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Enablers, Barriers, and Precursors to the Development of Systems Thinking
Heidi Davidz , PhD Student, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This research identifies enablers, barriers, and precursors to the development of systems thinking in engineers. Utilizing a series of surveys, interviews, and tests in a spectrum of host companies, this research provides an empirical foundation for more effective and efficient interventions in the systems thinking development process.

From preliminary work, it is apparent that there is great need for information and data on systems thinking development. A primary motivation for this topic is increasing interest in educating and training engineers to think systemically. Currently, data are missing to decipher which methods are most effective in developing systems employees. Are job rotations, systems training classes, university programs, or systems-related work roles more effective in developing systems thinking? In addition, are there certain individual characteristics that predict likeliness to excel in systems roles?
By studying the systems thinking development process, this research will positively impact educational interventions and employee development in systems thinking for engineering professionals across industry, government, and academia. This work is part of ongoing research in the Lean Aerospace Initiative (LAI), a consortium of academia, industry, unions, and government.


Academic Background

  • Doctoral Candidate in the Engineering Systems Division, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Research Assistant in the Lean Aerospace Initiative
  • Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering, University of Cincinnati, through the UC-GE Advanced Courses in Engineering program, August 2001
  • Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, The Ohio State University, June 1997

Work Experience
Prior to her doctoral studies, Ms. Davidz worked full-time at GE Aircraft Engines (GEAE) in Cincinnati, Ohio as a member of the prestigious Edison Engineering Development Program. This rotational training program teaches engineers corporate leadership and business skills in addition to advancing their technical training through the GE Advanced Courses in Engineering. Her rotational assignments at GEAE were in Advanced Controls, Acoustics, Remote Diagnostics, and T700 Field Engineering at the Corpus Christi Army Depot in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Before she worked at GE, Ms. Davidz worked full-time as a Test Operations Engineer at the Rocketdyne Division of Boeing in Canoga Park, California. Working as an Advanced Propulsion Test Facility Test Conductor for rocket engine component testing, she designed and operated high pressure propellant feed systems for hot fire test operations.

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Content Owner: Heidi Davidz | Last Updated: 11 Aug 2005
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