LGO Alumni Newsletter April 2015

The monthly LGO Alumni Newsletter goes out by email to all alumni; archived issues are posted on this page. If you would like to change your contact information, please email Josh Jacobs.

Message from Thomas Roemer


Thomas A. Roemer

Dear friends,

I began writing this letter on a boat in Halong Bay, Vietnam, traveling on International Plant Trek with 41 of the LGO '16s, with our vessel proudly flying the MIT flag. Now that we're back on campus, I'm amazed at everything we saw and did during five intense days in Shanghai and Hanoi: visits to Caterpillar, WNC (a Verizon supplier), SanDisk, the Port of Shanghai, Piaggio and Converse; a keynote address by Honeywell China CEO Stephen Shang; gracious receptions by our CLGO friends from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU); and a memorable karaoke night (apparently there is a saying in China that what happens in a karaoke bar in Shanghai stays there).

Together with Academic and Student Affairs Coordinator Patty Eames, our students once again did a fantastic job in planning and executing a plant trek. The CLGO students went out of their way to make us feel welcome and experience the essence of Chinese culture and Shanghai life. It was particularly rewarding to see how well the two groups interacted and the bonds of friendship that began to form across continents and cultures.

The visit was a powerful reminder of the opportunities offered by our ties with CLGO. With only two Lion Team projects at Apple and Verizon this year, we are not fully taking advantage of this partnership, and I hope that more Lion Teams will form in the future. Both partner companies and students in the two programs would benefit greatly.

The LGO staff is finally complete again after Ekaterina Trizlova joined us as our new Senior Financial Administrator. Katja brings a lot of experience from Tufts University and I'm excited to working with a complete staff for the first time since joining LGO last summer.

Finally, I would like to thank Jane Deutsch, who retired in early March after many years as LGO’s admissions director. We are grateful for her many contributions to the program and for the excellent cohorts of students recruited by her. Enjoy your retirement, Jane!

Thomas A. Roemer
Executive Director, MIT Leaders for Global Operations Program

LGO News


LGO student internship featured in Aviation Maintenance

Roberson and colleagues make the cover of Aviation Maintenance for a story about using "big data" in airplane maintenance.. Read more...


U.S. News: MIT engineering, management programs are among best in nation

In the annual rankings by U.S. News and World report, the MIT School of Engineering is #1 and the MIT Sloan School of Management is #5 in the nation. Read more...

2015 LGO Alumni Conference

Please join us for the 2015 LGO Alumni Conference on April 30th & May 1st!

The conference is being held on historic Sixth Street in downtown Austin, Texas! The theme of this year’s conference is The Operational Challenges of Growth.

We have a great speaker lineup this year including:

  • Jonathan Byrnes, Senior Lecturer, MIT
  • Jeff Clarke, Vice Chairman, Dell
  • Steve Cook LGO ‘98, Managing Partner, LFM Capital
  • Danny Davis LGO ’08, Partner, American Industrial Partners
  • John Doggett, Senior Lecturer, University of Texas at Austin
  • Barry Evans, Founder/CEO/Chairman, Calxeda
  • Dan Garrison, proprietor of the first and oldest legal whiskey distillery in Texas
  • Mark Graban LGO ’99, Lean Healthcare Author, Speaker, Consultant
  • Tarkan Maner, Chairman/CEO, Nexenta
  • Jay Miller, President, Round Rock Express minor league baseball team
  • Martha Pincoffs, owner and founder of a successful local food company (Hot Dang)
  • Robert Spillar, Director of Transportation, City of Austin
  • René van de Zande, Chairman, Austin Aztex men’s professional soccer team
  • Scott Wilcox, Director of Technology, South by Southwest
  • Plus LGO’s leaders present and past: Thomas Roemer and Don Rosenfield

Special thanks to this year’s conference sponsors: Dell, LFM Capital, Raytheon, Pfizer, and American Industrial Partners.

Take advantage of the opportunity to reconnect with your classmates…go to the conference website to see who from your class has registered!

Conference agenda includes:

  • April 29 Happy Hour 7 - 10 pm —
  • April 30 & May 1 Conference (breakfast & lunch both days) —
  • May 2 Golf Outing (morning tee times so you can fly home that evening) —

Register now at: http://lgo.mit.edu/alumni/conference/2015/

Book your flights and accommodations now.

We look forward to seeing you in Austin!

— The 2015 LGO Alumni Conference Planning Committee: Aaron Raphel, Brian Feller, Claudia Sonnet, Karla Krause, Steve Herington, and Susan Bankston

Alumni Scholar profile

The Alumni Newsletter includes periodic first-person accounts by students who have benefited from an LGO Alumni Scholarship.


Yalu Wu

When I first encountered the Leaders for Global Operations program, it was still called Leaders for Manufacturing. I was an undergraduate at MIT at the time and started to hear about the program—a professor first mentioned LGO during one of my classes and then I noticed an LGO student in another class (later, as an LGO myself, I would run into her during alumni events).

Years later, when I began to look at graduate programs, I immediately realized that LGO was a great fit for what I was interested in. I had been exposed to operations during my time as an undergrad and wanted to learn more about the field—in particular, I wanted to focus on transportation, logistics and supply chain. As someone who was unsure about business school or pursuing a master’s in engineering (I ended up applying to both), the dual-degree program was very attractive to me. LGO ended up being the perfect mix of coursework, exposure to operations and research that I was seeking.

The size of the LGO program (approximately 50 per year) also was an attractive factor. Having had a fairly “mainstream” undergraduate experience, I knew that it would be invaluable to have such a close-knit community. What I didn’t consider at the time, however, was that a small class size also meant a tight alumni base.

Over the course of the program, I’ve been continuously surprised by the support of the alumni community—from the sponsorship/support of alums during plant trek, to the WLGO webinars, to the whitewater rafting trip I went on arranged by an LGO alum, to the LGO reunion BBQ hosted by an alum at her house during my internship, to the LGO alums who eagerly introduced themselves to me during my full-time recruiting process, to the LGO alum who will be the skipper for our BVI boat, etc. The alumni truly help make this program not only possible, but also an amazing experience.

I am truly grateful to be a recipient of an Alumni Scholarship.

— Yalu Wu, LGO '15

LGO Partner Job Postings

To connect LGO partner companies with potential LGO alumni job prospects, this year we’ve started a regular section listing LGO partner opportunities. If you work at a partner company and want to include a posting in this section, please contact Josh Jacobs.


For more information on any of these positions, please email Brent Gibbons at bgibbon@amazon.com.

Director, ACES: The Director of Amazon Customer Excellence System (ACES) is responsible for implementing the ACES system enabling Amazon’s Fulfillment Operations to benefit from the productivity gains available via data-based Continuous Improvement programs.

In this role, you will develop and lead a team that identifies, creates, develops and integrates innovative solutions and programs that lead to operational improvements. This highly visible position has primary leadership responsibility for implementing continuous improvement, standardization and best practice development across Amazon’s Operations. This position must exercise considerable judgment in the identification and execution of strategic continuous improvement plans and the tactical project implementation and completion process. The position requires a candidate with the proven leadership ability to facilitate and guide the application of ACES methods to process improvements with impeccable quality levels in an organization with explosive growth.

Operations Research Leader (Optimization): As an OR scientist, you will be responsible for designing and implementing solution strategies for a wide range of routing and optimization improvements throughout the Amazon supply chain. A successful candidate should have a background in mathematical optimization, including numerical solution of continuous and discrete problems using exact, approximation algorithms, and heuristic methods.

Engineering Leadership: As an Amazon engineer, you will work with the most talented engineers in the design and development of physical fulfillment systems around the globe. A successful candidate will have an established background in creating high-performance physical systems, a strong technical problem-solving ability, excellent project management skills, and an internal motivation to achieve results in a fast-paced and often ambiguous environment. Leaders at Amazon are tasked with developing and mentoring the next generation of leadership in our company. Your management abilities will be put to the test in our environment. Amazon’s culture encourages innovation and expects engineers and managers alike to take a high level of ownership of the solution of complex problems.

Head of Social Responsibility: As a global company, Amazon takes corporate social responsibility, environmental issues and business ethics seriously. The Head of Social Responsibility will help to ensure that the products that Amazon sells are safe for our customers, for the environment, and for the people who make them, handle them and transport them. This leader will continue to build processes and solutions to uphold our values and enable us to partner with Amazon business owners, operators and suppliers to ensure our ecosystem adheres to the highest ethical standards.

The Head of Social Responsibility will engage with cross-functional teams to define and develop product and social responsibility requirements and solutions in the areas of product manufacturing, Amazon operations, and our supply chains. This executive will be responsible for envisioning and executing globally all operational aspects of this program, and will influence long-term strategy decisions by determining how Amazon incorporates social responsibility into future supply chain strategies and areas of business growth. This leader will be influential, persuasive, a strong operator, and able to forge strong partnerships internally and externally. This leader will look for every opportunity to automate social responsibility systems using innovative technology solutions.

Knowledge Transfer

When you click on the Internship page on the LGO website, you’ll find detailed profiles of recent LGO internships to show you examples of LGO projects and the results they achieve.

The internships are organized into seven categories:

  • Capacity and production planning
  • Energy and sustainability
  • Lean operations
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Product development
  • Sourcing
  • Supply chain

Each section includes profiles of two internships with information on the students’ approach, project impact and MIT faculty participation. New profiles will be posted on a regular basis.

This month will feature two projects involving predictive modeling to assist in the planning for preventative maintain and risk mitigation. Rick Mullen worked on corrosion modeling for Pacific Gas and Electric to avoid leaks or other more catastrophic failures. Daniel Roberson worked on engine interval prediction at Pratt and Whitney, a UTC company, one of the findings from his work was that engine life can be tied to route patterns used by the airlines.

If you have companies or areas of research you are interested in having highlighted in the monthly news, please contact Ted Equi (tedequi@mit.edu).

Name: Rick Mullen

Rick Mullen

Company: Pacific Gas and Electric
Supervisors: Sara Burke
Academic Advisors: Georgia Perakis and Ron Ballinger

Title: Risk Mitigation of Pipeline Assets through Improved Corrosion Modeling

Metallic corrosion is the third-largest cost to the U.S. economy after healthcare and real estate. A National Association of Corrosion Engineers study estimates the direct and indirect costs of corrosion within the U.S. at 6.2 percent of GDP. The study concluded that the use of optimal corrosion prevention and control methods would increase public safety, prevent damage to property and the environment, and save billions of dollars. PG&E is dedicated to discovering those optimal processes that will help them become the safest, most reliable gas company in the U.S.

Currently, federal regulation requires that all utility gas assets be inspected every 36 months for atmospheric corrosion (AC). While this timeframe is conservative in many cases, it is not optimal and treats all of PG&E’s gas assets the same. California has a very wide range of corrosive atmospheres; by treating all assets the same, waste is created in some areas and system safety is decreased in others. The ability to predict where corrosion will cause system failures (leaks) and optimize the results will allow for better allocation of limited resources to minimize system risk.

The project focused on developing a model to predict where failures caused by atmospheric corrosion occur on customer meter assets. We used past meteorological data (relative humidity and temperature), past pollution data (chlorides and sulfur dioxide), 2014 AC inspections on 2.27 million meters, leak data, and gas system asset information (meter age, type, etc.). Since corrosion physics is understood, we are utilizing the existing International Organization for Standardization (ISO) corrosion model to define how corrosion progresses over time. Through data and statistical analysis, we developed a model to estimate when the corrosion-inhibiting coating on meter assets fails (thus starting corrosion) and applied a localized corrosion factor for accelerated corrosion in order to predict the number of failures in a defined geographic area.

Using this model, PG&E can determine the optimal meter asset corrosion inspection frequency, thus improving system safety. From the analysis, we also identified several opportunities for PG&E to improve the AC inspection process. By collecting targeted data on localized corrosion and atmospheric corrosion rates, the model can be improved to provide more accurate results in determining optimal inspection intervals.

Name: Daniel R. Roberson

Daniel R. Roberson

Company: UTC–Pratt & Whitney
Supervisor: Lynn Fraga, Engineering Service Programs Manager; Jason Rhodes, Technical Analysis Group Supervisor
Academic Advisors: Youssef Marzouk, Director, Aerospace Computational Design Laboratory; Karen Willcox, Co-Director, Center for Computational Engineering; Roy Welsch, Professor of Statistics and Management Science and Engineering Systems

Title: Modeling the Impact of Automation and Process Optimization on Cell Line Development


Airplane engine maintenance contracts represent a significant portion of overall customer value to airline operators. Maintenance contracts are awarded competitively by the operator to one of three options: independent maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) companies, airline-operated MROs, and the engine’s primary original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

The pricing of these contracts is developed carefully by the OEM based on predicted time on wing (interval) and maintenance costs. While historical methods have provided accurate assessments of typical costs, the potential exists for improved use of available data in forecast engine lifetime and maintenance costs. An algorithm will be developed having the capability to predictively model engine lifetime and damage based upon currently available engine lifecycle information. A final product will be delivered to Pratt & Whitney containing a heuristic for deriving this algorithm using engineering provided relationships for any specific engine design. A method will be documented by which this system can be implemented to the existing simulation software used by Pratt & Whitney for cost estimating.

The project also involves developing data acquisition and storage methods within the company that considers the impacts of the current organizational structure and incentives for data maintenance. The implications upon the data usability and recommendations for data architecture will be provided.

A system dynamics model was created through interviews within the engine services and life prediction groups to identify the primary drivers of engine damage. These damage sources were mapped to available data, and relationships were analyzed to inform screening methods. Engine lifetime and damage accrual varies by section, and failure modes unique to sections were identified.

Data covering engine performance, maintenance, operations, and worldwide weather data was collected. All data was gathered into a Teradata database and rationalized by flight, while maintenance records are tabulated by section. The targeted response for the section will be the probability distribution for failure of each module as a function of measurable parameters. Existing engineering models for predicted engine life are used to form the basis of the regression model. The physics-based model to compute a residual life factor representing the deviation between each maintenance interval and the expected life. The data is transformed by Kaplan Meier method to enable parametric survival analysis.

The work has identified significant primary and cross-terms as damage drivers that directionally agree with physical interpretations. De-correlation of regional effects is made possible by mapping of cause and effect through physics-based models. The present value of ongoing maintenance can be established for certain maintenance procedures. Strong predictive power is achieved for new fleets prior to first engine failure provided that cities in the fleet flight network are consistent cities used in the model development. Implementation of the models to future engines will be possible by careful factor consideration by engineering teams.

Student Bloggers

Please make our student blogs a regular part of your reading about LGO. If you’re interested in the current state of the program, these blogs are a great place to start.

  • During InternshipFest, Tamara Belkina ’16 went through 12 internship interviews for 15 openings in four days and got matched with Boeing. Meanwhile, she also found some time to celebrate her birthday and go skiing in Vermont.
  • Maxine Yang '15 is excited about her new career in healthcare after six years in the consumer products industry, and her LGO classmate were instrumental in giving her the confidence to make the change as she prepares to go to work at Amgen.
  • Yalu Wu ’15 had a great experience being a TA, noting that she developed a genuine partnership with the class professor, met 180 new students and learned a lot.

Give to LGO

The Alumni page of the LGO website explains how your donation to one of our alumni gift funds will benefit current and future students.

Alumni Reference Information

Log in to the Virtual Community to see LGO alumni information, find other alumni, update your information, or find theses. If you have trouble getting in, contact lgosdmvc@mit.edu or use the "forgot password" button. If the email address you submit is in our system, your username and password will be sent to you.

Josh Jacobs, LGO Director of Operations and Partner Integration (jsjacobs@mit.edu, 617-253-2959).