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System Dynamics Conference in Cambridge, MA

August 7th, 2015 No comments

The 33rd International System Dynamics Conference (ISDC) was an inspiring event and we met many new faces as well as many longtime friends! If you were not able to attend the ISDC, stop by our booth, or go to the workshops on Thursday, we documented some of the highlights for you. isee systems was once again a supporting sponsor, but several reasons made this conference special for us. We celebrated isee systems’ 30th year with instant prizes and a raffle, a birthday cake, and by sharing stories about isee systems’ history. Many lucky winners were able to take System Dynamics books or isee systems software home.

Celebrating 30 years of isee systems

Celebrating with a special cake!

Our story from the first icon-based system dynamics software STELLA in 1985 up to our newest product Stella Professional in 2015

Our story from the first icon-based system dynamics software STELLA in 1985 up to our newest product Stella Professional in 2015 (click to enlarge)

Also special this year was that Karim Chichakly, Co-President of isee systems, was one of the two program chairs together with Khalid Saeed from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Moreover, Co-Presidents Karim Chichakly and Robert Eberlein led several workshops during the Summer School before the conference. In the process of preparing for the conference we had the pleasure of reviewing some amazing new work by the community.

David Collste and Therese Bennich accept the Barry Richmond Scholarship Award 2015

David Collste and Therese Bennich accept the Barry Richmond Scholarship Award 2015

An example of particularly meaningful work was done by Therese Bennich, Tom Bongers, and David Collste, this year’s winners of the Barry Richmond Scholarship Award. The award was established in 2007 to honor and continue the legacy of our company founder, Barry Richmond.  Barry was devoted to helping others become better “Systems Citizens”.  It was his mission to make Systems Thinking and System Dynamics accessible to people of all ages and in all fields. The winners contributed to this goal by their analysis Exploring Degrowth Pathways Using System Dynamics. More outstanding work by award winners of this conference can be found at the System Dynamics Society website.

William Schoenberg presents our newest product Stella Professional

William Schoenberg presents our newest product Stella Professional

The conference is always an exciting time for us to meet and talk with our customers and fellow Systems Thinking practitioners. This year we released an upgrade to STELLA/iThink ®, version 10.1 and our brand new product, Stella Professional 1.0. We enjoyed the opportunity to talk about both releases at our Users’ Group Meeting and during our Thursday Workshops, hosted by Robert Eberlein and William Schoenberg. If you missed our workshops, have a look at these modeling tips for getting the best out of your new Stella Professional software and have a look at this introductory webinar.

There are many more conference highlights that are worth reading up on. Get a full impression by searching for #isdc15 on social media or by watching these great videos by the System Dynamics Society.

Our personal favorite moment? We certainly can’t pick one, but our team agrees that seeing the amazing work done by our customers is a tremendous inspiration for us all – so we look forward to seeing you at the next ISDC in Delft 2016!

2011 Barry Richmond Scholarship Award

August 10th, 2011 2 comments
Sarah accepts award

Sarah Boyar accepts Scholarship Award from Joanne Egner

The Barry Richmond Scholarship Award was established in 2007 by isee systems to honor and continue the legacy of its founder, Barry Richmond.  Barry was devoted to helping others become better systems citizens.  Systems citizens are members of a global community that strive to understand the complexities of today’s world and have the informed capacity to make a positive difference.  It was Barry’s mission to make systems thinking and system dynamics accessible to people of all ages, and in all fields.  The award is presented annually at the System Dynamics Society Conference to an individual whose work demonstrates a desire to expand the field of systems thinking or to apply it to current social issues.

Through most of his career, Barry focused on education as the key to spreading systems thinking.  As a teacher and a mentor he dedicated much of his time to developing tools and methodologies for teaching systems thinking.  With this in mind, it was a great pleasure to present this year’s award to Sarah Boyar, a recent graduate of the Masters Program in System Dynamics at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).

Sarah Boyar and Karim Chichakly enjoy the conference banquet

Sarah Boyar and Karim Chichakly enjoy the conference banquet

Sarah presented a portfolio of her work to the scholarship committee.  In particular, an essay about her teaching philosophy resonated with us.  Sarah wrote this piece while taking a seminar in college teaching in order to fulfill her Real World Dynamics course requirement at WPI.  Since she already had plenty of experience as a consultant applying system dynamics to real world situations, Sarah managed to convince the WPI powers-that-be that an essential real world manifestation of system dynamics is the way that it is taught.  This is something Barry would have encouraged and been excited about.

Her essay titled Beliefs About Teaching and Learning begins as follows:

I teach System Dynamics. While I want my students to have some knowledge of system dynamics, most of all I want them to be excited and stimulated by it. I also want them to find it beautiful: I want to teach in such a way that my students find some aspect of beauty in the work, whether it’s through the visual arcs in the model interface, or the precision of algebra in the way we write statements, or the way that system dynamics can ameliorate a social ill that concerns them. I want my students to somehow feel a sense of peace and beauty derived from some aspect of the knowledge I am teaching.

Among Sarah’s aspirations is the desire to teach system dynamics to professionals in other fields, namely lawyers (potential judges) and medical doctors.  Incorporating a systems perspective within both the judicial system and in healthcare could certainly make a positive difference for us all.  Good luck and congratulations Sarah!

2010 isee User Conference “Making Connections”

October 21st, 2010 3 comments

Connecting at the welcome reception

Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of hosting the 2010 isee User Conference in Providence, Rhode Island. During this amazing gathering of isee customers, partners, friends, and iThink/STELLA enthusiasts, we learned about the important work that is being done applying Systems Thinking to solve real-world problems, shared ideas, and made connections with one another.

For two and a half days, I saw participants immersed in keynote presentations, breakout sessions, and hands-on workshops.  As important, however, were the less structured round table discussions, poster presentations, and social activities.  Everywhere I looked, folks were engaged in conversation and connecting with one another.  Even better, I knew that many of those connections would continue to be fostered and developed well after the conference was over.

Presentations and models

Conference presentations and models are now available on the isee systems web site.  Please download and share these materials with your colleagues and friends. You’ll get a glimpse into the wide range of fields where Systems Thinking is being used to better understand the interconnections of dynamic systems including business, healthcare, education, energy, and the environment.  You can also download and listen to audio recordings of the keynote presentations:

A Conference Highlight

Steve Peterson describes the modeling process

One of the highlights of the conference for me was listening to the story that Steve Peterson and Paul Bothwell told about using Systems Thinking and dynamic modeling to help communities in high-violence Boston neighborhoods.

In their work with the Youth Violence Systems Project, there were two objectives:

  • Improve understanding of community-based violence in Boston
  • Help communities strategize and achieve sustained reductions in violence

What made this project different from other attempts to research and solve the youth violence problem in Boston was that it engaged “the community” in the development of the model.  From the get go, they included youth in the modeling process.  Gang members, in particular, turned out to be an important missing link to understanding violence and the dynamic system behavior.  Both Steve and Paul described some of the harsher realities of working with young people whose family members and friends were victims of violence.  The modeling process actually helped community members to articulate the “slippery slope dynamics” that move youth through the different stocks to gang involvement.  If you have a chance, I highly recommend listening to the audio recording!

Staying Connected

Participants engaged in round table discussions

Having time to interact with other participants was an important part of the conference experience.  It was wonderful to see the excitement and energy that is created when Systems Thinkers have an opportunity to connect with one another.  The cross fertilization that occurs so naturally between field experts, modelers, and educators was inspiring.

Please stay connected and let us know if there are other ways in which we can foster our growing community of STELLA and iThink modelers!

System Dynamics Conference in Seoul

August 10th, 2010 No comments
isee systems is proud to have sponsored the 28th International System Dynamics Conference held in Seoul, Korea last month.  We especially enjoyed supporting the conference again this year through the Barry Richmond Scholarship Award.   The scholarship was established in 2007 to honor and continue the legacy of our company founder, Barry Richmond.  Barry was devoted to helping others become better “Systems Citizens”.  It was his mission to make Systems Thinking and System Dynamics accessible to people of all ages and in all fields.
Presenting the scholarship in Seoul was isee’s longtime consulting and training partner, Mark Heffernan.  Mark had this story to tell about Barry:

I first met Barry 20 years ago, when I had to trudge through the snow to get to his small wooden office.  I was building a discrete event model using STELLA and I wanted him to make some changes to the software so I didn’t have these “egg timer“ structures everywhere.  Barry was horrified with what I had done with his software and said words to the effect that it’s not meant for that, it was created to spread the gospel of System Dynamics.  Despite the fact that I was a civil engineer, he encouraged me to take a look at SD.  Such was his passion and conviction that 20 years later I’m still attending this conference.”

Tony Phuah accepts Scholarship Award from Mark Heffernan

Through most of his career Barry saw education as the key to spreading Systems Thinking.  As a teacher and a mentor, he dedicated much of his time to developing tools and methodologies for learning.  It is fitting therefore that this year’s award was presented to Tony Phuah, a Master’s student in System Dynamics at the University of Bergen.

Tony’s work includes an experimental study that explores the question: How can we improve people’s understanding of basic stock and flow behavior?  His experiment uses two different methods for teaching stock and flow behavior — the standard method (using graphical integration) and a method he calls “running total”.  Tony presented his paper at a parallel session during the conference and it can be downloaded by clicking here.  Although the results of his study favor traditional methods for teaching stock and flow behavior, we all should be encouraged by the work being done to try to improve Systems Thinking education and communication.  In Tony’s own words:

Speeding up ‘Systems Thinkers beget more Systems Thinkers’ growth will make us one step closer to Barry Richmond’s vision of a systems citizen world.”

Congratulations Tony and thank you Mark for helping us to celebrate Barry’s passion!

Applications for the 2011 Barry Richmond Scholarship Award will be available on the isee systems and System Dynamics Society web sites.  Check those sites for more information.

2009 Barry Richmond Scholarship Award

August 5th, 2009 No comments
Marcus Robinson and James Ranney accept 2009 Barry Richmond Scholarship Award

Marcus Robinson & James Ranney accept 2009 Barry Richmond Scholarship Award

The Barry Richmond Scholarship Award was established in 2007 by isee systems to honor and continue the legacy of our founder, Barry Richmond.  Barry was devoted to helping others become better “Systems Citizens”.  It was his mission to make Systems Thinking and System Dynamics accessible to people of all ages and in all fields.

The award is presented annually at the International System Dynamics Conference to an individual whose work demonstrates a desire to expand the field or to apply it to current social issues.

Barry had a particular passion for expanding the field into K-12 education.  He worked closely with teachers and young people at all levels to incorporate Systems Thinking tools and methodologies into the classroom.  With this in mind, it was a great pleasure to present this year’s award to Marcus Robinson and James Ranney, two students from Wilson High School in Portland, Oregon.

Marcus Robinson presents at SD Conference

Marcus Robinson presents at SD Conference

The scholarship committee was very impressed by the quality of the models and technical papers that these students submitted.   Both high school seniors were enrolled in Diana Fisher’s modeling class this past year.  For their final project assignment, they were asked to explore a topic of their own choosing.

Inspired by a video of the PBS NOVA program “Dimming the Sun”, Marcus chose to create a model that would help to answer the question “How Much do Carbon Emissions Need to be Reduced in Order to Stop Global Warming?” To download Marcus’ paper, click here.

After a run-in with a large frog at his summer camp, James was interested in answering “What is the Impact of Introducing an Invasive Species into an Ecosystem?” – in this case, the bullfrog into the Pacific Northwest. To download James’ paper, click here.

James Ranney presents during K-12 poster session

James Ranney presents during K-12 poster session

Both students presented their work at a parallel session during the conference and again at a special K-12 poster session.  What a delight it was to see how empowering modeling real-world issues is for young people and the enthusiasm they share for their work.

Thank you to the society for making a special effort to serve the K-12 community and provide opportunities for partnership.  Congratulations Marcus and James, Barry would be very proud!

Applications for the 2010 Barry Richmond Scholarship Award will be available on the isee systems and System Dynamics Society web sites. Check those sites for more information.


System Dynamics Conference in Albuquerque

July 21st, 2009 No comments

System Dynamics Society We’re looking forward to connecting with folks at the 27th Annual International System Dynamics Conference in Albuquerque next week.   Karim Chichakly, Jeremy Merritt and I will be there to share the latest news, listen to your stories, and answer any questions you might have.

We hope to see you at as many of the following isee sponsored events as your schedule allows:

Monday, July 27th

8:00 – 6:00 PM isee systems Exhibit Booth Open
12:30 – 1:00 PM isee systems Exhibitor Demonstration
1:00 – 1:50 PM STELLA and iThink User Group Meeting

Tuesday, July 28th

8:00 – 6:00 PM isee systems Exhibit Booth Open
7:00 PM Barry Richmond Scholarship Award Presentation

Wednesday, July 29th

8:00 – 6:00 PM isee systems Exhibit Booth Open

Thursday, July 30th

8:30 – 10:00 AM Getting Started with STELLA and iThink Workshop (Part 1)
Modeling Dynamic Systems: Lessons for a First Course
Workshop by Diana Fisher
10:30 – 12:00 PM Getting Started with STELLA and iThink Workshop (Part 2)
1:00 – 2:30 PM Creating Simulations for the Web with iThink & STELLA Workshop

See you in Albuquerque!

VSTE 2009 Presentation

February 16th, 2009 No comments

vtselogoI will be presenting a session along with Mark Clemente next week (February 23rd, 2009) at the VSTE 2009 Conference.  The session is called “Practical Applications of Systems Dynamics and STELLA in the High School Setting“.  If you are attending the conference, you can come by Meeting Suite 5A on Monday at 8:30AM to check out the presentation.  We’ll be camped out in the suite for the day chatting with folks and demonstrating STELLA as well.

Last September, Joanne and I attended the Modsim 2008 Conference in Virginia Beach and met Mark.  Mark is a high school chemistry teacher and is currently an Educator-in-Residence at the National Institute of Aerospace.  He is a big part of the Hampton Roads Modeling and Simulation Initiative, which is a group of folks from the education system, government, local businesses and industry that are promoting the use of Modeling and Simulation to create a workforce for the 21st Century.

We’ve been happy to support Mark and the MODSIM initiative this year in their use of STELLA in High School. The presentation will cover how Systems Thinking, STELLA and dynamic modeling can be applied to High School curriculum.  We’ll be handing out a CD with tons of sample models, cirriculum and a 30-day workshop version of STELLA