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The integrated team project is part of a nine-month core course on the foundations of systems architecture (SA), systems engineering (SE) and project management (PM). In these projects, teams apply systems thinking and methods to key decisions for the design and implementation of particular technologically enabled systems. These team projects run for 4 months, beginning in January and finishing in May. 

Industry and government organizations are encouraged as SDM Partners to prepare a proposal to pitch, and to support these projects. The proposal should consider a problem rather than an anticipated solution. Not all proposals are selected. Students vote on preferred topics, from which teams of 4 to 5 are formed.

Types of Projects

Projects must involve a technical system to be designed and developed; however, there is flexibility in the type of acceptable projects. SDM instructors will work with Partners to refine proposals. Potential options include:

  • Bringing a promising new cutting-edge technology from the lab to market 
  • Enhancing an existing product by infusing one or more new technologies
  • Proposing a next-generation architecture or assessing threats to the dominant design

Projects should be non-trivial and involve a complex technical system with significant societal, technological or programmatic challenge. Projects should have a non-obvious answer: projects supporting existing designs with no decision at stake will be less likely to be adopted. Consulting projects, business models, organizational design, process improvement, and portfolio pruning projects are not acceptable proposals at this time.

If data is core to the project, data shall be supplied by the Partner, pre-packaged, and available for student team use in a university course setting, by Jan. 9, 2024. The team projects are part of a course, and thus are not sponsored research. It is not appropriate to require a contract, specific deliverable or tool, nor to require any agreement (e.g. a non-disclosure agreement).

Partner Commitment

Partners designate one “mentor” as the point of contact within the company, who will both provide regular feedback, as well as coordinate any other internal company resources and data in support of the project.

Each team will coordinate with MIT and SDM’s Partner mentors for regular dialogue and guidance.

Partners are expected to spend a minimum of 28 hours supporting the project:

  • 8 hours to pitch the project on January 8, 2024, and (if selected) initial meetings with students the week of January 8-12, 2024.
  • 1 hour per week supporting students during the term (16 hours total)
  • 4 hours during final presentations for feedback on May 14-15, 2024
  • 1 hour for Company final briefing (May or June 2024)

Students are expected to spend approximately half of their out-of-class time (5 hours each week) on team project activities.

Team Project – MIT Presentation Events (May 13 and 14, 2024)

By the end of the semester, each team will deliver (1) a presentation and (2) executive memo that summarize their results and recommendations. The presentation from each team will exhibit the framing, design, analysis, and future recommendations for their system including architecture, systems engineering, and project management.  A schedule and evaluation criteria for the projects are shown below.

Team Project – Partner Final Briefing (May or June 2023)

Since the final project presentations are addressed to MIT’s faculty, Partners should set up a separate in-depth briefing by students at the conclusion in May or June 2024. This will allow an in-depth debrief between the MIT team and Partners.

Guidance for Partners

The primary role of the Partner is to provide real-world context, review progress as requested by students, and advise on the relevance of the team’s focus–the “voice of the challenge.”

  • Projects are selected, managed, and ultimately delivered by the students; thus, the students have the prerogative to choose where to focus, how to evolve, and what to deliver. We ask that Partners remain flexible as students explore, even if their efforts diverge from the expectations of the Partner.
  • If data is core to the project, data shall be supplied by the Partner, pre-packaged, and available for student team use in a university course setting, by January 9, 2024. 
  • In a university, students may choose an unexpected path, make errors, or simply do a mediocre job earning a lower grade. This academic liberty is important to promote ownership and motivated learning.
  • Overall, the experience of past Partners has been very positive, including regular interaction with MIT students, insights from different ways of framing the challenge, and access to the latest techniques in SA, SE, and PM. The team project can stimulate follow-on internships and Partnered research with a deeper dive and research deliverables.

Key Dates

Draft proposals do not need to be complete. All project information should be ready for delivery to the team by January 8th, 2024.

Draft Proposals DueEXTENDED: December 11, 2023
Integrative Project Showcase – PitchesJanuary 8, 2024
Intensive Week – Initial MeetingJanuary 9, 2024
MIT Spring TermFebruary 5 – May 14, 2024
Final PresentationsMay 13 – 14, 2024

Complete information on dates and deadlines of the project proposal and process are contained in the project proposal guide below.

Topic Submission Process

Industry, government, and other organizations are encouraged to review the Project Proposal Guide.

Submissions should be formatted as a 1-page PowerPoint slide based on the provided template.

Please use our Project Portal to upload your project proposal as a PDF:

You will need to visit the portal to request an account. SDM will review your contact information, approve your account request, and send you a password. Then you can upload your project proposal to the portal.

For a complete guide to using the project portal and uploading your proposal, please refer to this document.

If you would like to submit a proposal after the updated deadline of December 11, please contact sdm-teamproject@mit.edu.

Information Sessions

SDM will host virtual information sessions for interested project sponsors each fall. The Q&A sessions for 2023 are:

Monday, November 13, 19:00 – 20:00

Wednesday, November 15, 09:00 – 10:00

Friday, November 17, 13:00 – 14:00

All times are listed in EST. To join the Q&A session, please use this Zoom link. No preregistration is required.

For specific questions, please contact the project team at sdm-teamproject@mit.edu.