Thursday, March 6, 2008

Partners review SDM program - SDM Pulse, Spring 2008

The System Design and Management Program held a meeting for industry partners in October as part of SDM’s five-year review process. At that meeting, companies that have or anticipate ongoing relations with the program were asked to provide input on SDM’s content, methods, and direction.

Representatives attended from Boeing, Cummins, Eaton, Ford Motor Co., Ford of Mexico, GE Aviation, John Deere, NASA, Northrop Grumman, Orange-French Telecom, Phillips Lifeline, Raytheon, Sun Microsystems, United Technologies, and Whirlpool.

Partners reviewed curriculum; cohort formation, including the benefits of the January session (see page 7) and business trips to campus; thesis; and recruitment, retention, and integration in the workplace.

The meeting included an overview of the program’s requirements, a presentation on course content, and a discussion of the goals set for the Engineering Systems Division, which encompasses SDM, by new ESD Director Yossi Sheffi. Throughout the day, company representatives were given opportunities to comment and to critique the program, as well as to make suggestions for future SDM efforts.

Dan Frey, associate professor of mechanical engineering and engineering systems, led the discussion on the SDM thesis and ways that this research—by both company-sponsored and self-sponsored students—can benefit companies.

SDM partners shared best practices for recruiting program participants, interacting with students in the program, and integrating graduates back into the workplace. The experience Ford of Mexico has had partnering with SDM—aligning thesis work with strategy, and reintegrating graduates—were discussed with interest.

In discussing courses, partners expressed their interest in a full life-cycle perspective, economics, and global issues in design. They wanted coursework to address cultural issues and advocated for a stronger link among all SDM courses. The curriculum review begun at the meeting will continue via WebEx sessions. Partners interested in more information may contact John M. Grace, SDM industry codirector,, 617.253.2081.

As a follow-up to the partners meeting, SDM plans to review the needs of partner firms with an eye toward pairing them with interested faculty members and students. SDM is also investigating ways to make partner firms more aware of SDM thesis activities.

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