SDM Alumni Conference Explores Product, System Development

By Lois Slavin, ESD Communications Director
November 5, 2004

On October 21-22, 2004, graduates of the SDM program held their fourth alumni conference. Forty-eight alums, plus industry representatives and guests, attended the event, whose theme was "System Engineering: Innovative Product and System Development." Also attending were members of the current SDM class, who convened at MIT that week for their quarterly business trip, applicants who have been accepted into the SDM class entering in January, 2005, MIT faculty, and SDM and ESD staff.

Guest speakers included the following:

  • Best-selling author and Harvard Business School Professor Dr. Clayton Christensen, who spoke on “Managing the Forces of Disruption and Integration in System Design;”
  • Dr. Jean Colpin, Director of United Technology Corporation’s Research Center (UTRC), speaking on "Innovation at UTRC;"
  • Dr. Gina O’Connor, who discussed "Learning-Based Project Management for Radical Innovation;"
  • MIT Professor Eric von Hippel, who spoke on "Toolkits for User Innovation."
  • MIT Senior Lecturer Dr. Donna Rhodes, speaking on "System Architecture to Support Innovative Product Development;"
  • MIT Professor Martin Culpepper, who discussed “Innovative Research and Education in Mechanism and Robot Design;”
  • Special Projects Executive Robert Morgan, who spoke on “Managing Global Processes and Remote Teams.”
  • Dr. Joseph Paradiso, speaking on “New Sensor Architectures for Responsive Environments” and
  • Chief Technologist and MITRE Corporation Section Leader for Air Force Battle Management & Command and Control Doug Norman, speaking on “Engineering a Complex System: The Air Operations Center as a Complex Systems Exemplar.”

The conference also included alumni panels on “Innovation, Intrapreneurship & Entrepreneurship” and “Systems Problems and Recovery (Return to Flight).”
Conference organizers included Bill Phillips (SDM 01), Stella Oggianu (SDM 01), Moise Solomon (SDM 00), Michael Frauens (SDM 98), Tom Seitz (SDM 02), Gordon Johnston (SDM 01), and staff members Helen Trimble and Jon Griffith.

Information on the alumni conference speakers, as well as copies of their presentations, is available at