Sunday, October 1, 2006

The SDM Community

Pat Hale, Director, MIT SDM Fellows Program

Pat Hale, director of the MIT System Design and Management (SDM) Fellows Program, has been involved in SDM since its creation 10 years ago.

At that time, Hale worked for Otis Elevator Company as Director of Systems Engineering and participated as an industry stakeholder in planning a new engineering degree at MIT in which students earn a master of science in engineering and management, eventually christened SDM.

Hale recalls that prior to SDM’s creation, engineers had only the narrow choice of an executive MBA program, which didn't address technical requirements, or a masters in their chosen technical field, which tended to limit their professional focus. "We needed more engineers who could understand the theory and practice of systems architecture and the implications of systems thinking," he explains. Thus the SDM program, MIT’s first degree-granting program with a distance learning option, was born.

In 2002, Hale left Otis, but continued to serve in an advisory role for SDM. He also ran the SDM Certificate program, a one year program for product developers designed to prepare them for system-level roles.

In 2004, Hale was named Director of the SDM Fellows Program. In addition to administering the program, he also teaches classes in product design and development and systems engineering.

In the future, Hale would like to see systems engineering mature as a discipline, including application in new domains and development of a ‘common language’ for systems engineers and product developers to use in sharing best practices. He plans to use his position as president-elect of the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) to promote this vision.

"Just as systems engineering is cross-disciplinary, our language and models must converge to bridge domains (aerospace, consumer products, services, etc.) to facilitate learning and an understanding of what it means to be a systems engineer," he explains. "There are many potentially valuable examples of best practice that we fail to share or understand across industries because of this gap in semantics, and it hampers both our companies’ success and our ability to teach and develop tomorrow’s systems and product developers. The SDM program is helping to address this vital need."

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