Thursday, August 26, 2010

SDM Alum Wins Best Paper Award at Ground Vehicle Systems Engineering Event

SDM alum Paul Luskin, Manager of Vehicle Engineering at Ricardo, Inc. and Robert Berlin from the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research and Engineering Center (TARDEC) recently received a best paper award at the NDIA Ground Vehicle Systems Engineering and Technology Symposium held in Dearborn, MI from August 17-19, 2010. The best paper award was one of three selected out of 276 entries.

Both the paper and a presentation made by the authors at the symposium were based upon Luskin's SDM thesis "Systems Engineering Methodology for Fuel Efficiency and its Application to the TARDEC Fuel Efficient Demonstrator (FED) Program". Luskin's thesis can be viewed via the SDM virtual community.

Photo by L. Barry Hetherington

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sky and Telescope publishes article by SDM Shawn Quinn on scaling Mt. Kilimanjaro

The current edition of Sky and Telescope magazine features an article by SDM alum Shawn Quinn. Entitled Climbing Toward the Stars, the piece covers astrophotography and other highlights of Quinn's 10-day climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa's tallest mountain. Quinn is a Project Manager at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Shawn Quinn, SDM '06

Thursday, August 19, 2010

SDM Team Building Kayak/Canoe Trip

By Avi Latner, SDM '10

Just as the summer semester ended SDM’s leadership committee organized a team building kayak and canoe trip. Fourteen SDM students, alumni and family members participated. The group paddled in Nahanton Park, a beautiful stretch of the Charles River just 30 minutes from Cambridge.

Left to right: Eugene Gorelik, Juan Spiniak, Rosario Estay, Inbal Latner, Avi Latner, Albert Po Chia Chen, Doerte Sennecke, Jonathan Chia Chen, Sam Chow, Alma Chia Chen, Ipshita Nag Deepak, Kandarp Bhatt, Rafael Maranon.

Special thanks to SDM for sponsoring the event and to Dave Shultz for help with logistics.

More pictures can be found on SDM’s facebook page and youtube channel.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Google, Innovation Article by SDM Student Published in Technology Review

Sourcebits VP of Engineering and SDM student Irfan Mohammed has published an article on Google and innovation in the August 2010 issue of Technology Review's India edition. Read the article here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

RFID, Lost Children, and System Design and Management

By David Rosenbaum

MIT System Design and Management (SDM) student Avi Latner went to work for JP Morgan Chase & Co. in 2009. It was not a good year for a financial services world still reeling from the subprime mortgage disaster, the bankruptcies of Lehman Brothers and other major financial institutions, and what came close to a worldwide economic meltdown. Latner, who has a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and Management/Information Systems from Ben Gurion University and spent three years as a bomb squad leader in the Israeli infantry, recalls that life at the bank "was extremely difficult."

Photo by L. Barry Hetherington

Today, Latner believes the U.S. economy has hit bottom and has begun to rebound. But that doesn’t mean he’s entirely sanguine about the future. "Now that profits are returning, big bonuses are again being handed out," says Latner. "There are still big profits to be made from big risks. So incentives haven’t changed; regulations haven’t been changed. The system hasn’t been fixed yet."

The opportunity to study systems is what attracted Latner (who has spent his career designing and implementing information systems for financial institutions, first at Deloitte Consulting and then at Matrix IT) to SDM rather to an MBA program. "Pursuing an MBA seemed like taking the beaten path," Latner says. "I wanted to look at technology through a business prism, with the additional level of engineering, product design and development, and system architecture, and that’s just not available in MBA programs where the courses are more predictable. At SDM, you find a collection of people—faculty and students—with varied real-life experiences and knowledge. And the students are much more a part of the learning experience."

For example, today Latner is exploring the potential of RFID technology in Professor Qi Van Eikema Hommeshis’ Product Design and Development class. As described in Latner’s blog, Savvy Avi, "using techniques learned in class," the students began interviewing and observing people to identify a market. Ultimately, they decided that parents vacationing in resorts or theme parks would like to know their children’s location at any time. Based on that need, the team members are developing a system of durable RFID bracelets, a grid of RFID readers and a companion web-based tracking system. According to Latner, "The team is now exploring the possibility of collaborating with a potential customer on implementing this idea in their resorts".

Latner’s blog is a reflection of his growing interest in social media. He writes it because "I like thinking through problems and discussing them," but he sees unlimited business opportunity in social media. "Consumer-facing organizations," Latner says, "can use data mining tools to scan social media and see what people think, making market research much more powerful. B2B enterprises can use social media to establish their reputations and grow their market."

In the future, Latner plans to return to Israel to bring the lessons he’s learned at MIT’s System Design and Management Program—"a deep understanding of system architecture combined with business domain expertise—to help an enterprise software company ("not necessarily in the financial world") become a market leader." And, chances are, he’ll leverage social media to do just that.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Managing System Design, Managing System Change

By David Rosenbaum

How can organizations perform organizational assessment to better support enterprise transformation? Leyla Abdimomunova, who will graduate from MIT’s System Design and Management in September 2010, with a master’s in engineering and management, has conducted her thesis research to address this question.

Photo by L. Barry Hetherington

Abdimomunova is working with the MIT Lean Advancement Institute’s (LAI) Lean Enterprise Self-Assessment Tool (LESAT). Organizations use LESAT to prepare for transformation by examining their effectiveness, efficiency, and viability, assessing their capabilities in leadership, product lifecycle processes, and support functions. Today, Adbimomunova is bringing her professional experience and SDM education in engineering, management, and systems thinking to create an assessment process that incentivizes an organization’s behavior and maximizes the assessment’s benefits.

Noting that Lean has come to be associated with the reengineering of manufacturing processes, Abdimomunova points out that the notion of Lean Enterprise applies to a broad range of industries. In healthcare, for example, “the goal is to deliver the best care. But right now, various departments in a hospital are often isolated from each other. That creates problems when patients receive conflicting treatments or undergo duplicate procedures. This drives up overall health care costs.

“Fixing this and helping healthcare and other organizations improve themselves, comes down to enterprise architecting – aligning the processes within an organization with its strategy, capabilities, and market conditions. It’s what we learn about in SDM.”

Abdimomunova grew up in Kazakhstan where the economic and political system went through dramatic changes over the last two decades. Studying Mathematical Linguistics at St. Petersburg State University, she remembers fearing for her family’s safety during the riots of 1986 and people clutching food cards, waiting in endless lines to enter stores stocked only with empty shelves right before 1991, when the USSR fell.

“People weren’t ready” for a market economy, says Abdimomunova. “Under communism, the economic planning bureau, Gosplan, determined everything: how much should be produced; where it should be sold; the price.” Joining the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development after receiving her MBA from the Indiana University Kelly School of Business, Abdimomunova worked equally with entrepreneurs and policy makers to ensure that companies are able to produce competitive products and services and that government policies create an environment that promotes capital investment and best business practices.

Abdimomunova came to MIT’s System Design and Management Program because she realized that the “financial grounding” her MBA provided was insufficient to affect change. She needed, she says, “to learn to look at problems from a holistic point of view, to understand how a change in one part of a system affects others.”

Because she was not educated as an engineer, Abdimomunova said she had concern about coming to MIT. “On the first day of the program, I felt at a disadvantage because I was surrounded by engineers,” she says. “But soon after classes started, I realized that I think like an engineer.”

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sourcebits Names SDM Student Vice President of Engineering

Irfan Mohammad who entered MIT's System Design and Management Program in January 2010, was recently named vice president of engineering at Sourcebits. Headquartered in Bangalore, India, Sourcebits is a software development company that is one of the world’s top destinations for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Android, BlackBerry, Adobe AIR and Web application development.

Irfan was also featured recently in this article on outsourcing.

Friday, August 6, 2010

SDM alum featured in Fast Company article on entrepreneurs

Nada Hashmi, an alumna of MIT's System Design and Management Program and now a fellow in MIT's Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship, was recently featured in a Fast Company article on entrepreneurship.
You can learn more about her work by viewing this video.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Taking the Path to MIT’s Master’s in Engineering and Management

By Mindy Blodgett

For Daniel Wallance, the path to MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) Program and a master’s in engineering and management traversed from NASA to Wall Street.

Photo: L. Barry Hetherington

After receiving a BS in Electrical and Computing Engineering with high distinction from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Wallance worked as a consultant to a NASA contractor. There he wrote proposals in response to government RFPs – one of which was for a $10M science instrument for an upcoming mission to Mars. This expanded his interest in engineering to include the business side of an enterprise.

To get his foot in the door and learn more about business, Wallance started as an intern at a Wall Street firm. He quickly built a successful career that culminated in his rise, at the age of 25, to the de-facto Chief Operating Officer of a hedge fund founded by a former Director of Kmart Holding Corp. He says that leaving the corporate world temporarily to pursue a master’s degree was the next logical step.

“Because of my engineering background, I was always interested in systems integration from the technology side,” he says. “But as COO of a hedge fund, I experienced first-hand the complex interplay among elements of other systems, such as finance, marketing, and operations.”

Wallance recalls analyzing companies for potential investments and coming across massive systems problems that resulted from past mergers. “This simulated my interest in learning how to approach both the engineering and management aspects of systems integration. When I discovered the SDM program I was really struck by its strong interdisciplinary approach. The program brings together aspects related to all of my professional interests: finance, marketing, IT, technology and operations.”

“SDM offers a solid framework, from a systems thinking perspective, in how to approach and solve problems,” Wallance says. “For instance, in my systems architecture class, Professor Ed Crawley discussed the importance of managing the interfaces of the Saturn V rocket from the Apollo space program. This got me thinking about the interfaces between business units and how I can take the principles from the class discussion about a mechanical system and apply them to an enterprise as a system. Even in classes taught from an engineering perspective, I’m learning about ways of thinking and tools that are universally applicable to all disciplines.”

Wallance is now focusing on his thesis, which will examine how businesses deal with integration, change management, and global systems continuity. He is looking for a company to participate in his thesis research and possibly support it financially.

Following the SDM Program, Wallance hopes to transition to a more operations-focused role, working at a company with a culture that “embraces leadership development”, in a position that combines his interests in streamlining processes and eliminating inefficiencies. And he would love to find a job with a good amount of domestic and international travel.

“Long-term, I hope to be a director of a business unit or global division, working on systems integration and change management.” Wallance says. “I know that MIT’s System Design and Management Program will provide me with the invaluable skills that I will need to succeed.”