Friday, April 23, 2010

Famous People Like to Come to MIT

This Wednesday, Bill Gates, came to MIT. He's kind of a big deal - being the past CEO of Microsoft and the #1 person on Forbes list of "The World's Richest People" from 1995 to 2007 and in 2009. I was lucky enough to "win" the student lottery to get a ticket and hear him talk in person. He's currently visiting schools right now to talk about his work as a Philanthropist. His talk focused on an interesting question: "How do we get the world’s brightest people focused on its biggest problems?"

This, of course, is a deep, intense and controversial question.

I have a lot I could say, but something I found concerning was that he kind of implies that brightness is defined by education. While I should agree with this since education has done a lot for me, I actually don't. Some times level of education is a personal choice, just because a person does not choose to get a PhD or go to a top tier college does not mean they are less intelligent than I am. And, just because a) I was lucky enough to have a family situation that allowed me to go to college and b) I was able to be successful in the relatively narrow education system we have and get into highly ranked schools does not mean I am any more capable than the next person. Anyway, my point is - there are people out there doing amazing things for this world without MBAs or fancy colleges on their diplomas. I would be interested to know if he plans to do similar talks to less "prestigious" crowds... maybe community colleges? Hospital administrations? High schools?

Also, world problems are so broad. His topics ranged from the quality of our teachers to death rates of children under 5 in certain areas of the world. How do you define what is most important? People of different age, ethnic background and social class would disagree violently on which issue deserves the most attention. So, who is right? I guess this is part of his point. There are A LOT of issues in our world. And, no matter, who you are, we should all try to do something to help the situation.

I must admit, overall I enjoyed the talk. I was impressed by his ability to speak intelligently on multiple topics; he bounced from nuclear energy to population growth just in the Q&A session and raised some important points. And, he's using his wealth to help. But, I am also a bit skeptical. I think, in the end, he's still a businessman and that must drive his motivations to some extent.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

LGO 10s in the News!

A bunch of the LGO 10s went to a Wine event on Saturday night. Last year there were just 3 of us - this year there was around a dozen. It was a blast!

Besides the tasty wine, the best part of the event is the photo booth! And, what's even better... one of the photographers at captured a photo of us as we got situated. I am pretty sure this is the type of public relations that makes both MIT and LGO super happy... 2nd year students drinking lots of wine, wearing obnoxious costumes and holding slightly inappropriate signs. But, it's still pretty awesome. :)

Here's the LINK to and the picture:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

It really is a miracle that a checked bag gets to its final destination.

On Friday, the Operations Management club hosted a tour of the American Airlines Baggage Operations at Boston Logan airport. Since I'm mildly obsessed with transportation and logistics, I had to go, even though it meant that I had to motivate myself to do something productive on a Friday morning.

I was totally impressed with the 3 AA personnel that gave us the tour. They were extremely friendly, took time to answer all of our crazy questions, and even made sure we got to see the process of un/loading with an actual plane on the ground.

It was so neat to see an operation that I personally have to deal with (and am frustrated by) about 10-15 times a year depending on if I check a bag. We saw how the bag travels from the agent check-in area, along conveyor to the TSA screening machines, then to a sorting area. The sorting area kind of reminded me of Amazon because the conveyors have lasers that scan the bar code on your bag and then identify which chute to send the bag down. Then once the bag is down the chute, an AA employee loads it on a cart to go to the airplane. We also got to see the control center where they monitor the flights that are landing and taking off as well as schedule time at each of the gates. It was just really cool. My favorite part through was when we got to go right up to an airplane on the tarmac and watch them unloading.

The one thing that was funny was that as I observed everything I was constantly thinking about how they could improve their operations. The whole process is so manual and there's tons of opportunity to change things so that our bags get through the system more easily. It seems like they could really use some IEs to come in and do a Value Stream map or something. ;)

In any case, it was a great tour and I'm glad I got myself out of bed on a Friday morning to see it. And, so you can share in my enjoyment from the tour, here are some photos!

Sorting of the bags before they go on the airplane.
The AA tarmac area.
Big plane at the gate.
Unloading a plane that just landed.
Putting bags on the conveyor - the other side of the wall is the baggage claim area.