News and Research
Catherine Iacobo named industry co-director for MIT Leaders for Global Operations

Catherine Iacobo named industry co-director for MIT Leaders for Global Operations

Cathy Iacobo, a lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, has been named the new industry co-director for the MIT Leaders for Global Operations (LGO) program. Read more


LGO 2020 Best Thesis Winners

This year, after the official virtual MIT commencement ceremonies, the LGO program held another virtual celebration for the class of 2020. The LGO programming celebrated each member of the class, shared some special LGO congratulatory remarks and announced the winner of the LGO Best Thesis 2020 prize. This year there were two winners: Audrey Bazerghi and Bidusha Poudyal.

Audrey Bazerghi, Bidusha Poudyal 2020 LGO Best Thesis Award

Audrey Bazerghi developed Inventory Modeling for Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient Supply Chains at AstraZeneca. One alumni thesis reader described Bazerghi’s project as “a perfect example of the delicate balance of engineering, business, and academia. Copies of this thesis should be handed to potential partner companies for an example of how the LGO toolkit can have immediate positive real benefits.” Bazerghi earned her MBA and SM in Civil and Environmental Engineering, and completed her six-month LGO internship project at AstraZeneca in Manchester, United Kingdom. In her project, Bazerghi demonstrated with a multi-echelon inventory optimization (MEIO) that a fully integrated supply chain would yield significant savings compared to a purely external supply chain. After LGO, Audrey will earn her PhD at Northwestern University.

The other best thesis winner was Bidusha Poudyal who developed a predictive analysis of Installation Quality vs. Process Severity Events. An alumni thesis reader described Poudyal’s project as “a very clearly-written thesis, that outlines a specific challenge, proposed methodology to research, and outlines valuable and actionable insights for the partner company.” Poudyal’s project uncovered fulfillment center installation issues that led to costly problems during the start-up phase after FCs went live, reducing operational efficiency. Her programmatic data-driven method allowed teams to leverage a preset metric for installation quality to compel vendors to improve the pre-handover processes. Poudyal, who earned her MBA and SM in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, has accepted a position at Google. Congratulations to both of these outstanding best thesis winners!



July 2, 2020 | More

How a simple calculator and job portal are fighting COVID-19

What started as an effort by several MIT Sloan faculty members to allocate scarce COVID-19 resources through analytics has transformed into a supply chain for Massachusetts nursing homes in need of personal protective equipment and frontline personnel. Three MIT Leaders for Global Operations students worked with Levi to build a calculator in Microsoft Excel to help individual nursing facilities determine what personal protective equipment — and how much — each would need for two months.

The COVID-19 Policy Alliance still offers policy proposals to state and federal government using analytics, said MIT Sloan professor

but now it’s also calculating international PPE orders and partnering with to match job-seekers with senior homes that are short on frontline workers.

June 10, 2020 | More

Amid the pandemic, private equity fortifies Midwest factories

Steve Cook, the executive managing director of LFM Capital, a Nashville-based private equity firm that focuses on manufacturing, and a graduate of the MIT Leaders for Global Operations program, recently discussed his predictions for the economy (20% unemployment — ouch) and what effect the coronavirus is having on his business.

April 30, 2020 | More

2 from MIT Sloan make Forbes 30 Under 30 List

A pair of MIT Sloan alums, Jason Troutner, LGO ’19, and Sascha Eder, SM ’15, have been named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 lists for 2020.

According to Forbes the annual lists spotlight “revolutionaries … changing the course — and the face — of business and society.”

January 10, 2020 | More

Preventing energy loss in windows

“The choice of windows in a building has a direct influence on energy consumption,” says Nicholas Fang, professor of mechanical engineering and current LGO Thesis Advisor. “We need an effective way of blocking solar radiation.”

In the quest to make buildings more energy efficient, windows present a particularly difficult problem. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heat that either escapes or enters windows accounts for roughly 30 percent of the energy used to heat and cool buildings. Researchers are developing a variety of window technologies that could prevent this massive loss of energy.

January 6, 2020 | More

Sixteen grad students named to the Siebel Scholars class of 2020

LGO ’20 Hans Nowak is among the 2020 cohort of Siebel Scholars hailing from the world’s top graduate programs in bioengineering, business, computer science, and energy science. They were recognized at a luncheon and awards ceremony on campus on Oct. 31.

“You’re among a very select group of students to receive this honor,” Anantha Chandrakasan, dean of the School of Engineering and Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, told the students. “Your department heads obviously think very highly of your accomplishments.”

Honored for their academic achievements, leadership, and commitments to addressing crucial global challenges, the MIT students are among 93 Siebel Scholars from 16 leading institutions in the United States, China, France, Italy, and Japan.

Siebel Scholars each receive an award of $35,000 to cover their final year of study. In addition, they will join a community of more than 1,400 past Siebel Scholars, including about 260 from MIT, who serve as advisors to the Thomas and Stacy Siebel Foundation and collaborate “to find solutions to society’s most pressing problems,” according to the foundation.

Past Siebel Scholars have launched more than 1,100 products, received at least 370 patents, published nearly 40 books, and founded at least 150 companies, among other achievements, according to the Siebel Scholars Foundation, which administers the program.

MIT’s 2020 class of Siebel Scholars includes:

  • Katie Bacher, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Alexandra (Allie) Beizer, MIT Sloan School of Management
  • Sarah Bening, Department of Biological Engineering
  • Allison (Allie) Brouckman, MIT Sloan School of Management
  • Enric Boix, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • M. Doga Dogan, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Jared Kehe, Department of Biological Engineering
  • Emma Kornetsky, MIT Sloan School of Management
  • Kyungmi Lee, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Graham Leverick, Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Lauren Milling, Department of Biological Engineering
  • Hans Nowak, MIT Sloan School of Management
  • Lauren Stopfer, Department of Biological Engineering
  • Jon Tham, Sloan School of Management
  • Andrea Wallace, Department of Biological Engineering
  • Clinton Wang, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

November 19, 2019 | More

Practicing for a voyage to Mars

If you want to make the long voyage to Mars, you first have to train and rehearse, and MIT LGO alumnus Barret Schlegelmilch SM ’18, MBA ’18 is doing just that. He recently commanded a 45-day practice mission living and working with three other would-be astronauts in a cramped simulated spaceship.

NASA’s Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) analog mission “departed” last spring for a trip to Phobos, the larger of the two moons of Mars. It was the second of four planned missions to Phobos in the mock spacecraft located at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The goal is to study the physiological and psychological effects of extended isolation and confinement, team dynamics, and conflict resolution.

While on the mission, Schlegelmilch and three other crew me

November 1, 2019 | More

New leadership for Bernard M. Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program

Olivier de Weck, frequent LGO advisor, professor of aeronautics and astronautics and of engineering systems at MIT, has been named the new faculty co-director of the Bernard M. Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program (GEL). He joins Reza Rahaman, who was appointed the Bernard M. Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program industry co-director and senior lecturer on July 1, 2018.

“Professor de Weck has a longstanding commitment to engineering leadership, both as an educator and a researcher. I look forward to working with him and the GEL team as they continue to strengthen their outstanding undergraduate program and develop the new program for graduate students,” says Anantha Chandrakasan, dean of the MIT School of Engineering and the Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

A leader in systems engineering, de Weck researches how complex human-made systems such as aircraft, spacecraft, automobiles, and infrastructures are designed, manufactured, and operated. By investigating their lifecycle properties, de Weck and members of his research group have developed a range of novel techniques broadly adopted by industry to maximize the value of these systems over time.

August 1, 2019 | More

Building the tools of the next manufacturing revolution

John Hart, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, LGO adviser, and the director of the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity and the Center for Additive and Digital Advanced Production Technologies, is an expert in 3-D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, which involves the computer-guided deposition of material layer by layer into precise three-dimensional shapes. (Conventional manufacturing usually entails making a part by removing material, for example through machining, or by forming the part using a mold tool.)

Hart’s research includes the development of advanced materials — new types of polymers, nanocomposites, and metal alloys — and the development of novel machines and processes that use and shape materials, such as high-speed 3-D printing, roll-to-roll graphene growth, and manufacturing techniques for low-cost sensors and electronics.

June 19, 2019 | More

LGO Best Thesis 2019 for Big Data Analysis at Amgen, Inc.

After the official MIT commencement ceremonies, Thomas Roemer, LGO’s executive director, announced the best thesis winner at LGO’s annual post-graduation celebration. This year’s winner was Maria Emilia Lopez Marino (Emi), who developed a predictive framework to evaluate and assess the impact of raw material attributes on the manufacturing process at Amgen. Thesis readers described Marino’s project as an “extremely well-written thesis.  Excellent coverage of not only the project, but also the industry as a whole.”

Applying MIT knowledge in the real world

Marino, who earned her MBA and SM in Civil and Environmental Engineering, completed her six-month LGO internship project at Amgen, Inc. For her project, Marino developed a new predictive framework through machine learning techniques to assess the impact of raw material variability on the performance of several commercial processes of biologics manufacturing.  Finding this solution represents a competitive advantage for biopharmaceutical leaders. The results from her analysis showed an 80% average accuracy on predictions for new data. Additionally, the framework she developed is the starting point of a new methodology towards material variability understanding in the manufacturing process for the pharmaceutical industry.

Each year, the theses are nominated by faculty advisors and then reviewed by LGO alumni readers to determine the winner. Thesis advisor and Professor Roy Welsch stated Emi “understood variation both in a statistical sense and in manufacturing in the biopharmaceutical industry and left behind highly accurate and interpretable models in a form that others can use and expand. We hope she will share her experiences with us in the future at LGO alumni reunions and on DPT visits.”

Marino, who earned her undergraduate degree Chemical Engineering from the National University of Mar Del Plata in Argentina, has accepted a job offer with Amgen in Puerto Rico.


June 11, 2019 | More


What happens to industry and employment after COVID-19?

What happens to industry and employment after COVID-19?

Numbers tell the story about the COVID-19 pandemic’s immediate impact on the U.S. economy. A 4.8% decline in gross domestic product in the first three months of 2020. More than 40 million unemployment claims in 10 weeks. An unemployment rate close to 15%.

June 2, 2020 | More

Ideas Made to Matter Black Lives Matter. Solidarity.

Black Lives Matter. Solidarity.

The mission of MIT Sloan is: to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice.

We recognize that our society is at a pivotal juncture where we must step up to build a better system for Black people and communities of color. Explicit in MIT Sloan’s mission is a responsibility to improve the world, and this mission can only be realized by recognizing privilege and leveraging power to create equitable spaces. It is time for action and accountability that are in accordance with MIT Sloan’s mission.

June 1, 2020 | More

How to build a data analytics dream team

How to build a data analytics dream team

The days of companies wondering whether they should jump on the data analytics bandwagon, or having a single data analyst on staff, are gone. For firms today, the focus has turned to building the right team to fully harness all that data has to offer.

As companies add to their data teams, analytics jobs are increasingly popular — “data scientist” and “data engineer” were both in the top 10 of LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report, determined by earnings potential, job satisfaction, and number of job openings. Companies are expected to continue to add and g

May 27, 2020 | More

The next chapter in analytics: data storytelling

The next chapter in analytics: data storytelling

Countless organizations are dialing up analytics to turn the glut of enterprise data into actionable business insights. But many of the endless charts, dashboards, and visualizations fall flat with their intended audience. Sometimes it’s a matter of overwhelming recipients with too much data; other times, it’s about presenting the wrong data or not fully understanding how to create an effective narrative that will resonate with recipients.

May 20, 2020 | More

People analytics, explained

People analytics, explained

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, some companies were better prepared than others to reorganize and mobilize their employees. Those organizations had effective talent analytics strategies in place, according to Emilio J. Castilla, a professor of management at MIT Sloan.

May 12, 2020 | More

What sports analytics can teach business managers

What sports analytics can teach business managers

What’s the worst sports decision ever made?

Ask MIT Sloan’s

and he’ll tell you it was Michael Jordan not being the No. 1 pick during the 1984 NBA draft.

“Obviously hindsight is 20-20,” said Shields, a senior lecturer in managerial communications. “In the end, when you combine both the on-court success that he had, as well as the off-court business success that he had, I think that’s a really tough one to defend.”

The Portland Trail Blazers’ draft pick distinguishes itself among terrible choices, but there are plenty of examples of smart thinking in athletics — namely, using analytics in decision-making.

May 4, 2020 | More

How to manage the hidden risks in remote work

For many people, COVID-19 began as a distant story. Now it’s a threat filling every corner of life. Markets have plunged, settled uneasily, and plunged again. Sports seasons are suspended. Schools are closing, along with restaurants and bars. People are huddled at home. And companies, amid it all, are struggling to balance employee and public health with the maintenance of basic operations.

March 23, 2020 | More

6 steps to handle supply chain disruption

The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus is crippling supply chains around the world, with companies from Apple to Nintendo announcing shipping and manufacturing delays. Other unanticipated events have caused supply chain upheaval in the last few decades, including the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, 2011 floods in Thailand, SARS and MERS pandemics, and Hurricane Katrina.

But it is inaccurate to compare the coro

March 19, 2020 | More

Writing a new leadership playbook

What will define great leadership in the new digital economy? A new report from MIT Sloan senior lecturer

finds it is a combination of emerging and enduring behaviors, while simultaneously rejecting what Ready calls eroding behaviors.

But it doesn’t stop there: recognizing the behaviors is only the first, small step. The real challenge is in confronting cultural inertia and making new behaviors the norm throughout an organization.

March 9, 2020 | More

How to master two different digital transformations

To thrive in the digital age, companies must undergo two distinct digital transformations. They must become digitized by incorporating digital technology into their core operations, like accounting and invoicing. They also need to be become digital, which means developing a digital platform for the company’s digital offerings.

March 3, 2020 | More


Engineers design bionic “heart” for testing prosthetic valves, other cardiac devices

As the geriatric population is expected to balloon in the coming decade, so too will rates of heart disease in the United States. The demand for prosthetic heart valves and other cardiac devices — a market that is valued at more than $5 billion dollars today — is predicted to rise by almost 13 percent in the next six years.

Prosthetic valves are designed to mimic a real, healthy heart valve in helping to circulate blood through the body. However, many of them have issues such as leakage around the valve, and engineers working to improve these designs must test them repeatedly, first in simple benchtop simulators, then in animal subjects, before reaching human trials — an arduous and expensive process.

Now engineers at MIT and elsewhere have developed a bionic “heart” that offers a more realistic model for testing out artificial valves and other cardiac devices.

The device is a real biological heart whose tough muscle tissue has been replaced with a soft robotic matrix of artificial heart muscles, resembling bubble wrap. The orientation of the artificial muscles mimics the pattern of the heart’s natural muscle fibers, in such a way that when the researchers remotely inflate the bubbles, they act together to squeeze and twist the inner heart, similar to the way a real, whole heart beats and pumps blood.

With this new design, which they call a “biorobotic hybrid heart,” the researchers envision that device designers and engineers could iterate and fine-tune designs more quickly by testing on the biohybrid heart, significantly reducing the cost of cardiac device development.

“Regulatory testing of cardiac devices requires many fatigue tests and animal tests,” says Ellen Roche, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. “[The new device] could realistically represent what happens in a real heart, to reduce the amount of animal testing or iterate the design more quickly.”

Roche and her colleagues have published their results today in the journal Science Robotics. Her co-authors are lead author and MIT graduate student Clara Park, along with Yiling Fan, Gregor Hager, Hyunwoo Yuk, Manisha Singh, Allison Rojas, and Xuanhe Zhao at MIT, along with collaborators from Nanyang Technology University, the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Boston’s Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

The structure of the biorobotic hybrid heart under magnetic resonance imaging. Credit: Christopher T. Nguyen

“Mechanics of the heart”

Before coming to MIT, Roche worked briefly in the biomedical industry, helping to test cardiac devices on artificial heart models in the lab.

“At the time I didn’t feel any of these benchtop setups were representative of both the anatomy and the physiological biomechanics of the heart,” Roche recalls. “There was an unmet need in terms of device testing.”

In separate research as part of her doctoral work at Harvard University, she developed a soft, robotic, implantable sleeve, designed to wrap around a whole, live heart, to help it pump blood in patients suffering from heart failure.

At MIT, she and Park wondered if they could combine the two research avenues, to develop a hybrid heart: a heart that is made partly of chemically preserved, explanted heart tissue and partly of soft artificial actuators that help the heart pump blood. Such a model, they proposed, should be a more realistic and durable environment in which to test cardiac devices, compared with models that are either entirely artificial but do not capture the heart’s complex anatomy, or are made from a real explanted heart, requiring highly controlled conditions to keep the tissue alive.

The team briefly considered wrapping a whole, explanted heart in a soft robotic sleeve, similar to Roche’s previous work, but realized the heart’s outer muscle tissue, the myocardium, quickly stiffened when removed from the body. Any robotic contraction by the sleeve would fail to translate sufficiently to the heart within.

Instead, the team looked for ways to design a soft robotic matrix to replace the heart’s natural muscle tissue, in both material and function. They decided to try out their idea first on the heart’s left ventricle, one of four chambers in the heart, which pumps blood to the rest of the body, while the right ventricle uses less force to pump blood to the lungs.

“The left ventricle is the harder one to recreate given its higher operating pressures, and we like to start with the hard challenges,” Roche says.

The heart, unfurled

The heart normally pumps blood by squeezing and twisting, a complex combination of motions that is a result of the alignment of muscle fibers along the outer myocardium that covers each of the heart’s ventricles. The team planned to fabricate a matrix of artificial muscles resembling inflatable bubbles, aligned in the orientations of the natural cardiac muscle. But copying these patterns by studying a ventricle’s three-dimensional geometry proved extremely challenging.

They eventually came across the helical ventricular myocardial band theory, the idea that cardiac muscle is essentially a large helical band that wraps around each of the heart’s ventricles. This theory is still a subject of debate by some researchers, but Roche and her colleagues took it as inspiration for their design. Instead of trying to copy the left ventricle’s muscle fiber orientation from a 3D perspective, the team decided to remove the ventricle’s outer muscle tissue and unwrap it to form a long, flat band — a geometry that should be far easier to recreate. In this case, they used the cardiac tissue from an explanted pig heart.

In collaboration with co-lead author Chris Nguyen at MGH, the researchers used diffusion tensor imaging, an advanced technique that typically tracks how water flows through white matter in the brain, to map the microscopic fiber orientations of a left ventricle’s unfurled, two-dimensional muscle band. They then fabricated a matrix of artificial muscle fibers made from thin air tubes, each connected to a series of inflatable pockets, or bubbles, the orientation of which they patterned after the imaged muscle fibers.

Motion of the biorobotic hybrid heart mimics the pumping motion of the heart under echocardiography. Credit: Mossab Saeed

The soft matrix consists of two layers of silicone, with a water-soluble layer between them to prevent the layers from sticking, as well as two layers of laser-cut paper, which ensures that the bubbles inflate in a specific orientation.

The researchers also developed a new type of bioadhesive to glue the bubble wrap to the ventricle’s real, intracardiac tissue. While adhesives exist for bonding biological tissues to each other, and and for materials like silicone to each other, the team  realized few soft adhesives do an adequate job of gluing together biological tissue with synthetic materials, silicone in particular.

So Roche collaborated with Zhao, associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, who specializes in developing hydrogel-based adhesives. The new adhesive, named TissueSil, was made by functionalizing silicone in a chemical cross-linking process, to bond with components in heart tissue. The result was a viscous liquid that the researchers brushed onto the soft robotic matrix. They also brushed the glue onto a new explanted pig heart that had its left ventricle removed but its endocardial structures preserved. When they wrapped the artificial muscle matrix around this tissue, the two bonded tightly.

Finally, the researchers placed the entire hybrid heart in a mold that they had previously cast of the original, whole heart, and filled the mold with silicone to encase the hybrid heart in a uniform covering — a step that produced a form similar to a real heart and ensured that the robotic bubble wrap fit snugly around the real ventricle.

“That way, you don’t lose transmission of motion from the synthetic muscle to the biological tissue,” Roche says.

When the researchers pumped air into the bubble wrap at frequencies resembling a naturally beating heart, and imaged the bionic heart’s response, it contracted in a manner similar to the way a real heart moves to pump blood through the body.

Ultimately, the researchers hope to use the bionic heart as a realistic environment to help designers test cardiac devices such as prosthetic heart valves.

“Imagine that a patient before cardiac device implantation could have their heart scanned, and then clinicians could tune the device to perform optimally in the patient well before the surgery,” says Nyugen. “Also, with further tissue engineering, we could potentially see the biorobotic hybrid heart be used as an artificial heart — a very needed potential solution given the global heart failure epidemic where millions of people are at the mercy of a competitive heart transplant list.”

This research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation.

January 29, 2020 | More