Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Patrick Wineman, SDM '12: Systems Engineering and Management — On the Job and in the Classroom

By Kayla Ngan

Patrick Wineman
Photo by Kathy
Tarantola Photography
Patrick Wineman, a first year student in MIT's System Design and Management Program (SDM), will be the first to tell you about the importance of on-the-job training. In fact, were it not for the ten years he has spent working for the Navy as Lead Systems Engineer for the Countermeasure, Anti-Torpedo — a new Navy weapons defense system — and as Technical Project Manager for the Surface Ship Torpedo Defense, he might have not gained the systems engineering and management perspective he has today. From coordinating multiple organizations on technical issues to create a comprehensive product to offering guidance on multimillion dollar budgets, Wineman certainly has experience. Yet, despite the on-the-job exposure to system design and management he has gained, Wineman decided to return to school to learn more about these subject areas and further refine his skills in the classroom.

After graduating from Stanford University in 2002 with a BS in mechanical engineering, Wineman thought about going for his master's degree. He considered Stanford's co-terminal fifth year master's program for mechanical engineering, and even stumbled upon MIT's SDM Program, but eventually decided he first wanted to work with mechanical design immediately. Ultimately, he wanted to first gain work experience — which he says, in retrospect, gave him long-term direction.

In 2003, Wineman joined the Navy as an ocean/mechanical engineer where he designed, analyzed, and oversaw the fabrication of the Anti-Torpedo Torpedo Impulse Launch Test Fixture and the Submarine Centered torpedo tracking array. Soon after, he was promoted to the position of testing and evaluation engineer in the Surface Systems Branch of the Undersea Defensive Warfare Systems office. Then, in 2007, when Wineman became the Lead Systems Engineer for the Countermeasure, Anti-Torpedo and the Technical Project Manager for Surface Ship Torpedo Defense, he became more heavily involved with both systems and management. Wineman explains, "I really grew into my role as the Lead Systems Engineer by taking on more project management and systems responsibilities. By working for the Department of Defense, I gained exposure to higher levels of systems engineering earlier in my career than I would have otherwise."

However, as he took on more and more responsibilities, he decided he wanted to return to school to solidify the systems engineering and management concepts that he had not learned as an undergraduate. Wineman explains that he looked at many graduate and MBA programs, but very few had curriculums that involved both technology and management in a structured way. In the end, after applying for and receiving the Department of Defense SMART Scholarship to fund his technical degree, Wineman enrolled in the SDM Program.

"Before coming to campus, I was really excited by the experience and diversity of my cohort. Now that I'm here, I enjoy that others are able to bring their own experiences and challenges in and outside of the classroom to the discussions," says Wineman.

After Wineman graduates from SDM, he plans to return to the Navy and hopes to apply the principles he's learned in the program to his work.


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