ASCEND HS21 Olivier de Weck

Olivier de Weck

Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics and Professor of 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, PhD ’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 with a focus 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 (GMCNF), 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. Besides MIT he holds visiting appointments at EPFL in Switzerland and Keio University in Japan.


He has authored or co-authored over 400 publications for which he has been recognized with twelve 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, was recognized by the Association of American Publishers, and was translated to Japanese. He is a Fellow of INCOSE, an Associate Fellow of AIAA and a Senior Member of IEEE. He served as Editor-in-Chief for the journal Systems Engineering from 2013-2018. 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 where he was responsible for roadmapping a $1-billion R&D portfolio for the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer. His upcoming book on Technology Roadmapping and Development will be published by Springer-Nature in 2021.


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.


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