Semester 1 in the rearview mirror

My first semester is now done. Some thoughts on my classes:
  • Disruptive Technologies: We learned a lot about the Clay Christensen innovation model during IAP. It was presented as a well-packaged, clear, consistent model for understanding the dynamics of the marketplace. This class is an extended series of footnotes, caveats, and counterexamples which show that the simple model isn't the end of the discussion. Group project: understanding the impact of low-cost 3rd generation PV solar technologies. We predicted that Balance of System costs will keep 3G solar out of the utility-scale market indefinitely, but that opportunities posed by BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaic) to lower BoS costs will create a viable market once the technology's durability issues are resolved.
  • Engineering, Economics, and Regulation of the Electricity Grid. My favorite class this term. A detailed, real-world look at exactly how the magic of always-available power actually works. I had no idea that the system was this complicated and how the incentive structures really work in the industry. Fascinating to learn what "deregulation" really means.
  • Technology Strategy: Heavy overlap with Disruptive Technologies. (same instructor) It was cool to read some seminal books of the field and then have the opportunity to interview the authors at length in class.
  • Real Options: "How to introduce a stochastic distribution function to your business plan". Really useful content burdened by an unwieldy class organization. Downright painful use of inappropriate tools to the problem. Unpleasant for structural issues, but the material is compelling enough to save the class.
  • User-Centered Innovation - discused earlier
  • Thesis Seminar - I may have a thesis topic soon. Yay.
  • Enterprise Architecture - A not-yet-rigorous approach to enterprise transformation. I had hoped for an engineering approach to management, which is not really what this class is about. Good to know, though, especially if I ever need to roll out an IT system in a large company.
Of course, the most valuable stuff at MIT comes outside of classes. I volunteered with the Clean Energy Prize, which deserves a post all of its own. Stay tuned.