is a 10-day event co-organized by the Harvard Graduate Consulting Club (HGCC) and the Consulting Club at MIT (CCM), offering graduate students and postdoctoral fellows the opportunity to work in teams on a business case under the mentorship of consultants and industrialists. The case is a real-life business challenged posed by the senior management of a selected firm.

You’ll have to catch Darshini (to the right below) at the 2014 SDM Conference on Systems Thinking to chat about the winning strategy.


We Heard Your Feedback About Last Year’s MIT SDM Systems Thinking Conference

Thank you to those of you who attended last year’s MIT SDM Conference on Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges—and especially to those who completed the post-conference survey. Comments indicated that you wanted more presentations from faculty, with deeper technical information to help you continue your education at MIT. In response, this year SDM has developed preconference sessions for SDM alumni and company partners

These “back-to-the-classroom” sessions will be offered during the afternoon of October 7 (2 to 5 p.m.) in Wong Auditorium for SDM alums and others who want to learn about the latest MIT research in systems thinking. SDM faculty members Bryan Moser and Qi Van Eikema Hommes will deliver the presentations and there will be ample time for Q&A. Preregistration is required.

 The annual alumni-student mixer will follow these session, from 6 to 10 p.m. at Catalyst in Kendall Square. Whether or not you can join us for the preconference activities, we hope you will join us for the mixer. Please preregister

Major Josh Eaton Commands Elite US Army Special Forces Underwater Operations School


Josh Eaton (‘11), pictured above with his wife Ali and their two sons–Samuel, 5, and Jacob, 18 months, was recently promoted to Commander of the Special Forces Underwater Operations School in Key West, FLA. Two articles were written by Adam Linhardt of The Key West Citizen and the photo is by Mike Hentz/The Citizen.

Please join SDM in congratulating Josh!

Many thanks to Josh for sharing your news with your SDM family.For more information read:

“His return is a homecoming for commander,” Adam Linhardt, The Key West Citizen, 7/7/14, v138, no. 188, p.1, 8A


“West Point, MIT grad joins Special Forces Family,” Adam Linhardt, The Key West Citizen, 8/2/14, v.138, no 214, p 1, 8A

MEM Programs Consortium’s LinkedIn Group Surpasses 1,000 Members

The Master of Engineering Management Programs Consortium (MEMPC) is a small group of highly selective, forward-thinking, professional graduate engineering management programs dedicated to facilitating career progress and placement for a national network of students, alumni, and faculty in engineering management. The MEMPC LinkedIn group already has more than 1,000 members, and SDM alumni are eligible to join this rich professional network. If you haven’t already done so, join the MEMPC LinkedIn group today.

Also, be sure to check out the MEMPC alumni website at and sign up for that community as well.

First day of school for the MIT SDM Class of ‘15 masters and certificate students.

They are getting to know each other. Please join us in welcoming them to MIT.

SDM Fellows Featured in New Scientist

New Scientist featured an article on SDM ’13s Alex Pina and Sean Gilliland’s start-up, Avalanche Energy. Read it online at the magazine’s website. You can also learn about the systems thinking behind the company’s patent-pending double reflector solar thermal collector in an article published by SDM.

This object process methodology diagram shows a residential solar thermal water heating system, demonstrating the function of each system component.

Sabin Thomas (’13) and Machine Learning for Customer Interaction Data

NodeSpan, a startup that offers “machine learning with a beautiful [user interface] for customer interaction data,” did quite well in the MIT $100K. The team reached the semifinals and ultimately walked away with the $10,000 Thomson Reuters Data Prize. The startup is also one of 128 finalists out of 1,600 competing in the MassChallenge. Learn more at:

SDM Alum Andres Kütt Returning to Campus

Andres Kütt (‘11), will present “System Architecture, the Evolution of E-Governance in Estonia, and Lessons for Industries Around the World” on Monday, 7/21, 12-1pm as part of the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series.

Andres is currently the Head Software Architect for the Republic of Estonia and much of his in the e-governance/digital business space. Prior to matriculating at SDM, Andres was Chief Evangelist at Skype.

Andres will be on campus on Friday, 7/25 addressing SDM fellows from 11:30 – 12:30 and is planning to join in evening festivities and networking. Please let me know if you are interested in and available to attend, so I can provide additional details (

Commanding Officer, Captain Dennis Evans

On June 27th Captain Dennis Evans took command of the United States Coast Guard Research and Development Center in a formal ceremony. According to the news release:

The Change of Command Ceremony is a time-honored tradition that formally restates to the officers and personnel the continuity of the authority of the command. It is a total transfer of responsibility, authority, and accountability from one individual to another.

The Research & Development Center supports the Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security, other U.S. government agencies, and the world’s maritime community with the latest technologies available for Search and Rescue, Law Enforcement, maritime safety, environmental protection, and ports, waterways, and coastal security. The Research & Development Center’s everyday mission ensures each Coast Guard unit has the equipment, training, and policies necessary to fulfill the service’s ever-expanding set of missions.

Please join SDM in congratulating Dennis. Many thanks to Dennis for sharing your news with us.

Khalid Al-Ahmed Moves into New Role in the World Economic Forum


After graduating Khalid Al-Ahmed returned to Saudi Arabia and Saudi Aramco. He joined the Corporate Planning department as an economy and energy analyst. While with the company Khalid was chosen as a Young Leaders Advisory Board member, an elite group of employees who engage top management on a range of topics and help connect young employees to the top decision makers and the CEO. 

This June, Khalid moved, with his family, to Geneva, Switzerland. There he started a “secondment assignment” with the World Economic Forum as manager of Knowledge Management and Integration with Energy Industries.

Please join SDM in wishing Khalid and his family continued success and all the best in their new home. Thank you for sharing your news with us, Khalid!

SDM Pulse Spring 2014 Edition Is Now Available on the SDM website.


Brigham and Women’s Hospital Innovation Hub hosts a successful “Shark Tank” Pitch-Off

2 SDMs & 1 LGO = Leaders of BigDataExplorers@MIT

Rohan Kulkarni (’13), president of BigDataExplorers@MIT recently announced the new leadership for the group he founded. Rohan graduated this June and left the group in good hands. The leaders of BigDataExplorers@MIT for the upcoming academic year will be Jim Barkley (’14) and Daniel Burseth (LGO) as the co-presidents; Ilias Hamdouch (’14) will be the treasurer of the club.

Jim Barkley is currently an SDM fellow and a principal software systems engineer at The MITRE Corporation. His areas of interests are diverse and include open-source software, open hardware, big data, cyber-physical systems, complexity, agile software development, and wearables, to name a few.

Ilias Hamdouch, another SDM fellow, previously consulted with governments and enterprise customers on development strategies in renewable energy and in the information communications technology markets in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region. Ilias’ interests include open-source software, network science, predictive analytics, and collective intelligence to support public-private partnerships locally and globally that can overcome society’s most stubborn problems in fields including energy, environment, healthcare, education, employment, and poverty.

INCOSE Symposium 2014—Join Us If You Can!

The International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) 2014 International Symposium will be held June 30–July 3, in Las Vegas. Pat Hale and I are planning to be there, with Pat attending sessions and socials while I promote SDM in the exhibit area. I bet we’ll both enjoy the trip.

If you plan to attend, please let us know so that we can look out for you and perhaps organize an SDM dinner.

Commencement 2014

Please join the SDM program staff in congratulating those who graduated this year and celebrated on June 6, 2014.

Below is a slideshow of the day. All quotes are from MIT President L. Rafael Reif’s charge to the graduates. Please visit  to view the prepared text in its entirety [cited as (RR, 6/6/14)].

All photos are courtesy of Alex Sanchez, ‘13.

The MIT community gathers to celebrate the 148th Commencement.

 *Note: The below excerpt is from a section of Reif’s speech in which he gives “the world some instructions for [graduates’] care and feeding.”

“MIT Graduates are fairly exotic: Only around 130,000 of them exist in the wild. They vary widely in appearance, although over time, they do tend to acquire bright red jackets. But they all share certain powerful instincts.” (RR, 6/6/14)

Celebrants gather outside of E62, the “new” Sloan building.


*“QUESTION: I want my New MIT Graduates to perform at the peak of their abilities. What can I use to motivate them?

ANSWER: You can try money. That works, up to a point. But if you really want to see how high your New MIT Graduates can jump — give them an opportunity to change the world.” (RR, 6/6/14)

*Note: The above excerpt is from a section of Reif’s speech in which he gives “the world some instructions for [graduates’] care and feeding.”

The SDM party is hosted at the Liberty Hotel, formerly a prison, where grads celebrate freedom from the pressure of the Thesis.


“We need your vision to steer around obstacles, your passion to accelerate our progress toward important goals, and your wisdom to put the brakes on humanity’s most destructive forces.” (RR, 6/6/14)


Pat Hale addresses attendees with some heartfelt remarks.


“Whatever road you choose to travel, I want you to reject the idea that what you see in front of you is the best that we human beings can do. I want you to see the status quo as nothing more than the beta release…I want you to hack the world, until you make the world a little more like MIT. More daring and more passionate. More rigorous, playful, and ambitious. More humble, more respectful, more generous, and more kind.” (RR, 6/6/14)


SDM Significant Others—some are both SOs and alumni


“To everyone who has come here this morning to celebrate our graduates — welcome to MIT! And to the parents and families of today’s graduates — congratulations to you as well! For you, this day is the joyful result of years of serious effort, loving support, and sacrifice. Please accept our gratitude and admiration.” (RR, 6/6/14)

Current and graduating fellows gather for a group shot.


“So now go out there. Join the world. Find your calling. Solve the unsolvable. Shape the future. Drive society onto the high road. And you will continue to make your family, including your MIT family, proud.” (RR, 6/6/14)

Save the Dates!
 October 7 & 8 for SDM Conference Activities

Back-to-the-classroom sessions will be offered during the afternoon of October 7 for SDM alums who want to learn about the latest MIT research in systems thinking. These will be delivered by SDM faculty members Bryan Moser and Qi Van Eikema Hommes. Please register.

The annual SDM Alumni-Student Mixer will take place Tuesday, October 7, from 6-10 p.m. at Catalyst in Technology Square. Please register.

The 2014 MIT SDM Conference on Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges
 is scheduled for Wednesday, October 8, 2014. This year’s topic is
Systems Thinking for Emerging, Evolving, and Established Leaders.
 Details and registration.

An SDM Information Evening will be held Wednesday, October 8, from 6-9 p.m. Please check for details.

Doug Hague, Chief Analytics Officer at Bank of America Merchant Services, Featured in Sloan Management Review

In an interview for MIT Sloan Management Review, Doug Hague (’99), chief analytics officer for Bank of America Merchant Services, discusses his role in making strategic business decisions. Hague has “one of the first analytics roles to report directly to the CEO at Bank of America Merchant Services,” according to the article by Renee Boucher Ferguson.

SDM Alumni & Business Cofounders Discuss Energy and Sustainability

Jorge Moreno (’11) and Donny Holaschutz (’10) cofounded inodú and have been collaborating on “a general plan of action for energy and sustainability solutions that can be customized and applied across industries.” In their April 7 webinar, the two also spoke about specific examples in Chile. The presentation and slides are available on demand.

SDM Information Evening Success

On Wednesday, April 2, SDM hosted an Information Evening at the Boston Marriott Cambridge hotel to introduce prospective students to the program. Thirteen out of 20 registrants attended. If you know someone who would make a good candidate for MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) program, please keep an eye out for future Information Evening sessions and feel free to direct your colleagues to the Virtual Information Session—available on demand.

San Francisco Bay Area Tech Trek 2014

During the week of March 23-28, 21 SDM students, three other staff members, and I visited California’s San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley for a Tech Trek. We visited App Dynamics, Google Ventures, Intuit, Palantir, Salesforce, SanDisk, Tesla, and Yelp—eight companies in four days. We also carved out time to mingle with SDM alumni at a private event held at Picchetti Winery in Cupertino. We were fortunate that Wassim Bassalee (’09), Deep Bhattacharjee (’07), Harish Doddala (’12), Cheri Markt (’09), Cynthia Munoz (’08), Abhijith Neerkaje (’12), Varun Parmar (’04), and Leena (’11) & Aravind (’10) Ratnam were all able to join us at the mixer. We also saw Karthik Malli Mohan (’08) at SanDisk. We would like to extend special thanks to those who helped us along the way, especially Abhijith, who ensured that we were able to meet with top leaders at SanDisk and Sam Chow (‘05), who came to the info session.

If you didn’t receive email invitations to the mixer and live in the area, please review your profile, especially your preferred address, in the Virtual Community. If you encounter any difficulties, send me an email.


Alumni-Student Mixer at Picchetti Winery. Thank you to everyone who joined us!

Thank you, Abhijith, for a wonderful visit. 

Brainstorming innovations at Intuit. We’ll have to see if they implement any of our ideas. 

A taste of the San Francisco city life…

Taking in the West Coast work culture…

Annual Summer Shack Social

Although I wasn’t able to attend this year’s event, I heard it was a good one. Apparently, the Summer Shack has been remodeled and the flow was much better for our group. With almost 150 anticipated guests, the SDM community took over the entire main space. Many of the staff attended with their families, as did a number of alumni. Some who indicated they were planning to attend included: Chris Berardi, (’11), Andy Campanella (’11), Karl Critz (’10), Stephen Friedenthal (’04), Leigh Gautreau (’08), Dev Goyal (’10), Sunish Gupta (’09), Mike Khusid (’08), Ioannis Kyratzoglou (’11), Brian London (’10), Alvaro Madero (’12), Ofri Marcus (’08), Jean-Baptiste Nivoit (’11), Maya Olsha-Yehiav (’08), Andrew “Ozz” Oswald (’11), Victor Piper (’11), Charbel Rizk (’08), Fady Saad (’11), and Emad Zand (’08). It looks as if a few SDM ’08s made the event a mini reunion. I really wish I had been there.

Alumni Come Back to Campus to Share Wisdom

Alumni Victor Piper (’11), Karl Critz (’10), Fady Saad (’11), and Mike Khusid (’08) participated in a panel discussion organized by current fellow Jim Barkely . Moderated by Matt Kressy, senior lecturer in the MIT Engineering Systems Division, the panel shared life experiences and career advice with an eager audience of current students.

SDM Alumnus Troy Hamilton Elected New Alumni Co-chair of the MEM PAC

In accordance with the Master of Engineering Management Programs Alumni Council (MEM PAC) constitution, annual voting has occurred for the alumni co-chair position. Troy Hamilton, SDM ’97, will assume responsibilities immediately with the assistance of MEMPAC Founding Alumni Chair Adam Detwiler.

Hamilton has been an active member of the MEM program’s alumni council for approximately a year. He initially attended a networking event in New York City and later became a regional planner. Hamilton joined the national council for biweekly conference calls and quickly identified areas in which he would have positive impact. He created a communications subcommittee and developed a strategy in which the national council supports regional groups through a centralized communications database, invitation templates, and other tools. Hamilton’s greatest contribution, to date, is the design and development of, a hub for the MEMPC alumni network, where regional information, a calendar of events, ways to get involved, and more are posted. Hamilton and Detwiler have been collaborating closely over the past few months, and Hamilton even presented the council’s 2014 strategy and budget proposal to the MEMPC leadership in November.

For more information, contact Troy Hamilton at

SDM is the pinnacle of my education.

Christine Meier

Alumni Connect

I’m very excited to announce that we’ve completed phase II of the Alumni Connect initiative.  We scoured LinkedIn to update alumni profiles. It was a manual process completed one alumnus at a time for over 725 alumni.

Many thanks to everyone who helped, especially the original Alumni Connect committee, Chris Bates, and Steven Derocher (who assisted with the data upload).

Please be sure to update your profile in the Virtual Community.