Once again, MIT has been ranked the best graduate engineering school by U.S. News & World Report, the position MIT has held since 1990 in the magazine’s annual ratings of graduate schools. Who’s next in line? Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Caltech.

How the world sees MIT.

MIT from above.

In the School of Engineering, top-ranked graduate engineering programs include aerospace engineering; chemical engineering; materials engineering; computer engineering; electrical engineering (tied); mechanical engineering (tied); and nuclear engineering (tied).

USNews and World Report does not rank all disciplines annually. In the first sciences evaluations in several years, the School of Science took the top spot in biological sciences (tied); chemistry (tied) plus an additional top ranking in the specialty of inorganic chemistry; computer science (tied); mathematics (tied) plus top ranking in discrete mathematics and combinations; and physics.

The MIT Sloan School of Management’s graduate programs in information systems, production/operations, and supply chain/logistics were again ranked first this year; Sloan was ranked the #5 business school.

Read the MIT News article to see which other MIT disciplines scored in the top five nationally and the contenders in the ties.


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Guest Blogger: Bill Doncaster, for MIT Sloan

The 2014 MIT Sloan Women in Management (SWIM) Conference added a new challenge this year, a chance for MIT women entrepreneurs to pitch their startups for a $1,000 prize. Held February 8 at the MIT Media Lab, this is the first time such a competition was held for women entrepreneurs at MIT.

Systems president Natalya Brikner presents her satellite propulsion technology.

Systems president Natalya Brikner presents her satellite propulsion technology.

Ten startups, selected from 30 applications MIT-wide, presented new ideas ranging from app-based parenting resources for educational activities to a new device to monitor and prevent leg injuries for prize show horses. In the end, the high-caliber presentations led to a quandary for the panel of three judges—who chose two winners rather than one for the $1,000 prize.

One winner was Accion Systems, presented by CEO and president Natalya Brikner. Accion, which is developing propulsion systems for small satellites, is queued up for its first space test in April. Most of the 300 or so satellites launched each year remain only in orbit for days because there is no propulsion system to keep smaller satellites in orbit. According to Brikner, a PhD student in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Accion’s cost-effective systems would increase the life and operability of small satellites.

“The engines that are flying on satellites today were designed before the first handheld calculator was invented,” Brikner said. “We want to change that. Our systems are lighter, smaller, and more efficient than existing systems and our product line is infinite—customers can put thrusters anywhere they want on a satellite.”

Caroline Mauldin, a first year student in MIT Sloan’s dual degree program with Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, stayed closer to the earth with her company, Love Grain, the second winner. Love Grain serves the growing gluten-free food market through products made with teff, a gluten-free grain from Ethiopia. The company is already selling its first product, a pancake and waffle mix, and is developing an energy bar.

“Here in the United States, there are 42 million gluten-free consumers who lack nutritious and delicious options, and I know that because I’m one of them,” said Mauldin. “We’re expected to spend $6 billion on gluten free products by 2015. Teff is a tiny part of the market right now. We are creating a sustainable, compassionate business model that connects Ethiopian farmers to the United States.”

Learn more about the pitch contest and the conference.



What fresh ideas are bubbling up for business and management transformation? MIT Sloan Executive Education, which offers courses, free webinars, and certificates for executives and managers, is sharing faculty and research tips in its innovation@work blog. Here are a few recent excerpts:

Four Must-Have Skills for Today’s Leaders

Professor Deborah Ancona

Professor Deborah Ancona

As leadership moves away from a “command and control” model to a more “cultivate and coordinate” model, the way that leadership is taught must change, too. Developed over a four-year period and tested in diverse real world settings by Professor of Organization Studies Deborah Ancona and MIT Sloan colleagues, the 4 Capabilities Leadership Framework is a powerful tool for understanding and integrating the four critical components of leadership.

The first component? Sensing and Seizing. Find out what the other three are.

Gender Stereotypes in Negotiation—Does Sheryl Sandberg Have It Right?

How do you negotiate when you need to make a positive impression? The answer may depend on your gender.

In Sheryl Sandberg’s much discussed Lean In, the author describes research findings that women perceived as hard-charging types are liked less.…Her point is not lost on negotiation theorists who understand that for both genders there exists a tension between claiming value for oneself and being likeable in a conversation or negotiation.

Are We All Just Becoming Points of Data?

While seemingly new, analytics have been used in sports for decades. After all, what was then-called Rotisserie League baseball (now Fantasy League) was all about picking baseball players based on their statistics.

Today, Big Data is the latest extension of how (and why) sports organizations are using information to make better business decisions. As Dave Feinlab of Forbes writes in “Big Sports: Powered by Big Data”….Big Data in sports is not really about player performance, but about arena management, fan interests, and ultimately, revenue.

Learn more about MIT Sloan Executive Education and its programs.


Imagine a world where cameras track your every move and your environment subtly changes based on every small decision you make.

In a microcosmic way, that happens each time you attend an NBA game.

Before tipoff, you may download the team app to your phone. You like or share updates to win prizes, order food from your seats, sign up for texts and receive e-deals as you approach the fan store. At halftime, you upload a photo of yourself for the Jumbotron, or wait for one of dozens of cameras in the arena to do so for you.

Vivek Ranadivé '79, SM '80, left, with Shaquille O'Neal at a Sacramento Kings press conference. O'Neal is a part owner of the team.

Vivek Ranadivé ’79, SM ’80, left, with Shaquille O’Neal at a Sacramento Kings press conference. O’Neal is a part owner of the team. Photo: AP.

Down on the floor, coaches make real-time decisions based on real-time stats while players consider whom to guard or foul at critical points with visions of spreadsheets in their heads.

And from skyboxes far above or courtside seats below, owners like Vivek Ranadivé ’79, SM ’80 consider any metrics that can promote the team’s brand around the world.

Ranadivé, who acquired a controlling share in the Sacramento Kings in May 2013, has helped brands optimize real-time data since founding Teknekron Software Systems in the 1980s. Later, as founder of TIBCO, he developed a platform that enables thousands of customers to do so. TIBCO now earns over $1 billion in revenue each year.

In 2009, Ranadivé began looking for a new challenge, the same year he began coaching his daughter’s youth basketball team.

“The first day, I was terrified, I didn’t know what to do,” he recalled in an interview in January, “but after that what I saw was a big data problem. I created a math equation for the game and I just implemented the equation. I ended up winning every single game and taking my team to the national championship.”

Ranadivé’s story became a chapter in Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, published in October 2013.

Now Ranadivé wants to apply a Moneyball-like equation to the Sacramento Kings and lead it to its first franchise championship since 1951. To do so, he’s looking at data both on and off the court.

“When I look at the business of basketball, it’s more than basketball,” he told Wired this month. “It’s really a social network. You can use technology to capture that network, expand it, engage it, and then, obviously, to monetize it.”

On the court, the NBA started using SportVu pattern-recognition technology this season. Cameras now track and record all player movements up and down the court.

“It’s been out there for 3-4 years,” says Daryl Morey MBA ’00, general manager of the Houston Rockets and founder of the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, “but it is league-wide for the first time this year. This data is the future of NBA analytics.”

Yu-Han Chang PhD ’05 has created software to help teams process SportVu’s data. His code analyzes the terabytes upon terabytes of data produced in each NBA game. Four NBA teams, to date, have sought the services of Chang’s company, Second Spectrum.

“We realized there was a clear need in the marketplace for someone to turn these numbers into something insightful and understandable. We wanted to create a product to address that,” Chang says.

“It’s an exciting area to be in at this moment in time,” he adds, “where we can combine cutting edge sports analytics together with cutting edge computer science.”

Update, 1/17/14: Ranadive’s Kings will become the first NBA team to accept Bitcoin virtual currency. “When I sold the NBA on keeping the team in Sacramento, my pitch included using the sports franchise as a social network to push the technology envelope,” Ranadive told “This is an example of that.”


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Money is a little easier to get for entrepreneurial students these days—from other entrepreneurial students. An MIT student startup, Refresh Water Technologies, is the first team funded by Dorm Room Fund (DRF) Boston, an investment fund managed by local college students for Philadelphia-based First Round Capital.

Akanksha Midha

MBA student Akanksha Midha

MBA student Akanksha Midha, one of three MIT students on the 11-person DRF Boston team, recommended Refresh, which makes environmentally friendly vending machines. Midha was just doing her job when she scouted out fellow students for the $20,000 grants. DRF Boston has half a million dollars to give away at the moment.

Can your startup get funded this way? Here’s some advice from Midha:

What’s your criteria for recommending a startup to the Boston Dorm Room Fund?

At DRF Boston, we want to find the best ideas with great teams behind them. We look for startups looking to solve pressing problems through compelling solutions. While the product and market are important, ultimately we are looking for great teams with a fire in their belly and a balanced mix of skills. We also look at the needs of the company and how much the DRF investment of $20k can move the needle for them. Refresh Water, an MIT Sloan startup, is our first investee in Boston. They embody all of the factors we look for—a large market, an innovative product with the ability to significantly cut the costs and carbon footprint of vending water, and a fantastic team of Sloanies and a RISD designer with complementary skills. Here is a blog post about the investment.

Watch MBA students Frank Lee and Sean Grundy present Refresh Water Technologies

Watch MBA students Frank Lee and Sean Grundy present Refresh Water Technologies

How did you get involved in the Boston Dorm Room Fund?

Through my time as a joint degree student at MIT Sloan and the Harvard Kennedy School, I became interested in the idea of entrepreneurship as an engine of economic growth. Last summer I ran a mobile technology incubator as part of MIT’s Global Startup Labs Program and was frustrated by the number of exceptional students who were unable to commercialize their ideas due to the paucity of founder-friendly seed capital. Funding options often have high transactional costs and demanding investors. I was drawn to the mission of Dorm Room Fund because it bridges this gap between an idea and a product. It provides student entrepreneurs the financial and mentoring resources they need to validate their ideas and getting them off the ground. DRF provides great ideas a shot in the arm instead of letting them die a premature death at the dorm room stage. And the best part is that DRF investments are on extremely founder-friendly terms.

And what’s next for Midha?

I am interested in business innovation and international development, which have informed my educational choices. Along with a team from MIT and Harvard, I founded Mentor Me India, a mentoring non-profit for girls from underprivileged backgrounds in India and raised $500k of funding for MIT Global Startup Labs in Sri Lanka to keep the program running. On graduation, I will be joining McKinsey and Company where I hope to advance my business skills training and work on social and public sector consulting projects.

Bonus: Read a DRF blog post by Dropbox founder Drew Houston ’05: “How to Win as a First-Time Founder, a Drew Houston Manifesto.”


Shan Sinha ’01, MEng ’05 has grown tired of WebEx. And he thinks the world is tired of it, too.

Along with Jeremy Roy ’99, Sinha has cofounded HighFive, a new web-conferencing platform that aims to reinvent how people communicate at work.

highfive - sinha

Shan Sinha ’01 MNG ’05 and Jeremy Roy ’99. Photo: TechCrunch.

Gone are the bulky downloads, elaborate logins, and desktop-centric interfaces that Sinha hates in traditional web-conferencing. There’ll be no need, Sinha vows, to call IT for help with HighFive.

If anyone can outperform WebEx, AnyMeeting, Connect, Jive, Hipchat and the others in the competitive marketplace, it’s Sinha. After leaving Microsoft in 2008, he founded Docverse, document-sharing software that impressed Google enough to buy it and employ him.

At Google, Sinha led the transition of Google Docs into Google Drive, expanding the web-monolith’s ecosystem for large companies that share and edit files in offices and on the fly.

Sinha’s entrepreneurial spirit still sought new opportunities, and, in the past year, he quietly built HighFive. Its full launch is scheduled for early 2014. Investors have flocked early to HighFive, too. Sinha has raised over $13 million, including funds from Dropbox CEO Drew Houston ’05 and Google Ventures.

Sinha and Roy became friends at MIT and roommates after college in the early dot-com years.

“Neither of us spent any time in our room together because we caught the entrepreneurial bug and were inspired by everything going on around us in the tech space,” Sinha recalls.

The two spend plenty of time together now, beta-testing HighFive with a cadre of enterprise clients who reportedly love the product.

Though the interface and code for HighFive are still under wraps, industry analysts anticipate success from Sinha’s dream team, whose roster reads like a Silicon Valley yearbook.

Within a decade, Sinha predicts, the nature of work will be radically different.

“The way we communicate at work today is broken,” Sinha says. “We still rely on email, conference calls, and airplanes, and the technologies we use to stay connected end up being the source of the problem. I’m not sure if we’ll be the ones to solve the world’s biggest problems, but I am sure we’ll make communication a whole lot easier for the people who do.”


Prof. Suzanne Berger

Professor Suzanne Berger describes the results of the PIE study, which she co-chaired. Photo: David Sella

Guest blogger: Peter Dunn

An MIT team has identified problems that are inhibiting the revival of American manufacturing.

In the 20th century, flagship R&D organizations like AT&T’s Bell Laboratories and Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center generated new technologies like the transistor and the graphical user interface for their parent corporations.

Today, that integrated approach to technology commercialization is largely gone. Basic R&D typically begins at a university or startup, with manufacturing handled by outsourced partner companies, often offshore.

And that’s a problem. MIT’s Production in the Innovation Economy (PIE) project just published two MIT Press books and hosted a September conference reporting the results of their three years of research and analysis on the subject.

  • Drawing on 255 interviews in eight countries, the PIE group found that the US innovation ecosystem has significant holes that inhibit new breakthroughs from entering manufacturing and limit the growth of innovation-driven US companies.
  • Another important finding: prototyping, pilot production, and volume manufacturing not only create good jobs, but they are also fertile ground for innovation and learning, which feeds back into R&D.

“One of MIT’s great strengths is our ability to research and analyze broad questions that are rooted in technology, but engage many aspects of society,” said political science Professor Suzanne Berger, co-chair of PIE. Researchers included more than 20 MIT faculty members from engineering, science, economics, plus political and management sciences. Conference speakers included decision-makers from Dow Chemical, the Commerce Department, NIH and NSF, organized labor, and startups.

“With lower energy prices due to natural gas, rising labor costs in Asia, and more-realistic views about the constraints of outsourcing, there’s a moment of opportunity for rebuilding manufacturing in the United States,” said Berger. “That could help innovation get to market in higher volumes and faster.”

At the conference, MIT President L. Rafael Reif announced a new Institute-wide initiative on Innovation, similar to the MITEI energy initiative, with a focus on methods for accelerating the incorporation of innovations into products, including policy research into manufacturing and education.


Guest blogger: Zach Church, MIT Sloan School

In September, executives and senior leaders from Pfizer, Novartis, and other leading drug companies gathered on campus with MIT students for the first pharmaceutical hackathon.

Hacking Medicine event.

Teams at work at an MIT Hacking Medicine event in Uganda in August.

Together, students and industry leaders hashed out better ways to design and undertake clinical trials of medicine while improving the data generated during trials.

It’s not surprising that a drug company would look to the world’s top engineering school to improve its products or business. It just tends not to happen in a single weekend.

But that’s a Hacking Medicine hackathon, a fast-paced weekend event that brings as many as 150 MIT engineers and MIT Sloan business students into close, kinetic contact with clinicians and health care administrators. The approach is problem-based pitching—not “Here’s our idea. Buy it,” but “Here’s our problem. Solve it.” Medical professionals detail industry challenges. Working with student entrepreneurs and engineers, they develop innovative solutions to those problems.

In just two years, these hackathons have spawned more than a dozen companies tackling a diverse set of problems in health care. One company, PillPack, is a pharmacy that fills, sorts, and delivers medications in packaging that simplifies taking medication. Another, Podimetrics, is developing an insole that collects and transmits data in an effort to prevent complications in diabetics. And a third, Smart Scheduling, uses machine learning to help doctors and clinics schedule patients and predict no-shows, saving time and money. All three companies were developed in a matter of hours.

Hacking Medicine—sometimes stylized H@cking Medicine—formed at MIT Sloan in 2011 with the goal of bringing MIT’s business and engineering prowess to the health care industry, which has developed a reputation for being slow to innovate, adopt new technology, or change.

“These are MIT and HST [Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology] students who believe that a broken health care system can be fixed by entrepreneurship, especially by engineers who can think about systems and technologies to scale medicine,” said Zen Chu, co-founder and faculty director of Hacking Medicine, entrepreneur in residence at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, and the founder of three companies.

Chu estimates that more than 1,000 engineers and physicians have attend the eight MIT hackathons to date, including a September one in Boston, one in Madrid, and two partnered with Massachusetts General Hospital in India and Uganda. Hacking Medicine organizers estimate that of the hundreds of ideas pitched, more than 140 teams have formed. While it’s early, and many teams are still in a nascent stage, more than a dozen companies have formed so far.

Read the full blog post with startup descriptions and learn about the Oct. 18-20 Hacking Pediatrics event with Boston Children’s Hospital.


An upcoming emerging technology conference that brings together innovators, researchers, and companies plans to answer that question in practical ways. At the annual EmTech conferences, Media Lab head Joi Ito says “lucid conversations” are begun on the podium and continue through a feast of networking.

Networking at EmTech  is continuous.

EmTech provides diverse networking opportunities.

“We try and identify the technologies that really matter and explain what their practical impact is going to be in the world,” says Jason Pontin, MIT Technology Review’s editor-in-chief/publisher.

The EmTech MIT 2013 conference, presented by MIT Technology Review, is set for October 9-11 at the MIT Media Lab. Participants will learn what the heads of Akamai, PARC, and Google’s Display Division think are exciting new technologies and they can mingle with hundreds of entrepreneurs and technologists. And MIT alumni get a 20 percent discount.

Speakers include MIT biological engineering professor Angela Belcher, winner of the 2013 $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize; Skylar Tibbits SM, ’10, SM ’10, director of the MIT Self-Assembly Lab; and MIT economics professor Simon Johnson PhD ’89, an adviser to the Federal Budget Office and the FDIC. Topics include using big data to create personalized services, neuroengineering advances, and new energy technologies.

TR’s 2013 Global Innovators Under 35, the magazine’s annual selection of world’s 35 most outstanding young innovators, will give short presentations through the two-day event.

Get the schedule and register using the “MITAlum” promotional code for 20 percent off.


Guest Blogger: Monica Kelley, Alumni Association intern

Webinars are old news at MIT, but the Sloan School of Management is taking online instruction to a new dimension. Last spring, Sloan launched a new Executive Education program called Big Data 4Dx, an online version of its popular program Big Data: Making Complex Things Simpler. Unlike online courses where participants watch lectures, Big Data 4Dx uses AvayaLive EngageTM, a web-based, immersive collaboration environment that allows participants to interact with each other in a virtual classroom.The next two-day session—both in person and online—is set for October.

Online students participate as avatars in the Big Data 4Dx course.

Online students and faculty participate as avatars in the Big Data 4Dx course.

The online course is offered concurrently with the classroom course, which allows online participants to observe the lecture in real time. In the virtual classroom, the live lecture and presentation materials can be viewed on three screens. Each online participant has a personal avatar that can move around the room to view the screens and engage with other online participants. Professors Erik Brynjolfsson PhD ’91 and Sandy Pentland PhD ’82 also assume avatars and join the online participants in the virtual auditorium. The virtual auditorium is projected on screen in the campus classroom so participants using both platforms can interact.

What is 4D? AvayaLive EngageTM uses technology that allows participants to become “directionally attuned” to the location and proximity of sounds in the virtual environment. Thus, a conversation between avatars standing nearby will sound louder than one on the opposite side of the virtual space. Despite a few early kinks, the program received positive reviews from online participants.

Executive Director of Executive Education Peter Hirst believes this innovation complements rather than competes with classroom instruction. “This is a cutting-edge way to deliver interactive, dynamic programs to more participants around the world, and opens the door to even more formats for our programming. The traditional model will remain, but this type of virtual component is the direction of the future.”

The next course is scheduled for October 15-16.