November 2017

Dear members of the MIT community,

Last month, when I asked what you would tell current students to help maximize their experience at MIT, you offered a wonderful range of advice. Ray Stata ’57, founder of Analog Devices Inc. and a global influencer in the tech industry, captured one theme echoed by many alumni: “Learn about the human side of the equation and search for opportunities to develop leadership skills.”

This spurred me to reflect on the School’s many efforts to build negotiation and leadership skills into the curriculum. We have our beloved staples, of course:

  • In the iconic Mechanical Engineering class 2.009, Product Engineering Processes, professor David Wallace’s student teams learn about real-world collaboration in an intoxicating rush to create a market-ready product for a big reveal at semester’s end.
  • In the Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program (GEL), students take part in interactive scenarios, as one way to absorb leadership theory and practice. And through a popular GEL elective — The Art and Science of Negotiation, 11.011 — students learn the one skill leaders may need most of all.

I was particularly struck by an observation from Bruno Verdini, who teaches the negotiation course: “MIT students don’t want to get put in a corner in the workplace to only do things that require technical dexterity while other people do the management. They want to develop their people skills and showcase their strategic vision.”

That certainly sounds like the MIT I know! As the School strives to prepare some of the world’s most inspired young people to make a better world, I welcome the perspective you bring. This month’s question: How have you moved an idea to impact? Next month, we’ll share the experiences of MIT innovators and entrepreneurs, and draw on some of your own.


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Anantha P. Chandrakasan

Dean, MIT School of Engineering

Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

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Negotiation skills

"A good negotiator can be exactly who you are."

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Fortifying cement

Adding bits of irradiated plastic water bottles could cut cement industry’s carbon emissions.

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Digital Diploma debuts at MIT

Using Bitcoin's blockchain technology, the Institute has become one of the first universities to issue recipient-owned virtual credentials.

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The melting drone

The alums at MORSE Corp. were asked to develop a small, single-use autonomous aircraft that would fly 100 miles, land within a 30-foot circle, and then disappear. So they did.

Student innovation
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Critical pathways

MIT student innovators are presented with a wide array of programs and resources available on campus and beyond. Learn how they went from idea to impact and who helped them along the way.

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“Air-breathing” battery

New technology that can store electricity for months, at about a fifth the cost.

Artificial Intelligence
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Explained: Neural networks

Ballyhooed artificial-intelligence technique known as “deep learning” revives 70-year-old idea.

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Flexible photonics

Light-based devices could be used as biomedical sensors or as flexible connectors for electronics.