Monday, March 5, 2007

New SDM class shows diversity, commonality - SDM Pulse, Spring 2007

By Patty Eames, SDM-LFM communications assistant, and Lois Slavin, ESD communications director

he members of SDM’s newest class, who matriculated in January 2007, hail from a diverse range of educational and professional backgrounds, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with each other.

According to Pat Hale, director of the SDM Fellows Program, the SDM admissions committee continually seeks to enhance diversity in cultures and product domains. “Diversity creates a rich experience base for the program, enabling the students to learn as much from each other as they do from the professors,” he said. “In fact, the professors often remark that they learn a lot from the diversity of the SDMs too.”

That’s not surprising. This year’s class boasts five members who have earned PhDs. Amarnath Arvind holds a doctorate in electrical engineering; Radu Bharadwaj in biochemistry and molecular biophysics; Kevin Liu a PhD and a postdoctoral degree in computer science; Parthsarathy Seshadri holds his PhD in chemical engineering; and Charles Ufongene in computer science. Both Seshadri and Ufongene are also graduates of SDM’s one-year certificate program.

Thirty-one new SDM fellows earned master of science or MBA degrees prior to matriculating. SDM fellow Wayne Liu holds two—an MS in computer science and an MS in biochemistry and molecular biology. SDM fellows earned their degrees at universities around the globe, in China, India, Lebanon, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Japan, Taiwan, Nigeria, New Zealand, France, Mexico and the United States.

While most SDMs have experience in product design and development or in engineering, they’ve earned their stripes in diverse industries, including consumer goods, software, aerospace, defense, networking, wireless communications and more. Nevertheless, virtually all members of the new class cite a common reason for choosing the SDM master’s in engineering and management—the impact SDM’s interdisciplinary approach to leadership, innovation and systems thinking can have on their careers.

Kelly Yedinak, deputy program manager at Northrup Grumman Corporation, said that although she enjoys team-building, leadership and management, she is also passionate about technology and engineering design. “An MBA wouldn’t be enough,” she said, adding that she is also looking forward to more training in product development and innovation.

Ufongene, an avionic systems integration engineer at United Technology Corporation’s Sikorsky Aircraft Company, said the broad scope of SDM’s master’s offerings motivated him to enroll. “I hope to expand my knowledge beyond the technical aspect of my work and apply my interdisciplinary SDM learnings in the area of technology strategy,” he said.

Kelvin Lim received a scholarship to attend SDM from his employer, the Defence Science and Technology Agency of the Republic of Singapore. He said the holistic education that is SDM’s hallmark will equip him with “the systems thinking and managerial skills necessary to take on greater and more complex systems management responsibilities in my career.”

Hale said that during SDM’s intensive monthlong session in January, the new cohort proved to be a group of extremely bright and talented individuals. “They will certainly maintain the standard of excellence in performance and engagement in lifelong learning that has characterized MIT’s SDM program since its beginnings."

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