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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Global Manufacturing Insights: Report from the Alumni Conference in Switzerland


By Jeff Stein, LGO '13

I was honored and fortunate enough to attend the recent LGO alumni conference in Lucerne, Switzerland. While I arrived just in time for the final afternoon of the alumni conference, I had a packed and rewarding trip that went far beyond the planned events.


Zach Smith LGO ’08 joined me on a scenic hike up nearby mountain Rigi Kulm

The first speaker of the afternoon was Jeffrey Langenfeld, who leads the Mobile Solutions Operations factories globally for Nokia. He spoke of several challenges Nokia was facing that are directly applicable to LGO: design for manufacturing, excessive product variety, and supply chain management. Based on the talk and the fact that Nokia is a partner company, it seems there are certainly opportunities for LGO internships.

The second speaker of the afternoon was former LFM/MIT professor Thomas Roemer. Prof. Roemer's theme was the state of manufacturing in the US, discussing various facts and trends in industry. While some of these facts were not surprising to many of us - 33% of US manufacturing jobs lost between 1999 and 2008 - others were eye-opening: the US currently is the second-largest manufacturing country as percentage of GDP (after China). The talk provoked much thought and questions amongst the alumni audience.

After guest presentations were complete, I had the opportunity to provide the LGO class update, providing an overview of our class, summer classes, plant treks, and current internships. I concluded with a plug for an alumni reunion event I am planning in the spring (April 12 or 13). Please stay tuned to the alumni newsletter for future messages regarding the event!


Mary Anito and Leonora Lanza, LGO 12s, visit the Lion Monument in Lucerne

Although the conference had officially ended, my adventure in Switzerland was just beginning. I owe many thanks to the alumni who took me out to a local beer garden in Lucerne. The next day, I enjoyed a scenic hike up nearby mountain Rigi Kulm with Zach Smith, LGO '08. As Zach had been living in Switzerland for a year, I was grateful for his help and advice on what to see and how to get around. It was this kind of warm welcome I received from alumni that made this trip truly memorable, and it made me proud to be a part of the LGO family.

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formerly MIT Leaders for Manufacturing (LFM)