home > News & Events > News > Ignacio Vazquez Rodarte Receives 2021 SDM Student Award for Leadership, Innovation, and Systems Thinking

Ignacio Vazquez Rodarte SDM’20 is the 2021 recipient of the MIT SDM Student Award for Leadership, Innovation, and Systems Thinking. Ignacio’s extensive involvement with SDM and the broader community outside of MIT garnered recognition from program staff and his peers. 

Several nominators highlighted Ignacio’s contributions to the 2021 new student orientation for SDM, colloquially referred to as “boot camp.” As the team leader, Ignacio oversaw the full range of planning and worked closely with program staff to ensure that the new cohort was welcomed to SDM and MIT, incorporating team-building activities and facilitating introductions to the broader MIT and Cambridge-area communities. After the boot camp, he worked with fellow student Daniel Richards to coordinate the donation of Lego Mindstorms kits used in the team-building Design Challenge. SDM gave these kits to Fenway High School and ingenuityNE, a nonprofit organization that works with K-12 schools to prepare the next generation of technology leaders.

Beyond his work leading the SDM orientation, Ignacio serves as a teaching assistant (TA) for the SDM core and has completed the Graduate Teaching Development Track Certificate. His nominators speak highly of Ignacio’s encouragement, passion for MIT and SDM, and willingness to listen. Ignacio has also continued to serve as an active mentor and coach to the engineering community. He works with individual engineers through the mentorship program of the Royal Netherlands Society of Engineers and coaches a team at his former employer, TMC, that worked on a machine that manufactures face masks. Ignacio has also been invited as a guest speaker at Tec de Monterrey in Mexico and TU Eindhoven in the Netherlands.

“Ignacio has demonstrated a passion for systems thinking and has been a leader among his peers. He understood how critical it was this year, following the Covid disruptions, to create community and cohesiveness in the new SDM cohort. He offered support and encouragement to the team facilitating boot camp and made it an experience the incoming students will remember throughout their careers. Ignacio is an exemplary leader within SDM,” commented Joan Rubin, executive director of SDM.  

Additional finalists for the 2021 award included Nicholas Borge, nominated for his work as the president of SDM’s Student Leadership Committee during the Covid-19 shutdown and return to campus; Marcelle Durrenberger, recognized for her work as a community co-chair on the SLC and her participation in MIT’s Hyperloop III team; and Aparna Kulkarni, who led the Design Challenge during SDM’s orientation in August. 

Established in 2010, the Student Award for Leadership, Innovation, and Systems Thinking recognizes a student who has completed their first year in the program and demonstrates: 

  • the highest level of strategic and sustainable contributions to fellow SDM students;
  • superior skills in leadership, innovation, and systems thinking; and
  • outstanding ability to work effectively and collaboratively with SDM staff, faculty, students, alums, and industry, as well as in the greater MIT community. 

Nominees are put forward by students and program staff, and the System Design and Management program staff votes to determine the recipient.