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Japan’s Keio University launches Graduate School of System Design and Management

New school inspired by MIT/ESD’s SDM program

January 3, 2008

To celebrate its sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary in 2008, Keio University will launch its new Graduate School of System Design and Management (SDM) in April of this year. Patterned after MIT’s highly successful SDM program, the school’s goal is to educate engineers to be more capable of designing and managing highly complex systems in a rapidly changing environment.

Keio University is Japan’s oldest and one of its most prestigious private universities. It was founded in 1858 in Edo (now Tokyo) by Yukichi Fukuzawa, whose vision to help awaken Japan after centuries of isolation defied established norms by creating a system of modern education and research . Fukuzawa believed that Japan's only choice for catching up with the West’s technology and social organization was to "always strive for progress and enlightenment, and provide the academic and moral education needed to create a generation of wise and capable leaders."

Today, Keio University continues to provide intellectual leadership that addresses the issues facing Japan. And Fukuzawa’s contributions are still revered by Japanese society, as evidenced by the 10,000 Yen bill, which prominently features his portrait.

Preparations for the new school are nearing completion and include construction of a new campus building, curriculum development, and the hiring of 12 professors with significant experience in system architecture, design, and management. The first incoming class of 77 master’s students and 11 doctoral students has been selected. Most students have both a strong academic background and significant industrial experience in product and system development.

In terms of curriculum development, Keio’s SDM program was inspired by, and is closely patterned after, MIT’s System Design and Management Program. Similar to MIT’s SDM, Keio’s graduate curriculum in system design and management follows the “V” model of systems engineering. In the early part of the program (on the left side of the “V”) students are immersed in systems architecting and system design. The latter part focuses on effective management of large scale systems and projects as well as on operations (on the right side of the “V”). An important part of Keio’s program is not only technology, but also concurrent consideration of the management and social aspects of innovation. The program’s vision is to provide a “melting pot forum for fusion of different generations, fields, social status regardless of educational background”.

In terms of international engagements, Keio’s SDM program will maintain strong linkages with other universities that are leaders in systems engineering. As part of this international exchange and collaboration, Prof. Olivier de Weck, Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems, will teach a project-based product development course together with Prof. Kosuke Ishii from Stanford University.

“Japanese students are extremely hard working, collaborative, and eager to integrate their knowledge from multiple disciplines into a working whole,” said de Weck. “Keio University is leading the way in Japan with this first-of-a-kind program in system design and management.”

Keio’s SDM program is led by Prof. Yoshiaki Ohkami who maintains strong ties to MIT, where he spent the 2005/2006 academic year as a visiting professor in the Field Robotics Laboratory in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, hosted by Prof. Steven Dubowsky.

Professor Ohkami's association with ESD includes attending ESD functions, various interactions with inidividual faculty members and a visit to ESD as a member of a delegation from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). In addition, Pat Hale, Director of MIT/ESD’s System Design and Management Program, delivered a keynote presentation for a symposium held as part of Keio University’s 21st Century Center of Excellence Program, sponsored by the Japan Ministry of Education in 2004.


Prof. Yoshiaki Ohkami
Prof. Yoshiaki Ohkami
who leads Keio Univerisity's System Design and Management Program

Prof. de Weck
Olivier L. de Weck
will teach a project-based product development course together with Prof. Ishii

Prof. Kosuke Ishii
Prof. Kosuke Ishii
Stanford University


MIT Sloan
MIT School of Science
MIT School of Humanities