LGO Program Blog

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Pride Month 2022: Austin de Maille, LGO ’22

Why did you decide on attending MIT LGO?

My main goal for attending graduate school was to deepen my mechanical design skills in an engineering master’s program. However, I also recognized that as my career progressed, I would likely head into engineering management to cultivate the talent of younger engineers. When I learned about LGO (which I somehow wasn’t aware of as an undergrad), I knew it would be the perfect fit. I could deepen my mechanical design skills and develop my leadership acumen at a top university. The program would propel my career path toward what I hoped to see long term.

What is your favorite memory from your time at LGO?

There were so many wonderful memories it’s hard to pick just one! However, two memories, in particular, stand out.

Austin with his LGO Core Team.

The first memory happened immediately after the last day of classes. Chris Cubra, a member of our cohort, organized an event where three of us shared intimate stories of defining moments in our lives. I was fortunate enough to discuss how I found harmony between my faith (roman catholic) and sexuality (gay). It was an intimate, coming-of-age story that touched on mental health, toxic masculinity, and the power of gratefulness. I only shared such a personal story because of the supportive, open environment that our cohort created.

The second memory, which may be a cop-out, is our class’s time on DPT. Because of the pandemic, it was the first time our entire cohort was together in one place. More specifically, during the rare downtime between company visits, we all got together for karaoke nights, sight-seeing tours, and personal storytelling. It was a great way to grow closer as a class.

How were you able to engage with LGBTQ+ communities at MIT?

Sloan Pride Leadership Team.

During my second year, I was one of the outreach officers of Sloan Pride, Sloan’s LGBTQ+ affinity group. Being part of the Sloan Pride leadership team was a great way to meet LGBTQ+ peers across programs and years at Sloan. As an outreach officer, my role was to connect with the wider Sloan population by organizing community events such as Pride’s annual LGBTQ+ C-function (Cfx), a large party that educates attendees on LGBTQ history and celebrates queer authenticity.

What are your hopes for the future of diversity in LGO and in industry?

I hope that future LGO cohorts represent the diversity of the people and communities they serve – in terms of gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, and other underrepresented groups. I also hope that LGO mandates that their industry partners enact similar commitments to diversity by instituting actionable DE&I goals with quantifiable results. Many companies, especially during pride month, boast a commitment to promoting diversity. However, too often their words are empty, unfulfilled promises. I want the influence that LGO students, faculty, and staff have on industry partners and future employers to be used to promote DE&I.

Do you have any advice for prospective students thinking about applying?

LGOs summiting Mt Washington.

If you’re on the fence about applying, reach out to a current or former LGO student about their experience. Yes, it is more than acceptable to cold message someone on LinkedIn. Talking with students will give you the best gauge into whether LGO is a good fit.

When applying, unapologetically show your authentic self in the application. Talk about your passions, quirks, career goals, etc. You’ll need to prep for interviews and likely draft several versions of your application essays, but through all that, explain what uniquely makes you, well, you!

Post-Graduation:

Shortly after a multi-week pack-rafting trek in the Arctic Circle, I will be joining Cooper Perkins as a Mechanical Design Engineer. I will work on various electromechanical R&D and product development projects for a variety of industries while remaining very client-facing. I am exceptionally excited about the opportunity as it nicely combines the hands-on technical and business expertise gained during my time at LGO.

 

June 14, 2022 | More

Alumni Spotlight: Adam Traina, LGO ’15

LGO recently welcomed Symbotic as an industry partner company. Mechanical Engineering LGO ’15 alum, Adam Traina, reflected on his experience at LGO and his current role as the director of Operations Research at Symbotic.


What are you responsible for in your current role at Symbotic?  

I’m the Director of Operations Research at Symbotic. I use optimization algorithms to design robotic systems to meet a client’s cost, throughput, and warehouse inventory needs. My work for Fortune 100 clients includes understanding the value chain for existing systems and the operational challenges of the business, then designing alternative solutions with a strong ROI. This often results in identifying gaps between existing technologies, which drives new designs, patents, and products.

 

Why did you decide to attend MIT LGO?

I joined the LGO program because I saw how effective teamwork was in navigating coursework at MIT. I watched a small team of six LGO students divide, conquer, and teach each other advanced skills with more enjoyment and less time than individual learners. Additionally, the diverse backgrounds and working experience of LGO teams enrich the opportunities to learn and grow. The program and students provide exposure to different industries and career paths, as well as the chance to practice multidisciplinary leadership skills, accelerating personal and professional development. My previous work experience helped me understand that technical, financial, and cultural literacy was essential for making good leadership decisions. The LGO curriculum brings all three of those competencies together.

What was the most valuable takeaway from MIT that has helped in your career post-LGO?

I use concepts and connections from LGO in my work every day — from data-driven business cases to behavioral leadership insights — to anticipate organizational gaps and compose effective teams. I use the powerful mathematical frameworks that I learned at MIT to design and optimize new systems. Perhaps most enduring, I’ve gained career-long connections with former classmates, and we have continued to learn from each other, collaborate on business partnerships and expand our networking groups.

What do you enjoy most about the work you do?

Symbotic is in a fast-paced growth phase and its rewarding to be part of a team developing a first-of-a-kind fully autonomous, end-to-end supply chain solution. I enjoy using data to make decisions, managing projects with large impacts, and working in a culture that values operational excellence. I also value collaborating directly with senior leaders at Symbotic and know that the work I produce is making a profitable impact for our customers. The culture of Symbotic is focused on empowering all team members, encouraging creative thinking and developing people with diverse backgrounds who share a passion for excellence and problem-solving.

Do you have any advice for prospective LGOs?

The best part about LGO was that everyone had different interests from different industries and cultural geographies. LGO gave us a common set of skills to achieve our goals by building a collaborative foundation with the ability for each of us to branch out to meet our own unique career objectives. The best way to get the most out of LGO is to engage deeply with your peers, match your individuality to your course electives and help each other achieve your aspirations.

 

June 9, 2022 | More

MIT LGO Best Thesis Award 2022: Andrew Tindall

This year, MIT Commencement Ceremonies were back in-person for the first time since 2019. After the LGO Class of 2022 Convocation, LGOs celebrated with a special department graduation reception with family, friends and Staff. At the annual graduation event, Executive Director, Thomas Roemer announced the winner for LGO’s Best Thesis award. This year’s winner was Andrew Tindall, who analyzed hybrid work models at Verizon.

 

 

Andrew used a variety of data sources including HR scheduler data, hybrid employee schedules, badge data and meeting data from Google to help answer the question, “how is hybrid work is impacting organizations,” a challenge, that many organizations face after the COVID-19 pandemic. Andrew found collaboration data can be used to align work groups to maximize in-person collaboration gains while minimizing the number of days in office per week. Andrew’s data collection was used to model employee networks and cluster employees into communities. In his pilot program, he increased stakeholder alignment from 13% with heuristically set schedules to 45% aligned with optimized schedules.

One of Andrew’s advisors described his theses as using “state of the art data analytic methods, and surfaces insights that challenge recent assumptions about work and management.” An LGO Alumni reviewer cited that Andrew’s research was “very relevant and current…strong background and a demonstrated understanding of both the calculations/mathematical components of the methods as well as the practical applications.”

 

Andrew graduated from LGO with an MBA and an MS in EECS. Andrew earned his BS in Electrical Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point and served in various roles as an Army Officer. After LGO, Andrew plans to join Verizon as a Technical Product Manager for Advanced Analytics.

 

May 31, 2022 | More

Industry Internship Spotlight: Lampros Tsontzos @ Inditex/Zara

What was your internship project/scope?

My internship project was part of Zara’s Data Science team, which closely supports the Operations organization. The goal of the project was to improve the inventory replenishment process by optimizing the days of coverage metric, which is a core input to the target inventory calculation. To achieve that, I incorporated additional features into the calculation and build an algorithm that finds the optimal way to combine these features into the calculation. Solving this problem is important for any retailer because setting the right inventory level to account for both cycle and safety stock is a difficult tradeoff. Companies need to minimize overall inventory to keep cost low, and also need to avoid stock-outs to keep customers happy and maximize revenue. I worked closely with the data science team to develop the solution and also had periodic meetings with business stakeholders to get feedback on how the solution can be incorporated into their day-to-day operations.

What coursework informed your internship the most?

Lampros at a Zara store location, despite his fully remote internship.

The LGO Summer Core semester established the foundation for me to be successful in my internship. I leveraged learning from nearly all courses in that first semester in various parts of my work. Intro to Operations Management taught by Sean Willems was my first exposure to the best practices in inventory management and supply chain planning. I was surprised to find myself going back to my notes from past courses that quickly, and Intro to Ops was the class I most frequently referenced.

Another foundational element of my work was data engineering and feature creation, which was required in order to transform raw data into meaningful features that capture the knowledge  and expertise of business stakeholders. Our Statistics and Data Science course taught by Amr Farahat covered these topics in depth, and also taught me how to quickly perform exploratory statistical analyses to better understand the data I am handling. At the core of the final solution that I delivered to Zara is an optimization problem that I formulated and solved using a heuristic. Systems Optimization by Daniel Freund gave me the necessary background to be able to understand the requirements of the problem and design a solution that meets all of them.

I would be remiss if I did not mention Leadership & Organizational Change by Leigh Hafrey. “Leighdership” – the affectionate name we have given the class to highlight Leigh’s impact – did not end in the first summer semester. The ongoing components of the class, including those that ran in parallel to the internship, encouraged me to pause and reflect on my approach. This made me more thoughtful about my interactions with my colleagues at Zara and more intentional about the directions in which I took the project.

Lastly, I took Operations Strategy by Karen Zheng in Spring 2021, right before starting at Zara, and this class offered a lot of practical examples about how different businesses think about their operations strategically.

What is your favorite memory or anecdote about your time on internship?

There were a lot of memories I’ll take with me going forward, but some of my favorites are funny anecdotes that capture the challenges of remote work across different time zones, countries, and languages. Throughout my time with Zara, there were multiple times when I got funny/confused looks from people because my video background was a dark window given that I had to join calls at 6am East Coast time before sunrise. Early on we also had many futile attempts to get one of the video conferencing platforms to do live translations from Spanish to English and vice versa but we discovered that the technology was not quite there yet at the time. We resorted to some of my colleagues doing a live translation which inevitably meant we had to plan meetings to run twice as long!

What has been your experience with LGO alumni and the industry partner companies during this process?

NextEra Energy visit on the LGO ’22 Domestic Plant Trek (DPT)

Although there aren’t any LGO alumni currently working at Zara, I was able to talk to a lot of alumni who did their internship at Zara in past years. Their perspective was super helpful and allowed me to ramp up much faster than I would have otherwise. They explained everything I needed to know to be successful during my internship and also offered plenty of career advice as I was balancing working on my internship with full time recruiting. Overall, I was impressed by everyone’s responsiveness to my cold outreach and willingness to support me through this process.

What do you think was the most valuable part of the internship for you?

I had the amazing opportunity to work on a supply chain project during a time when the pandemic was causing disruptions across most companies. This was an awesome opportunity to understand the various tradeoffs companies need to evaluate and the decisions they need to make under uncertain circumstances. I had a lot of fun working with a team that has been with Zara for a long time and has a lot of expertise coupled with strong technical skills. This experience helped me enhance my understanding of how analytical solutions can be applied in a business environment and I’ve come away with a framework for successfully implementing such solutions in practice.

 

May 19, 2022 | More

Industry Internship Spotlight: Elizabeth Hau @ Johnson & Johnson

What was your internship project/scope?

My internship project was in J&J’s Ethicon organization, helping with end-to-end supply chain visibility through working on a specific product. More specifically, Ethicon collects data on every phase of their supply chain, but none of it is connected or used yet. The goal of the project is to connect the different data sources through building a digital thread, better understand the current state of the systems, and use insights gained from the digital thread to help inform decision making. To have something tangible for the internship, I focused on implementing a proof-of-concept digital thread for one of the products, but the long-term goals is to have digital threads and digital twins (digital version of the physical processes) for all of Ethicon’s products.

How was the transition between school and returning to a full time work schedule and back again?

The initial transition from working to school was challenging. The academic work is intense and we all get thrown right into a lot of work from the get-go, but thanks to the extremely supportive and helpful LGO community, help is always there when I needed it. It was exciting coming back to school and learning more about operations, business, dive deeper into engineering classes, reflect on past experiences, learn from my classmates, and continue to work on leadership skills. Transitioning from school back to the full-time work schedule was rather smooth. I appreciated having most of my weekends back, but occasionally missed the feeling of drinking from a firehose. Getting to go on DPT (Domestic Plant Trek) in the middle of internship and finally meeting everyone in the class in person was amazing! Since coming back from internship, I have enjoyed attending all my classes in person (including attending my first engineering class at MIT in person!) and spending more time hanging out with friends while balancing the hecticness of writing the thesis, getting it reviewed, and managing the approval process.

LGO ’22 Core Team Seven, the Heptades.

What coursework informed your internship the most?

Intro to ops, stats and data science, interactive data visualizations were the classes I found very useful for me on the internship. Intro to ops helped me understand terms used by my partners and those on the manufacturing floor better. Stats and data science gave me the skills to execute the data science side of the project. Interactive data visualizations taught me ways to design effective visualizations, which were seminal in communicating with stakeholders with a wide range of technical understanding.

What were the difficulties or challenges you experienced before/during/after your internship?

J&J is a very heavily relationship-based company. One of the challenges I encountered during my internship was building connections with people remotely. My experience meeting with everyone at J&J was great even though we could not meet in person. Everyone was generous with their time and met with me through 1:1s. However, connecting with external partners (suppliers) who had data I needed was a challenge.

Visiting Chicago while on DPT
Visiting Chicago while on DPT

Not having a pre-existing relationship with them before made it hard for my messages to be noticed. The fact that I have not met any of them before seemed to further disincentivize their sense of need to meet with me, especially given the nature of my project being about data and suppliers being more protective of their data. Eventually, I enlisted help from my teammates who have worked with the suppliers before and cherished the time I had to meet with the suppliers to demonstrate the incremental benefits the project can bring and was able to get one of them onboard with sharing their data.

What has been your experience with LGO alumni and the industry partner companies during this process?

My supervisor Kris Schmidt and project partners Chad Lape and Gaby Lamas were extremely supportive during my internship. I have had a wonderful time learning from them and working with them. Kris’ help and organization skills ensured the interactions between the program and the company was as seamless as possible. I really enjoyed working with my partners!

The alumni presence at J&J is very strong. Prior to my internship starting, I received a warm welcome from LGO alums at J&J as soon as the internship matches were announced. During my internship, 1:1s with Christy Dorris ’06, Amy Gobel ’17, Suzie Rawden ’21, Manny Gillio ’02, and Caleb Dailey ’98 were all extremely helpful when it came to navigating J&J. Christy, Amy, and Suzie’s mentorship and guidance throughout my internship and full-time job search were very important reasons I decided to join J&J after graduation.

LGO ’22 Class Photo in Miami

What do you think was the most valuable part of the internship for you?

I got to explore a completely different industry and get to work with people from a variety of functions during my six months at J&J! When it comes to the opportunity to explore a new industry, I really appreciated the fact that the internship was six-months instead of three because I got more time to learn and sufficient time to apply what I have learned to a more substantial project (I felt like I was still spending most of my time learning at the three-month mark and really started making contributions after that). I got to see how a different company operated and spend time with amazing mentors at J&J who cared about the people they work with, an experience I am tremendously thankful for!

 

May 12, 2022 | More

Industry Internship Spotlight: Sean O’Donnell @ Nissan

What was your internship project/scope?

My internship was at Nissan’s Smyrna, TN vehicle assembly plant working on the supply chain strategy team. Coming into the internship, I was given the opportunity to explore, talk to the team, and figure out where my experience/skills could make an impact.

The whole class on DPT with the Nissan Ariya – Nissan’s new electric crossover.

Eventually, I settled on a seemingly simple decision point in the supply chain process – where to ship a part from a supplier. The Smyrna assembly plant is massive (capacity to produce more than 600,000 vehicles annually), and it uses a similarly massive warehouse to store inventory until it is needed on the floor. For each incoming part, the supply chain team decides whether to send it to the warehouse or directly to the factory floor. The warehouse is necessary because all parts cannot physically fit in the factory while maintaining inventory levels appropriate for reliability, but it also generates extra costs. For my project, I ended up creating an optimization model to decide whether to send a part to the warehouse or factory. This model showed the potential for impressive savings and is being implemented by Nissan’s supply chain analytics team.

What were your expectations regarding the internship before you started LGO? What surprised you about the internship process?

Before I started LGO I expected the internship to be intimidating. It is not just an internship, it’s also a research project where you are expected to generate data to write a thesis. I had never written a thesis, so I was worried about how I could balance the needs of a company and my thesis needs. Ultimately, it was not an issue, my thesis goals aligned with the company and they actively made sure I had the space to do what I needed to. Another big question before I started was the whole matching process. It is definitely something that any prospective student should be aware of. While you might want to live in a certain location, some of the more interesting projects to you might be somewhere else. You will have to balance location, company, and project, which will inevitably force difficult decisions.

On DPT (Domestic Plant Trek) after attempting to install weather strips on a door with my LGO core team. It was hard!

I highly recommend LGO candidates to reach out to a current student or alum and ask about their experience with matching. I will say that I got to work on a great project in a great city that I had never visited before, so things worked out for me.

What coursework informed your internship the most?

During the LGO summer we take a couple of data heavy classes on statistics, machine learning, and optimization. I had no experience with these topics before LGO, but these classes gave me a strong baseline to build off. The optimization model I used in the end is a very specialized version of a knapsack optimization problem, something we had covered in optimization class, so I felt comfortable walking through development and implementation. I also did a project with another LGO partner company, Amazon, for MIT’s Operations Lab course where I learned to manage large data sets. This was key as the quantity of data at a vehicle assembly plant is staggering. A lot of learning always ends up happening on the job, but LGO definitely gave me a head start.

What has been your experience with LGO alumni and the industry partner companies during this process?

With LGO alums and significant others on a distillery tour in Nashville.

Early in my internship, one of the LGO alumni at Nissan organized a brewery/distillery crawl across Nashville with the interns and LGO alums. Given that I had never lived in or visited Nashville prior to the internship, it was great to have a day exploring with some locals. All of my subsequent interactions with the LGOs at Nissan were equally welcoming. They actively reached out to me to discuss my project, my overall experience, people I wanted to connect with, and just life in general. Outside of Nissan, my experience has been the same. The LGO network is tight, generous with time for fellow alums, and incredibly wide ranging.

What do you think was the most valuable part of the internship for you?

When I was interviewing for internships, I was being vetted while simultaneously vetting the companies/projects for three things. I wanted supply chain experience, data science project experience, and to work in a new industry. These were personal goals for where I saw my future career going, and I managed to meet all three at Nissan. I will be leveraging both the hard and soft skills I developed at Nissan for years to come.

 

May 5, 2022 | More

Industry Internship Spotlight: Paige Wyler @ Rivian

What was your internship project/scope?

My internship project was based on Rivian’s sustainability team, which was based within their operations organization. The goal of the project was to develop a decision-making framework for carbon that would provide business leaders a framework for incorporating Rivian’s emissions reduction goals into their decision processes. Within this broader strategic framework, I worked closely with the data science team to integrate carbon into operational optimization modeling to understand how this impacted the ultimate business decision.

What were your expectations regarding the internship before you started LGO? What surprised you about the internship process?

LGO ’22s visiting Rivian on their Domestic Plant Trek (DPT)

Before coming to LGO, I was excited about internships that had traditionally offered Operations Research content. For example, both Nike and Zara had hosted projects that I thought would be right up my alley. Rivian was not a partner company when I was applying, and it was not in consideration for me initially. However, I love working in fast-paced environments, and Rivian certainly fit that category – they were on the cusp of launching their first vehicles and going public. Additionally, they had a unique sustainability focus that aligned with my own interests. I ultimately was surprised to find myself gravitating towards automotive despite my expectations coming into LGO.

How was the transition between school and returning to a full time work schedule and back again?

The initial transition to school was challenging in an academic sense – many classes forced me to remember subjects I had not seen in over 8 years. Despite this initial challenge, I love to learn, and school offered the opportunity to spend all my time doing just that. The schedule of the LGO program is busy, and there is a balance between academics, activities, and social life. Going back to a full-time work schedule after this semester almost felt easier – I no longer spent weekends doing problem sets and could instead explore Illinois. Coming back to campus has been a whirlwind, with events and activities picking up in a post-vaccine environment. It has been great to reconnect with classmates and learn from their individual internship experiences.

What coursework informed your internship the most?

Paige and her husband on a roadbiking trip through Illinois, a favorite pastime while on internship

I took several optimization courses through the ORC program, and these foundations were critical to my project. The courses gave me a theoretical foundation for understanding the models and algorithms that allowed me to work effectively with the data science team. It also gave me a new perspective and approach to problem solving. The beginning part of the internship is about defining the problem scope before identifying solutions, and I found myself better able to understand how data could be used in different ways to solve the problems at hand.

What has been your experience with LGO alumni and the industry partner companies during this process?

When I got to Rivian, there were a number of incredibly supportive LGO alumni throughout the process. I sat behind a more recent grad and was able to connect with the COO and other folks on the leadership team who were alums. The internship is a unique process, and having advocates for me was crucial to a successful project.

What do you think was the most valuable part of the internship for you?

I had the chance to explore something I had not done before – working in a data science organization. While I knew many of the concepts they were implementing, the operational aspects of writing and merging code were incredibly helpful, and the team at Rivian was very supportive in helping me learn the ropes.

 

April 21, 2022 | More

Industry Internship Spotlight: Lois Nersesian @ Amgen

What was your internship project/scope?

My internship was at Amgen within their Quality organization focusing on deviation investigations. Whenever something goes wrong in the manufacturing process (aka. a deviation), Amgen conducts a thorough investigation to figure out what caused the problem and prevent it from happening in the future. The results of the investigation are written into a detailed report which is stored in Amgen’s systems and rarely referred to again. The goal of my project was to extract information from these historical deviation investigation reports that could be used to inform future investigations. The challenge was that we were working with mostly free-text data describing the deviations and their causal factors. Therefore, we used natural language processing techniques including deep learning models to group records together based on the textual meanings. Over the course of the project, I explored a variety of techniques to add structure to this unstructured dataset experimenting with different classification schemes and methodologies.

How is your thesis going so far?

A process flow chart of a method Lois utilized on her project.

I’m currently working on revising my thesis draft based on feedback from my faculty advisors and from my Amgen manager. So far, writing the thesis has been much smoother than I expected. Before and during the internship it seemed like such a daunting task. I was scared it would take forever, and I wouldn’t know what to write. But I was completely wrong! After 6 months of internship, I’ve had plenty to write about. It’s actually been a challenge to figure out what not to include because it turned out longer than I expected. The hardest part was getting started, but after that, the writing went pretty quickly.

What coursework informed your internship the most?

My project is very data science focused so I definitely have pulled from the “Statistics and Data Science”, “Probability”, and “Intro to Python” classes that we took during our first LGO summer. But I feel the classes that helped me the most have been the more qualitative classes. I already had a background in analytics, but over the course of LGO, I’ve really grown in my soft skills and learned new ways of looking at problems. For example, our fall core class “Organizational Processes” taught us to think about the culture, politics, and structure of an organization when trying to enact change. In my project, this was really helpful in thinking about how a potential technology might be received by the intended users and reminded me to think critically about the organization as a whole and not just about the technology. Another class I found useful was “Operations Strategy” where we did case studies about companies at operational crossroads. While the concepts weren’t directly applicable to my internship project, I learned how to think about operational problems and it made me much more confident throughout my internship.

What were the difficulties or challenges you experienced before/during/after your internship?

The biggest challenge overall has been figuring out what direction to take the project. I was really lucky that Amgen had already gathered most of the data that I needed so I could focus on developing a methodology. Amgen was very open to me exploring the data and trying interesting ideas which was great, but it meant there were so many things that I could do and it felt overwhelming at first. At one point, we seemed to completely change direction every other week. Eventually, there were so many ideas that I had to decide to pick a few methods and focus on those. After the internship was over, I had to decide what to include in the thesis since there were so many different methodologies explored. It was definitely a challenge to synthesize and organize all the results.

The LGO ’22s who interned with Amgen.

What do you think was the most valuable part of the internship for you?

Working on the project itself was really fun and I thought the problem was fascinating but for me, the most valuable part of the internship was actually the experience of navigating the organizational dynamics. That’s something that you can only get in this kind of industry work. For my project, I collaborated with two MIT PhD students who sometimes had different opinions than me about the direction we should take. It was a great learning experience for me to manage the competing priorities and timelines including Amgen’s goals for the project, my need to have content suitable for a thesis, and my collaborators need to develop novel methods. That kind of complex dynamic is not something that can be experienced in a classroom. Since the end of the internship, I’ve been able to reflect on the experience and think about how I might respond to this kind of situation in the future in the working world.

What were your expectations regarding the internship before you started LGO? What surprised you about the internship process?

Before starting, I was worried about two possible things happening with the internship: 1) I would just be doing miscellaneous work that my manager wanted me to do, and I wouldn’t have much control over the projects I worked on, or 2) the project would be too broad, I would have no idea where to start, and I wouldn’t be able to provide value to the company. Luckily neither of these things happened! I had a lot of say in what I was working on, but Amgen still provided enough guidance to help me get started. Amgen has hosted many interns and from my experience, was very supportive of me focusing on a single project. I was also surprised how open they were to feedback and input from my findings. It can be challenging when the results may not be what they expected but I think as an LGO, you garner much more respect than you may think. Based on conversations towards the end of my internship, it looks like they plan to implement my project which is very exciting!

 

April 14, 2022 | More

Alumni Spotlight: Barret Schlegelmilch, LGO ’18

To highlight Blue Origin joining LGO’s industry partner companies, we caught up with Aero/Astro LGO ’18 alum Barret Schlegelmilch,


What is your current role?

I am one of our four “CrewMember 7’s” – we are responsible for training our astronauts and preparing them for flight on New Shepard, as well as serving as the Capsule Communicator (CapCom) in the New Shepard Operations Control Center. The crew capsule holds six astronauts, and we represent the rest of the Blue Origin team as the seventh crew member.

 

 

Why did you decide on attending MIT LGO?

LGO presented an unmatched opportunity to both translate my leadership skills gained in the nuclear submarine community to private industry, and simultaneously build a stronger technical and operational foundation with an amazing cohort and faculty. The focus on applied learning through Ops labs and the integrated co-op was a huge draw for me and one of the most valuable aspects of the program.

What was the most valuable takeaway from MIT that has helped in your career post-LGO?

The importance of questioning assumptions and regularly analyzing a process at the most basic levels. Going back to a whiteboard and mapping out a process diagram has helped unravel more than a few seemingly complex operational problems.

What do you enjoy most about the work you do?

Sharing my passion for human spaceflight with others, and directly helping to advance it as part of my job, has been a dream come true. The space industry is at an inflection point of growth, and the LGO skill-set is definitely well-suited for it.

Do you have any advice for prospective LGOs?

Take advantage of all of the resources that MIT has to offer graduate students, from the clubs to excellent Ops Lab offerings – if something you would like to see doesn’t exist, create it! MIT will support you – I got to see this first hand in organizing the Astropreneurship and Space Industry Club as well as the New Space Age Conference. Most importantly though, enjoy your time with your cohort. They are the best part of the program.

 

April 7, 2022 | More

Women’s History Month 2022: Lauren Sakerka, LGO ’22

What has been your biggest takeaway from your time at MIT so far?

My biggest takeaway is how kind and supportive everyone is, while also having a humble ambition. I think most of us arrived at MIT with imposter syndrome, something that is very common amongst women, but I have also been surprised to learn that it impacts all genders at MIT. However, despite challenges like this, my peers continue to push themselves and deploy a growth mindset to continuously learn and improve. They have been incredibly supportive and community focused. This extends to the LGO and MIT Sloan alumni networks, who have helped all of us through both our school application and full-time recruiting processes. I knew MIT was a great place but could not have anticipated how supportive everyone here is, and I hope to pass this forward in my interactions with the classes that come after me.

 

 

What are your hopes for diversity in LGO and in industry?

While we are seeing a lot of positive changes regarding diversity in the United States, and at LGO specifically, I think we still need a lot of work to get to parity, which is what I hope for. LGO and most of the professional world do not have gender and race representation levels that match the US population. I hope LGO can work to further strengthen its recruitment pool to get more women and minorities applying, as well as providing more aid to these populations to added LGO. In industry, I hope to strengthen the recruitment processes while also being a good mentor, sponsor, and advocate for my peers.

Hiking with fellow LGO ’22s

How have you been able to engage with communities of women at MIT and LGO?

I had an amazing time getting to know the women of LGO and MIT Sloan. In my LGO class we have a women’s-only chat that we use to support eachother. We started having monthly women’s nights within the first month of the program. I now have a group of very close female LGO friends who help me deal with career discussions, vent frustrations, conquer my anxieties, and help celebrate my successes. During our internships, when we lived across the country, we had a virtual wine night and book club where we furthered our community. This group has extended to helping provide each other job recommendations and support each other through recruiting. It has been wonderful to have such a strong, supportive, and ambitious group of friends. In the MBA program, the Sloan Women in Management club, SWIM, provided an additional support network by arranging small group dinners, speaker series, and mentorships.

What is the coolest project you’ve been able to work on since coming to MIT and LGO?

I am impressed and honored by the project opportunities MIT has provided me with. Especially in healthcare, a field I am pivoting to from oil and gas. I have been able to work on an Operations Lab project with Boston Medical Center, a 2.75 Medical Device Design project to design an improved speculum, and a Boston Scientific internship working to develop an operations strategy to replace human visual inspection with machine vision. The latter is the project I found most interesting, because it combined my interests of technology, operations, and healthcare. In this project, I worked to develop a framework to find the best opportunities to replace human visual inspection with machine vision, and my proposal was rolling out to all sites when I ended my internship. It was great to be able to learn so much during such a short time, while improving my understanding of the medical device industry, and working to deploy  a new-er operational technology.

LGO Domestic Plant Trek 2021

What are your plans post-LGO?

Post-LGO I plan to join Deloitte in their healthcare strategy practice at their McLean, VA office. MIT has reinforced my interest in healthcare, but I want to explore the space outside of the product landscape. I feel this opportunity will enable me to continue to develop the toolkit I learned at MIT while getting a diversified experience within healthcare.

Do you have any advice for prospective LGOs?​

The application process is so stressful, and it can really feel like the school is looking for something specific. I would advise prospective students to be authentic and convey themselves as much as they can in the application. They should also try to look at the application holistically and try to paint a full picture of themselves using the different questions available. Finally, applicants should try to relax and enjoy using this as a time to explore what they want to get from their MBA experience as much as possible.

 

March 22, 2022 | More

Women’s History Month 2022: Sravani Yajamanam Kidambi, LGO ’22

Why LGO?

Before applying to LGO, I wanted to get involved with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and social justice projects. I was inspired by Dr. Joy Buolamwini who spoke at a Women Transforming Technology conference and discussed the social implications of AI. I started to understand the tremendous power of AI in advancing our society, as well as the serious negative consequences if such technologies are not designed properly. I was keen on building safe and reliable AI systems that push our society towards a positive direction. LGO was the perfect intersection of building my technical expertise and understanding the operations of successful businesses.

Almost two years later, I can definitively say that LGO is amazing because of its people. My peers and the LGO staff bring together a community that feels like family. Our class of 2022 went through a lot, especially because we started during the pandemic. Despite the setbacks, we’re still very close and resilient. I’m positive that we’ll stay connected for life, even if some of us move across the world.

 

 

What has been your biggest takeaway from your time at MIT so far?

Do the right thing and stay true to your values. During MBA orientation week, we participated in a workshop called “Design your Sloan Journey”. Their activities gave me time to reflect on my internal board of directors, my North Star, and my biggest dreams. My internal board of directors consists of individuals who all stand up for what’s right, put service above self, and prioritize relationships, among many others. This easily translated to my core values: faith, family, and service. Once I understood my North Star, I was able to use it as a guide to make decisions. I know that every decision I make may not be perfect, but I’ll be satisfied if I can stay committed to my values.

What are your hopes for diversity in LGO and in industry?

LGO Ladies Dinner

Over the past few decades, women are increasingly making gains in the traditionally male dominated workforce of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This year’s theme for International Women’s Day was #BreakTheBias, so let’s briefly dive into this: Women only make up 27% of the STEM workforce in the U.S. Women are underrepresented in some of the highest-earning STEM occupations, particularly computer science and engineering (Source). My hope is that programs like LGO and industries across the world continue to give women equal opportunities to thrive in STEM careers. I hope that our society will move faster to narrow the gender pay gap, ensure a sufficiently diverse and representative STEM workforce, and prevent biases in the products and services around us.

How have you been able to engage with communities of women at MIT and LGO?

There are so many communities across MIT that welcome women-identifying members like Sloan Women in Management, Graduate Women in Course 6 (GW6), and Women of LGO. I’m mostly engaged with Women of LGO, which includes SOs. Because of the pandemic, we would coordinate in our WhatsApp group “Fight Club 💪” and meet in smaller groups for cooking nights, book clubs, or other hang outs. We genuinely care about each other’s well-being. Recently, I had a minor safety incident and when I shared my experience with the group, I had an overwhelming amount of love and support. I feel very blessed to be in a community of women that look out for one another and are happy for others’ successes!

LGOs on Domestic Plant Trek (DPT) in Chicago

Do you have any advice for prospective LGOs?​

First off, always keep in mind that you are worth applying to MIT. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise! It’s better to try and fail than to not try at all.

Once you cross this line, dig deep to understand yourself. If I could go back in time, I would scream to myself, “Don’t spend all your energy on the GRE scores!” I feel that it’s much better to invest time on other aspects of your application – reflect on why MIT, why LGO, and your aspirations in life. The cover letter, essays, video, and interviews are all geared towards understanding your uniqueness and what you bring to the table that others don’t. I would highly recommend carving time out of your schedule, which can even be a minute per day, to journal and reflect on who you are and what you stand for. Here are some questions that I reflected on: What are your values? What values are most important to you? How does your background shape who you are? What are you good at? (Pro tip: ask your close friends and family this question too) Why do you want to attend graduate school? What will you get out of it? Where do you see yourself five years from now?

 

March 16, 2022 | More

Black History Month 2022: Daniel Ayane, LGO ’23

What were you doing before LGO and why did you decide that LGO was the next step for you?

After graduating from Harvard University I became a Software Engineer at Capital One working in their Fraud Space. We built data pipelines that would process credit card transaction data and infer whether or not a specific transaction was fraudulent. My favorite parts of my job involved designing the digital applications as well as leading initiatives around those applications to ensure that our credit cards were always available and secure. I felt like LGO was a perfect continuation of that work. I wanted to continue building skills in technical product development and leadership which the LGO program offers a lot of opportunities in.

 

 

How was the LGO Summer and transitioning back into school?

As one of the younger LGOs my transition back to school was very normal. Most of the transition involved getting used to the rigorous nature of an MIT education. The LGO summer exemplifies that very well. The summer is highly intensive. You spend a lot of time learning about operations, statistics, probability, Python and optimization all at the same time which is no easy feat. The LGO summer asks a lot of you academically and without the support of my core team (TEAM 6 ❤️), I would’ve struggled. My core team was absolutely brilliant! I spent many days and nights with them struggling through homework and also bonding over similar interests (we all apparently like Brookline Lunch – a must try brunch spot in Cambridge). In general the LGO summer was a highly rewarding and impactful time of my life that I will definitely never forget.

What is your favorite memory from your time at MIT?

There are so many memories that I have made in less than a year! The fact that our class is so close helps a lot because you end up spending a lot of time with people who share so many similar interests to you. One of the highlights is definitely Domestic Plant Trek (DPT). The Trek lasted most of January and we got the opportunity to explore the operations of so many companies while also spending more time as an LGO class. Also, as a student not born in the U.S., I got to see many states that I have never been to before. My favorite stop on the trek was Caterpillar in Tucson, Arizona. We learned so much about the intersection of artificial intelligence and construction at Caterpillar all while they put on a “monster truck” show just for our LGO class. It demonstrated how much the partner companies care about LGO as well as how much they care about us learning about how technology can be applied in industry.

Group of LGO ’23s who participated in the Winter Cambridge 5K.

What are you still looking forward to exploring at MIT?

There are many opportunities that I can’t wait to explore at MIT. Academically, I want to continue going to talks from academics such as Professor Randall Davis who are spearheading the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning spaces. The fields are growing exponentially every day and so to have the world’s best professors presenting their cutting edge research allows for me to stay up to date with industry trends. Outside of academics I want to take part in an MIT Hack which is a university wide prank that occurs a few times a year. Some of the crazy pranks that have occurred before include putting a police car on the dome and pranking Harvard (which I cannot endorse as an alum). I am not sure how to partake in one yet but I will be asking around to see how to contribute to MIT history.

How have you engaged with affinity groups or diversity initiatives while at MIT?

Within LGO I joined the Active Allyship Committee and the New Student Recruiting Committees which has enabled me to bring DE&I to the forefront of the program. In addition to advocating and supporting the recruitment of diverse candidates to the LGO program, I have also been sharing MIT-wide events that highlight diversity with my class to give other LGOs the opportunity to engage with events put on by students of other cultures. I also want to highlight the recently created LGO URM Alumni steering group that was a great support group when I was an adMIT. They helped answer a lot of the questions around DE&I and have been a great way for me to engage with alumni who come from similar backgrounds as me. Within Sloan I am a part of the Black Business Association (BBSA) which has also been a great support group for me. Similar to the LGO URM Alumni steering group, the BBSA reached out to me when I was an adMIT to ensure that I would be welcome and comfortable within the Sloan community. In general LGO, Sloan, and MIT have been great places to engage in DE&I.

Daniel and his LGO Summer Core Team, Team 6.

What are your hopes for the future of diversity in LGO and in industry?

I hope LGO can continue to increase the diversity of their incoming classes for years to come. Increasing the financial, gender, racial, and cultural diversity of the students that the program admits makes for more representative classes of LGOs. Also coming from the tech industry, which tends to have problems with diversity on all fronts, it is important that a program like LGO encourages diversity because it is the program that creates the leaders of these industries.

Do you have any advice for prospective students thinking about applying?

For all applicants I strongly recommend letting your personality come across in your applications. One of the things I have noticed about the LGO class is the unique sense of community that we all share. I think that comes from the fact that many LGOs share similar values. So when you are applying really take the time to introspect and find out who you are. Understand what is important to you and then let that self-reflection come through in your application. Whether you let it come across in your video or in your essays, giving the admissions committee an understanding of who you are, where you come from, and what your values are is the best way for them to understand whether or not you are a good fit for the LGO program. ​

 

February 22, 2022 | More