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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Westside High grad completes special program at MIT

Houston native Kevin Rustagi will graduate from MIT this year with not only a degree in mechanical engineering, but also some additional preparation for the business environment.

Rustagi, who graduated from Westside High in 2007, is one of 10 MIT students this year to earn a "Certificate of Engineering Leadership" from the Bernard M. Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program. The program aims to address a problem that spokesperson Bruce Mendelsohn describes this way: "Quite frankly, MIT students are renowned for being super-smart, but not quite as well-known for their ability to work productively and effectively in teams."

Mendelsohn says the program's exercises helped Rustagi and others to sculpt the "raw leadership talent" they displayed when they began the program. The "leadership labs" had students addressing a range of workplace issues, from dealing with different kinds of bosses to making effective, brief pitches for their ideas.
The course exists, Mendelsohn adds, because management and leadership roles in the engineering field aren't always the same as those in other industries. "Engineers aren't sitting in their ivory tower -- they need to get down to the shop floor and not only work with, but communicate effectively with, the people who are building these things."
Rustagi has been accepted into Stanford Business School, where he plans to pursue his MBA. But first, he and fellow MIT students Eddie Obropta and Gihan Amarasiriwardena will be working on a startup called Cartesian Brand. The company creates dress shirts that aim to be more comfortable than typical business attire, by drawing on the materials and design elements of athletic wear.

"The shirts are something we hope can bring engineering and innovation to bear on an industry often overlooked," Rustagi says. He thinks this will immediately require him to draw on what he learned from the engineering-leadership program: "Something we work on is leading teams in the midst of change and ambiguity to attain a clear and deliverable vision," he says.
Interview With Kevin Rustagi part 1

Interview part 2

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