Monday, April 5, 2010

MIT SDM Curriculum - Core Courses

MIT SDM Core Courses

These form the "heart" of the concepts that SDM covers in analysis, assessment, management, and system thinking. Almost all SDMers take these courses or courses that are designed as software development focused variations.

ESD.33 - Systems Engineering
How does an engineering team carry a project from concept, through engineering and construction, into successful validation and verification?

These are the types of questions that were asked at the beginning of the U.S. Space program. The complexities of such complex technological challenges led to the development of frameworks and processes to ensure successful development of products across multiple horizontal and vertical development teams. The modern methods and frameworks used in industry are presented in the course. The challenges of adopting Systems Engineering concepts to broader Systems Thinking applications is also covered.

My course team project involved the application of Systems Engineering processes to developing an effective international policy to mitigate Somali Piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

Pat Hale,
Director, System Design and Management Fellows Program
Senior Lecturer in Engineering Systems
and former INCOSE president.

Pat's easy-going, open-minded nature lends him to not only teach the "hard-core" Systems Engineering concepts that he knows well, but also be open to the broader and harder to define region of System Engineering which is embodied in Systems Thinking as a whole. A mentor as well as a professor, he will often share the lessons he has learned "the hard way" in his career so that SDMers learn from his experience.

ESD.34 - System Architecture
How is a physical product or service structured to maximize delivery of value for all stakeholders? What are the interrelationships between a product's function and the form it should take? How do you reach a truly elegant design to meet this challenge?
One of the most challenging courses in the SDM curriculum, System Architecture is a true fusion of conceptual engineering, and elements of strategy, marketing, and philosophy. There is often no single "right" answer to a question in this course, but there certainly can be "wrong" ones!

My (2) team projects involved developing the value flow diagram for the Boston Big Dig to identify critical flaws in its architecture and a study of architecture optimization for digital cameras.

Prof. Edward Crawley,
Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems
Ford Professor of Engineering
Prof. Edward Crawley Profile

It really takes a unique individual to teach such a challenging course as System Architecture. Prof. Crawley is one of the most purely brilliant individuals involved in the SDM curriculum. He will push all SDMers to their human limits. They will experience that learning at MIT is like "drinking from a fire hose"!

ESD.36 - System Project Management
How can we better optimize project planning and execution? The Project Management Institute (PMI) presents very basic frameworks to set-up, execute, and revise project scope, schedule, and costs. How do we go beyond this "superficial understanding" of project dynamics?
I have a Certificate in Applied Project Management (CAPM) from Boston University. The CAPM covers all the PMI theory required for the PMP. It is a very basic level of knowledge of project management. This reality is reflected in the fact that the Critical Path Method (CPM), cutting edge in the 1950s, is now obsolete but still widely used.

SPM goes far beyond what a CAPM covers. It presents the student with a series of tools, such as the use of Design Structure Matrices (DSM), probability distributions, and System Dynamics (SD) to more fully understand the apparent contradictions in project dynamics that appear when viewed through the simpler frameworks of PMI. 

My team project involved the study and evaluation of project management processes in use among open-source software development teams, focusing on Fedora operating system development.

Prof. Olivier de Weck,
Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems and Associate Director, Engineering Systems Division
Prof. Olivier de Weck Profile

A very level-headed fellow, he often openly asks his class, made up primarily of SDMers with an average of 9 years of industry experience, if they find fault or question the conclusions or frameworks he covers in class. SDMers are not the average graduate student; we have much more to share in the class. He recognizes this and leverages it to the benefit of all.

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