SDM Summer 2010 review

Another semester, another chunk of knowledge. Summer term is a bit accelerated at MIT since it tries to pack a full semester of content into fewer weeks. Classes meet for more hours each week and the workload per unit time is higher. Fortunately, the institute is air conditioned.

ESD.763 covered supply chain logistics from a very high level. I didn't walk out of this class feeling like I could design and run a supply chain on my own, but I now feel that I have a solid grounding in the issues and the fundamentals. We started with some good mathematical grounding in Markov chains and queue theory. Then we covered a rich set of cases to see how these theories are applied in the real world. Learning about 7-11 Japan was mind-blowing. Hourly resupply with shifting stock throughout the day? Insane. This class only ran for the first half of the semester; having its workload disappear just as other classes ramped up was scheduling genius. I appreciated that Professor Martinez-de-Albeniz would challenge poorly-thought-out answers with harsh and well-deserved reality.

15.514 Financial and Managerial Accounting should have been painful. Who wants to spend three evenings per week learning about accounting in the summer? It turned out to be much more engaging than I thought it would be. I viewed the class as "defense against the dark arts." I never plan to do any accounting myself, but I feel that I should now be able to spot and understand a severe irregularity if someone tries to sneak it by me. Professor Scott Keating was committed to both our understanding and keeping the material as engaging as it realistically can be.

ESD.33 Systems Engineering reminded me of my employee training on the "Design V" back at Ford. This was mostly familiar material, and it suffers a bit by being so loose and heuristic-based. It's necessary material but I don't see a systematic way to teach it. This class, however, was responsible for my favorite project of the summer: an examination of the electrical grid in Hawaii. (Separate article on this to come.)

ESD.945 SLaM Lab Praxis was the first formal "leadership" training we have yet had. In this class we covered decision making, setting strategic directions, how to disagree productively, and how to respond to changes in the external environment. This was good material and Professor Michael Davies delivers it with passion. There is a good chance that I will be taking the followup class this Fall.

And now, three weeks off for some backpacking/kayaking/thesis-writing.

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