Tuesday, March 26, 2013

SDM '12 Elizabeth Cilley Southerlan Receives Award for Leadership, Innovation, Systems Thinking

By Lois Slavin, SDM Communications Director

Elizabeth Cilley Southerlan
On March 14, 2013, the SDM community convened for the presentation of the 2012 MIT SDM Award for Leadership, Innovation, and Systems Thinking.

The award, created by the SDM staff in 2010, honors a first year SDM student who demonstrates the highest level of:
  • strategic, sustainable contributions to fellow SDM students and the broader SDM and MIT communities;
  • superior skills in leadership, innovation, and systems thinking; and
  • effective collaboration with SDM staff, fellow students, and alums.
All nominees and the winner are selected by the SDM staff. In addition to Southerlan, this year's nominees included Juan Esteban Montero and Alvaro Madero.
Juan Esteban Montero

Southerlan was acknowledged for her numerous contributions to her cohort, the SDM program and the MIT community at-large. Among them are:
  • serving as logistics director for the MIT Career Fair where she helped increase SDM's visibility in industry by positioning SDM students as front-runners for moderators of company and industry information panels;
  • working as an executive board member of Women in SDM (WiSDM), and collaborating closely with colleagues to put together the WiSDM symposium portion of the annual SDM conference;
  • organizing, as SDM social chair, several sponsored events for students only and with their families; and
  • working with SDM's Marketing and Alumni Relations Coordinator Melissa Parrillo and Industry Co-director Joan Rubin to understand the program's target demographics, gauge SDM's presence by industry and geography, and confer on next steps.
Alvaro Madero
Southerlan received a $1,000 check as part of her award.

Nominee Alvaro Madero was specifically cited for, among other contributions, co-chairing the 2013 SDM Tech Trek and serving as the SDM Industrial Relations Committee's media chair. Nominee Juan Esteban Montero was recognized for founding the MIT Mining, Oil, and Gas Club which, in under one year, has over 150 members from the MIT student and faculty communities, as well as from industry and academic communities worldwide.

Sussman to Present "Understanding and Designing Complex Sociotechnical Systems" at MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series

By Teresa Lynne Hill

Joseph M. Sussman, JR East
Professor in the Engineering
Systems Division and
Department of Civil and
Environmental Engineering
at MIT
Photo by Barry Hetherington
MIT Professor Joseph M. Sussman believes that everyone, no matter what their profession, needs to understand the complex sociotechnical systems inherent in today's most significant problems—plus what goes into designing solutions to the challenges they present. At his April 8th webinar, "Understanding and Designing Complex Sociotechnical Systems", Sussman aims to reach out to all attendees—engineers, managers, policy makers, healthcare professionals, educators, students, and more—across industries and disciplines, throughout the world.

Sussman believes that while command of technical factors is necessary to understanding what he calls "critical contemporary issues" (CCIs), such as climate change, economic growth, mobility, large-scale manufacturing, health, and developing country megacities, more integrated knowledge is needed to address them. He will define sociotechnical systems, describe their components and characteristics, discuss how they intersect, and argue that design solutions must focus not only on the advanced technologies that characterize contemporary life, but also on their relationship to the organizations and institutions through which they function. After defining the various kinds of complexity inherent in sociotechnical systems, he will discuss examples drawn from various fields including transportation and health.

A member of the MIT faculty for 45 years, Sussman is the JR East Professor in the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Engineering Systems Division. He is renowned for his work on transportation issues, including regional strategic transportation planning (RSTP), intelligent transportation systems (ITS), and high-speed rail in the U.S. and abroad. He is the author of the definitive textbook Introduction to Transportation Systems, and the recipient of many awards and honors in both disciplinary contributions and teaching. In his honor, ITS Massachusetts established the annual "Joseph M. Sussman Leadership Award" in 2002.

Sussman has worked extensively in computational applications to engineering problem solving, particularly in the transportation field, and contributed to the development of the Integrated Civil Engineering System (ICES) one of the most widely used computer systems in the engineering world. He developed the CLIOS (Complex, Large-Scale, Interconnected, Open, Sociotechnical Systems) Process designed to deal with many critical contemporary issues. He is currently developing a new methodology for regional strategic transportation planning (RSTP) embedded in the CLIOS Process, integrating ideas from strategic management, scenario-building, and technology architectures.

In an era in which all institutions — and especially research universities — must contribute to the solution of the global problems we face, Sussman's goal is to educate "T-shaped" professionals who are able to integrate the vertical axis of in-depth technical expertise with a broad appreciation (horizontal axis) of institutional, managerial, and other socially-related fields of view.

Attendees at Sussman's webinar will find new ways to view and understand complex sociotechnical systems and to think about designing solutions to address the challenges they present from one of the foremost thinkers at MIT. The MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series is honored to present Professor Sussman's webinar.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Systems-based Approach to Product Design and Development in Patient–centric Health Care

By Lois Slavin, SDM Communications Director

Anand Yadav
A systems-based approach to product design and development in connected health will be the topic for the March 25, 2013 offering of the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series. Anand Yadav, SDM alumnus and co-founder/product lead of Neumitra, will discuss how the company is developing a patient-centric product for healthy behaviors with aggregate analytics for clinicians to evaluate the effects of medications, therapies, and treatments. Pre-registration is required and can be completed here.

The product, named "bandu," is designed to fit into watch and bracelet templates and continuously measures the autonomic nervous system. The biosensing technology connects to a smartphone app to help the wearer stay healthy and productive. The autonomic nervous system is the body's regulatory mechanism for controlling heart rate, respiration, and perspiration. Variations in symptoms are associated with stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, digestion, blood pressure, and other health metrics. Studies are underway to examine a wide range of symptoms from our stressful daily lives.

The technologies behind bandu monitor real-time changes in the user's motion, temperature, and skin conductance to encourage healthy habits including exercising, practicing meditation, and listening to music. During daily life events, the watch-based biosensor alerts the wearer with suggestions on how to increase health, productivity, and happiness. The resulting data is used to triage medical care, evaluate treatment options, and identify pain points.

During this webinar, Yadav will:
  • provide an overview of brain health challenges, the current state of brain treatments, and the opportunities for innovation;
  • describe Neumitra's technologies and their goals to address daily life demands and encourage healthy habits at home, during work, and for fun;
  • discuss the product development strategy that addresses the needs of clinicians and patients; and
  • describe an approach used in developing a connected health device balancing strict regulatory requirements with user-driven experiences and aesthetics at an affordable cost.
Yadav, then a SDM fellow, and co-founder Robert Goldberg, a neuroscientist, met at MIT in the Neurotechnology Ventures course taught by Ed Boyden and Joost Bonsen. They currently lead a team of engineers in driving the growth of their operations. Neumitra was founded to blend eastern and western approaches to medicine with "Neu" coming from the Latin for "new" and "mitra" from the Sanskrit for "friend". They soon realized the subtle homage to the Institute as well. The company has received seed funding from the founders of Boston Scientific and Yahoo and has won several prestigious awards. The company's technologies are inspired by the effects of mental health treatments on their family members and the benefits of daily exercise, meditation, and even music in their personal lives. Yadav is a mechanical engineer who previously led an engineering group at The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. As a team member at the Whitehead Institute, Yadav helped developed a large-scale automated system for the Human Genome Project. He is deeply motivated to bring the benefits of meditation to daily life.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ben Levitt, SDM '12: Using Systems Thinking for Sports Analytics and Defense

By Ted Bowen

Ben Levitt
SDM '12 Ben Levitt excels at the detail-oriented aspects of engineering—whether in his work at Raytheon or for MIT Sloan's acclaimed annual sports analytics conference. The senior systems engineer at defense contractor Raytheon has won accolades for weeding out bugs and inefficiencies and for guiding complex projects to timely completion. Moreover, as a designer/developer for the Sloan conference, he created two of its most popular events. Now, as Levitt looks toward tackling more technical and complex projects both inside and outside of the workplace, he's finding the key is not just accounting for more variables, but also factoring in whole new categories of variables.

Levitt, trained as an industrial engineer, incorporated some of that discipline into his work as systems developer, project manager and efficiency expert. He started out as a manufacturing engineer with an eye toward efficiency and minimizing defects. At Raytheon, he adapted his techniques for improving manufacturing processes for use in systems and software engineering, and testing his calculations through complex software algorithms and models. He went on to focus on systems and software engineering for missile defense systems including following his products through the entire product lifecycle. And he received a Raytheon Technical Honor award in 2010.

As an undergraduate, Levitt gravitated to industrial engineering because it draws on other engineering disciplines to produce tangible results. In a similar fashion, he sees the MIT System Design and Management program as a way to tap into and integrate seemingly disparate bodies of knowledge to solve complex problems. He chose SDM for its dual engineering and management focus and for its flexibility, which has allowed him to concentrate on subjects most relevant to his current job and the next stages of his career.

Levitt said the SDM program's management strategy offerings were eye-opening. For example, he learned how personnel strategies could affect quality in ways that are not immediately apparent, but become especially relevant in tight deadline situations when employees are tired, but there is still zero margin for error.

His academic focus includes engineering systems, interoperability, and corporate innovation. His evolving research delves into the dynamics of system interoperability and systems safety in the defense industry.

As a welcome break from the defense world, Levitt, who competed in cross-country for Division I Lehigh, was a student organizer for the 2013 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, held March 1st and 2nd. The student-run conference, named the Super Bowl Of Sports Analytics by Forbes magazine, was in its 7th year and attracted over 2,700 attendees.

Levitt was given the authority to build two panels—an in-game coaching session entitled "Monday Morning Quarterback" and another called "Big Data". He developed the panels and lined up participants from sports, business, media and technology sectors.

The in-game coaching panel used video and audience interactivity to encourage the panelists, a collection of the NFL's best coaches and managers, and the audience to explore the use of analytics in all aspects of play calling.

The big data panel, composed of the world's best data experts, discussed how tomorrow's top athletes, coaches and sports franchises can turn petabytes of 'motion capture' and multispectral data into competitive advantage.

The Monday Morning Quarterback: In-Game Coaching Panel included (left to right) Jack Del Rio, defensive coordinator, Denver Broncos; Tony Reali, host, ESPN's Around the Horn; Thomas Dimitroff, general manager,
Atlanta Falcons; Brian Burke, founder, Advanced NFL Stats; Ben Levitt, panel producer/developer and SDM '12; Herm Edwards, ESPN football analyst and former head coach, Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets.
Photo by SLY Photography

Monday, March 4, 2013

Investigating the Efficacy of Terror Network Visualizations - SDM Pulse, Spring 2013

By Christopher W. Berardi, SDM ’11

Christopher W. Berardi is an active duty officer in the U.S. Air Force. He currently works as a program manager for multi-million dollar intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance weapon systems. Berardi holds an MIT M.S. in engineering and management, earned through SDM in 2013 and a B.S. from the United States Air Force Academy. 

An urgent challenge: Military intelligence analysts are increasingly tasked to sift through enormous volumes of data to identify the proverbial intelligence “needle in a haystack.” One specific domain exemplifying this new intelligence paradigm is network analysis of terrorist organizations. This area of intelligence analysis uses mostly commercially available software applications to leverage the powers of social network theory against large terrorism data sets.

An additional challenge is the fast paced development cycle for new sensors that are capable
of collecting data at unmanageable rates. Therefore, analysts are in dire need of new analytical techniques that give them the ability to effectively and efficiently transform the collected data into intelligible information and subsequently, intelligence.

Intelligence is only of value when it is available and contributes to, or shapes, a decision-making process by, “providing reasoned insight into future conditions or situations” (Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2012). However, this does not hold true for raw data. Therefore, the burden is on the intelligence analyst to transform raw data into intelligence. This transformative process begins with the collection of data from sensors.

The first step is to process the raw data into a form intelligible by an analyst. Depending on the type of raw data, this step is either automated as in the production of an image from a camera, or requires an analyst, in limited cases, to transform the raw data into information such as language translation. In the context of social network analysis, this stage typically involves transforming the tabular raw data into a visualization, or series of visualizations. This specific transformative process (data=information) is also known within the intelligence community as processing and exploitation1.

During the processing and exploitation phase, as shown in Figure 1, an analyst most commonly transforms the data into a node-link visualization. However, little to no emphasis is given to creating alternating modes of visualization that could result in a more effective transformation of data to information. Furthermore, there is little existing research into the effectiveness of one form of visualization over another in the domain of intelligence. 

After data is transformed into information, the subsequent information can be integrated and analyzed to produce intelligence. Once information is evaluated, it is ready for analysis. During analysis, assessments2 are made by comparing already integrated and evaluated information; these assessments are combined and used to discern patterns or links. Finally, the analysis and production process concludes with interpretation, which is a largely inductive reasoning process in which available information is evaluated.

From this sequence of integration, evaluation, analysis, and interpretation, intelligence is finally produced. Although, this is a generic process which applies to all forms of intelligence, within the context of social network analysis, analysis would be conducted by evaluating multiple visualizations of social networks and interpreting the information resident in each of those visualizations to create a prediction about the terror network, or networks, being analyzed (Figure 1).
Figure 2 - Node-link visualization
Research goal: Investigate various visualization methodologies for terror network analysis.

Research scope: Comparison of two visualization methods:
  • Node-link visualization (Figure 2) serves as control, as it is the most ubiquitous method of terror network visualization used within the intelligence domain today (Freeman, 2000; Wasserman & Faust, 1994)
  • Matrix network visualization (Figure 3), a promising method of social network visualization studied commonly within the academic community (Ghoniem, Fekete, & Castagliola, 2004; Henry & Fekete, 2006)
Figure 3 - Matrix network visualization
The experiment: To test the visualizations’ effectiveness, an experiment was conducted in which participants exploited matrix and node-link visualizations constructed from a surrogate terror data set (Zachary, 1977).

The 60 participants were all Air Force airmen who hold the Air Force specialty code of intelligence analyst. Each participant was given one of the forms of visualization and asked to accomplish two tasks:
  1. Identify leaders within the network, and
  2. Identify clusters or subgroups within the network.
These two tasks were chosen because of their reoccurring importance highlighted in both a literature review and a hybrid cognitive task analysis conducted prior to undergoing this research.


  • The node-link visualization resulted in statistically significantly better performance in all studied scenarios where the objective was identifying leaders.
  • Although node-link also returned a better performance than the matrix for identifying clusters, there was not a statistically significant difference.
  • In all cases, there was not enough difference between the times produced by the node-link and matrix to determine if either offers a statistically significant decrease in the time it takes to complete tasks using either visualization.
At this time, the matrix should not be universally integrated into the current methodologies used by analysts to exploit terror network visualizations until more research is conducted into the respective strengths and weaknesses within the intelligence domain.

However, analysts should be independently encouraged to explore and adapt new methods of visualization into their current practices and identify new or improved versions of the visualizations identified within this thesis for future testing.

For Bibliography, please see sdm.mit.edu.

1: Defined as, the process by which raw data is transformed into information that can be readily disseminated, used, and transmitted by an analyst.
2: Assessment is defined as, a prediction of the future state of an organization, individual, or adversary.

Snapshot: SDM Class of 2013 - SDM Pulse, Spring 2013

On January 7, SDM welcomed 62 early-to-mid career professionals to its 2013 cohort. As in past years, fellows hail from diverse industries, among them wind energy, the military, automotive, mobile apps, healthcare, fashion, consulting, oil, telecommunications, global shipping, software product accessibility, finance, banking, water and wastewater treatment, forestry, gaming, and wine. 

Brian Hendrix

Brian Hendrix

Global lead product development engineer, Ford Motor Company
“At high levels of leadership, systems thinking becomes even more critical due to the complex, open-ended problems you encounter.”

Marianna Novellino

Marianna Novellino

Environmental engineer and former product manager, Parkson Corporation
“I want to be one of the new, emerging leaders who understands how technical and management issues affect each other, and consequently the business.”

Shingo Kawai, Ph.D.

Shingo Kawai, Ph.D.

Senior research engineer, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone“research needs to guide the company in the right direction, so even technical managers must be trained in strategy and management” 

Suzanne Livingston

Suzanne Livingston

Senior product manager, IBM Connections
“some of our most innovative solutions emerged from business challenges that can be solved with technology, and technology decisions that are influenced by business. My work revolves around connecting both.”

Chris Babcock

Chris Babcock

Product manager, Second Wind
“we must develop a more intelligent energy system, and that’s what I’m interested in building.”

Bryan Pirtle

Bryan Pirtle

Senior engineer, E&J Gallo Winery
As a distance student, “I will not only learn state-of-the-art systems-thinking theories while working at Gallo, but will also have a chance to apply my newly found knowledge on-the-job.”

•    49 men
•    13 women

•    23 company-sponsored
•    39 self-funded

Program option:
•    28 full-time on-campus students
•    19 local commuter students
•    15 distance students

Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, India, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom,
United States, Venezuela

Average previous work experience:
9 years

Saturday, March 2, 2013

SDM Internship at Intel: Operating Successfully within a Global Business Ecosystem - SDM Pulse, Spring 2013

The business challenge: The old approach to product development, where one company manages everything, including requirements, design, development, marketing, and sales, no longer works in today’s global business environment—especially in high-tech fields like mobile devices.

The goal:  Identify and understand how successful business ecosystems are created and how they affect design and implementation of an organization’s product strategy, then use this information to develop future competencies needed by Intel’s product development teams.

MIT resources: Intel contacted Prof. Steven Eppinger, SDM co-director, to find a graduate student/intern with significant industry and research experience in technology, business, and systems thinking. Rutu Manchiganti, SDM ’11, former software engineer for Motorola mobile devices, was selected.

The approach: Manchiganti conducted a one-year research project at Intel where her responsibilities included the following:
•    literature review
•    corporate benchmarking
•    internal capability assessment
•    research at the intersection of products, technology, users, markets, and business fundamentals
•    interviews with 25 senior managers in Intel and managers at AT&T, Cisco, GE Energy, Motorola, SAP, Siemens Corporate Research, and others
•    information analysis, informed by her studies in disruptive innovation and systems dynamics to analyze how business ecosystems involve multiple, interacting components that evolve over time

The findings: Companies create only a piece of the solution themselves and engage other companies or even consumers to build the rest. “This is what is meant by operating in a business ecosystem,” said Manchiganti.

To control market position, companies must design and orchestrate entire business ecosystems if they want to control their market position. “If it happens organically, a company could risk not moving fast enough or even going in the wrong direction,” said Manchiganti. “As importantly, it risks simply reacting to, instead of proactively driving, the ecosystem’s direction.”

The deliverables:  Based on her research, Manchiganti provided a literature review of the primary books and articles on the subject of business ecosystems, produced a report defining the current challenges Intel faces with respect to ecosystems, wrote a series of Intel case studies based upon product group experiences in developing ecosystems, and created a final best-practices report and presentation.  All deliverables will be used to inform the Intel product development community and serve to establish a foundation for future business ecosystem capability development.

The value of an SDM intern: “The work that Rutu helped complete has already benefitted Intel in a number of ways:  we understand the business ecosystems challenges we are facing, we have found and documented internal areas of strength to build upon, and we have discovered new practices to introduce to Intel,” said Intel’s Chris Galluzzo.

If your company is interested in sponsoring an SDM internship, contact SDM Industry Co-director
Joan S. Rubin, jsrubin@mit.edu, 617.253.2081.

Friday, March 1, 2013

System Architectures for NASCAR Chassis Setup and Development - SDM Pulse, Spring 2013

By Scott Ahlman, SDM ’01

Problem statement:
The complex system encompassing a high-performance race car, its driver, and the track involves thousands of parameters and variables that affect a car’s performance, drivability, balance, and tire life. To complicate matters, conditions are constantly changing, and data acquisition is limited during races. Choosing the right metrics at the right time is critical because vehicle dynamics models and analyses rarely output holistically accurate values for speed, balance, and drivability. Success on the track depends on weighing these variables and, for example, making split-second rate recommendations for springs, damping front and rear roll, as well as suspension alignment, kinematics, and tire pressure.


To determine when to use which metrics and which models, so that variables can be weighed effectively and appropriate choices made.

Ahlman’s team used Design of Experiments, many-parameter and variable optimization, and basic systems engineering tools like chunking, aggregation, and hierarchy. The team also used standard goals definition and requirements cascades that show functional requirements cascade down a system hierarchy from system through subsystems to components.
Figure 1: This concept map of high-performance passenger car handling
shows some of the many parameters and subsystems
chassis engineers work with.

A systems perspective is important for recognizing non-technical and non-strategic influences like human behavior, assigning these influences more credence, and coping with or even shaping, the influences.

Clear goals + specific system, subsystem, and component requirements = successful design journey and clear destination. 
Figure 2: This chart shows part of an optimization sheet. It helps engineers to focus
on the right things in the right order and to complete difficult optimization
of many parameters and variables at once, as a system.

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