Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tech Treck and Spring Semester

I had heard about the tech treck before, thanks to Samir Sawant who is part of Media Lab Club. I took the opportunity to join the club (finally) and went on three day Tech Treck trip in JAN '09.
Even being at distance (350 miles from Boston) I took 8 trips to Boston last year and tried to keep some face to face time with atleast some of the classmates...that being said distance student do miss on lot of cool stuff happening at MIT.

Tech trip was nice, got to meet folks from Sloan and SDM and did Media (IT), Energy and BioTech on each of the three days. For me it was more of a sampling and networking opportunity. The theme everywhere was that there are very few hirings (except Medical devices and Health sector companies we visited) and intership opportunities.

Jan '09 has gone as soon as it came like previos years..:-) and today was the first lectures of Spring Courses. I have taken Tech Strategy which looked like a great lecture, lot of discussion, lot of energy and lot of student involement , I have heard some good things about this course. The other one is ERBA (Engineering Risk Benefit Analysis) which also looked promising.

So here diving in to Spring Sem and I'm sure there will be lot of interesting storied along the way which I would like to share more often than I have shared them in past.

- Ashok Dhiman.

SDM so far...

Its been a great year...I enjoyed the Fall courses I had:
a. Systems Architecture : I don't know where and how I will use what I learned in Systems Architecture . I think course is looks at a very high level at Systems Architecture and gives a very generic view. I really likes the guest lectures though - Liebeck and Imrich...Its always good to hear people from real world who have used Systems Architecture principles but in varied ways.

b. Project Management: The best of this lecture apart from Project Management theory and tools was prof. De Weck. I really liked is focused and disciplined teaching style. His lectures had nice balance of discussions and the material which needs to be covered. Lot of time profs get carried away by discussion and digress from lecture which can be fun at times but folks loose on the content which was suppose to be covered. This seldom happend in De Weck's class.

c. Software Systems Architecture: This lecture was ad hoc, except some consistent lectures around healthcare and software evolution. Part of the course was to read "Dreaming in Code" which I thought was alright books, it had its high and low chapters. The course load was light though and there were lot of interesting readings and videos which we saw and discussed.

The load was quite a lot though and I wanted a break so badly after Fall semester that I did not even touch any book for next 6 weeks, just took rest, spent some resting time with family and friends. Now back in Spring Sem I think I should have spend couple of weeks to get back in study mood.

SDM so far has been about reading from a spectrum of subjects and for me I guess challenge is to tie all pieces together. Going forward I think I'll need to look back and gather the linkages from courses which are done and the ones which are remaining and get some kind of structure. The good or bad thing about a program like SDM is that you have quite a bit of flexibility to choose what you want to study but it also needs good amount of thinking and planning to choose right courses which will best suite the career path ahead.

Some of SDM'08 have left, best of luck to them. Got to talk to some of the SDM '09 folks - welcome....Looking forward to meet you folks during Spring Business Trip.

- Ashok Dhiman.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

There goes the term...

So that was end of term-1, 5 more to go. Spring term was good, pretty manageable all along. There were some night outs during the end of term as expected. I was in team with 3 other on campus full timers and so their schedule was really busy but we did spend quality time with each other on the common assignments and submitted all on time and to our satisfaction.

We have 3 weeks break till 9th June '08 since summer term. Recently got the subject list for Summer term, mostly gonna pick Financial and Managerial accounting and System dynamics. Only two this summer which should be enough to keep me busy with my work and family.
So taking needed rest and getting other chores completed during the break, might hit shore sometime in next two weeks and there will be shopping with wifey and zoo with little one..:-)

Also looking forward for July business trip and meet the class again.

Also looking in to some engagement near MIT so that I can move near to the classes...its a work in progress..

Well, will come back with more till then I leave you with some of my recent close-up and long shots :


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Little about courses

Its been a while so thought of jotting something down. I'll start by saying that till now its been pretty manageable - the job, family and MIT lectures/assignments and readings. I hope I don't jinx myself..:-)
So coming back to lectures - I'm continuing Product Design and Development, the Concept selection is done, we are now designing our product. This course hits both arenas on one hand it takes you to the engineering domain of concept selection, designing and actually building a product (we are given $800 budget) and on the other side of it we were involved in market selection, user group finding, and will work on business plan shortly. Guest lectures have been great , one specially I liked was lecture on "Sustainable Development" by Nicholas Ashford. He talked about how growth needs to be tied closely will energy, politics, business and people.

Another course in 2nd half of Spring semester is "System Optimization". I like it, its cut short but to the point, I do not know where I'll be using it in real life but it gives insight in to how companies makes decision on choosing a path in their business, let me supply chain, investing, product development. The lectures are example based with couple of case studies and individual and group assignments, it has some maths but nothing too cryptic...I'm sure I'll not be able to optimize a real world system after this course but surely will be able to understand it better.

I also was trying to get little more organized in recent days and so have been visiting lot of GTDs and mind mapping sites....I've started using "freemind" open source mind mapping software and is going good so far. I'm still experimenting though and so will be some time before I trust one system and get use to it...

Well that's it for April '08.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Business Trip Week

We had our first "Business week trip" from 10th MAR - 14th MAR. The idea of these weekly business trips which happen three times a year is to get face to face time with distance students , listen to special guest lectures , seminars and have fun..:-)
We had two speakers in this trip:
Dr. Andy Grace of the MathWorks to talk about Model Base Design-Concepts
We had session with Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., Former Chairman of IBM which was great. Its interesting to see the simplicity needed to do task at a CEO level. He talked about management and leadership. Some of the point I wrote during the session are:

1. What do managers do:
Managers create great processes, use information to team's benefit, create compensation/reward channels. He added time-management to the equation and talked about how "meetings" are such a killer of time. Managers should become colleagues during problem solving process (be with their team during weekend when fighting fire) and should become Boss when its about accountability.

So management is finding what are different processes in an organization and how to make them better.

2. On Leadership:
> They create culture, climate, possibility and opportunity to win.
> Leadership is to make others do what they otherwise don't do (inspire, motivate).
> Leaders do not preside they are along side with their people.
> They don't take credit for other's work, there is always enough credit to go around for all.

He also talked about values, behavior when dealing with people, being open and aware and seeking and giving good advice.

One hour session had experience from his life before during and after his IBM days.

I could meet my Product Design and Development team and talk face to face and discuss on our future product ideas and concepts for the course assignment. We had couple of evening get together parties, some sleep and lot of fun.

Jaldi Vapis..:-)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

1/6th of the year is gone

Feb was interesting, not as hectic as Jan but studying with distractions from office and little distractions from home has been a learning experience. I'm taking classes this semester from distance using "live video conferencing". It has exceeded my expectations , the class coverage is amazing, distance students (15 others like me) are well involved in the class discussions. The VTC technology itself has improved a lot from cost point of view but still there are lot of areas of improvement. My only complain is the audio delay, its worth it though given the fact that I can attend classes without leaving my job which not only is economical but also the learnings from class can be compared/applied in real life within the company. Its interesting how you change your view of looking, talking and observing things back in your company after you learn stuff in class.
In class discussions has its sides - There are folks who talk only when they have something valid and something which actually is in flow with the topic and adds to the learning value but then there are instances of pure air time and talks about "I did this" and " I did that". That being said you cannot live without them they are what makes the whole learning experience worth while.
Reading before calls is vital something I'm not able to do as well I want, it really makes discussions more knowledgeable if you go in class with atleast some sense of the broad topic to be discussed.
My courses this semester revolve around Innovation in Product Development and Design, organization factors, marketing and one course on a actual product design which is suppose to take us from the need finding process all the way to realizing the actual product. We have $800 budget for each team so they are not expecting us to make next Space Shuttle but a small product with less than 10 parts. The idea is to go through the whole product development life cycle. There have been cases where folks have been able to create something simple in the past which went to patent office.
We have another business trip in a weeks time and so I will back at MIT campus for a week. I'm looking forward to it. There are some guest lectures lined up for us, I'll come back and post about them later mid March. With submissions in mid March I'm assuming I'll be busy but hope to come back here time and again to reflect on what my experiences with SDM program and to answer any queries folks out there might have.

Be safe, be healthy,

I leave you with pictures I took in last couple of weeks at Valley Forge Park in PA:

More here :

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Looking back at JAN Session

30th JAN was the last day of lectures in JAN and that gives us about a week to reboot ourselves before we go to the Spring term lectures on 5th Feb. Looking back JAN seems more worthwhile , it went little too fast, 25% of Systems Architecture done, Full course of Human side of technology done, 2 design challenges, a probability and statistic refresher and couple of sessions on leadership in general. I need to really organize the notes and get ready for spring session. It was great to be back with family and comfort zone but will not longer before I dive back to the spring semester.
I leave you with some more photos from the JAN session and will be back with more in coming weeks.


SDM '08

Boston in Winter

The Stata Center houses