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William Schwab is the 2022 recipient of the MIT SDM Student Award for Leadership, Innovation, and Systems Thinking. Will’s work as a leader has brought him recognition both within SDM and outside of MIT following his program start in the fall of 2021.

Will Schwab provided vibrant energy to the SDM community in numerous ways. He chaired the Tech Trek to the Bay Area in the summer of 2022, reviving the trip for the first time since 2019. Will organized the top-level scope for the trek and oversaw the committees that were responsible for everything from company visits to social events. Will also served as a member of the SDM Student Leadership Committee community team and organized and captained the SDM intramural indoor soccer team. In addition to these more formal commitments, Will participated in SDM’s orientation “boot camp” as a tour guide and imparted wisdom to incoming students by participating as part of a panel of second-year students. Will provided informal mentorship to incoming students and diplomatically contributed significant constructive feedback to SDM staff.

Outside the SDM program, Will led a Splash Teaching team that taught high school students about careers in STEM and the energy industry and volunteered for many community events such as Sloan After Hours and MIT Energy Night. He also volunteered in the city of Cambridge at Friday Café and participated in trash cleanup around campus.

SDM Executive Director, Joan Rubin, commented, “Will embodies the leadership and engagement SDM aims to build in our students. While on an accelerated one-year degree pathway, Will embraced the MIT experience and enthusiastically looked for ways to engage and thoughtfully lead. SDM looks forward to seeing the amazing things he champions as he moves back into his professional career.”

Will completed the SDM program in September 2022 and was awarded a master’s in engineering and management degree from MIT. His thesis was titled “Carbon Capture Technology for Natural Gas Power Plants: Selection Techniques and Implementation Strategies for a Real-World Scenario.” After graduating, Will returned to Chevron as a digital advisor in Perth, Western Australia.

Additional finalists for the 2022 award included Akshit Singla, who served as secretary to MIT’s Graduate Student Council and participated in a vast array of research, workshops, committees, and clubs in his time on campus; and Katherine Papageorge, who led several events for SDM’s Student Leadership Committee and volunteered both inside and outside of MIT.

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. 

The award is voted on by the System Design and Management program staff, though students are encouraged to nominate their peers.