System Design and Management

The MIT Master's Program in Engineering and Management


“Innovation is not an option, but an imperative.”
—Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Chairman Emeritus, IBM Academy of Technology, Visiting Lecturer, MIT Engineering Systems Division and MIT Sloan School of Management

The imperative for adapting a systems-based approach for innovation is rapidly being embraced to address the urgent and complex problems facing today’s world. For many organizations, the question is how to effectively apply systems thinking before it is too late.

MIT’s annual conference on systems thinking for contemporary challenges will focus on how to address issues of complexity and innovation. MIT professors will frame the three-fold nature of systems thinking—technical, managerial, and socio-political—and outline how it is being applied in the critical areas of energy, sustainability, health care, and service systems. Industry leaders will describe best practices that demonstrate the challenges they face within and outside of their organizations, how they apply a systems-based approach, the benefits achieved, and the lessons learned.

MIT has carefully chosen speakers not only for their expertise in addressing complex systems challenges, but also for their role in leading the implementation of the day-to-day tasks that produce results. During this two-day event, conference speakers will discuss:

  • The imperative for adopting systems thinking, what it is, and how to apply it
  • Specific examples of how systems thinking is being applied to innovate in the domains of energy, health care, sustainability, and service systems
  • Lessons learned and how attendees can apply them in their own domain

The aim of the conference is to provide practical information from multiple disciplines that will spark ideas for how to implement systems thinking and innovation to address complex challenges—whether in industry, academia, government, or the world at large.

There will be ample time for Q&A with speakers and networking with executives attending the conference.


Day 1—October 21, 2010—MIT Media Lab, 75 Amherst Street, Space 674 (6th Floor), Cambridge, MA

7:00–8:00 am: Registration and breakfast

8:00–8:15 am: Pat Hale, Director, SDM Fellows Program; Senior Lecturer, MIT Engineering Systems Division
            Welcome and Overview

Morning Topic: Large Complex Systems

8:15–9:30 am: KEYNOTE PRESENTATION—George Apostolakis, Commissioner, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission           
            Systems Issues in Nuclear Reactor Safety

9:30–10:30 am: Mark D. Jenks, Vice President of Development, 787 Program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes
            Boeing’s 787 and the Challenges of Complex Global Systems

10:30–11:00 am: Break

11:00 am–noon: Kevin Otto, President, Robust Systems and Strategy
            Societal Scale Modeling: Quantifying the Technology and Policies Needed for Global Zero-Carbon-Emission Building Infrastructure

Noon–1:00 pm Lunch

Afternoon Topic: Sustainable Systems

1:00–1:45 pm: Satish Narayanan, Project Leader Integrated Building Systems, UTRC
            Sustainable and Energy-Efficient Urban and Built Infrastructure Development: Opportunities and Challenges in Systems Engineering

1:45­–2:45 pm: Andrew Scott, Associate Professor, MIT School of Architecture and Planning           
            Balancing Urban Systems through Design: Decarbonizing Urban Communities for 2050

2:45­–3:30 pm: Bruce Beihoff, Global Leader Advanced Systems; Senior Principal Technologist and Director of Innovation and Technology–Systems and Process Research, Whirlpool Corporation
            The Home of the Future: The System of the Future

3:30–4:00 pm: Break

4:00–5:00 pm: John Sterman, Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management; Professor of System Dynamics and Engineering Systems, MIT; Director, MIT System Dynamics Group
            A Banquet of Consequences: Systems Thinking and Modeling for Climate Policy

6:00–9:00 pm: Dinner reception (NOTE: this is a ticketed event)

Day 2—October 22, 2010MIT Media Lab, 75 Amherst Street, Space 674 (6th Floor), Cambridge, MA

7:30–8:30 am: Registration and breakfast

8:30–8:45 am: Pat Hale, Director, SDM Fellows Program; Senior Lecturer, MIT Engineering Systems Division
            Recap of Day 1 and Overview of Day 2

Service Systems

8:45–9:15 am: Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Visiting Lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management and MIT Engineering Systems Division
           Technology and Innovation in the Service Economy

9:15–9:45 am: Richard C. Larson, Mitsui Professor of Engineering Systems, MIT Engineering Systems Division; Director, MIT Center for Engineering Systems Fundamentals
           The Transformation of Service Industries

9:45–10:15 am: Break

10:15 am–10:45 am: Kristian Kloeckl, Senseable City Laboratory, Lead, Real Time City Group
            The Senseable City

10:45–11:15 am: Deborah Nightingale, Professor of the Practice of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems, MIT; Codirector, MIT Lean Advancement Initiative; Director, MIT Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development
           Service Systems Innovation for Treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in the U.S. Military: An Enterprise Systems Approach

11:15 am–noon: Panel discussion and Q&A with speakers

Noon–1:00 pm: Lunch

Heath Care Systems

1:00–2:00 pm Blackford Middleton, MD, Corporate Director of Clinical Informatics Research & Development, Partners HealthCare System; Assistant Professor of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health           
           Re-engineering US Health Care with Health Care Information Technology—Promises and Peril

2:00–3:00 pm: Roberto A. Rocha, Senior Corporate Manager for Knowledge Management and Clinical Decision Support, Clinical Informatics Research & Development, Partners HealthCare System; Faculty, Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care, Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School
           Clinical Knowledge Management at Scale: Fulfilling the Promise of Pervasive Computerized Clinical Decision Support for Providers and Consumers

3:00–3:30 pm: Break

3:30 –4:30 pm: Joseph F. Coughlin, Director, MIT AgeLab & Senior Lecturer, Engineering Systems Division
           Prognostic Aging: Envisioning a Systems Approach to Well-Being Across the Lifespan

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All information is accurate as of the date of posting and subject to change.

  • Sloan School of Management
  • School of Engineering
  • Engineering Systems Division

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