Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Olivier de Weck is a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He earned degrees in industrial engineering from ETH Zurich (dipl. Ing. ‘93) and aerospace systems from MIT (SM ’99, Ph.D. ’01), where he is the faculty director of the Engineering Systems Laboratory and the Bernard M. Gordon MIT Engineering Leadership Program. His main research is in systems engineering focusing on how complex technological systems are designed and optimized and how they evolve over time.
Important methodological contributions that his group has made to the modeling of complex systems in aerospace and other domains like water, energy, and transportation include Time-Expanded Decision Networks (US patent 8,260,652), Generalized Multi-Commodity Network Flows, as well as software tools such as SpaceNet and HabNet. Prof. de Weck is particularly interested in the principles underlying so-called lifecycle properties, or “Ilities” of systems, that only become apparent once a system, product, or campaign has been fielded and operated for years, decades, or even centuries. These properties of systems include, amongst others, manufacturability, maintainability, reliability, robustness, reconfigurability, flexibility, and more recently, sustainability. At MIT, he teaches popular classes on related topics such as Systems Engineering, Satellite Engineering, Multidisciplinary Design Optimization, and Technology Roadmapping and Development.
He is the author or co-authored over 400 publications, for which he has been recognized with 12 best paper awards since 2004. His award-winning book “Engineering Systems: Meeting Human Needs in a Complex Technological World” was the bestseller at the MIT Press in 2012. He is a Fellow of the International Council on Systems Engineering, an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a Senior Member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He and his group worked with NASA’s Office of Emerging Space to develop new commercial space technology roadmaps, and he is a former senior vice president of technology planning and roadmapping at Airbus.
His passion is to improve life on our home planet, Earth, through research and education in systems engineering while paving the way for humanity’s future off-world settlements.