Sunday, June 1, 2008

SDM focus on innovation pays off for Ricardo engineer - SDM Pulse, Summer 2008

Paul Luskin, SDM ’08
By Paul Luskin, SDM ’08

Working as a senior project engineer in Ricardo Inc.’s Vehicle Engineering Group, I am constantly challenged. Ricardo is a premium provider of engineering services and strategic consulting to the world’s automotive, transport, and energy industries. A wide variety of companies come to us with tasks of all shapes and sizes. For that reason, Ricardo’s processes must be very flexible, and Ricardo engineers must be ready to tackle systems integration for almost any type of vehicle—from race cars, to HUMMERs, to armored vehicles. Ricardo has even applied expertise in engine and driveline development to developing technology for wind turbines. Since systems design is what I do everyday, I knew the SDM program would be right for me. In my time at Ricardo I have been able to develop a completely new architecture for a potential Humvee replacement, improve functionality and manufacturing of mine-resistant vehicles, and even develop systems engineering tools that aim to improve the government’s procurement process. I am now able to compare and contrast my experiences both with the course content at MIT and with the variety of accomplishments brought to the program by SDM students from many different fields and industries.Working as a senior project engineer in Ricardo Inc.’s Vehicle Engineering Group, I am constantly challenged. Ricardo is a premium provider of engineering services and strategic consulting to the world’s automotive, transport, and energy industries. A wide variety of companies come to us with tasks of all shapes and sizes. For that reason, Ricardo’s processes must be very flexible, and Ricardo engineers must be ready to tackle systems integration for almost any type of vehicle—from race cars, to HUMMERs, to armored vehicles. Ricardo has even applied expertise in engine and driveline development to developing technology for wind turbines.
Ricardo was selected as Navistar's engineering
partner for the Future Tactical Truck
System, an opportunity to showcase
advanced developing technology.
Paul Luskin, SDM ’08, was lead engineer
for chassis and power train.

Since systems design is what I do everyday, I knew the SDM program would be right for me. In my time at Ricardo I have been able to develop a completely new architecture for a potential Humvee replacement, improve functionality and manufacturing of mine-resistant vehicles, and even develop systems engineering tools that aim to improve the government’s procurement process. I am now able to compare and contrast my experiences both with the course content at MIT and with the variety of accomplishments brought to the program by SDM students from many different fields and industries.

My role at Ricardo is a blend of engineering and management, so the Sloan portion of the program is just as important to me as the engineering component. Large projects require me to lead teams of engineers, analysts, and designers. Programs must be managed so that they are delivered on time and under budget, and engineering processes must be developed appropriately to the scale of each task. Project proposals need to be concise and well-written and must include accurate cost and resource predictions. Courses like The Human Side of Managing and Leading Technological Innovation have been particularly helpful, and I am looking forward to learning more in upcoming semesters.

One particularly interesting aspect of SDM has been the focus on innovation and technology strategy. Innovation is considered a core value at Ricardo, and in my first four months I have undertaken a deluge of coursework in this area, including User-Centered Innovation in the Internet Age. I am now trying to incorporate some of the processes and insights I have learned on innovation into my work, and I have begun
presenting them to my colleagues. I have also been able to complete two class projects on alternative powertrain technologies, helping me put my Ricardo experience in hybrid-electric vehicles into the larger context of the marketplace and overall technological development, even as Ricardo opens a center for the development of battery systems for hybrid and electric vehicles.

While balancing the workload of an MIT student with a demanding full-time job is not easy, I believe that SDM was the right choice for me. The distance option was a great enabler as I was not comfortable with the opportunity cost of stepping away from my career at this point. There are some challenges, but I am confident that what I am learning will serve me well both in the months and years ahead.

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