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

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Olivier de Weck, 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.

A fellow of the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE), de Weck was honored with their Outstanding Service Award in 2018 for his work as editor-in-chief of Systems Engineering. He is also an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AAIA), where he previously served as associate editor for the Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets and chair of the AIAA Space Logistics Technical Committee. De Weck is a past recipient of the Capers and Marion McDonald Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising from the MIT School of Engineering, and the Teaching with Digital Technology Award from the MIT Office of Open Learning.

A member of the MIT faculty since 2001, de Weck earned a BS in industrial engineering at ETH Zurich in 1993 and an MS and PhD in aerospace systems at MIT in 1999 and 2001. He previously served as associate head of the engineering systems division and as executive director of Production in the Innovation Economy (PIE) commission at MIT. He recently returned to campus after a two-year leave of absence at Airbus in Toulouse, France, where he served as senior vice president and was responsible for planning and roadmapping the group’s $1 billion research and technology portfolio.

Since the launch of GEL in 2007, de Weck has taught 16.669/6.914 (Project Engineering) — a popular bootcamp-style class offered during independent activities period. Besides learning how to better plan and execute engineering projects, the class has helped cohorts of students create a sense of community and belonging.

De Weck succeeds Joel Schindall, co-director for GEL since 2007 and the Bernard M. Gordon Professor of the Practice in electrical engineering and computer science. “Drawing on his many years of experience and success in industry, Joel has been an exceptional leader for the GEL program,” Chandrakasan says. “He has instilled the character and the skills that will enable our students to be both the thought leaders and the ‘do leaders’ of the future.”

Reza Rahaman earned a BEng in chemical engineering at Imperial College London in 1984 and an MS in chemical engineering practice and PhD in chemical engineering at MIT in 1985 and 1989.

Rahaman’s career in industry spanned nearly three decades across consumer packaged goods, pharmaceuticals, and agricultural chemicals. Before returning to MIT, he was the vice president of research, development, and innovation at the Clorox Company, where he guided new innovation strategies and coordinated technology roadmaps for 45 percent of the company’s portfolio. Rahaman also serves as vice chair of the board of directors for Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, the largest nonprofit dedicated to LGBTQ workplace equality in the world.

“Reza has deep expertise in leading large, highly matrixed organizations and spearheading complex technical projects to produce category-changing innovation,” says Chandrakasan. “His experience in industry, as well as his technical depth and inclusive leadership style, are a wonderful asset to our students. By imparting his knowledge, and guiding our students’ attitudes and thought processes, he is helping to create the next generation of exemplary leaders.”

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